Money Talks: Flames Chose Huberdeau Over Sutter
Darryl Sutter will still make $8 million over the next two years without coaching a day of his two-year extension, but Jonathan Huberdeau’s massive $84M deal was more important to satisfy.
There has a lot of talk about the $8 million the Calgary Flames still owe former head coach Darryl Sutter after he was fired on Monday.
It was thought to be one of the major factors many didn’t really anticipate the departure.
But there is a larger number on the Flames payroll that trumped any allegiance the ownership group led by Murray Edwards had with the Jolly Rancher.
Jonathan Huberdeau’s $84 million.
It was clear that union didn’t work. Huberdeau’s point total dipped from 115 in his last year with the Florida Panthers to 55 in his first year with the Flames.
So while Sutter will spend the next two years working the land in Viking while raking in $8M from his contract extension that launches in July, Huberdeau hopes to be reborn with the Calgary Flames as his eight-year extension — worth $10.5M per season — gives him a more than $4M annual raise after the steepest point drop off in NHL history.
Talking with former Flames coach Bob Hartley in a French language radio interview in Montreal on Monday in the hours after the firing, Huberdeau was frank about the relationship with his ex-bench boss.
“It really didn’t click between me and Darryl last year,” Huberdeau said on BPM Sports. “There were a lot of factors.
“There was a big difference in points between my last two years. And the style of play he wanted to play; it didn’t fit my style of game.”
Some of that, of course is on Huberdeau. He went through a lot after being caught off guard by the blockbuster trade that brought him to Calgary and sent Matthew Tkachuk to the Panthers. Adjusting to a new city, new teammates, new system, and new coach, the 29-year-old clearly struggled to find his fit.
Sutter tried him on the right side after a decade spent comfortably and successfully on the left. There was a sense of personal relief when Huberdeau was put back on the left, but the public reaction by both player and coach illustrated the strain.
His minutes were down. He wasn’t being used in critical minutes of close games, while the fourth line continued to roll out regularly. Everything about the fit screamed failure. And then Huberdeau’s agent went vaguely public with it on Twitter, which took the story to another level.
“You’re supposed to put your players in a position to succeed and I think this season he didn’t do that,” Huberdeau said of Sutter. “They gave me a big contract — gave (Nazem) Kadri one too — but I was disappointed that I wasn’t put in situations where I could have as much success as possible.”
With the Calgary Flames now seeking a new GM and coach, Huberdeau and Kadri are the constants for now. At least contractually.
With Sutter gone, the onus will be on them to prove they can thrive in a new environment.
“Having a new coach is going to help my game,” Huberdeau said. “And my confidence, too.”