April 13, 2012
Flames need to slow down coaching carousel
By STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency
Anyone else getting dizzy?
The Calgary Flames coaching carousel is still turning. It might hold a Guinness World Record benchmark for longest-running ride outside of Disneyland.
Parting ways with Brent Sutter a couple of months before his contract runs out means the Flames will introduce their ninth head coach in 15 years whenever GM Jay Feaster decides on the next man to hold that position.
That's an average of just a little more than 1.5 years of service per coach.
By comparison, Predators bench boss Barry Trotz has held the job exclusively in Nashville over that same time period from 1997 to now, while the Flames have seen Brian Sutter ('97-2000), Don Hay (2000-01), Greg Gilbert ('01-03), Al MacNeil ('03), Darryl Sutter (2003-06), Jim Playfair ('06-07), Mike Keenan ('07-09) and now Brent Sutter ('09-12)
They should install a guardrail or safety harness in that Saddledome office.
It would be nice to see someone stick around for a while.
There's a feeling the franchise is on the verge of making the most sweeping changes in more than a decade. Being hasty in the selection of the next person for that post would be a huge mistake if the Flames are to enjoy any stability there for the foreseeable future.
Brent Sutter's three-year stay was actually one of the longest here in the last 15 years, and considering the talent he had to work with, his 118-90-38 record wasn't awful despite three seasons of missing the playoffs.
But for an organization with expectations that remain sky high every season, even when the team clearly isn't capable of such heights at the moment, the parting was just the start of another cleanse that could finally go much deeper than just the surface with a scapegoat coach.
"It's tough to see coaches turn over like that, but I was talking to my dad and I said the same thing -- that stuff happens when you're in an organization that expects to win every year," Flames defenceman Mark Giordano said over the phone Friday morning.
"As a team, though, we don't feel good about any of this stuff. I bet if you ask any of the other players, they'd have the same feelings. It's sort of a shock to everyone. I have nothing bad to say about them. Brent helped my career big-time. He played before, he's won before.
"The head coach position in the NHL is probably one of the most unstable positions. We expect a lot, and our organization expects a lot, so when things don't go well for a few years like they have here, Brent sort of took the fall."
He bounced right back up, accepting the head coaching job for Team Canada at the world championships next month in Finland and Sweden.
There's talk he might be on the Edmonton Oilers radar if they decide to part ways with Tom Renney, whose contract up north also expires June 30.
"I'm sure he will have no problem finding an NHL job if that's what he wants to do," Flames winger Alex Tanguay said of Sutter.
"Speaking for most everybody on our team, all the players, I think we all want to wish Brent the very best -- best for him -- whether it's in Edmonton or somewhere else. If it comes to that, it will certainly make for very interesting games against the Oilers.
"We'll see what comes out of it."
On Twitter: @SUNMacfarlane