Brent Sutter has tried everything this season. He’s gotten angry at the Calgary Flames and he’s thrown away the whip. He’s preached patience and he’s pushed for urgency. He’s talked about going back to the basics and he’s sent out a powerplay unit that consisted of five defencemen.
Why? Because his forwards had their heads up their hockey pants. And still nothing has worked. The Flames remain what they assuredly are: a so-so hockey team that doesn’t play smart, takes too many penalties, doesn’t listen to its coach and one that now sits dead last at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
Welcome to the view from below where even the Edmonton Oilers, with a game on hand, look to be on the rise. Sure, the Oilers will have their fits and starts this season given their youth and inexperience. But they’re also fun to watch. The Flames are not.
They’re an eye sore – 22nd overall in penalty minutes per game, 24th overall on both the power play and on the penalty kill. Matt Stajan has one goal. Olli Jokinen has two goals. As for the coach, he’s been wrought with multiple frustrations because nothing he says seems to get through and stick with his players.
You could say it’s time to get rid of the coach but what ails this squad runs a lot deeper than Brent Sutter. A lot higher, too. General manager Darryl Sutter has put this squad together in a haphazard manner. He has to pay the price for that. Move him out and slide assistant GM Jay Feaster onto the hot seat and allow him to shake things up, trade veterans for draft picks and prospects.
There’s really no choice. The Flames can’t stay with a group that has already sunk to depths of disappointment (unless the goal is to beat out the New York Islanders for last place overall and a shot at the first pick in the 2011 entry draft).
Twenty-seven games into the season and the only thing that’s clear is the Flames look no better than they did a year ago. And you can’t pin everything on the coach. He could use a lot of help and he’s just not getting it.