Some people will be surprised by the timing of the firing.
Not Brent Sutter.
And no, it wasn’t Sutter who was on the chopping block the day of the Calgary Flames’ last game before the break, it was his former assistant in New Jersey, who was let go as head coach of the Devils two days before Christmas.
“Not really,” Sutter said when asked if he was taken aback by John MacLean’s termination. “Sometimes things don’t count in this business. Really, it’s irrelevant.
“Management and ownership and so-forth, they make decisions what’s appropriate at the time, that they feel is the right thing to do at the time.
“I don’t get too caught up in when it is or what time of year it is, you just feel bad for the individual it happens to because it’s unfortunate.”
Sutter has personal relationships with all involved, having worked for Devils GM Lou Lamoriello for two seasons before joining the Flames last fall.
MacLean served as one of his assistants and was promoted to the top job this season when Sutter’s replacement, Jacques Lemaire, resigned for personal reasons after guiding the team to the Atlantic Division championship.
With the Devils going into Thursday’s game against the New York Islanders on a three-game losing streak and sitting at the bottom of the league standings, Lamoriello made a move many in Calgary have been speculating could happen any time because of their spot near the bottom of the Western Conference.
“We know we’re in a tough racket,” Sutter said. “No easy chore for coaches in the National Hockey League.
“You work hard at it, and you throw anything you can into it.”
MacLean had fewer than 200 days at the helm before Lamoriello decided to end the rookie head coach’s tenure in Jersey, which included seven years as an assistant before his promotion.
“It’s a lot to do with circumstances,” Sutter said, later stressing Lamoriello is a good man, who is very loyal.
He treated Sutter with complete respect when he opted to leave his post with a year left on his contract to be closer to his family in Alberta.
Only Lamoriello and MacLean know on what terms they parted. “Unfortunately, it happened. You feel bad,” Sutter said.
“Jacques has been someone there that Lou has always had a lot of trust and faith in.
“From what I’m hearing, it’s an interim thing. But who knows? You never know in those situations how your team responds — is it a short-term thing, is it a long-term thing, you never know.”