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Calgary Flames coaches Rob Cookson, left, Darryl Sutter and Rich Preston are looking forward to...

Calgary Flames coaches Rob Cookson, left, Darryl Sutter and Rich Preston are looking forward to their return behind the bench along with Jim Playfair and David Marcoux. (Calgary Sun/Darren Makowichuk)

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

Don't let that gruff exterior fool you, Darryl Sutter has comedic timing.

When it comes to the one-liners, the Calgary Flames GM/head coach can hold his own against any improv artist out there.

More important for the defending Western Conference champs, Sutter also understands the importance of timing when it comes to getting a job done.

Which is why he'll be behind the bench when the club hoists the banner earned just over a year ago and strives to claim another -- or more -- to put beside it in the rafters.

It's all but a sure thing Sutter will eventually kick himself upstairs for good, likely after the coming season, but for now he wants to maintain both duties.

Making it easier is the fact all four assistants who were part of the Stanley Cup final run of '04 -- Rich Preston, Jim Playfair, Rob Cookson and David Marcoux -- were officially announced as being back on board yesterday.

"We're all familiar with what we have to do to prepare for training camp," Sutter said. "The only reason you don't keep everyone is if someone gets an opportunity elsewhere. We have a diverse staff, guys that have been through the battle together. Now it's time to move forward."

The organization took another step forward, too, officially announcing Ryan McGill -- the former Kootenay Ice bench boss who spent the last three seasons guiding the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack -- as head coach of the expansion Omaha Knights.

Sutter, who also received a contract extension recently, said McGill was chosen after consultation with all the other members of the coaching staff.

"Our coaching staff is not just about these guys," Sutter said. "That's why we wanted to tie it all together at once. Our staff is also Ryan McGill and Scotty Allen (the assistant in Omaha). They're as important or more important than our guys here.

"We will be the youngest team in the American Hockey League this year. It's not just about drafting and developing, it's about speeding the process up."

McGill said he's looking forward to being in an organization with Sutter, who guided him as a player some 15 years ago in the Chicago Blackhawks system.

"I'm still a young guy and there's still a lot for me to learn from my end and Darryl's done such a good job," said McGill from Omaha. "How could you not learn from him?

"For me, this is the perfect opportunity."

With all those ducks in a row, Sutter is now able to turn his attention to Saturday's draft and contract talks with the club's crew of restricted free agents, among the list are Jarome Iginla, Miikka Kiprusoff, Daymond Langkow, Steve Reinprecht and Jordan Leopold, as well as 2003 draft choices who must be signed by tomorrow.

Sutter said he will meet with four agents this week, including Kiprusoff's adviser, Larry Kelly, and Iginla's representative, Don Meehan.

As it stands, the Flames own their first-round pick, 26th overall, but don't have a second-round selection due to the trade that brought Kiprusoff to town.

Sutter does expect a compensatory pick after the second round for Craig Conroy.

Plus, there are the trade winds to contend with.

"A lot of it has to do with what goes on this week," Sutter said. "With the buyouts and the tighter deadlines, teams are trying to make moves this week, prior to the draft, and if they can't ... there could be a lot of picks moved around."

He's also over the disappointment of falling in the draft due to the lottery, from 19th to 26th.

"I'd rather have a first rounder there than not have one. To be quite honest, I'd prefer our team got used to picking 26th," he said. "Last year's was the lowest this team's picked in 10 years. My philosophy is to get used to it, not be surprised by it."

ICE CHIPS: Sutter said tomorrow is also the deadline for goaltender Roman Turek to provide his intentions. Turek, who does have a deal that would pay him $1.14 million US, signed a contract with a team in the Czech Republic. He has the option to play for either team ... Flames president Ken King said season ticket requests have been running at about 80 per day, putting the team on pace for possibly an even better base than before the 2003-04 season. "I don't know if we're going to be at capacity every game but it certainly looks like we'll have that opportunity," King said ... To celebrate the club's 25th year in Calgary, the Flames will honour 25 Flames greats over the course of the season.


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