SUN Hockey Pool

Flames coach knows it's all about business

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:15 PM ET

Even with fans and insiders alike calling for heads on platters, Brent Sutter isn’t about to confuse blood with business.

Sure, the Flames head coach has heard the speculation his older brother and boss, Darryl, is on the firing line after the squad failed to score a playoff invite for the first time since 2003-04, but Brent isn’t taking the criticism personally.

“We’re professional people, too. We understand the business part of it,” Sutter said. “Yes, Darryl is my brother and I love him to death, yet I think we all are responsible for what happened — coaches, players, everybody.

“Fair or unfair about what is being said out there, you don’t control it and you just go about your work. But I’m not a finger-pointer.”

A sizable chunk of the Sea of Red and countless media members are pointing the finger directly at Darryl, the gruff general manager who could once do no wrong in the Stampede City.

With the Flames scoring less often than that guy from the IT department, the Old Cowboy juggled a third of his roster with mid-season trades, shipping out former cornerstone blueliner Dion Phaneuf and overpriced centre Olli Jokinen — among others — for a raft of veterans short on star power.

The additions of Niklas Hagman, Christopher Higgins, Ales Kotalik, Jamal Mayers, Matt Stajan, Steve Staios and Ian White didn’t make much of a difference.

The Flames continued their fall from grace, thanks in large part to a stagnant offence, and the cries for Darryl’s dismissal have only grown louder since the team was officially eliminated from the Western Conference playoff puzzle.

Wednesday morning, as the interrogators sifted through the rubble of a lost season, Brent dodged questions about his brother’s uncertain future, urging reporters to “give it time.”

With the seldom-seen news-types — not-so-affectionately known as the Angels of Death inside the Saddledome walls — nowhere to be seen after Thursday’s morning skate, the Flames bench boss was more candid, insisting during a two-minute response that every member of Viking’s first family understands the business side of the game.

In addition to Darryl and Brent, brothers Duane (director of player personnel) and Ron (western pro scout) are also on the Flames’ payroll. Darryl’s son, Brett, has suited up for eight games since being recalled from AHL Abottsford late last month.

How many of them will be back next season remains to be seen. Prior to Thursday’s meaningless meeting with the Minnesota Wild at the Saddledome, the Flames’ first-year head coach seemed to indicate his family is ready for anything.

“It’s tough for everybody right now. This isn’t easy for anybody,” Brent said. “And yet, as far as Darryl and myself having the same last names, we also are very professional and understand what’s happening, what has gone on and what possibly could go on moving forward.

“It’s important that everyone stays supportive and making sure we do this the right way. Whatever happens will happen. Yet we have to make sure the picture moving forward is first and foremost because that’s what counts. That’s what matters.”

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca


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