Back in town after a three-year stint as head coach of the Calgary Flames, workaholic Brent Sutter officially made it known Monday that he will be a hands-on figure with the Red Deer Rebels during the 2012-13 Western Hockey League season.
The Rebels owner/governor is moving into the general manager’s chair, leaving previous GM/head coach Jesse Wallin to zero in on his bench boss duties.
“This is not just a reactionary decision, it’s something I have thought about and Jesse and I have talked about for awhile,” Sutter said during a press conference at the Rebels office.
“We always want to do what’s right for the organization and the right thing at this point is to let Jesse focus on the role of head coach of the team. “That’s what’s most important to start with, allowing Jesse and the players to develop. Jesse doesn’t need to worry about the management side of it now. He can concentrate on coaching.”
Sutter said he considered bringing in an outside source to serve as general manager.
“But with myself knowing the coaching staff extremely well and knowing the players, the scouting staff and everyone involved in the hockey operation, I felt it was best that I be the one who becomes the general manager,” he said. “It’s not something that’s new to me. This way Jesse can do what he does best, and that’s being a real good coach.”
Sutter reiterated that the personnel move was well thought out and in the end will benefit the team.
“To me, it’s about the players . . . giving the players the best chance to succeed and be successful, and I think this is definitely the right decision. It’s been a long process for myself, over three months going through it.
“To be quite honest, I informed Jesse on Friday that this was the direction I was leaning towards going and that I needed the weekend to think about it. Yesterday it became very clear to me that this was what we needed to do moving forward. Effective today, this is where our hockey operations stand.”
Sutter added that in the near future he expects to hire a ‘special assignment’ person to work alongside himself as well as assist the coaching staff.
Meanwhile, Wallin sounded almost relieved that he will now be strictly in charge of guiding the Rebels from the bench.
“You want to do a good job of everything, but being a GM is a lot of extra work and a big responsibility,” he said. “Coaching is my passion, coaching is what I came on board to do and I feel that’s my greatest strength and what I enjoy the most. This allows me to focus on that.
“Ultimately, as Brent said, it’s what’s best for the organization. We’ve had a number of talks about this over a long period of time, as far back as when I took this position.
“I just feel that with the situation at this point in time, with Brent being back . . . that it made sense that at the end of the day this was the best thing for the organization and for the players, the best thing for everyone involved, myself included. I’m excited about being able to focus solely on the coaching side of it.”