Darryl Sutter Feeling the Heat: May Cooler Heads Prevail

David KoppContributor IMarch 27, 2010

CALGARY, AB - 2007:  Darryl Sutter of the Calgary Flames poses for his 2007 NHL headshot at photo day in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Getty Images)
Getty Images/Getty Images

All this photo needs is a black and white placard in front and the head-hunting that many Flames fans are doing will be over.

Book 'em Dano—guilty of great management.

The man of the hour at last year's trade deadline—the Quiet One, Grumps—who brought Olli Jokinen to Calgary in a move that was then termed "brilliant," is being called to the gallows leading up to the Flames' probable ninth-place finish.

Oh, for shame, you lackluster Flames. But whose head really deserves to roll?

Every team drools over a 6'3", 215-pound center in his prime. The Flames had a need and Sutter got it done.

Is he to blame if Olli saved his best for the bronze-medal game this past Olympics? The experiment failed, but did Darryl?

The biggest name this past July in the free agent frenzy—the one more talked about than even stellar Euros like Hossa, Gaborik and Havlat—was Jay Bouwmeester. 

Who would be the highest bidder? Who had the cap room? Los Angeles? Vancouver?

Sorry, boys, there would be no bidding war.

Once again, the biggest splash came from the silent swimmer.J-Bow is a Flame, locked up long term at only 25 years of age. 

Twenty-nine other GMs got to wear Darryl's signature sneer for a day.

Bouwmeester racked up 15 goals each of the past two seasons on the panhandle. After 74 games as a Flame, he's lit the lamp exactly twice, the last time coming sometime in November.

Has Darryl been the one stepping on his stick?

Sutter is the sole reason the Flames have a Vezinza-winning goaltender in Miikka Kiprusoff, but is he to blame if Kipper forgot to cover his five-hole for the better part of two and a half seasons?

Jeremy Roenick. Blue line. Game Seven. Sharks...Lest we forget—Kipper on the bench.

Neon Dion Phanuef was drafted in 2003 ahead of players with names like Getzlaf, Perry, Richards, Parise, Kesler and Weber—every one of them Olympians this past February. 

But nobody was complaining when Phanuef was a Rookie of the Year finalist with Crosby and Ovechkin.

Is it Darryl's fault that Phaneuf has steadily declined from that glorious 20-goal rookie campaign into the lazy, limp-wristed drifting and too-cool-for-school attitude he is now ingloriously known for?

The list of achievements goes on, from great acquisitions like Curtis Glencross and Rene Bourque—which help to make up for a lack of development on the farm, a stable which was empty when Darryl rode into town—to wrangling hometown discounts from the '04 cup core: Iginla, Reghr, and Conroy.

Darryl Sutter has done a great job, a job he may now be in danger of losing, though not from of a lack of effort on his part. 

The Chicago Blackhawks had over $13 million committed to two goaltenders last year. Now their backup is their starter.

They currently have over $61 million—$5 million more than the current salary cap—committed to only 13 players next season.

They fired general manager Dale Tallon in July because he cost the team millions by failing to file paperwork at a deadline.

Yet, the Blackhawks teeter-totter on top of the Western Conference while the Flames' players plan their golfing getaways.

Great management does not always a great team make.

Barry Trotz in Nashville and Lindy Ruff in Buffalo are two men who have long held their jobs, despite the roller coaster that is hockey reality, because their bosses could see they were doing their jobs, and doing them well.

Calgary is a hockey-crazed city and the Flames are gonna feel the heat. Let's just hope cooler heads prevail.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.