Flames GM stickin' to his guns

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:12 AM ET

Darryl Sutter says he’s standing pat.

As the clock ticks towards Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline, though, nobody is nailing their name tags to their stalls in the Calgary Flames’ locker-room.

Not yet, anyway.

“You’re not nervous, but you know that it’s just around the corner and anything can happen,” said Flames centre Dustin Boyd. “It’s out of your control, so you’ve just gotta go play hockey.

“You just never know, right? Anything can happen, so you’ve just gotta make sure you’re ready to play, and whatever happens, happens.”

Twice over the past five days, the Flames GM has faced reporters and insisted not much will happen over the next two days.

Flames fans have heard that one before.

After all, Sutter made a similar statement last season, telling reporters he didn’t want to “disrupt the chemistry in the dressing room” just five days before he shocked the hockey world by acquiring top-line centre Olli Jokinen from the Phoenix Coyotes to reinforce an injury ravaged forward group and bringing defenceman Jordan Leopold back to the club.

The difference is Sutter shook things up a little earlier this season.

Four weeks ago, he pulled the trigger on a blockbuster deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, acquiring forwards Niklas Hagman, Matt Stajan and Jamal Mayers and defenceman Ian White in exchange for blueliner Dion Phaneuf, winger Fredrik Sjostrom and prospect Keith Aulie.

The following day, he shipped Jokinen and gritty Brandon Prust to the New York Rangers, welcoming forwards Ales Kotalik and Chris Higgins to Calgary.

Question is are more deals in the works?

No competitive angler will tell his buddies where the fish are biting, but, for what it’s worth, Sutter indicated he’ll leave his boat at the dock Wednesday.

After announcing left-winger Rene Bourque has signed a six-year contract extension last week, Sutter shrugged off questions about the looming deadline, saying “we’ve pretty well done our work.”

He reiterated that stance Monday morning when asked what Flames followers should expect leading up to Wednesday’s trade freeze.

“I don’t think you expect much,” Sutter said matter-of-factly. “We’ve added six via trade and seven with (Mikael) Backlund, and two guys

re-signed. I think that’s significant. That’s a lot when you start thinking about your locker-room.”

Inside that locker-room, the current Flames are taking a wait-and-see approach.

Asked following Monday’s practice session at the Saddledome if players can breathe a sigh of relief after Sutter’s closed-for-business proclamation, defenceman Robyn Regehr just smiled and shrugged his shoulders.

“You’ve seen that in the past. Sometimes, things happen that way. Sometimes, they don’t,” Regehr said.

“Really, you never know. You never know until the deadline has passed.”

Even Stajan, with the ink barely dried on a four-year contract extension announced Monday, wasn’t ready to rule anything out, noting you “never say never in this league.”

Although he made a couple of significant swaps as the deadline approached last winter, Sutter hasn’t been big on last-minute moves. His track record in Calgary indicates he’d rather have his gifts wrapped early than brave the sales on Christmas Eve.

Sutter acquired gritty forward Marcus Nilson the day before the deadline in 2004. Two years later, forward Jamie Lundmark was his only acquisition in the annual trade frenzy. The following season, he added depth defenceman David Hale to the fold.

Regehr, who ranks fifth on the Flames’ all-time games played list, pointed out it’s tough to compare this season to years past.

After all, Sutter has never added this many guys at mid-season.

“We’re in a lot different situation this year than we have been the last couple. With Darryl, he made three significant moves already,” Regehr said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen — you never do as a player — but I think for us, we have a lot of new guys in here and we’re just trying to deal with all of that and getting the best possible results out of the team that’s in here right now.

“You really can’t think about anything else.”

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca


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