In Sutter we Trust


Watching Darryl Sutter succeed behind the bench of the LA Kings has been an interesting ride for those people who reside in Calgary Flames nation.

Many people immediately jump to the assertion of, “Look what he is he doing with the Kings? Why did the Flames get rid of him?”

And it’s a valid question, but misguided I believe.

The reason the Flames and Darryl Sutter parted ways was not because he was a bad coach. It was because he was given the keys to the franchise and was given the role of GM.

With the complex ins and outs of the post salary cap world, Sutter was simply in too deep and made numerous mistakes that eventually put the Flames in deep doggy doo-doo. (i.e. Phaneuf gaffe, Subsequent Stajan signing, the initial Jokinen trade, Bouwmeester signing, etc).

As a coach, he was always great. He led the Flames to their first playoff appearance in 7 years, and then led them to the Cup final for the first time in 15 years. He then led the Flames to the Northwest division championship in 2005-06, where he served as the team’s GM as well.  In fact, Sutter has only missed the playoffs once as a head coach, and that was in 2002-03 when he took over the Flames midway through the season. Then the Flames organization allowed Sutter to relinquish his coaching duties to take the solo GM position, leaving his strength for a position that he was in over his head given the new parameters of the league.

Sutter hired coach after coach, yet no one could replicate the success that he had once had behind the bench. And after three different coaches (Playfair, Keenan, brother Brent), Darryl took the fall and was shunned out of Calgary. His success forgotten. His legacy severely damaged in the city that once adorned him with signs like “In Sutter we trust.”

Well, as a coach, the mantra still stands. As a GM, I would venture to guess most PeeWee teams might not trust the grizzled Viking, AB, native.

And remember like most hard-nosed coaches do, Sutter does have a shelf life, In Chicago for 2.5 years, San Jose for 5.5, and Calgary for 2.5 as the head coach. He is good at motivating teams and getting the absolute most out of the team. Just look at the 2004 version of the Flames. He will get a lot out of the Kings. In fact don’t be surprised to see Darryl hoisting the cup in June. He has the goalie and he has a very talented team that underperformed for the majority of the season.

It’s a little weird to cheer for him after ragging on him for so long as the Flames GM. But watching him behind the bench instills memories of 2004 and for any Flames fan those times should be remembered as great times, even if the Flames came up just short.

In Sutter we Trust? Well, LA Nation might be chanting his name and naming streets after him once the 2012 playoffs are all over.

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