When it comes to head coaches in Calgary Flames history, Darryl Sutter stands alone atop the all-time winning leaderboard, having racked up 209 regular season victories with the team.
But when it comes to his offseason, Sutter might just be standing alone on his ranch in Viking, Alberta.
Following a disappointing season for his Flames, who were officially eliminated from postseason contention in Game 81 of the season on Monday night, Calgary fans are calling for Sutter to once again be let go as the team’s head coach.
Calgary needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, but fell 3-2 to the Predators in the shootout.
Sutter opted for Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri, Mickael Backlund, and Nick Ritchie in the breakaway contest, with Huberdeau being the only one to find the net. Given that Ritchie has just 13 goals this season in comparison to Tyler Toffoli’s 34, Elias Lindholm’s 22, or three others with a higher total than him this season, fans were flabbergasted by his selection with the season on the line.
Here’s how fans reacted to the loss, including calls for Sutter’s firing:
Hope Sutter isn't behind the bench for Wednesday
— Condor (@05_condor) April 11, 2023
Lets get sutter out of here #FireSutter fire sutter the fraud #flames #flamestwitter pic.twitter.com/gjpflYdGP7
— Rohit (@RohitBasi) April 11, 2023
Let’s get it trending folks… #FireSutter
— C of Red Central (@CofRedCentral) April 11, 2023
Sutters shooter choices actually scream “Fire Me” 😅 https://t.co/HzF5qGACLz
— Marc Freeze (@boomer9191) April 11, 2023
Fire Sutter. Completely misused Huberdeau and Kadri all season. From 50 wins and winning the division to missing the playoffs is inexcusable.
— Joe Edward (@Paintcansandrox) April 11, 2023
Lindholm and Toffoli are sitting on the bench but Sutter puts Ritchie and Backlund on the shootout? 💀
— Hughes is the GOAT (@Hughes4Norris) April 11, 2023
Sutter is gone ritchie shooting third?? I’ve had enough already
— Cody Misyk (@c_misyk13) April 11, 2023
— Ugly Dangles (@UglyDangles) April 11, 2023
Where’d it all go wrong for Sutter and the Flames?
Sutter first took the reigns for the Flames way back in 2003, and led them through three seasons that included a berth in the 2004 Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
But after stepping down to focus on being the team’s GM following an upset first-round loss to Anaheim in the 2006 playoffs (following a year off from the 2004-05 NHL lockout), Sutter stuck with Calgary until December 2010, when he left the organization by request of then-president Ken King.
After being hired as Los Angeles’ head coach in 2011, things couldn’t have gone much better for Sutter and the Kings, winning Stanley Cups in both his first and third year as head coach in 2012 and 2014, respectively. But after five-and-a-half seasons as head coach, Sutter was let go in 2017 after his Kings missed the playoffs in two out of three seasons.
Sutter announced his retirement from coaching back in 2018, but we all know that was short-lived when the Flames asked him to come coach in the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season for the final 30 games.
While they missed the playoffs in 2021, they returned to the postseason in 2022, winning five games before being ousted in the second round by their provincial rival, the Edmonton Oilers. But despite high hopes coming into the 2022-23 season, things never got quite going for Sutter’s new-look Flames.
Shiny new acquisition Jonathan Huberdeau put up just 55 points in 78 games thus far, fresh off a 115-point campaign with the Florida Panthers, which is oddly the same point total as both Nazem Kadri and Mickael Backlund. The Flames are currently 18th in goals scored this season (255) while 19th in goals allowed (246).
It doesn’t take much of a math aficionado to realize only 16 teams make the playoffs, and Calgary never had much of a top-tier offence or defence this season to make it to the postseason.
The Flames close out their season tomorrow night, with an 8 pm ET puck drop at home against San Jose. We’ll know soon enough if that’s Sutter’s final home game, or if Calgary is willing to run it back with him against their fanbase’s wishes.
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