A Tip: Hire ex-Stars coach

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

During his non-announcement news conference late last month, Darryl Sutter said there were three coaches under contract he was interested in taking the job for the Calgary Flames.

One stepped out from his deal earlier this week. That would be when Brent Sutter stepped down from his bench boss duties with the New Jersey Devils.

Darryl has to believe Brent is qualified to take the reins in Calgary.

However, the surprising decision by the Dallas Stars to fire Dave Tippett a couple of days ago -- and replace him with Marc Crawford!?! -- makes you wonder whether Darryl is also thinking of giving him a call.

He should be.

The Flames and their fans deserve as much.

Darryl is probably still the front runner to have the whistle when the season begins. Lord knows he's qualified, and he's pushed the right buttons with Jarome Iginla and all the rest in the past.

Brent has all the qualifications, too, and would do as good a job, maybe even better than his brother.

Considering how taxing the duties are for a head coach and GM, you can't help but wonder whether Darryl could do it all, so it makes sense Brent would take half the load.

But Tippett's availability shouldn't be dismissed because he's not linked to the Sutter clan. In fact, it smacks of opportunity knocking.

When Mike Keenan was fired, it was said here the Flames needed to step outside the box with their replacement. At least ,the box that's been recycled in these parts in recent years.

For their head coach, the Flames have gone from Darryl Sutter to Jim Playfair to Mike Keenan. The names may have changed, but the style didn't. Keenan wasn't the Iron Mike of years ago, but still wasn't what you'd call a players' coach. Playfair's approach was similar to Sutter's -- at least, that's how the players felt.

Tippett would be a departure. In fact, it would be a welcome departure.

Tippett, who was captain of the 1984 Olympic team based in Calgary, is well-liked and respected by his players.

During his six seasons in Dallas, the Stars compiled a 271-156-65 record. The blemish is the playoff record, three first-round eliminations, to go with one trip to the second round and the 2008 journey to the Western Conference final.

And the Stars failed to miss the playoffs this past season, which was one to forget with the Sean Avery circus to start the year, and long-term injuries to Brenden Morrow, Sergei Zubov, Jere Lehtinen and Brad Richards.

Through it all, the Stars remained in the hunt for a playoff spot until the final few weeks. The fact they were still competitive has to be credited to coaching. No matter what, Tippett's team was prepared, focused and determined to play according to the gameplan.

Which is exactly what the Flames need.

New Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk said the move wasn't made because Tippett wasn't an excellent coach.

"The only way I can put it is, when I look at our team, much like when (Ken) Hitchcock was with us, at that point Bob (Gainey) felt time to make a change," Nieuwendyk told the Dallas Morning News. "There is no doubt in my mind Tippett will be a successful coach again in the NHL."

That's right. The curious move in Dallas will eventually be another team's gain.

The Flames should be smart and be that team.


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