Coach, defenceman to reunite

Jim Vandermeer has plenty in common with Brent Sutter. The two were captain and head coach of the 2001 Memorial Cup champion Red Deer Rebels, and both are no-nonsense types who know no bounds regarding the effort required to experience success.

Atlanta Thrashers forward Eric Boulton (36) and Calgary Flames defenceman Jim Vandermeer

Jim Vandermeer has plenty in common with Brent Sutter.

The two were captain and head coach of the 2001 Memorial Cup champion Red Deer Rebels, and both are no-nonsense types who know no bounds regarding the effort required to experience success.

Now they’re on the verge of reconnecting as player and coach, with Sutter expected to be named bench boss of the Calgary Flames today.

“It sounds like it’s going to happen,” Vandermeer, a Flames defenceman, said Monday.

“We’ve definitely had some success together and there’s a handful of guys (including former Rebels standout rearguard Dion Phaneuf) who have played for Brent, so it will be interesting to see how it evolves.”

The Flames, under head coach Mike Keenan, were one of the NHL’s worst defensive teams last season.

Sutter, whose attention to defence has been well-documented, could be just what the doctor ordered for the franchise.

“I remember one year in Red Deer (2000-01) we set a Western League record (which has since been broken) for the fewest goals against,” said Vandermeer, who hoisted the Memorial Cup as the Rebels’ captain.

“He definitely has a structured system and if everyone jumps on board it works really well. And Brent is a guy who can get everyone to jump on board.”

It’s been eight long years since Vandermeer played for Sutter. Perhaps his junior bench boss has changed somewhat?

“Who knows, maybe he has a bit,” said Vandermeer.

“I do know that he’s my type of coach. He keeps it pretty simple. He’s a hard-nosed, hard-working person and he respects players who are like that. I know that we always got along together pretty well.”

Indeed, Vandermeer and Sutter saw eye-to-eye pretty much the whole time the Caroline native was with the Rebels.

They enjoyed a mutual respect, which was evident when Vandermeer was appointed team captain during his final season.

Vandermeer has two years remaining on his contract and he knows that the Flames have to play better defensive hockey is he’s going to experience a lengthy playoff run — and perhaps two — within that time frame.

“The games we lose are the games where we give up more than 15 scoring chances,” he said. “If you’re giving up that many against you’re not giving yourself a very good chance of winning. You have to tighten it up to give yourself the best chance.”

Sutter recently resigned after two years as head coach of the New Jersey Devils, citing a desire to be closer to his family and his WHL franchise.

The Rebels owner and president had one or more years remaining on his NHL contract, meaning Flames GM Darryl Sutter had to gain permission from Devils GM and president Lou Lamoriello before approaching his brother with the Calgary offer. Clearly, permission was granted.

• Vandermeer and New York Islanders forward and Red Deer native Trent Hunter will host the Young Guns charity golf tournament today at Alberta Springs.

The tournament organizers were given 30 full sets of hockey equipment by the NHL Players Association Goals and Dreams Fund. The equipment will be distributed to economically challenged children in Central Alberta.

Also participating in the Young Guns tournament are NHL players and Central Alberta products Curtis Glencross of the Flames, Kris Russell of the Columbus Blue Jackets and St. Louis Blues goaltender Chris Mason.

Just Posted

Lacombe council seeking answers about policing cost overruns

Council surprised to find out about $240,000 policing budget shortfall

Red Deer fundraiser to help educate Somali orphans on May 11

The Mother’s Day event is for all ages

Lacombe to join municipal coalition spreading the word about importance of resource industry

Resources Communities of Canada Coalition to represent municipalities connected to resource industry

These blues will get you dancing: The Overdue Blues Band performs in Red Deer Saturday

Calgary’s Brother Ray Lemelin Band is also on Elks Lodge bill

Gardening: Time and effort key to buying garden plants

Greenhouses, garden centers and box stores are set to start selling bedding… Continue reading

Montreal native Nicholas Latifi off to solid start on Formula 2 race circuit

Practice makes perfect for Canadian Nicholas Latifi. The 23-year-old Montreal auto racer… Continue reading

Bruins victory over Leafs ensures an American team will hoist the Stanley Cup

TORONTO — Many NHL players were either not yet born or too… Continue reading

Swole, buzzy, among new words in Merriam-Webster dictionary

BOSTON — Get swole, prepare a bug-out bag, grab a go-cup and… Continue reading

Garner graces cover of People’s annual ‘Beautiful Issue’

NEW YORK — Jennifer Garner graces the front of this year’s “Beautiful… Continue reading

Updated: Joshua Arthur Sanford has been found, says RCMP

37-year-old Ponoka man last seen on Tuesday morning

Inspired by a galaxy far, far away, these ‘Star Wars’ mementos could be yours forever

CHICAGO —The stuff of “Star Wars” —and there is unfortunately no better… Continue reading

Shoppers Drug Mart launches second online medical pot portal in Alberta

TORONTO — Medical cannabis users in Alberta can now get their therapeutic… Continue reading

Most Read