After mutually parting ways with the Calgary Flames last week, it didn’t take Brent Sutter long to find another coaching job.
Sutter was introduced Monday at Hockey Canada’s headquarters as the head coach of Canada’s entry at next month’s IIHF World Hockey Championship in Helsinki.
“Everybody knows the Sutters well,” said Team Canada general manager Kevin Lowe. “They’re honest people. They’re obviously passionate about the game of hockey. I really like the fact that Brent has some history with some of the players we’ve chosen, so we thought there’s some chemistry.
“Some of the players have already phoned him and are excited about the fact that he’s coming.”
Sutter coached Canada to back-to-back gold medals at the 2005 and 2006 world junior championships and then led Canada to a 7-0-1 record in the 2006 Canada-Russia Super Series, which featured the top junior-aged players from both countries.
“It’s a complete honour and I’m really looking forward to working with Kevin and the staff and the coaches and the players and being involved with Hockey Canada again,” said Sutter, who will be assisted by Guy Boucher of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Kirk Muller of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Canada has had a pair of disappointing showings at the past two world championships and has fallen to fourth in the world rankings. The rankings after the May 4-20 world championship will determine how countries are seeded at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
“It’s very important for the seeding in the Olympics,” Sutter said. “We’re going there to win. That’s got to be our mindset. We’ll put everything we can into it and hopefully make it happen.”
Led by Olympic gold medallists Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, 16 of the 17 players who have already been chosen to play for the squad have previously represented Canada internationally.
“We’ve got to form ourselves into being a very good team right off the bat,” Sutter said. “That’s never really a tough situation to deal with Canadian players. Most of them, if not all of them, have been through it before. It’s not something new for them. I expect them all to come in and jump right on board and we’ll get busy right off the hop.”
Lowe said that Sutter will have a tough task ahead of him to follow up what he accomplished at the junior level.
“I did say to him that there’s a little bit of pressure because he’s undefeated coaching Canada, so we expect the same kind of results in Helsinki,” said Lowe. “One of the things that we’ll talk about with this group of players in Helsinki is that we’ve got to come together as a team.”
Monday’s news conference in Calgary was also the first time that Sutter addressed the media about his decision to part ways with the Flames last Thursday. During his three years coaching in Calgary, the Flames failed to qualify for the playoffs.
“Over three years, it does wear on you,” said Sutter. “It does beat you up a lot. It just came down to that I personally felt this was the right thing for (GM) Jay (Feaster) and the organization.”
Sutter noted that he told Feaster that he wouldn’t accept a new contract even if he was offered an extension.
When asked if would consider coaching for another team next season, Sutter replied: “I’m hoping that I’m not coaching in the National Hockey League next year because that means that there’s 29 other coaches that still have jobs and that’s what I want.”
A veteran of 1,111 games during his NHL career with the New York Islanders and Chicago Blackhawks, Sutter said that coaching isn’t something that he has to do.
“I lived my dream playing the game,” said Sutter, who won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Islanders in 1982 and 1983. “It’s not something I have to do, but you do it because you thoroughly enjoy it. It’s that competition. It’s that challenge. It’s putting yourself in a situation to help an organization succeed and win and get to where you want to get to and allow players to win and you want to be there to help.”
If an NHL coaching position does open up, Sutter said he’d definitely consider a return.
“If there’s teams that were certainly interested in Brent Sutter then I would certainly sit down and talk,” he said. “Obviously it’s got to be a good fit for the team and it’s got to be a good fit for me.”