Flames Release Brent Sutter



The Calgary Flames announced today that they have decided to go in another direction behind the bench. Assistant coach and former Flame Dave Lowry has also been let go.

From the official release:

“Brent Sutter and I met and discussed a number of issues regarding the hockey team and the future,” said Flames General Manager Jay Feaster. “Brent and I explored many options and ultimately determined that it is best to proceed in different directions. Brent is a great person and an excellent hockey coach. On behalf of the Calgary Flames, we sincerely appreciate his hard work, dedication and commitment to our organization, and we wish him every success. We also appreciate the important contributions of Dave Lowry.”

That leaves Craig Hartsburg in place. It’s unknown whether he’ll step up to be the head honcho or if the club will look for someone else. A lot of attention has being focused on Abbotsford Heat coach Troy Ward recently (he was lavishly praised by Feaster in the press conference the other day), so it’s possible he is in line for a promotion.

Over his three seasons here, Brent Sutter never converted me to a full fan of this methods. To some degree I think he was hampered by the tools he was given, but then he also never really diversified his methods or improved the club beyond it’s station in any meaningful fashion. In the end, he struck me as an altogether conventional, middle-of-the-road NHL coach.

I guess that means the next guy could certainly be better. He might be worse too.

    • T&A4Flames

      Ha. I actually would like to see this. How would Tort’s act in Canadian hockey market that’s not Toronto? Calgary seems to proper for Tort’s personality. I can’t see him telling Roger Millions to F off. I would miss his fights with Brooks in New York. Although, if he doesn’t get what he wants out of him, he may tell Iggy to F off.

      • Vintage Flame

        If the Flames hired Torts, I would put it in his contract that Brooksie had to come too. He could replace Eric Francis with the Sun.

        That’s a win-win folks.

  • @ backburner

    The young guns era was seven years of missing the playoffs. The retreads era has already missed three years. In this day and age of parity, I have no problem seeing us miss the playoffs for another four years. At least in the young guns era there was some reason for hope and excitement. There was change and young kids and looking for solutions. Now its just shoveling the same crap out with different window dressing year after year. After watching the gong show that this organization has turned into I am already missing the young guns era. As a matter of fact I might go down to the Salvation Army and look for one of those old godfather inspired horsehead jersies. Nothing helps to celebrate the the death of an organization like black.

  • @ Stunner

    The whole team is the reason for failure. But Iginla is not sheltered from blame soley because he was the best player on the Flames a dozen years ago. The fact of the matter is that if you are getting paid $7M a year, are wearing the “C”, and show that you can still dominate games then you had better be consistent in making a contribution. I would say that almost half the games in the year you do not notice Iginla. That is not acceptable. He needs to be leading the team if he is that great captain everybody talks about, but he does not do that.

    The reason that the smart hockey people think that Iginla needs to be traded is that he is a diminishing asset that wont be worth anything if we dont deal him now. The Flames organization is so shallow in talent that we cannot afford to let assets die on the vine without getting a return for them. If we dont change the culture of the dressing room and organization than we are going to be facing the same mediocrity next year.

    Iginla has been the playoffs five times in fifteen years. Has won three playoff series in fifteen years. Obviously having Iginla is not the basis for success, because his presence has not brought success to this organization. And please stop with the pleading that Iginla was in Calgary doing some sort of charity work and is equivalent to Mother Theresa. Iginla was paid extremely well for his production, and the fans, city, and organization owe him nothing else.

    Change is inevitable. How you cope with change is what seperates that those thrive and survive and those that whither and die. The Flames under Edwards-King-Feaster are going down the path of death and destruction by believing that they can continue to build around a 35 year old former superstar.

    • RexLibris

      I argued this same point about diminishing assets here on FN back in August.

      It didn’t go over well.

      I’m not going to go into detail about Iginla or the Flames, but after reading a number of comments about how much Iginla has given back to the community I’m beginning to wonder if fans in Calgary have ever looked into what athletes do in other cities. Iginla’s good works aren’t that unique. They are exemplary in that they provide a model for others to follow, but most NHL cities have their players involved in community works.

      Edmonton has the Oilers Community Foundation and every player is encouraged to spend some time working with a charitable organization of their choosing. Also the Wives and Girlfriends are public participants in the OCF raising funds for all sorts of charities across Edmonton and Northern Alberta.

      Now, I’m sure that the Flames have something similar, but I don’t understand why Iginla is the one constantly held up as the model citizen for something that I suspect many of his other teammates commit to as well.

      As for the death and destruction: Brent Sutter wasn’t going to be the answer for this team, and frankly, if the Flames want to rebuild I don’t think that he’s the best coach to do it. You need a patient communicator and teacher. Sutter can be a good coach, but he is not really any of those things. And before anyone says that he did well in junior, that is a different breed. And as for the World Juniors, Pat Quinn coached a winning World Junior squad but couldn’t connect with a group of young players here in Edmonton to save his job. While letting Sutter go isn’t necessarily a good sign, it is only one move. Feaster could turn around and move Iginla in a few months as well. You can’t change the culture of a dressing room and keep the coaching staff.

  • supra steve

    Get use to: “Not Winnin for MacKinnon” Surely someone can put a catchy Saddledome chant to that. Who said Peter Griffin, sorry Feaster doesn’t have a plan.

  • Stunner

    I also wish the people that keep thinking Iggy is the reason we are so terrible would shut-up.

    The guy has given everything to this team with Craig Conroy & Dean McAmmond being his best linemates. Yes that’s right Conroy & McAmmond. Not exactly first-line talent.

    I will admit his skill has diminished but a coach should realize that and shelter him better. I think he would gladly be like Selanne and play a second-line role if we actually had some talent that could play first-line but we don’t.

    Also Feaster has probably realized there isn’t too much coming back in a trade for a 35-year old RW making 7 million a year. The big trade bait will be Kipper.

    Trade for Derek Roy in Buffalo to center Iggy. I hear he and Ruff aren’t seeing eye-to-eye.

    • Stunner

      right, because Tanguay, Cammaleri, Jokinen, and Langkow are all worse than Dean McAmmond. I think its time people stop blaming a “lack of linemates” for iggy’s struggles and start looking at the man himself. If this Sutter firing means Iggy is coming back, I’m gonna be pissed.

  • Gange

    This means that Iginla will not be traded. There will be not meaningful changes to the culture of the dressing room and the lack of drive and consistency that has plagued this organization will continue for the foreseeable future.

    I think that Brent Sutter is a good coach and a smart hockey person. The problem is that as a Sutter he is stubborn and he dug his heels in when it came to his philosophy of how to play hockey. He did not waiver in his beliefs and was often frusterated that the team would not play the way they needed to with consistency. The style of play needed to win was predicated by the players and skill that was at his disposal.

    The really sad part of this is that it means that we are looking at another year of mediocrity. Another year where making the playoffs is the only goal of the organization. Another year where players dont have to be uncomfortable about not playing their best.

    Another wasted crap year coming up. Feaster will make the fringes younger and will try to sign some big free agents. He might look at trading somebody but in the end it will be prety much the same team. With the same goals. The same leader. And the same results.

    The Calgary Flames suck. Murray Edwards sucks as an owner. Ken King sucks as a president. Jay Feaster sucks as a general manager. Stupid organization. Time for apathy to set in.

  • Gange

    Best of luck to Sutter. I liked him. I don’t think the problems of the team were his. At the same time, moving forward I get the sense that he had lost the room. So this might be best.

  • Gange


    I’m pretty sure it means that Feaster, or at least the owners, want Iggy to stick around… so don’t let the door hit you on the way out Butter!

  • icedawg_42

    I could see this coming after Wilson got canned…

    I think everyone got tired of the excuse of “Buying into the System”..

    I have no problems with Troy Ward, he seems like a good Mentor Coach vs a “all about the system” coach…

    • Gange

      I’m not sure about Troy Ward. I don’t know enough about him but it seems that Feaster likes him in Abby for now.

      Hartsburg might be the guy but I really think they bring up Ward as an associate and bring in someone. Hopefully not Ron Wilson. 😉

  • Stunner

    I agree with Kent, I was never a fan of Brent’s methods. He always seemed so stubborn to change his ways and adapt to the team he was given.

    I feel he’s a great junior coach but an average NHL coach. It’s easier to strike fear in 17-19 year olds.

    I also agree with T&A4Flames….

    PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not promote Hartsburg!!

    Let the Feaster era begin.

  • Gange

    My one real qualm with Sutter’s coaching is his apparent lack of any type of line matching. Trying to separate Iginla from the big time defenders is very much warranted at this point.

  • First Name Unidentified

    It doesn’t matter who coached this team, as long as Iginla is here we are doomed to mediocrity.

    They can hire ANYONE to coach, there will not be any change in this team’s attitude as long as the coach killer is here.

    I think Brent did a banged up job with the type of players he was given. I would be surprised to hear if anybody here thought the Flames were actually a competent group and would’ve competed for Lord Stanley’s under a different coach.

    “You are getting rid of the wrong guy”

  • jeremywilhelm

    Bad news for a rebuild. Brent said he wanted to coach a team that was:

    A) Rebuilding
    B) Contending

    And nothing in-between. He must have heard something he didn’t like in his conversations with Feaster.

    I bet this is our first clue that Iggy isn’t going anywhere, but that’s just speculation on my part.

    • icedawg_42

      Yup – im extemely worried about this for the exact reason you’ve noted. In any case, I don’t believe that Sutter was fired. I think it was his decision to leave. We shall see. I STILL say this is going to get worse before it gets better.

    • RexLibris

      That was actually my first thought as well.

      I said earlier this week that it seemed like it was shaping into a “him or me” contest between Brent Sutter and Iginla, and perhaps we have at least part of that answer.

      Now, on the other hand, while Sutter said he would like to be coaching a team in a rebuild and also a contender (not sure how many of those exist, Brent), perhaps Feaster is leaning towards rebuilding the team and feels that Sutter isn’t the man to start that process.

      I guess if the Flames hold a press conference in Kelowna this July to announce a contract extension of an unnamed player it’ll probably be a pretty good tell of the organization’s intended direction.

  • RexLibris

    I was really frustrated how he forced square pegs into round holes instead of trying to work with the tools he had just a little bit. Case in point – not even knowing Hagman played PK.