Colour him in for the rest of the season.
Brent Sutter has decided he’ll be the main man behind the Red Deer Rebels bench until at least March, and hopefully a little longer.
When the club’s owner/president/general manager replaced Jesse Wallin as head coach last month he suggested that he would hand the reins to someone else, possibly new assistant Jeff Truitt, in the not too distant future.
But he’s had a change of heart, and with the club playing by far its best hockey of the season since he took over, that’s clearly understandable.
“I just think it’s the right thing to do,” Sutter said Thursday. “It wouldn’t be fair to the kids now to make a change. There’s a certain way I want this team to play and I don’t think it would be right to all of a sudden make another coaching change.
“It wouldn’t be fair to anyone involved, including the fans. The right thing to do is stay the course and get through the year, hopefully have a real good second half (of the regular season) and a good playoff run. Then I can take some time to think about the situation.”
The off-season, he insisted, will be the right time to make such an important decision as to who will guide the team moving forward, even if he finds that he’s the right choice.
“If I decide we’re going to bring a new coach in then I can evaluate the situation properly, I will have more people to look at at that time.”
Sutter said Truitt will definitely be on the list of any front-running candidates.
“Absolutely, and doing it this way gives me more time to work with Jeff,” he said. “Really, I don’t know what’s going to happen down the road, I just know that it’s important we do it this way for now.”
Meanwhile, Sutter said he will meet with Wallin next week and learn whether the former coach is interested in taking another position with the organization.
l Speaking of both the present and the future, the Rebels’ first-round pick in this year’s bantam draft was on display in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to the Calgary Hitmen and will remain in the lineup for home games versus Victoria and Kelowna tonight and Saturday.
Forward Adam Musil looked right at home while getting third-line minutes and most likely could be a full-time WHL player right now. The 15-year-old with the six-foot-one, 185-pound frame, played a contact game Wednesday and showed a high level of on-ice intelligence and a smooth skating stride.
But he’s only eligible to play five games this season, unless his midget team’s (Greater Vancouver Canadians’) season is over before the Rebels’ season concludes. For sure, though, he’s already pencilled in for next year, although Sutter won’t rush the youngster once he arrives for keeps.
“It’s not where he’s at today, it’s visualizing where a young man like that is going to be when he’s 18 and 19 years of age,” said Sutter, who was suitably impressed with Musil’s WHL regular-season debut.
“Obviously he’s a big, strong player and he’s going to be a real good player for us in the future.”
l Call it The Curious Case of Charles Inglis.
Upper case letters are necessary in this case, not only because the above line is a playful take on a splendid Brad Pitt movie, but because Inglis himself presents a capital puzzle.
Certainly not void of talent, Inglis is, however, apparently lacking in the personal makeup that is necessary to blend into a team environment. Both outspoken and outgoing, the 20-year-old centre has estranged himself from four WHL teams and has now almost certainly played himself out of the league.
The Saskatoon Blades, by all reports, grew weary of his off-ice behaviour and dealt him to the Prince George Cougars, who then sent him to Red Deer last December despite the fact Inglis had scored 32 goals with the B.C. Division club the previous season and had 16 points (9-7) in 16 games in the two months leading up to the trade.
The Cougars, in fact, had sent Inglis home to await a deal. Jesse Wallin, the Rebels GM/bench boss at the time, decided the fiery forward was worth the risk, and although he potted 21 goals in 57 games and was a model citizen during his time in Red Deer, he was gone the moment Brent Sutter cut ties with Wallin and placed himself behind the bench in mid-November.
Enter the Kamloops Blazers, who a week later dealt a conditional fifth-round bantam draft pick to the Rebels for Inglis, who filled the club’s final 20-year-old spot. But after 11 games with no goals and five assists, Inglis was released Wednesday following the Blazers’ 5-2 loss at Edmonton.
Blazers’ GM Craig Bonner, in conversation with Marty Hasting of Kamloops This Week, hinted that he wasn’t surprised that the Inglis experiment didn’t pan out.
“To be honest, I knew the chances of it working here were less than 50 per cent, but I thought we gave it a fair shake. It just didn’t work out,” said Bonner.
Inglis’ days in Kamloops were numbered even as the team prepared for its current four-game road trip which concludes with stops in Lethbridge and Medicine Hat tonight and Saturday.
“Going into the trip, the coaches expressed, and I was in agreement, some concerns with Charles’ play and his presence on our team,” Bonner continued. “He demands a lot of attention, but the majority of it was performance. His production . . . he was struggling. I thought his work ethic and his compete level, which we pride ourselves on, was average at best.”
So Inglis, who was twice passed over in the NHL entry draft yet received training camp invitations from Phoenix and San Jose in 2010 and 2011, will likely have to play in the Ontario or Quebec leagues if he’s to stay at the major junior level. If not, junior A is an option for the player who never fulfilled his on-ice potential due partly to a lack of a consistent work ethic, but largely because of his off-ice behaviour, which, perhaps, had more to do with his need for attention than bad habits.