Wrapping Up The Brent Sutter Ordeal

JerseySenior Analyst IJune 24, 2009

NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 03: Head Coach Brent Sutter of the New Jersey Devils watches the action against the Tampa Bay Lightning on April 3, 2009 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Lightning 5-4 in overtime. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Well, we know the whole story now. Brent Sutter is in Calgary, and the Devils won't be receiving anything in return.

There is (and always will be) speculation that there was collusion.

Brent's brother Darryl is the Flames' GM, and it's silly to think they hadn't discussed this even while Brent remained head coach. Even if they didn't technically directly speak to each other about it, they surely beat around the bush to "legally" discuss the matter.

But no matter what it looks like, and no matter what we believe, we'll never be able to prove anything, so the point is moot.

However, there are some very interesting details about this entire situation, details that really don't make Brent Sutter appear like a stand-up individual.

Darryl plainly stated that he'd asked Lou Lamoriello for permission to speak to his brother on June 12th. For those keeping track at home, that's three days after Brent resigned. That's a very, very fast turnaround.

Say what you will about Calgary's proximity to Brent's home in Red Deer, and whether or not he'd have ultimately decided to coach in Calgary, but you'd think Brent would at least take a little longer to think about it.

Three days? That's all it took to pull him back into the coaching world? Doesn't seem like Brent needed much time to think about it.

Keep in mind that the Devils' season ended on April 28th. It took Brent over 40 days to consider his resignation, but only three to jump back in. His deliberation reached a relatively quick end when Mike Keenan was fired on May 23rd.

The dates just don't add up. He took a very long time to decide about his future (understandable, even though it put the Devils in a very difficult position right before the draft and free agency), then reconsidered only three days later.

I know, Calgary is only 90 miles outside of Red Deer, and he's closer to his family. But he's still spending a tremendous amount of time away from them. Three days is awfully fast to make a decision.

Incidentally, as just mentioned, Calgary is 90 miles away from Red Deer. That's not exactly the same city. I know it's closer than New Jersey, but it's not as if he's going to have much time to spend with his family and his ranch.

There are still 41 road games to be played, and he won't be making the 90-mile drive through the Canadian winter before and after every home game. And even if he would, that still doesn't leave so much time for his family, and certainly not his ranch.

Being a hockey coach is a full time job. In fact, when Sutter resigned, he said he'd just had "he first decent night’s sleep... in seven weeks." How many "decent night's sleep" does he think he'll have as coach of another NHL franchise? Are the beds that much more comfortable in Canada?

He also won't be able to micromanage his minor-league team (the Rebels) in Red Deer. This was supposedly a big factor in his resignation, as the team had missed the playoffs both years that he was in New Jersey.

But, to re-hash, being an NHL coach is a full-time job. When, exactly, does Brent intend to run his team?

Here is an exact quote from the day Sutter stepped down:

"I'm getting back to my life here as far as being in the office on a daily basis here with the Rebels and working between there and the ranch and spending some time with my family. I'm getting back to my life here that I've neglected somewhat over the last couple of years."

It's too bad he gave up those luxuries just three days later. It's astonishing how quickly he was willing to give up this life he supposedly desired.

It's even more astonishing that he backed out of his contract to do this. It's understandable that he'd want to coach near his family so he could see them more often, and it's understandable that he'd want to play for his brother. But, he was under contract with the Devils.

Had he done what he said he would, and gone back home full-time, that's one thing. He's still backing out of a contract, but at least it's for a legitimate reason.

But instead, he's backing out of a contract simply to coach for another team. Sure, he can spend SOME more time with his family. But is it enough to warrant backing out of a contract?

Another Sutter quote:

"When it involves family and it involves personal things around your life that you thrown everything into and then ultimately you have to make a decision on something, it might not be the right decision for some people and that's fine, that's always out there."

"Yet, I don't at all look at it like I'm quitting on anything. I threw two years of my life (into it) and made a big commitment 3,000 miles away from where my life was and tried to do everything I possibly could to try to accomplish a goal there that we wanted to accomplish. But, by me doing that, my life has suffered in other areas and those areas to me are bigger than the game."

Sutter claimed he wasn't quitting because he put two years into his job. Unfortunately for him, he signed a three-year deal.

So by backing out of the deal, he is, in fact, quitting. If the Devils play two periods of a hockey game, what exactly do you call it?

But more importantly, Sutter once again cites his family as the reason for his resignation.

If he's so adamant about his family to the extent that he has to back out of a contract, he should be spending time with them on a daily basis. Not when he finds time for them during a homestand.

Stan Fischler cites Steve Mcfarlane as saying:

"Brent Sutter's character will be brought into question. Not just by New Jersey Devils fans, either. Rarely does someone who fails to honor the full length of a contract, then sign up for the same job with another employer, avoid a few stares of disgust. Even if that new employer happens to be your brother."

McFarlane's comments are dead-on. The man backed out of his contract, only to turn around and accept the same job elsewhere.

Had he waited just one year to be a free agent, he would have been justified in joining his brother.

Scott Niedermayer never demanded a trade to play alongside brother Rob, but waited until he was a free agent to sign with Anaheim. Couldn't Sutter have done the same?

The fact is, he backed out of a deal, and only three days later came out of his temporary retirement.

Was there collusion? We can speculate to no end, but we'll never know for sure.

However, we do know that Sutter said he was going home for family reasons, yet he's forfeiting most of his time with them to coach for another team. And we know that he began reconsidering just three days after his resignation. There is no excuse for that kind of behavior.

On the day he stepped down, Sutter said “There’s been all this talk about Calgary, for so long, but Darryl and I have had no discussion about that (the Flames’ coaching job). This decision I’m making now has zero to do with the Calgary Flames’ situation.”

Yet merely three days later, he began negotiations for the very job he'd dismissed. we now know his words mirror his initials: BS.

For more articles on this topic, please see:

Scott Burnside (ESPN)
Stan Fischler (MaxHockey)
Tom Gulitti (Fire and Ice)


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