SUN Hockey Pool

Fans hope silence is over

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

As a curious public waited yesterday for word of an announcement about the Calgary Flames' next coach, the team brass was out hitting balls.

Never one to work on anyone's schedule but his own -- or make any apologies for it -- Flames GM Darryl Sutter took part in a charity golf day along with team president Ken King down at the Pengrowth Rockyview Invitational at the Glencoe Golf & Country Club.

It must have been a nice break from business, as Sutter has no doubt been holed up for days at a time in an effort to prepare for this weekend's draft while simultaneously searching for a new bench staff expected to be driven by his brother Brent Sutter.

Not to mention any discussions with pending free agents and their agents.

Despite the silence smothering the city over the last few days, a mid-morning news conference welcoming Brent is still expected in Calgary today before the Sutters jet off to Montreal.

It's the team's last opportunity to locally announce a staff -- or at least a leader -- prior to the soft deadline Darryl set for himself and his search after letting Mike Keenan go a month ago.

The unexpected quiet over the anticipated announcement wasn't exclusive to the Flames.

Reached by the New Jersey Star-Ledger, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello was equally reluctant to make any sort of comment with regards to his former coach.

He would have had to give his permission for Brent to begin negotiations with any team, but refused to even address that with reporters yesterday.

"I'm not going to have any comment on that situation until something happens or doesn't happen," Lamoriello said.

"Until there is an official announcement one way or the other -- and don't misinterpret that -- I'm going to withhold any comments."

Some insiders are viewing his silence as anger, and expect him to explode following any official announcement.

But that seems unlikely unless the Flames did the unthinkable and attempted to negotiate with Brent before getting the go-ahead from the Devils GM.

Lamoriello's stance on tampering has been well known since 1995 when the St. Louis Blues messed with free-agent defenceman Scott Stevens.

Four years later, Lamoriello received more than a million dollars and a draft pick from the Blues as compensation.

No compensation is necessary under the new CBA when it comes to signing coaches already under contract.

All that's needed is permission from his club.

The puzzling thing out of New Jersey is why Lamoriello doesn't just admit he gave Darryl permission to talk to Brent?

It would certainly give him bonus points in the karma department. The "no comment" only makes the information-hungry media wonder whether or not he's getting ready to file tampering charges against the Flames when they make it official.

Knowing the way Sutter likes to ensure every detail is done before announcing anything, a more likely scenario is Lamoriello simply doesn't want to let the cat out of the bag -- at least officially -- until the ink is dry on Brent's new deal that brings him closer to home.

The waiting world likely will find out this morning.


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