SUN Hockey Pool

Feisty ol' Devil Sutter means biz

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

While preparing the night before for Saturday's Hockey Night in Canada broadcast, Kevin Weekes saw Brent Sutter's post-game news conference.

Weekes watched Sutter rip into his team on the heels of their 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets Friday evening.

He didn't hear it, but Weekes -- who played for the New Jersey Devils the two years Sutter coached them and now does commentary for CBC -- got the gist.

He's lived it.

"It was just before I went to bed and the audio was off because I was working on my computer. I could tell he was sour," Weekes said.

"The (next) morning I read what he said."

For more than half a season, Weekes has watched his former coach with his new team and seen Sutter try to implement his way of doing things on a Flames team that has battled through its ups and downs, yet still went into last night's clash with the Colorado Avalanche atop the NHL's Northwest Division.

Weekes, who retired after a 13-year pro career, says nothing he's seen from Sutter has come as a surprise to him.

"He has his system, in terms of the way he wants to do things, what he believes in, why he believes in them and how he wants them executed. He's very steadfast in those things.

"I know those four things are big for him," Weekes said.

He understands making things interesting for the coach in Calgary is that New Jersey has had a way of doing things for a generation, compared to a Flames team that had little structure the past couple of years.

"In New Jersey, it's in the DNA. It's an organizational thing. It's the culture," he said.

"Last year, we set a franchise record for wins, and Marty (Brodeur) was out the majority of the season. That shows how good a job the team did and how good a job Brent did.

"In Calgary, they had the run going to the Cup (final in 2004) and had good teams, but it's been inconsistencies. The only consistent thing has been the inconsistency, in terms of the approach and the way they play. It's a lot of the details -- on-ice details and off-ice details.

"It is more challenging for him to hammer those things home because they haven't been fully in place. It's not better or worse, just a different challenge."

That explains the challenge of having a team that looked so good through a trying month of November yet struggled all of December.

Or, in a smaller time frame, so bad against the Blue Jackets and so good Saturday in a 3-2 shootout win in Vancouver.

While Sutter demands strong defensive play, Weekes points out how players like Zach Parise had breakout offensive seasons under his coaching.

"If you want to be creative, guys just have to buy in and battle on the defensive side of the puck," Weekes said.

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA


Photos