SUN Hockey Pool

Flames cut ties with assistant coaches

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:49 AM ET

CALGARY - If Rob Cookson and Jamie McLennan are being made scapegoats for the disappointing Calgary Flames season, the gun is being aimed low.

The two assistant coaches won’t have their contracts renewed for the 2011-12 season, and it’s a departure of a couple of well-liked staff members.

But neither Cookson or McLennan could really be blamed for the struggles this season.

Several other areas could take the hit for a second straight season out of the NHL post-season, from the president through to the head coach and, of course, the players.

Why not blame the scouting staff that put together a farm system that lacks blue-chip prospects or callups who could help when injuries hit?

At least the hard-working equipment staff and trainers have been spared so far.

It could be the first moves of many, as acting general manager Jay Feaster goes about setting a new course of action despite not having a definite determination on his long-term future with the team.

The moves could also be a sign head coach Brent Sutter is keen to shape his coaching staff more to his own style.

Cookson has been with the Flames organization since the 2000-01 season, playing various roles, but his main job recently was that of video coach.

The full-time Calgary resident has stuck around through six coaching regimes, working first under Don Hay, then Greg Gilbert, Darryl Sutter, Jim Playfair, Mike Keenan and finally Brent Sutter.

It’s likely Brent Sutter has new men in mind to be his eyes in the sky during games.

Both Cookson and McLennan would watch from the pressbox and rush down to the dressing room for intermissions so the team could make adjustments.

McLennan spent the past two seasons as the team’s goalie coach after one working in professional development in scouting.

He had a good working relationship with starter Miikka Kiprusoff from his playing days, but it was generally thought McLennan was too easy-going with the netminder.

But the former Flames goalie — nicknamed Noodles — was a favourite of Darryl Sutter’s from his time as a backup.

Both Cookson and McLennan are part of the past, and it’s time to move forward.McLennan is being offered another role within the organization and is taking time to mull it over.

Clearly, Feaster is just getting started, and he’s not wasting time.

“While our comprehensive review of the hockey department is ongoing, we believe it is important that when decisions are made with respect to personnel, we communicate those decisions in a timely manner,” Feaster said in a statement.

“As further decisions are finalized we will continue the process of informing our staff and releasing information as expeditiously as possible.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

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