Calgary Wranglers head coach Mitch Love didn’t mince words when talking about Brett Sutter with the media on Monday.
With Byron Froese out of the picture, the Calgary Flames’ newly relocated American Hockey League affiliate is in need of a new captain. Sutter, 35, is a former Flame (you might’ve heard of his dad) who most recently served as captain of the Ontario Reign for five seasons.
How’s that for a tailor-made replacement?
When asked by Wranglers TV host Olivia McDonald about the type of leadership Sutter has brought in the early stages of AHL training camp, Love gave a pretty clear-cut answer.
“Unsolicited, he’s our captain. He’s earned that opportunity and he’s going to be real big for our group,” Love said. “I hear nothing but good things about his career, what he’s done in Ontario with his time there with the younger players, and obviously that organization’s gone through a little bit of a rebuild and you’ve seen the fruit of the loom there with some of their young prospects.
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“I think he’s a big part of that and we need him to do the same here with our group.”
The Wranglers have yet to make an official announcement on who will replace Froese as captain, but it wouldn’t exactly come as a shock to see Sutter with the “C” on his chest when the Wranglers open their season against the Coachella Valley Firebirds on Oct. 16.
(For starters, Love did outright say “he’s our captain”) …
“I would say he’s got a pretty good chance on that,” Love laughed. “We’ll talk about it, but, again, we’ve got a few weeks here before we kick things off. But, yeah, I wouldn’t bet against him on that one.”
The Flames originally selected Sutter in the sixth round of the 2005 NHL Draft. He appeared in 18 NHL games with the club over parts of three seasons before being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2010.
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Sutter has since worn the “C” with both the Charlotte Checkers and the Reign. He also served as an alternate captain with the Iowa Wild from 2014 to 2016. Most recently, the six-foot forward scored eight goals and 19 points in 65 games with the 2021–22 Reign.
As far as Wranglers alternate captains are concerned, Matthew Phillips is the only lock — he’s worn an “A” with the farm club since 2020. Nick DeSimone and Clark Bishop are likely the strongest candidates to round out the leadership group.
Assuming he appears in at least 26 of the Wranglers’ 72 games during the 2022–23 regular season, Sutter will play in his 1,000th AHL game this year. He made headlines last season by skating in his 1,000th professional hockey game (a figure that includes his 60 NHL contests).
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Sutter skated on a line with Cole Schwindt and Walker Duehr during Monday’s Wranglers practice at Winsport (FN didn’t attend Tuesday’s sessions). The Wranglers will return to the ice at Winsport on Wednesday for an intra-squad scrimmage — open to the public — at 10:30 a.m. MT.