Move over Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Bobby Petrino, Nick Saban, and others. You’ve got company in the field of sneaking out of town so you can coach a new team.
His name is Brent Sutter.
On June 9, 2009, Sutter decided to resign as head coach of the New Jersey Devils.
"I don't look at it at all as I'm quitting on anything," Sutter said. "I took two years of my life and made a big commitment 2,000 miles away. By me doing that, my life suffered in other areas. When it involves family and personal things that you throw everything into, ultimately you have to make certain decisions.”
"My decision is I've officially resigned as head coach of the New Jersey Devils, effective today," he began. "My reason? Personal and family reasons. It has a lot to do with a lot of things here in Red Deer. Some things have occurred over the last year that made it more difficult.”
That sounded very noble and gracious. I am no one to say that someone should not be close with his family. I just do not use that as a crutch to get to my next job and not tell anyone about it.
Maybe, when Brent took the job two years ago with the Devils, he did not realize that you couldn’t drive from Red Deer to Newark in a day. Sutter had a three-year deal with the Devils and left with just one year remaining on the contract.
Lou Lamoriello, the Devils general manager, is known for being impatient when it comes to head coaches. He fired Robbie Ftorek and Claude Julien while the team was in first place and with less than ten games to go in the regular season.
Lamoriello was surprisingly very patient with Sutter. It seemed he was trying to learn from past mistakes. This one ended up going completely opposite. The coach fired the team.
"I certainly feel disappointed because I thought Brent was the right coach for the long term," Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek said today.
The Devils gave Brent Sutter over a month to determine his future. It took Brent all of two weeks to decide that he wanted to coach in the NHL again.
Two weeks to the day, Brent Sutter accepts the job to be the next head coach of the Calgary Flames.
Hmm, it takes six weeks to decide that you want to return home and only two weeks to decide that you want to coach a different NHL team? Let’s just say if that is one’s decision-making process, coaching may not be the best place for him.
Could this have anything to do with some conversations that you likely had with your brother, and Calgary Flames general manager, Darryl Sutter? Um, how do you spell nepotism?
Personally, I did not care for Sutter as a head coach. I thought he was a little wishy-washy, and did not focus on defense enough. But, he did a fantastic job with the Devils this regular season. The Devils won a division that had the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, won 50 games and most of them without their all-star goalie, Martin Brodeur.
The playoffs, on the other hand, were a disaster for Sutter in his two seasons in New Jersey. The Devils were bounced in five games to the Rangers in the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In 2009, the Devils lost game seven at home to the Carolina Hurricanes, giving up the lead and the series in the span of 39 seconds.
The Devils lost five of their seven playoff home games in those two series.
Basically, the Devils groomed this guy so he could go home and coach for his brother’s team. There has not been an announcement of any type of compensation deal struck. Knowing NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, some excuse will come out and the Devils will get next to nothing for this.
It would be nice to dream about getting Dion Phaneuf as compensation, but this is not 1991 anymore. In 1991, the Devils were given Scott Stevens as compensation for Brendan Shanahan signing with the St. Louis Blues.
The Calgary Flames have been bounced from the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs each of the last four seasons. Today, they hired a guy who has done no better than the prior two Flame coaches. The Sutters seem to get to the dance, but they sure do not seem to get their teams very far once they get there.
I implore my fellow Devil fans to sell out the Rock when the Flames come in to town and give this quitter a righteous unwelcoming party. Let’s just say, it’s for personal and family reasons that you need to be in Newark.