Thursday, July 12, 2007

It's Just Bad Timing That's All

I never really did much of an analysis of Mike Keenan when he was hired, I think that his history is pretty well publicized and probably speaks for itself. This season will probably be a absolute disaster or a total success; the odds of it falling between those two extremes is, in my opinion, relatively low. I wasn't particularly pleased with Keenan's hiring, and my attitude has changed very little since then. Really, my grudging acceptance of Keenan was based on two factors: Playfair is gone, and there were very few options available in replacing Playfair. It disappointed me that the Flames missed the Andy Murray boat, but that was the past.

There was one other man who I've hoped would be the Flames head coach, but it appeared there were too many obstacles. Brent Sutter was head coach for two very successful Team Canada U-20 incarnations, and even one successful World Junior year usually translates to a head coaching job. Two was unprecedented.

Brent's position with the Red Deer Rebels appeared to be the main obstacle for his inclusion into the NHL head coach rankings. He plays multiple roles for the franchise, including owner, general manager, and head coach. His named had popped up multiple times in the shortlist for NYI coaches (with Ted Nolan eventually taking the reigns). I always felt though that if Sutter did jump to the NHL it would be to a position with his brother Darryl's team.

He would be able to stay close to his ranch, he would be once again coaching Dion Phanuef, he and his brother could act as a true partnered braintrust for the organization. Nowhere would Brent have more control over player movement or be as close to management.

However, it now appears, according to Darren Dreger and Bob Mckenzie, that Brent will leave his GM and coach position with the rebels to join Lou Lamoriello in New Jersey (the man who very unfairly fired Claude Julien near the end of the season, it really pains me that a great coach would still want to work with him).

Of all the lousy luck.

Firstly, if Brent was willing to take a position within the NHL, why NOT the Flames? Was the organization unwilling to meet some sort of demands he had? Did Darryl not know? Was he promised more control in NJ? All of these propositions seem equally unlikely.

The only real explanation I can speculate on is that Darryl knew Brent could be had for the right price, but sincerely felt Keenan was the better coaching option.

If there is one comment you can make about Darryl, it could never be that he tends to play it safe.

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