The speculation of Brent Sutter of becoming head coach of the Calgary Flames is growing so strong, even NHL.com had to report on it today. It's a brief news article, and almost identical to the one put up by TSN over the weekend. But that it's on the league's site gives it further credibility. Either way, I want to point out two sections of it. Let's take the latter one first:
Sutter cited personal and family concerns as his reason for leaving the Devils. His family had remained in Red Deer, Alta., during his two seasons in New Jersey. Sutter also owns the Western Hockey League's Red Deer Rebels and has a farm in Red Deer. Sutter's brother Darryl is the GM of the Flames and recently fired coach Mike Keenan after a disappointing first-round playoff loss.
The staff at NHL.com were misled here, but it's not their fault, we all were misled by Mr. Sutter. He waited until less than a month before free agency began to tell us it all had to do with his family and personal interests. That there is talk of him coaching the Flames is evidence that talk could be ultimately little more than a misdirection, a falsehood, and a lie.
Here's the more pertinent part:
TSN says the hiring could become official as early as Tuesday.
Sutter stepped down as coach of the New Jersey Devils on June 9 despite having one year remaining on his contract. In order for Sutter to move to the Flames, New Jersey President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello would have to give his permission.
This raises more questions. Does this mean that Lou hasn't given permission yet? Or perhaps he already granted permission, given that it could be as official as early as tomorrow? If so, was there a deal of sorts made, or perhaps one to come? Was Lou just being
nice awfully-generous "classy" to let Sutter leave his contract and coach elsewhere? I suppose we won't find out for sure until tomorrow. Again, given that the league's site is sure enough to state that this could happen tomorrow, I fear that Lou has allowed move unless someone somewhere got their reports wrong.
While Sutter is definitely not coming back to the Devils' bench next season, or ever again, a part of me would like to see Lou block this completely. It's not like Calgary owes the Devils anything nor can it be used for leverage for a later deal. Yeah, to you and me, Lou is doing Darryl Sutter a solid by freeing a successful (in the regular season) head coach from a contract he signed of his own volition. But Darryl Sutter could just turn around and not see it as a favor. Brent did resign and, hey, he just wanted to come to the Flames and Lou said OK, so no problem, right? Like I said, nowhere is it written that Calgary has to provide some benefit the Devils for this move. So why should Lou grant permission for nothing in return? I would like to see Lou essentially force Brent to actually be with his family and his ranch and with the Red Deer Rebels for a year - after all, he said he resigned for these personal and family reasons. I don't see why Lou shouldn't give him the chance to, you know, have him actually prove it.
But since Rich Chere did state that Lou was likely to let Sutter go, and what I said earlier, my hopes will probably go unfulfilled. Chere tried to get Lou's take on this and, unsurprisingly, got a terse response:
"I'm not going to have any comment on that situation until something happens or doesn't happen," Lamoriello told me [Chere] Monday afternoon. "Until there is an official announcement one way or the other -- and don't misinterpret that -- I'm going to withhold any comments."Is he angry with Sutter?
"I'm going to stick with what I just said," Lamoriello said. "Then I will comment."
Again, I repeat myself, we just won't know until tomorrow. I'm confident Lou knows more than he's letting on, but it's not prudent to mention it now, I suppose.
I don't blame Lou to be honest if he is angry. The NHL Draft is this week, free agency begins in 9 days, and the Devils are head coach-less. Lou bent over backwards with Sutter's need to go back home and think about whether to fulfill this contract that he signed, only for him to make his fateful decision to resign so close to these important dates in the offseason. Oh, and to turn around a little later and talk to another NHL team about being their head coach. If I were in Lou's shoes, I'd be more than a little miffed too. (Admittedly, I'd be more vocal about it; but hey, I am a blogger - it comes with the role.)
Either way, Lou provided the status of the Devils coaching situation: there is no coach right now. I agree with Gulitti's article at NorthJersey.com, it's probably not going to be John MacLean. Lou could have named him immediately after Sutter provided his resignation. That he hasn't says it all, in my opinon. Who knows if it's Jacques Lemaire at this point or someone entirely different. Knowing Lou, he's already got candidates lined up and he's already in the decision making process. If you'll indulge me in some speculation, given that Chere said that Lou's already been talking with the agents of some free agent Devils, perhaps the process is a bit father along than you and I may think. It's obviously some multi-tasking, but I don't think Lou starts talking to any agents without having made some progress on a head coach.
Leave your comments and thoughts about the whole situation. Do you think Lou has already given permission, or do you hold out hope that he hasn't? I know some of you may not be happy about this - I'm not! - but do keep it clean. And please don't state any news without any links or sources. This isn't a rumor site.
6/23 Update: Calgary is having a news conference in...a minute about a coach. I think it's safe to say Lou must have given permission. Question is: will the Devils actually get anything out of it? Remember, Calgary doesn't really owe New Jersey anything; so don't be too torn if the answer is "nothing."