Brent Sutter: Will He Stay Or Will He Go?

JerseySenior Analyst IMarch 13, 2009

Earlier this season, I'd heard a rumor that Brent Sutter was mulling leaving the Devils after the season. But the rumor was merely, well, a rumor, and I don't remember what really happened to it. It might have been shot down or dismissed, but regardless, it didn't catch on, and it concerned me for all of twelve minutes.

The rumor, however, has resurfaced, and it's now becoming a bigger deal. Buried among countless articles surrounding the Devils' recent matchup with the Calgary Flames was a small piece about Sutter's potential retirement.

The article is from a Canadian newspaper, but a newspaper nonetheless, and while that does not mean it's absolutely true, it does give the report a strong amount of credibility. Then again, if the National Post carries as much weight as the New York Post, then we can discount anything written in it, but I don't think that's the case here. Either way, innocent until proven guilty. A relatively reliable source has reported this situation, and that's cause for immediate concern.

The article quotes Sutter multiple times, and while he does seem to be hinting at considering quitting, he doesn't really hit the point outright. And in a recent redaction in New Jersey's Star Ledger, Sutter said exactly that: while admitting he was "homesick," he did not mean to imply he'd be packing his bags after the season.

Sutter did not commit to staying, however. He said every year is a decision for him, and it's not like anything has suddenly changed. He likes being home, and he likes being with the Devils; but which of the two will win out?

So what can we take from this? While Devils fans can't assume the worst, it doesn't help that Sutter didn't deny the report outright. He hasn't made up his mind yet, but that's none too reassuring. There appears to be a 50-50 chance he stays, but with the way he's coached the team, that won't be good enough to appease the fans.

If I had to make a prediction, I'd figure he's staying. Like he said, nothing has changed. It's a year to year thing with him. Will he decide to leave at some point? Probably. But I don't think he's jumping ship so early.

But I could be wrong, and that's the problem. There is a very real possibility that Sutter could leave the Devils after the year, especially if they win the Stanely Cup. And for Devils fans, that's a very scary proposition.

The Devils have persevered under a merry-go-round of coaches since firing Robbie Ftorek in 2000. They've had six different coaches since then-- two of them twice-- yet haven't missed the playoffs in that span, and have won two Stanely Cups, both with coaches in their first seasons. Still, with the success Sutter has brought to the team, and with the new, exciting style of play he's implemented, the thought of his retirement is very frightening.

In other Devils news, Martin Brodeur will look to tie Patrick Roy's career wins record in the Devils' next game in Montreal. It's got double significance regarding the record: Brodeur is a Montreal native, and Roy played much of his career with the Canadiens. It could be a special night, and the script could not have been more perfect. Well, if he was breaking the record that night, it might be more perfect, but let's not get too greedy here.