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Calgary Flames

Kadri downplays any perceived feuds between Flames players, coach Sutter

“To think everything throughout the course of the season is going to be rainbows and butterflies is just unrealistic.”



Nazem Kadri Calgary Flames Conroy

If there was a rift between Calgary Flames players and head coach Darryl Sutter, there isn't one anymore.

Skaters in all positions, from lunch-bucket fourth-liner to top-billed star, poured cold water on the notion there was an uptick in discontent with their bench boss as the season progressed.

That includes Nazem Kadri, who cooled off after a hot start to his first season with the Flames. The 32-year-old centre, who signed a seven-year, $49-million contract with Calgary in August, saw his ice time reduced by Sutter in the latter stages of the NHL campaign.

“There obviously is a lot of speculation with all that stuff,” Kadri said Friday as the team wrapped up its season after missing the NHL playoffs. “Throughout our nine months together, you see each other every single day. Sometimes, even with your teammates, you might butt heads a little bit. At the end of the day, you understand you’re a team and you play for each other and you stand up for each other. That’s what we improved on throughout the rest of the season."

With the team trying to claw its way into the post-season picture over the last half of the season, reports of tension between Sutter and the players began to surface, in particular Kadri and Jonathan Huberdeau, both new additions to the Flames for 2022-23.

For Kadri, the speculation came following a stretch of games a month ago in which he saw his ice time cut back to 12-13 minutes a night. 

“To think everything throughout the course of the season is going to be rainbows and butterflies is just unrealistic," said Kadri, who finished with 24 goals and 56 points in 82 games this season, good for third in team scoring behind Tyler Toffoli and Elias Lindholm. "It’s not always going to be easy, and there was a lot of adversity we had to face this year.”

Kadri said he's used to playing for coaches such as Sutter: those with a "hard exterior" who "try to get the best" out of players that way.

“I don’t think it was that much of an adjustment (playing for Sutter)," Kadri said. "Through the course of the season, you try to do the best you can to adjust not only to the coach but to teammates.”