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Sutter Explains Scoresheet Analysis of Pelletier’s Flames Debut

Johnny Gaudreau interview shows players watch what coaches say. Flames head coach Darryl Sutter sort of expands on his analysis of Jakob Pelletier’s NHL debut on Saturday.



If anyone wonders whether the players hear what their coach says, the fact Johnny Gaudreau on Monday not so subtly referenced Darryl Sutter’s words from earlier this year should give you a pretty good indication. And the Calgary Flames bench boss isn’t even his coach now. 

After the Blue Jackets beat the Flames in Columbus earlier this season, Sutter suggested his players were more interested in visiting their former teammate and his family than focusing on the two points up for grabs. 

When asked on Monday about his return to Calgary and whether he found it hard, Gaudreau made sure he clarified some of his comments for Sutter. 

“I’m kind of enjoying it,” Gaudreau started. “I got to see some old friends, who weren’t on the team for the Flames, by the way — so Darryl knows. I got to see some old friends that weren’t even part of the organization that I got to know really, really well and spend time with them. I’m enjoying my time here so far.”

Darryl knows. He reads more than he’d admit. 

He knows his players are watching, too. It’s why he goes through the routine of playing down performances. I can almost see him using his hands to explain the desire to avoid the highs and lows (hand moving up and down from one side to the other) by staying in the middle (cutting through the hilly air drawing with a flat hand going the same direction). 

So why he went all performance art with the fumbling for the glasses — buying time to grab the game sheet by forcing the reporter to ask the question about Jakob Pelletier for a second time — is anyone’s guess. 

Pelletier played his first NHL game on Saturday. It was a strong game from the Calgary Flames and a big 6-3 win, but Sutter wasn’t in the mood to celebrate. He pretended not to know his player’s number and read the stat sheet when asked about the 21-year-old prospect post-game. 

It blew up on the social channels and in the media, with Sutter taking some heat for what looked disrespectful. And frankly, it would be easy to take that way if you’re Pelletier watching it after your dream of playing in the NHL became a reality. 

Pelletier told Kevin Dube from Le Journal de Quebec that he was indifferent about it and surprised it got so much attention. 

He also mentioned that Sutter told him on Sunday morning that he played a good game in the limited minutes he received. 

Before Monday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, unprompted, Sutter offered a bit more of an explanation. 

“You couldn’t evaluate it, kid played 420 seconds,” Sutter said after a question about the team playing a full game. “So you evaluate him off a stat sheet. It’s not fair to the kid. 

“With him, we want to get him in on the powerplay. And he’s on that second unit, so he only gets one shift. Perfect game, you get ‘teen minutes out of everyone. 

“You look at Tampa, it’s a pretty heavy two-line team. Kids like that, you’re being careful with them. You’re making sure they’re not out there against (Steven) Stamkos or (Brayden) Point, so then that pulls him back again. 

“It’s hard to evaluate.”

A great answer to the original question on Saturday. 

Just a couple of days late. 

Not that Sutter worries about what the media — especially social media — thinks of his decisions. 

But he should worry about what his players think. And honestly, that’s probably why the answer was given at all. 

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