Despite the Calgary Flames having already made their general manager and head coaching hires for the 2023–24 NHL season, the spillover from the disastrous 2022–23 campaign just won’t stop.
This morning a report from The Athletic sent shockwaves through the fanbase with further details on just how unpalatable Darryl Sutter had made the Calgary Flames environment. The hard work of Katie Strang, Julian McKenzie and Hailey Salvian should be read in full, but here is everything you need to know about the bombshell story.
Sutter’s coaching issues
It had been widely reported for months now that Sutter had completely soured his relationship with the players, management, and the organization. His coaching style was always a balance of pressing on the gas pedal when he needed to, but lifting up when the time allowed. The report furthers the stories out there that this season he simply never took his foot off the gas. When times required him to lighten the mood, he pressed harder.
Although some players thrived under that style, like Nikita Zadorov, other players did not liken to that type of system. It was clear the team’s best players just started to reject anything that Sutter would try to do. The environment at the Saddledome started to deteriorate from there.
Players were quoted in the story, as well as in previous publications, that there was a need for a coaching change. Blake Coleman said in the story: “More of it was guys realizing what we had going on was broken. Whether you like Darryl or don’t like Darryl, it was pretty black and white that something needed to change or it was gonna be the exact same story.”
MacKenzie Weegar and Zadorov both had also publicly stated that the team needed a coaching change and it wasn’t a fit. Something that we already knew.
But what we didn’t know is even more shocking.
An internal investigation was conducted
The most shocking part of the story was the revelation that in November, the franchise launched and internal investigation into Sutter after he allegedly made physical contact with a player during a game. This was confirmed by three league sources.
Although the investigation was completed, and the Flames and player involved did not respond to comment, the most heartbreaking part of this story is that the player involved told the team that he did not want to see the matter escalated. If the team felt the need to launch an investigation, and league sources were made aware, then clearly the culture was that terrible to warrant the player feeling the need to not stir the pot.
This was in November, during the midst of their seven-game losing streak, which would completely make sense as to when the team decided to tune Sutter out.
Sutter responded to the allegations and denied them, declining to diver further into his situation with the Flames. What the story did confirm was that this incident was the beginning of the end between Brad Treliving and Sutter. This, combined with his other antics, played a large part in Treliving’s decision to leave the franchise.
What’s next for the Flames?
It remains to be seen what will happen next for the Flames. Surely this will make its way around the league and Don Maloney, Craig Conroy, and Ryan Huska will all be asked questions on this leading up to the 2023 NHL Draft.
Just a day after the Flames brought Jarome Iginla back into the organization, the bad news just keeps coming for the franchise. Turning over a new leaf is now more imperative than ever.