One day after the latest installment of the Flames’ Shootout at the No-Way Corral, Brent Sutter insists there was no post-game shouting match with Jay Feaster.
Yes, the team’s latest shootout pratfall prompted the fiery coach to go all Beckham on a garbage can.
And yes, he was too wound up to talk to the media, choosing instead to vent rather vociferously in a nearby room.
But no, contrary to reports from various Minnesota scribes, the Flames coach insists he did not clash with his GM over the controversial shootout participants.
“Jay was being a good GM and a friend,” a still-seething Sutter told the Calgary Sun on Friday, one ‘sleep’ after his club blew a 2-0 lead to the host Minnesota Wild to squander yet another shootout point.
“I was pissed off and had just finished addressing the team. Jay knew I was pissed, and he was trying to calm me down. He didn’t want me to talk to the media because I was hot. I was so worked up.”
Fact is the decision to replace Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen with Matt Stajan and Lee Stempniak was made in conjunction with Feaster after Sunday’s shootout shortcomings.
Despite just four wins in 13 shootouts, Sutter had recently spoken of simply playing the odds and continuing to trot out his leading scorers in the skills contest despite their struggles. That plan was altered two nights earlier.
“We had to change it up,” said Sutter of a shootout quartet that also included Blair Jones and Blake Comeau.
“You can’t continue to do things that don’t work — you have to be prepared to change or you sink even deeper. I want to use our top goal-scorers in the shootout, but if you’re not scoring, you have to do something different. Olli hasn’t scored in awhile, and Jarome just has trouble with the shootout.”
Sutter still planned on using Alex Tanguay in the shootout, but the crafty winger injured his left wrist earlier in the evening and told the coach not to use him as he couldn’t shoot. He missed practice Friday, his wrist wrapped.
Another option he considered was Tom Kostopoulos, but Sutter said several players turned to him on the bench and suggested Jones was a solid choice.
So he went with it. Same result — no goal — setting the stage for Comeau to falter as the fourth shooter with the game on the line after Devin Setoguchi scored for the Wild. Cue the finger-pointing by fans and the boiling point for Sutter.
“You’re always going to be second-guessed no matter what you do,” said Sutter of the criticism he’s receiving from angry Flames fans.
He’s right. Had he not changed course, he’d be labeled too stubborn.
The good news is the team spent time practising the shootout in Dallas on Friday afternoon, where they were joined by Mike Cammalleri who is the only Flames player to score in any of the team’s last five shootouts, dating back 17 shooters.
Sutter said his plan going forward is to go with his gut.
As for the post-shootout shouting, several Minnesota reporters claim they heard what was distinct yelling between the two in a hallway, featuring plenty of salty language.
Understandably, Sutter is at wits end — as are most fans.
“There was a security guard nearby, and I guess he told people there was an argument,” Sutter said. “I was so wound up, but there was no argument at all. We’re on the same page.”
Those wondering why Curtis Glencross wasn’t used need to consider he was benched the final 11 minutes of the second period after his (latest) retaliatory penalty opened the door for a powerplay goal that started the Wild comeback.
Winless in four and forever giving points away, the Flames certainly don’t look like a team deserving of an NHL playoff spot.
If things continue to slide against the Dallas Stars on Saturday afternoon and in Calgary on Monday night, there’ll be nothing left to yell about, as the Flames will have once again disappeared quietly.
Eric Francis appears regularly as a panellist on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.