Top 50 Flames of All Time: #3 Darryl Sutter
Photo credit:Graphic by Mike Gould
By Ryan Pike7 months ago
The Calgary Flames franchise has seen a lot of impactful coaches and executives. One bench boss had a big enough positive impact to counter any shortcomings he had as a general manager. Let’s talk about perhaps the best coach the club has ever seen.
Darryl Sutter is #3 on our countdown.
Head Coach, 2002-06 and 2021-present; General Manager, 2003-10
A product of Viking, Alberta, Darryl was one of six Sutter sons to make it to the NHL. He was selected by Chicago in the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft after plying his trade in the Western Hockey League with Lethbridge.
Sutter ended up playing parts of eight seasons in the NHL, all with Chicago. He spent a few seasons in a few different coaching roles with the Blackhawks organization before becoming their head coach in 1992-93. He spent three seasons as Chicago’s head coach before being removed from that role. He then spent five and a half seasons with San Jose as their head coach before being fired midway through the 2002-03 season.
Sutter’s firing in San Jose came two days before the Flames fired Greg Gilbert from their head coaching job. After an interim period coached by Al MacNeil, the Flames hired Sutter as their head coach in an effort to right the ship.
Sutter only coached the Flames for two and a half seasons in his initial run. They went 19-18-9 in the remainder of 2002-03, but that set the foundation for their 2003-04 club. Sutter was hired as general manager during the 2003 off-season, so he spent much of 2003-04 tinkering with the group and ended up crafting a team well-suited to the style he wanted them to play. They ended up making the Stanley Cup Final.
Following the lockout, Sutter coached the 2005-06 season – the Flames won the division – before promoting Jim Playfair to replace him so he could focus on the GM role. The Flames subsequently were in the playoff mix, but the changing playing style and the Flames’ leveraging draft picks in early trades made it difficult for the club to adapt. Sutter kept making trades, but they didn’t have the intended result of returning the Flames to contention – his moves seemed more tailed to the pre-lockout style of game, rather than the up-tempo “new NHL” that emerged afterwards. In December 2010, Sutter resigned from his GM role and was replaced by Jay Feaster.
Sutter was lured back to coaching a few years later, joining Los Angeles mid-season during 2011-12 and eventually steering the Kings towards their first-ever Stanley Cup. He remained with the Kings for five more seasons, winning a second Stanley Cup in 2014. He briefly served as a coaching consultant with Anaheim before getting hired to rejoin the Flames midway through the 2020-21 season, replacing Geoff Ward as coach.
In terms of his longevity as a coach and his regular season and playoff success, Sutter’s in the process of cementing a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame. In terms of his impact on the Flames, he was responsible for massive course-corrections for the franchise in 2002 and 2021 that led to a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2004. It’s yet to be seen what success the 2021 course-correction will lead to.
Top 50 Flames of All Time
Honourable mentions | #50 Brad Treliving | #49 Sonia Scurfield | #48 Curtis Glencross | #47 Colin Patterson | #46 Jiri Hudler | #45 Jim Peplinski | #44 Jim “Bearcat” Murray | #43 Nelson Skalbania | #42 Dion Phaneuf | #41 Reggie Lemelin | #40 Joel Otto | #39 Dan Bouchard | #38 Paul Reinhart | #37 Tom Lysiak | #36 Eric Vail | #35 Tim Hunter | #34 Al Coates | #33 Harvey the Hound | #32 Martin Gelinas | #31 Sergei Makarov | #30 Elias Lindholm | #29 Mikael Backlund | #28 Häkan Loob | #27 Matthew Tkachuk | #26 Doug Gilmour | #25 Jacob Markström | #24 Joe Mullen | #23 Robyn Regehr | #22 Gary Roberts | #21 Doug Risebrough | #20 Al MacNeil | #19 Craig Conroy | #18 Daryl & Byron Seaman | #17 Gary Suter | #16 Sean Monahan | #15 Kent Nilsson | #14 Mark Giordano | #13 Joe Nieuwendyk | #12 Mike Vernon | #11 Terry Crisp | #10 Theoren Fleury | #9 Johnny Gaudreau | #8 “Badger” Bob Johnson | #7 Al MacInnis | #6 Lanny McDonald | #5 Harley Hotchkiss | #4 Miikka Kiprusoff | #3 Darryl Sutter
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