"We had some difficulties": Zadorov explains why Sutter had to go as Flames coach

May 18 2023, 9:34 pm

Darryl Sutter may no longer be the head coach of the Calgary Flames, but many of his former players are continuing to give their thoughts on him.

Throughout the season, many stories suggested a rift between several Flames players and Sutter. Those stories seem to have been accurate, as yet another player in Nikita Zadorov admitted there were issues in the dressing room.

“Ninety percent of the information I can’t tell you, but I will say we had some difficulties,” Zadorov told Sport 24’s Daria¬†Tuboltseva in the Russian-language interview, translated with Google Translate. “I liked Darryl; he made me a better player. I enjoyed playing under him. I will say this: at the moment, he did not fit our team.”

This season was quite a drastic change for Sutter, who came into it as the reigning Jack Adams Award winner. While his style seemed to work a year ago, having new faces come into the dressing room seems to have played a part in what went wrong this season.

“Last year, Sutter was the perfect coach for Calgary. This season the leaders have changed, and he did not fit them. They did not find mutual understanding. When you invest $50-80 million in players, you make a choice in their favour.”

The investments Zadorov could be alluding to are those of Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar, who were not only traded for last offseason but given massive extensions shortly afterward. Since Sutter’s firing earlier in the month, both players have expressed that it was time for the organization to move on.

Though things didn’t go as planned for the Flames or their new faces this past season, Zadorov is confident that the current roster is talented enough to bounce back.

“Next year, seven people, including me, are running out of contracts, so it’s not clear what will be done with all of us,” Zadorov explained. “I hope there will be no restructuring, and we do not need it. We have enough good players, and we can return to the contenders next season.”

Zadorov’s contract carries a cap hit of $3.75 million next season. The six-foot-six defenceman is coming off a career year in which he scored 14 goals in 82 games, meaning he could find himself in for a raise if he is able to continue that play moving forward.

Colton PankiwColton Pankiw

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