February 21, 2011
Cherry picks wrong cornerSutter architect of own demise
By STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency
CALGARY - Sour Grapes.
That’s a perfect way to describe both Don Cherry’s pro-Darryl Sutter rant and the way the local media has jumped on the former Calgary Flames GM since his ... ahem ... resignation.
Sorry, Don. While Sutter doesn’t deserve all the blame for his team’s awful first few months of the season, he does deserve plenty.
In terms the Old Farmer himself ought to understand: You reap what you sow.
Would Sutter have been as battered by members of the Calgary media before and after he was asked to step down if he hadn’t been such a hostile and condescending figure? Probably not.
But there’s no denying he was the architect of his own demise, along with the team’s struggles for nearly a calendar year thanks to questionable deals and his surly presence at the Saddledome.
Cherry spouted off on the Calgary media Sunday night on his Coach’s Corner segment of CBC’s Heritage Classic broadcast.
Suggesting the former Flames GM was and is still being unfairly blamed, and that his departure is too easy a link to the team’s recent turnaround in their fight for a playoff spot, Cherry’s argument falls apart right around the time he mentions Daymond Langkow as a No.-1 centre, goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff being a weak link in the first half of the season, and Jarome Iginla averaging only 15 minutes of ice time during the dark days early this campaign.
Wrong on all counts, Don. Langkow had stopped being a top centre well before his unfortunate injury last season, Kiprusoff was probably the team’s MVP in first half of the year, and Iginla probably should have been benched on a couple of occasions but was still routinely given regular shifts by head coach Brent Sutter until he turned his game around by committing to the kind of game his bench boss wanted him to play.
And everyone from the players and coaches to the trainers, security guards and concession workers felt more relaxed when Darryl Sutter was essentially fired while the team was in 14th spot in the Western Conference after Christmas.
“Of course, it wasn’t fun, because they were losing,” Cherry said. “No, you shouldn’t be having a good time the way they were playing.”
Truth is, they couldn’t even enjoy their wins with Darryl around.
And losses were like death.
Maybe most important of all, what changed when Sutter stepped down was the team became his brother’s.
The Flames started to rally together when they thought their head coach’s job was in jeopardy, not the GM’s.
And while many of them feel a little public loyalty to the man who helped make them rich, they haven’t gone out of their way to defend him.
We’ll never know whether the Flames could have turned things around this dramatically with Darryl still in charge.
But the idea the team and its fans and the media members who cover it on a daily basis owed him anything is as ridiculous as Cherry spending almost three minutes of his HNIC segment defending a man whose time to move on had clearly come as it started to turn the other way.