Yes, yes, they are.
Only, as is not usually the case of late, the Flames are actually in a slightly better situation. You see, Brent Sutter is currently on an expiring contract and is desperately coaching for a renewal, or so we speculate. If the team decides to walk away, or vice versa, the Flames owe him no further compensation.
In Toronto, Ron Wilson was ... ha ... haha ... hahaha ... BAH HAHAHAHA ... signed to an extension just this season and he announced it all on his lonesome via his twitter account on Christmas Day. Oh, that wascally Won Rilson and his media trickery. If he's let go, the Leafs will continue to pay the man throughout the length of his contract, or until he gets another job.
Although the Maple Leafs are facing this decision a little sooner than the Flames, or so it seems if you listen to the media; the two teams situations are somewhat similar.
After the jump we'll take a quick peak at the circumstances surrounding this upcoming decision for the Calgary Flames.
Take a second to think about the similarities between Wilson and Sutter.
Both were hired by teams that are/were trying to avoid full-on re-builds despite a lot of evidence leaning towards just that.
Wilson is currently coaching his 4th season with the club - zero post season appearances.
Sutter is on his 3rd season at the helm - zero post season appearances.
If you were to ask me yesterday when the speculation started, I'd of wondered just how you could fire Ron Wilson when the team he's been given is most likely just not good enough to make the playoffs.
However, all season long I've maintained that Brent Sutter should be let go when his contract expires, although I've openly criticized managements building of the team and refusal to properly judge the teams caliber. Pretty much the same circumstances Wilson finds himself in. And, Sutter's record with the Flames is quite a bit better than Wilson's with the Leafs.
I still wouldn't re-sign Brent Sutter though.
During last years run Sutter was a pretty big reason the team had success. He was using his top 6 forward lines in a way that was maximizing their return and, following Darryl Sutter's dismissal, the results were pouring in. Using Olli Jokinen and Curtis Glencross' line to play against the heavy-lifters of the opposing team, to which they did a pretty good job, freed up the space for Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla to eat up the more offensive minutes; racking up points and wins for the club. A couple of injuries derailed the momentum but Sutter had coached the gang in a most effective manner which helped to get them very close to a playoff birth, despite the below-average goaltending they were getting from Miikka Kiprusoff. This season, those 94 points would likely be enough to get the team into the dance.
With a proven blueprint of success before him, Sutter decided to go a different way. Power vs Power for this season. Although, as we've seen in very large chunks of the year, his Power vs Power has actually been Mediocre vs Power which has about the likelihood of success of Scissors vs Rock.
Thankfully for Sutter and his staff, Kiprusoff has absolutely stood on his head for the majority of the season despite the team being out shot, out possessed and out chanced game in game out, allowing the team to stay in the post season hunt and even occupy 8th spot for a spell. And, if he can help the team correct their slide tonight in Phoenix will go a long way to getting Brent Sutter re-signed.
I have a sneaking suspicion that should the Flames qualify for the playoffs, Sutter will be renewed; should they miss out, they'll let him walk. After all, how can you bring back a coach who's missed the playoffs three straight seasons when they were expected (by their own management) to make it. You can't.
All of this talk could also be rendered moot should Sutter decide to walk away of his own accord. He left the Devils to join Calgary and be closer to his Red Deer Rebels franchise. On a number of occasions he's skipped out to be with the Rebels for things pertaining to that team. It wouldn't surprise me in the least to see Brent head back up the QE2 to the Deer and take back the reigns of his old junior club, especially given their lack of success.
There are a number of good coaches available, including Dallas Eakins (Toronto Marlies) and Randy Carlyle (whom Eric Duhatschek speculated this morning on the Fan 960, might be the first choice of Brian Burke given their history together) whom the Flames could jump on and start anew.
Add this to the growing list of possible change that could come to the Flames this off-season. What they do with Brent Sutter is just one of the things that will help give us an indication of the direction of this franchise. A direction that very few are on board with outside of the organization.