The Calgary Flames continued to force their way into the offseason news cycle on Monday morning when news broke that they had relieved Darryl Sutter of his head coaching duties. Although the news was welcomed by most fans, and prayed for by others, the news still came as a bit of a shock.
Since the departure of General Manager Brad Treliving, most had assumed that the organization had gone with Sutter over him.
Now that can’t be the case.
Unfortunately for fans, they are left scratching their heads after another offseason filled with change.
The last few weeks have become almost a chicken and the egg debate. What should have come first? Darryl Sutter’s departure or Brad Treliving’s? Was one impacted by the other?
Let’s take a look at the timeline and simply how perplexing it has left the organization.
Brad Treliving’s timeline
Since joining the Flames in the summer of 2014, Treliving was one of the league’s most active and respected GMs. His contract was previously extended twice on separate three year deals: 2014–2017, 2017–2020, and 2020–2023.
Reports were made that Treliving held contract extensions before the start of last season, after his trademark Summer of Brad, but declined to sign an extension until after the season.
“My understanding is that Flames ownership also had extension talks with Treliving at around the same time, before the season, and for whatever reason those talks didn’t produce a deal. I believe both sides mutually agreed to talk again at some point.”– Pierre LeBrun, The Athletic
Well we all know how that went.
On April 17, just shortly after the end of the 2022–23 season, Treliving and the Flames mutually agreed to part ways with Don Maloney stepping in as President of Hockey Operations.
What is key to note is that most within the organization were under the impression that he would be staying with the franchise despite the season’s struggles. Maloney was extremely emotional during the press conference announcing Treliving’s departure—almost to the point of almost shock. I don’t believe that the Flames expected him to leave.
Being involved with the exit interviews, despite being a routine end-of-year routine, perhaps further confused the organization on where he was leaning.
It’s been reported by a few sources, mostly Frank Seravalli and Eric Francis, that it was evidently clear that Treliving wanted to make a coaching change and ownership didn’t oblige.
So on he went.
Darryl Sutter’s timeline
After re-joining the team in early 2021, Sutter would clearly start to take the reigns on this team. Leading the Flames to a Pacific Division title in 2021–22, including winning the Jack Adams Trophy, led many to believe that the Flames had finally found consistency in the coaching position.
We all know how that went.
After inking a two-year contract extension before the start of the 2022–23 season, the Flames would go on to struggle under Sutter. Even with a completely new cast of characters at the helm, Sutter was not up to the task to lead this team. With so many conflicts and sideshows, the Flames never gelled and Sutter could never cure them.
With the conclusion of the season, it was widely reported that most players expressed their displeasure with Sutter’s coaching. Some potentially even suggested they wouldn’t return to the team if he was still at the helm.
Treliving saw these warnings and left the organization, leaving Sutter’s job status seemingly confirmed.
Of course that is not the case, as he was subsequently relieved of his duties just two weeks after Treliving left.
So what gives?
Now here is where a massive question mark pops up over everyone’s head.
For all intents and purposes, the organization wanted both Treliving and Sutter back. It was also extremely clear that neither one could work together any more.
Most of the reporting is evidently clear that Treliving was loved and respected by everyone across the Flames, while Sutter was more of a red flag when it came to those same people. There is a clear preference.
Does that mean that Treliving truly just walked away from the team? It’s more likely, but if reports are true that he wanted to fire Sutter and the team wouldn’t let him—what was the point of all of this?
Sutter clearly was the odd man out, regardless of his $8M extension, so why didn’t that move come first? Did the organization truly need an extra two weeks to decide he wasn’t the man for the job?
If the Flames were looking to hire a replacement GM externally, then having Sutter around makes no sense as the new GM surely would want to hire their own coach. If the Flames were going to promote Craig Conroy, which surely is the most logical decision, then why not wait and let him make the coaching decision?
It’s currently Maloney’s team
It’s becoming clearer and clearer that Don Maloney is calling the hockey related shots now, which makes sense for the interim. Although making the decision on the coach is a no-brainer, it’s very strange why it comes at this point in time.
Could they have salvaged a Treliving extension? Sure feels like it.
All that remains is a confused franchise and fan base. The Flames simply are starting over from scratch.