MONTREAL — When he watched some of his players throwing around a football, Brent Sutter had to join in.
They were chucking the pigskin on an indoor soccer field at the Montreal Canadiens training facility, and Sutter couldn’t resist the fun.
Off came the blazer and he began throwing and catching passes.
“Pretty solid arm,” remarked left-winger Eric Nystrom. “He was tossing it better than the last guy (Mike Keenan) could.
“It’s good to see the coaches in a good mood, because it’s brutal when they’re not happy. Everybody’s tense. Today was a bit of fun and it’s nice to get the opportunity to do that.”
The Flames didn’t enjoy a day off Wednesday, but preparation for Friday night’s clash in Buffalo included a variety of activities.
A handful took to the ice.
A bunch worked out in the gym.
And a group hit the indoor turf after a brief workout for a tag football game.
Sutter took part in the warmup, but didn’t get in on the real action.
“I was the referee,” said Sutter, with a smile you usually see from a father watching his children play. “It was good to see the guys have a little bit of fun. It’s quite a facility here and allows guys to do some things indoors was good.
“It was neat watching them. You can tell some are good athletes.”
Originally, a handful of the players were kicking soccer balls, while others were throwing the football they bring on the road.
Eventually, the chance for a gridiron game couldn’t be overlooked, with Nystrom, David Moss, Mark Giordano, Cory Sarich, Nigel Dawes, Daymond Langkow, Dustin Boyd, Rene Bourque, Jay Bouwmeester and strength and conditioning coach Rich Hesketh lining up.
“The schedule’s hectic and we’re on the road a lot. Guys get banged up, so you do something different to get a sweat and loosen up. It was a lot of fun,” Nystrom said. “But we’re still competitive playing touch football. You can see why guys make it to this level. They’re competitive.”
Added Sarich: “You get out there and it shows other sides of guys’ personalities, from what you see in the locker room and on the ice. It’s nice to do something new.”
Still, Sutter’s participation caught a few players off guard, albeit in a good way. After all, it’s good to be reminded your boss can have fun, too.
“Horsing around is fun. I played the game, too,” Sutter said. “And I know you’ve got to enjoy coaching, too. You have to get to know your players and have to be able to interact. I never thought about it, just wanted to have some fun.”