Flames fire Darryl Sutter after 3 seasons

The Athletic

The Flames have fired coach Darryl Sutter after his second stint with the organization, Calgary announced Monday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Sutter’s dismissal comes after the team failed to make that playoff season, finishing 37-28-17.
  • He had a two-year extension worth around $4 million a year that was scheduled to begin next season. The Flames still owe the money to Sutter.
  • Calgary is already looking for a general manager after reaching an amicable agreement on April 17 to part ways with Brad Treliving.

the athlete‘s instant analysis:

What went wrong?

Sutter is arguably the most polarizing figure in Flames history. Sutter had two years left on his contract, so owner Murray Edwards, who had been one of his biggest supporters, took a huge leap of faith to sign the expensive decision to quit Sutter.

Sutter’s demanding, hard-hearted approach worked for some players but not others. And not with those who will be important in the future. Sutter’s style was to always keep his foot on the accelerator, even when things were going well; and then slacking off a bit when it wasn’t. It was the sort of mixed message that confused and frustrated other players, including two of last summer’s most expensive signings: Nazem Kadri (free agent signing) and Jonathan Huberdeau (trade). Both had terrible years by last season’s standards. The organization was committed to them for another six and eight years.

Additionally, a trio of players entering the final years of their contracts – Elias Lindholm, Mikael Backlund and Noah Hanifin – were all non-binding about their futures during the exit meetings. What they said publicly was that they wanted to win and wanted to see the direction the organization was taking before committing to move on. The underlying message was clear: if Sutter stayed behind the bench, they’d probably gallop to the exits as fast as they could. And that put Don Maloney, the new president of the Flames’ hockey operations, in a dilemma. – Duhatschek

What’s next for Calgary?

When Maloney was appointed to the job after Treliving and the organization decided to part ways, he made first order of business, diving deep into what went wrong last season and then determining how to fix it could. Maloney took part in player interviews but ended up speaking to staff at all levels in recent weeks.

Everything pointed to two possible paths forward, one with Sutter as coach and one with someone new behind the bench. If Sutter stayed, many of the core players would probably leave. If Sutter is gone, chances are some of them will decide to stay after all. So that indicated a clear course of action, the first step of which was carried out on Monday.

So now there are two open positions in Calgary: one for a GM and one for a trainer. The good news is that anyone who hires Maloney as the Flames’ next GM will have the opportunity to hire their own coach and not be forced to grapple with choosing someone else.

It was always the logically meaningful result. But it was never certain that they would do the logically sensible thing until it actually happened. – Duhatschek


Sutter returned to the Flames in the 2020-21 season and led the team to a 50-21-11 record and a Pacific Division title the following season. The Edmonton Oilers eliminated the Flames in the second round of the 2022 playoffs, and the offseason brought many roster changes for the team.

Johnny Gaudreau was eliminated in free agency and Matthew Tkachuk was traded to the Florida Panthers in exchange for MacKenzie Weegar and Jonathan Huberdeau. Calgary signed Nazem Kadri to a seven-year, $49 million deal, raising expectations for another strong Flames season that didn’t go as expected.

Sutter leaves Calgary with a record of 102-63-28 for his second appearance with the team. His first came for portions of three seasons from 2003-2006 and included the Flames reaching the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals where the team lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

What you say

“On behalf of the owner and all Calgary Flames fans, we would like to thank Darryl for his years of service to the Calgary Flames and the community at large,” team president John Bean said in a statement.

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(Photo: Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images)

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