SUN Hockey Pool

A second dose of Sutter?

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

Let the rumours begin.

The next coach of the Calgary Flames could be anyone from Jacques Lemaire (formerly of the Minnesota Wild) to Todd Richards (currently an assistant with the San Jose Sharks).

Mike Keenan is out -- a season early, according to his three-year contract -- and someone else could soon be in as June's NHL Entry Draft approaches.

Maybe even Flames GM Darryl Sutter himself.

"I wouldn't be surprised, honestly," said Flames centre Craig Conroy.

"I wouldn't put it out of the realm of possibility.

"But that's a lot of work."

Sutter was both head coach and GM from late-2003 through the end of the 2005-06 season before going upstairs as a full-time GM.

Financially, it would make sense for the Flames, who will have to pay Keenan for his final year unless another team hires him.

The team won the Northwest Division title in Sutter's final year in the dual role.

They also lost to the Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the playoffs to start the current string of early exits -- but they did boast the league's best goals-against rating, and that's what many believe the team needs to get back to.

Among them is Flames rearguard Robyn Regehr, who points to the annually ballooning GAA as the team's biggest concern.

"That can't continue, or we're going to have a hard time not just getting out of the first round and being successful, but just making the playoffs," said Regehr. "I really want to see that addressed."

Suggesting he has no idea who Sutter might be eying to fill Keenan's spot -- "I have no idea. I was very surprised when I heard Mike got hired." -- Regehr says he doesn't believe Sutter wants to do it himself.

If he did, however, things would certainly be different in the dressing room.

"He does put the screws down on everybody, and that can be tough on some players," Regehr said of Sutter's harsh approach that constantly tests the mental mettle of his charges.

"If it means success and achieving our goals ... so be it. I would -- and I'm sure everyone else on the team would -- make that sacrifice."

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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