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Flames Ownership Seems To Stand With Sutter

It may not have been as clear as choosing one over the other, but Darryl Sutter’s status had a clear influence over Brad Treliving’s decision to leave the Calgary Flames behind.



Darryl Sutter

The fact a sitting general manager repeatedly turned down a contract extension, ultimately choosing uncertainty over the same-old, says a lot about the state of the Calgary Flames franchise. 

And no disrespect to John Bean and Don Maloney, but if they’re what’s left of the hockey operations spokes folk, few are likely to have any faith in what’s to come. 

After GM Brad Treliving informed the Calgary Flames last week that he wouldn’t return for Year 10, the bean-counting president and CEO announced Maloney on Monday as the new president of hockey operations and interim GM — a role Maloney quickly and awkwardly renounced as anything he’d fit long-term. 

Bean stumbled his way through the insights that the team considered a rebuild last year, while also admitting he’s not allowed to even use the word rebuild. As if Calgary needed any more proof that the Flames will continue with the method of mediocrity, trying to catch lightning in a bottle rather than tear down to start relatively fresh with a young core supplemented by top prospects. 

Even when that rebuild could have been timed perfectly to join a lottery for the services of the next generational NHL talent in Connor Bedard. 

I’m not sure what’s worse. The image of Bean and Maloney making all these decisions, or the clear indication that majority owner Murray Edwards is more committed to a coach in Darryl Sutter — who has a historically short shelf life that has already seemingly come to an end in his second stint with the Flames — than a loyal GM who offered about the best possible outcome from his owner-enforced mandate to win at all costs that he created expectation equal or larger this season despite losing two 40-goal, 100-point players in Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk. 

(For the record, the sting felt by Maloney on Monday felt eerily reminiscent of the Zoom call Treliving had to announce the rejection by Gaudreau). 

Treliving had multiple opportunities to sign up again, with offers going out to both coach and GM ahead of this season. Sutter signed up for another two seasons on top of the initial two-and-a-half he was given to shape the Flames players into Stanley Cup contenders. 

But who was responsible for the extension? 

If it was Treliving, you can bet he would also have signed on the dotted line. 

There were both signs and reports of tension between Sutter and his players and the GM all year. From the way Sutter talked flippantly about Jonathan Huberdeau needing to take a sh!t during a game against the Oilers, to the way he soiled the story of Jakob Pelletier’s first NHL game, to the late-season suggestion big free-agent signing Nazem Kadri was clashing with the button-pushing bench boss. 

There are some interesting parallels when it comes to some of these instances. 

The loss to the Oilers in which Huberdeau’s infamous No. 2 took place was the first of seven straight losses that put the Calgary Flames into a hole they’d never climb out of. 

Later, Sutter flipped Huberdeau to the right flank, and left the league’s record-breaking left-winger on his opposite side for months despite the lack of comfort or production. 

The Pelletier disaster was something Treliving spoke frankly to Sutter about, and shared that with the media, too. He wasn’t happy about the way his coach was talking about the prospects. 

The same goes for their usage. Treliving had Matthew Phillips up for a while. But once it was clear Sutter had no intention of using him beyond a game or two, he returned to the AHL. He’ll be a Group 6 unrestricted free agent this summer. Let’s hope he’s not the next Martin St. Louis or Brett Hull. 

Pelletier got more love after the Sutter scolding, but not when it mattered down the stretch. He and Adam Ruzicka, who had six goals and 20 points in his 25 games before Christmas. But he was relegated to spot duty after that, and was scratched for 27 of the last 35 games this season. Even the season finale. 

Maloney stopped short of saying Sutter is safe. 

But we all know he is, barring some sort of massive change of heart by ownership. 

Until that happens, it seems like Sutter is the only one empowered to make any real decisions.