If Brent Sutter is at all concerned about entering the final year of his contract with no extension in sight, he sure isn't showing it.
"I haven't even thought about it," said the Calgary Flames head coach, reiterating his stance last spring. "We missed the playoffs the last two years, and I feel as much responsibility as anybody on that. Yet you know how the team played the last half of last season, and that's encouraging. That's what you build off."
There isn't a head coach alive who doesn't enter a season without unbridled enthusiasm.
But given the way the Flames played from Christmas on, Sutter does indeed have reason to feel better about life under team GM Jay Feaster.
After all, the two communicate and work well together, which is a huge departure from the tense relationship Brent had with brother and Flames former GM Darryl before the latter's ousting late last December.
Yet none of that has led to any summertime discussions with Feaster of a new deal after this season.
If the season goes well and Sutter is happy in Calgary, he's confident contract talk will come up in due time. If things falter again, he's realistic enough to know coaches who miss three-straight playoff parties aren't long for their jobs.
Don't forget, this is a man who walked away from a lucrative contract with the New Jersey Devils in 2009 so he could be closer to his family in Red Deer and run the WHL's Rebels, which he still owns.
"I trust my instincts, and I have good staff," said Sutter, who brought in several new coaches and truly feels he has all the resources necessary to coach the way he wants in Calgary.
" The biggest thing was building a team -- togetherness, caring about one another, having an environment in which you feel good about and enjoy coming to each day ... We have fun in practices. And we can understand and differentiate between winning and losing. And we're being professional in how we approach everything."
Having won almost everywhere he's coached and played, the two-time Stanley Cup winner is firm on how he wants things to be done. Feaster has also won a Cup, giving the club a one-two punch Sutter relishes.
Add the recent Cup won by former Bruins executive John Weisbrod, who is now Feaster's assistant GM, and the club's braintrust is rife with good leadership.
"When you come from winning programs and have won, you understand the atmosphere and intangible things it takes that people who haven't won don't understand."