'He's brought our group together': Return of coach Darryl Sutter ignited Flames_freckle removal at home

'He's brought our group together': Return of coach Darryl Sutter ignited FlamesIn a swing from 2021 playoff bust to 2022 Stanley Cup contender, the Calgary Flames responded to Darryl Sutter's tough-love coaching methods. On Tuesday night, he'll coach his first playoff game in six years against visiting Dallas.

Social Sharing

Conservative with praise and words, his unfiltered assessments land with weight

Donna Spencer · The Canadian Press(Josie Lepe/Associated Press)

Eyebrows may have disappeared into hairlines when the Calgary Flames rehired Darryl Sutter, but the team's turnaround under the laconic rancher is indisputable.

In a swing from 2021 playoff bust to 2022 Stanley Cup contender, the Flames responded to Sutter's tough-love coaching methods.

Calgary, which finished first in the Pacific Division, opens the playoffs Tuesday at home against the Dallas Stars. It will be Sutter's first playoff game in six years.

"I've been kind of waiting for it for a while," Sutter said Monday. "It's why you play right?"

Righting a ship creates waves. Hired March 4, 2021, Sutter returned to an NHL club he'd previously managed and coached prepared to make them.

Why did he want to?

After 18 years as a head coach and two Stanley Cup wins with the Los Angeles Kings, Sutter was an adviser to the Anaheim Ducks' coaching staff at that time and appeared to be leaning into his work on the family cattle ranch in Alberta.

"I'm a Flames fan. I didn't like the way they were playing," the 63-year-old from Viking, Alta., said recently. "I didn't think they would be a playoff team last year. I knew it was going to take some time, that's for sure.

  • MATCHUP: Dallas at Calgary, Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET
  • PLAYOFF PREVIEWFlames vow to keep foot on the gas heading into series against Stars

"There were areas coming in that they weren't in a position mentally or physically to even compete for a playoff spot and you had to do a total reset with them.

"As a coach, you have to get in there and figure out how can you help that player become a better player or change? Become a better team player? That is a hard job. Hard to do."

Similarities between Sutter and Hartley?

Within days of replacing Geoff Ward, Sutter's blunt comment about star winger Johnny Gaudreau's lack of energy in a game indicated the Flames, no matter their status, couldn't expect diplomacy in their coach's public assessment of their performance.

"I think bringing Darryl in was good for our team," Gaudreau said just over a year later on a night when Calgary locked into the playoffs with games to spare.

WATCH l Flames fall to Jets in regular season finale:

Appleton lifts Jets over Flames for 3rd straight victory

4 days agoDuration 0:49Winnipeg beats Calgary 3-1 as Mason Appleton scores the game-winning goal.More NHL coverage


top 10