People will assume there was one reason Brett Sutter was sent down to the minors by the Calgary Flames Monday.
To serve as some form of punishment for the assault charges he’s facing from last week’s incident in Arizona.
Fact is, there were nearly 2,700 reasons every day it made no sense for him to have been here the past few weeks before GM Darryl Sutter — his father — made the roster move.
Sutter’s daily NHL salary adds up to US$2,688, which he collected even while being a healthy scratch the past dozen games after skating in the first four contests of the season.
Realistically, it was prudent to keep the 23-year-old rookie with the big club for a few of those contests, but once David Moss returned to the lineup and the team was scratching two forwards and one healthy defenceman per game, there was no reason for the Flames to keep the depth player with the big club.
You would think after the Flames were burned in the worst way a couple of seasons ago — when they were unable to dress a full lineup down the stretch and it cost them a Northwest Division title — the GM would save as many pennies as possible.
Therefore, Sutter — who should be commended for making the NHL on more effort, determination and hard work than pure talent — was the obvious player to have been demoted.
Maybe the Flames organization is now wishing that move was made a week ago, if not sooner, and not just because five of the Heat forwards are currently nursing injuries.
Maybe then, Sutter would have been skating with the AHL Abbotsford Heat instead of attending the Flames’ annual rookie dinner last week, which didn’t conclude until the wee hours of the morning in Arizona.
Therefore, Sutter wouldn’t be in the mess he finds himself now, facing an assault charge for allegedly sucker-punching a cab driver outside a Scottsdale, Ariz., nightclub.
For his part, Sutter released a statement apologizing Monday.
“My background is one of hard work and respect, so this incident is totally out of character for me,” it read.
“I have set the wrong example not only for children who love the Flames and hockey, but also for my brother who has been such a great example for me.”
His younger brother, Christopher, has Down Syndrome.
In time, the charges and the incident will run their course.
Sutter will go through the court process — the case has been adjourned until Nov. 30 — and will likely face some type of punishment.
Likewise, he may go through some other civil litigation.
In short, he’ll pay a price of a night out which ended in a poor decision.
A big price.
Whether he plays again for the Flames remains to be seen. Sutter can make it work for a spell, but not likely as an 82-game NHLer.
This incident won’t have him black-balled in the NHL, but put a black mark on the franchise while his father is embattled for building a team which has lost six of seven games and now ahead of only the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference standings.
“I know he’s taking it hard,” said Flames captain Jarome Iginla. “He’s a great young guy, he works really hard. He has a wonderful personality. For him to be involved in an incident like this is definitely out of character.
“We definitely talked to him and support him. Hopefully, it gets resolved and we can move forward.”
Sutter will move forward. Hopefully, he’ll be able to remain a role player in the Flames organization.
It just may be long after the smoke has cleared.