Tight lipped

ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

Turns out, Jim Playfair's future with the club is in doubt after all.

After weeks of silence Flames GM Darryl Sutter made himself available to the media yesterday and refused to give the first-year coach a vote of confidence.

"I'm not going to critique or give anyone accolades three days afterwards," said Sutter. "It's kind of the norm for the media to single people out -- that's not correct. From my standpoint that's not a good practice to publicly do that."

Suggesting he'll know more about the future of the club --and those who direct it -- following a week of meetings with players and coaches, he did give his assessment of the season.

"It was okay," he shrugged.

"I'm not going to say we had a great year and I'm not going to say we had a bad year. The philosophy of this organization since I came here is that 'OK is not OK.' That's not how you get better in this world. So we'll go through the evaluation process and not be satisfied just being a playoff team. We're a better team than an eighth-seed team."

Rightfully dissatisfied with a talented team that clearly fell short of its potential and expectations, Sutter snapped at several reporters who suggested as such.

"To be quite honest we've done quite well," said Sutter, contradicting the regression his team made this year. "The negativity and critiquing of the team is fine but you better look at how well this team has done and what we have going forward. We have 16 guys under contract and that's a lot at this time of the year."

So what about the coach next year?

"You're trying to go down a path that will take you nowhere," he reiterated.

While it is entirely his right to keep his thoughts to himself, it's evident Sutter isn't confident enough yet Playfair should get the nod to continue year two of his three-year deal.

If he was, he would have relished the opportunity to silence fans and the media by defending his successor.

Then again, given his obvious contempt for the media, Sutter may also want to make it clear he won't be swayed by public opinion. He'll settle the most obvious question surrounding the team when he's good and ready.

Until then, the debate rages on.

Fact is, yesterday's Q and A featured far more Q's than A's as he refused to discuss Jarome Iginla's desire to sign an extension or any other potential personnel moves.

Of the few questions he did answer:

Why did the team struggle away from the 'Dome?

"The assertiveness of the group changed on the road."

Why did it finish eighth?

"Goals against and shots against," he said.

"Scoring more goals seemed to be the mantra of the media at this time last year as to why we weren't more successful. It's just a bunch of bull----. It's still based on goals against and that's why our team didn't have as many points in the regular season as last year."

So the team abandoned its defence-first commitment?

"We never have been defence-first," he scoffed.

"If you're a team that can only score you'll never make the playoffs. If you're a team that can only play defence you'll make the playoffs but never get past the first round. If you're a team that can do both and understand that, you can go a long ways. I think we have that."

Is Playfair the best man to get it out of the players?

Sutter isn't sure yet.

If he is, he's not telling.


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