Geoff Ward Fired as Flames Head Coach; Darryl Sutter Named Replacement

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2021

Calgary Flames Associate Coach Geoff Ward addresses the media following a NHL hockey practice Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

The Calgary Flames announced head coach Geoff Ward was fired following Thursday night's 7-3 win over the Ottawa Senators and replaced by Darryl Sutter, who previously coached the Flames from December 2002 through July 2006.

Ward had compiled a 35-26-5 record since being hired in November 2019. That included an 11-11-2 mark this season, which put the team fifth in the NHL's North division.

The Flames decided to make a change after losing six of their past nine games, including a four-game series with the Senators, who sit at the bottom of the North division, during which Calgary allowed 17 goals.

Frustration started to mount in mid-February, and it was evident in Ward's postgame comments following a 5-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 17.

"It's time to put this thing to bed and take charge and take control of what we can," he told reporters. "We certainly can control the way start, we certainly can control how we pay attention to details, how hard we compete, how much we care. All those things are certainly within our control. It's time for us to start giving a s--t about it."

Ward held his typical postgame media session after Thursday's triumph over the Sens and didn't appear aware the team was about to make a coaching change.

"We've got to get ourselves ready again for another hard hockey game," he said. "We're really not thinking about what's happened in the past; we're thinking about what we need to do to prepare ourselves [for] the next one."

Sutter last served as a head coach for the Los Angeles Kings during the 2016-17 season. He led the Kings to Stanley Cup titles in 2012 and 2014.

He most recently worked as an adviser to the Anaheim Ducks beginning in July 2019 and previously spent time as a head coach for the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks in addition to his stints with the Flames and Kings. His career record stands at 634-467-101-83.

In 2018, Sutter mostly ruled out a return to full-time coaching, but the 62-year-old Alberta native left the door open for a possible return to the Flames.

"I would have listened for sure," Sutter said about the Calgary vacancy before the team hired Bill Peters, who resigned in November 2019 after being accused of using a racial slur and was replaced by Ward.

Sutter's return to the Flames' bench will come Saturday night when they visit Rogers Place to face off with the Edmonton Oilers.