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Tyler Toffoli recalls Darryl Sutter’s coaching style: ‘I guess we have to go to Winsport tomorrow…’

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
8 months ago
When the Calgary Flames parted ways with head coach Darryl Sutter in May, following the club missing the playoffs, president of hockey operations Don Maloney mused about the shelf life of demanding coaches like Sutter. In an interview with the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast, recorded before his trade to New Jersey, former Flames forward Tyler Toffoli shed some light on some things that Sutter did that wore on players over time.
As you may know, the Flames don’t have a dedicated practice rink. So when the Saddledome was occupied during the season for a concert or a Calgary Roughnecks game, often the club would have to trek over to Winsport on the west side of town for practice. Sometimes they would get a day off, unless Sutter wasn’t satisfied with their effort in games.
“But we’d have a bad game or like a bad first period,” recalled Toffoli. “During the game he’d be like walking back and forth mumbling ‘I guess we have to go to Winsport tomorrow. You guys want to go practice at Winsport.’ It’s literally first period. It’s like 0-0. We have like 15 shots and they have 3, and he’s chirping guys on the bench, ‘I guess we have to go to Winsport tomorrow…’”
Toffoli also mentioned that Sutter’s “mind games” would extend to the club’s goaltenders.
“It’d be like 0-0, and he’d come in and he’d tell Vladdy, [Dan] Vladar, to get ready to go in,” said Toffoli. “We’re looking. It’s 0-0. ‘Oh Marky’s not ready to play tonight.’ We’re looking, we like, there’s a reason it’s 0-0, he has 10 saves. We haven’t touched the puck this whole period. Little things like that. Like you said, it’s all mind games, he’s just trying to get guys going. I guess it happened in LA, too. It just started to wear on guys and the change happened.”
Toffoli joined the Flames in February 2022 via a trade with Montreal and played for the club for a season and a half, posting 45 goals and 96 points in 119 games. A pending unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2024, Toffoli was traded to the New Jersey Devils back on June 27 in exchange for forward Yegor Sharangovich and a third-round selection in the 2023 NHL Draft (used to select Aydar Suniev).
After two and a half seasons behind the Flames’ bench, Sutter was dismissed by the Flames on May 1. Ryan Huska was announced as the new head coach on June 12.

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