Flames believe ex-boss will be fired up

Kings head coach Darryl Sutter speaks with forward Mike Richards during practice in Calgary, ALta.,...

Kings head coach Darryl Sutter speaks with forward Mike Richards during practice in Calgary, ALta., Jan. 14, 2012. (BRENDAN MILLER/Special to QMI Agency)


, Last Updated: 11:08 PM ET

CALGARY - In the days leading up to his return to Calgary, Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter said he felt nothing extra special about a game against the Flames.

He may be saying those words, but itís worth asking players who served under Sutter if they believed them.

ďDo you believe that?Ē replied Calgary defenceman Scott Hannan, who played under Sutter for parts of five seasons in San Jose. ďYou want to win every game, but those games are extra special. When you play your old team, of course youíre wound up. Youíre playing a sport and everybodyís competitive.Ē

Sutter spent eight years with the Flames organization, hired as head coach midway through the 2002-03 season before adding the GM title after that season.

He held both jobs through the 2005-06 campaign before bumping himself upstairs to concentrate solely on GM duties.

He resigned midway through last season but, after nearly a year out of hockey, took the coaching job in Los Angeles last month.

When Sutter took over coaching in Calgary, he downplayed the importance of his first game against the San Jose Sharks, who fired him a month before he went to Calgary.

However, the players knew the importance of that game, Craig Conroy recalled.

ďHe wouldnít let his team know, but itís important to him,Ē Conroy said. ďOur first game against San Jose with him (a 5-2 loss) ... he was not happy. He didnít make the game feel any different before the game, but when he came into the room after the first period, he was mad. He was mad at all of us.Ē

ďIím sure heíd like to win,Ē Flames captain Jarome Iginla said. ďBut I think itís cooler to be facing his brother. I donít think itís a personal thing, ĎWe want to beat Darryl.í Itís about the standings. Itís not about getting back at somebody.Ē

In fact, his former players were happy to catch up with the former coach.

ďI think heís really enjoying being back behind the bench. I saw him this morning, and he was pretty relaxed,Ē said Conroy, now the special assistant to the GM. ďBut I know itíll be different come 5 oíclock. By eight oíclock, boom, itíll be on.Ē


Flames centre Matt Stajan practised Saturday for the first time since suffering a high-ankle sprain in the Dec. 18 game in Chicago.

Stajan, one of seven players out of action due to injury right now ó a list which doesnít include defenceman Brett Carson, whoís currently on a conditioning assignment ó skated by himself a couple of times this week, but this was a big step forward.

ďI want to get back with the guys and get my pace back up,Ē Stajan said. ďAt this point, you hope thereís no setbacks, but it feels good. Then, Iíve got to get some contact and some game-like stuff. Hopefully I can find my way back into the lineup before the (all-star) break. Thatís the plan.

Itís the first time Stajan suffered a high-ankle sprain.

ďItís not a fun injury,Ē he said. ďAll ankle sprains are bad, but mine was a grade level less than some guys have had, so I was able to recover a bit quicker. Now, to get the muscles working again.Ē


Itís an obvious move to reunite Iginla and Michael Cammalleri as a powerplay tandem. Looks like Blair Jones has drawn the enviable position as the man in the middle.

Although Iginla and Cammalleri didnít skate as linemates during Saturdayís morning skate, they were together when the team practised powerplays. Jones was given the task of playing centre and setting up in front of the net.

ďItís a good opportunity. Iíve played on the powerplay before, so Iím not getting thrown into the fire. Iím excited,Ē said the centre acquired via trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning just over a week ago. ďIím sure Iíll be wearing a few of those pucks, getting hit by their one-timers, when Iím standing in front, but thatís part of the game.Ē