Darryl Sutter might serve as the Calgary Flames head coach, but at his heart, he’s just a fan yelling at his TV about the team.
“I’m a fan. I’ve said that lots. I’m a fan,” Sutter said during Saturday’s morning skate. “I’m out in the street. I’m not one of them guys who make all the opinions online or whatever it is, all that social media stuff. I’m out in the streets. I’m a fan. I talk to the fans every day.”
Sutter said his lineup decisions are a key topic of conversation when it comes to what people talk to him about.
“They tell me who to play, what to do, what’s wrong with them,” Sutter continued. “I talk to people every day about it and they’re the ones who know. They do. Our fans that come to games and our fans in the street that can’t come to the games, they’re the real fans.”
For Sutter, the connection to the team’s supporters is key, particularly in Calgary.
“When you’re in a small market like this, it’s really, really critical that they’re appreciated and that they’re understood,” Sutter said of the Flames fan base. “I’ve said it and I’ll say it again our, fans, our fan base, is just as important as our players. The best part about making the playoffs? Players and fans. That’s the best part. Because they get an opportunity to have some fun.”
As for what inspired him to take the job in the first place? Well, he felt like the Flames were just a little bit broken. After serving as the team’s head coach from 2002-2006, Sutter felt the time was right for him to return to coaching in his home province.
“I was a Flames fan, and I was in Alberta,” Sutter said on Friday about his initial hiring last March, replacing Geoff Ward. “I was watching lots of hockey in COVID. I didn’t like the way they were playing. The rest of the league was pulling ahead of them… the team was not playing a way that the league was playing.”
Sutter went 15-15-0 in his stretch as Flames coach last year before returning the team to the postseason this year with a 49-20-10 record to date.
“I didn’t think they were going to be a playoff team last year and I knew it was going to take some time, that’s for sure,” Sutter added. “They weren’t in a position mentally or physically to even compete for a playoff spot and that they had to do a total reset with them, they were a product of the environment and you had to change it.”
As for his mindset in changing the culture in Calgary? Well, Sutter treated it like any other job.
“It’s like going into a new office,” Sutter added. “There’s things you don’t like that have to change.”
With the Flames claiming the Pacific Division crown this season, it seems like Sutter’s changes have paid off in full.
So the next time you’re mad at your favourite team for not performing like they should, consider sending in your resume.