Sutter rallies the troops

Calgary Flames forwards Jarome Iginla (right) and Craig Conroy have a laugh with each other at...

Calgary Flames forwards Jarome Iginla (right) and Craig Conroy have a laugh with each other at practice on Monday. (Sun Media/Stuart Dryden)

ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:33 AM ET

He didn't kick any garbage cans, throw water bottles or grab anyone by the scruff of the neck.

Darryl Sutter simply decided yesterday morning it was time to have a nice chat with the boys about their current predicament.

Waking up with his team just four points up on a hard-charging Avalanche squad with 10 games to go, the Flames GM walked into the room he handed over to coach Jim Playfair last summer and gave his thoughts on what needed to be done to right the ship.

"It's not to undermine Jimmy at all or anything like that. It's just another view and something you don't hear every day, which helps hit home some other points," said Jarome Iginla of the team's guest speaker, who has dropped by "a handful of times" at "crucial points" of the season.

"(Sutter) still talks to guys individually but he hasn't actually been around that much. He's let Jimmy and the coaching staff do their job."

In explaining where the club has faltered, Sutter used simple math to break it down: The team sits third in the division and eighth in the conference, which coincides with allowing the third-most goals in the Northwest Division and eighth-most goals in the West.

To move up, or at least stay in a playoff spot, he implored them to tighten up defensively.

"Our goal at the beginning was to score more goals and we've done that," said Iginla.

"Unfortunately, we got away from the other side of it and we know that. I don't think the old style of just shutting it down and gritting it out is going to get us where we want to go either. We've got to find that balance."

At a time when talk of the team's recent collapse (one win in six outings) emanates from every coffee shop, office and radio in town, Sutter wanted to calm the troops by reiterating that with the talent and experience in that room they could be Cup contenders ... if they choose to be.

"He's definitely a guy who is very passionate and intense who knows the stats side of it and where we lie all the time," said the captain.

Craig Conroy said the players reacted well to the closed-door session and later hit the ice with intense focus.

"It was good, he just kind of simplified the bigger picture and how as players you're going to get through this," said Conroy, who said you could "hear a pin drop" when practice started. "The way to get out of it starting (tonight against the Detroit Red Wings) is to come to work.

"Sometimes when everyone on the outside is on us and saying we're collapsing or whatever, sometimes it helps because it brings us together.

"It's that 'us against them' mentality."

As for Playfair, he interrupted an otherwise breezy media scrum by refusing comment on Sutter's visit.

"That's no one's business when Darryl comes in," said Playfair, reverting to his typical game-day standoffishness. "He's the boss."

So almost everyone was on the same page yesterday.


Videos

Photos