For the Flames fan base, the image of a smiling Darryl Sutter raising the Cup probably stirs smiles of distant satisfaction in most. The ironically nick-named Jolly Rancher has reached the ultimate goal. The name Darryl will be added to Duane and Brent as a third Sutter on the Stanley Cup. He is the first Sutter to take the Cup as a coach.
On behalf of Flames fans I wish to offer him a huge congrats on this accomplishment.
The man Flames fans watched ride into town and take a rag-tag Flames team within a game of the Cup, revitalizing a fan base, making one of the best trades in franchise history by getting Miikka Kiprusoff for a 2nd round pick had a bad exit from Cow Town.
He ended on a sour note where he struggled as a GM to find the answers to taking the Flames to the next level in the playoffs and then made one of the worst trades in Flames history moving Dion Phaneuf for Toronto Maple Leafs cast-offs. The cowboy who had come into town with guns blazing and with all the answers exited by being thrown out of the saloon and stumbling into the sunset.
One of the best pieces of writing on the Flames in years was penned by Kent Wilson of Flames Nation. A 6-part series that breaks down Darryl Sutter's tenure in Calgary. I have referenced it countless times and will do so yet again here. A must read for anyone interested in what happened in Calgary during the Darryl Sutter era.
Most Flames fans do not tag Darryl as the root issue of the Flames current woes. It was Ken King who promoted him beyond his abilities to GM, as concrete an example of the Peter Principle as you will find. Ken King, as Flames fans know, had no experience in the hockey world prior to joining the Flames in 2001. King lacked and still lacks the ability to properly evaluate and oversee a hockey operations department. If he had the ability to do so he would have vetoed the Phaneuf trade, the Staios trade, the Kotalik trade and so on.
Darryl Sutter is a very good coach, everyone in Calgary knew it but his final moves as GM of the Flames will seal the deal on his ability as a GM.
Darryl got himself a golden ticket to the GM position, Ken King and the Flames Owners should not have given him the position. Is it fair to blame him for the Flames woes? Like a 12 year old child who is handed the keys to the family car, who do you blame when they get in the accident?
Such is the perspective for many on Darryl today in Calgary and why there is no ill-will toward him. Most are happy to see him raise the Cup. Happy to see him hold it in the role he excels in, Coach. It is where he does his best work and where he should have stayed in Calgary.
It is interesting to recall how Dean Lombardi was lambasted by some at the time for hiring Darryl Sutter.
Darryl went into self-imposed exile after he was let go by the Flames, no contact with the media, no public comments, he retreated to his ranch. The Flames organization had to allow the Kings to contact Darryl, allow permission for them to speak to him.
In a sense they played a small part in the Kings Cup this year, depending on how big a role you consider Darryl having.
This leads to the challenge of the day for M&G readers. Dean Lombardi has certainly proven himself to be a GM, unlike Darryl Sutter, who was capable of making the final tweaks to take a strong young team over the top to the Cup.
In your view what was the most important move Lombardi made?