Flames name Brent Sutter new head coach

CALGARY — Another Sutter is joining the Calgary Flames.

New Calgary Flames' head coach Brent Sutter smiles as he speaks to the media during a news conference announcing him as the team's new head coach in Calgary

New Calgary Flames' head coach Brent Sutter smiles as he speaks to the media during a news conference announcing him as the team's new head coach in Calgary

CALGARY — Another Sutter is joining the Calgary Flames.

General manger Darryl Sutter named his brother Brent the new head coach of the NHL club Tuesday.

The addition of Brent pushes the total number of Sutters in the Flames fold to five.

Brother Duane is director of player personnel, brother Ron is a scout and Darryl’s son Brett played for the Flames farm team last season.

“When you’re in it long enough, it’s probably going to happen when you have that many brothers who have been in the game as long as we have,” Darryl said as a news conference.

The Flames also named Ryan McGill, Dave Lowry and Jamie McLennan assistant coaches.

Darryl said the Sutter name played no part in hiring Brent.

“I’m the GM, Brent’s the head coach and this is the coaching staff,” he said. “They were the very best people available. It didn’t really matter what their last name was.”

Flames president Ken King wasn’t concerned about a plethora of Sutters working in the organization.

“If there was any grave concern about it, we wouldn’t do it,” King said. “We’re not concerned about them having the same last name.

“What we are concerned about is who they are as individuals and who they are as people and where they have been and what their expectations are and understanding what our expectations are.”

This marks the third coaching change in four seasons for the Flames. Darryl said there were three key things he wanted the new coaching staff to bring back to the team.

“Number one was leadership, that was very, very important,” he said. “Number two was structure and number three was detail.”

Brent quit the New Jersey Devils with one year remaining on his contract to return to Alberta, saying he wanted to be closer to his family and his business ventures, which are his ranch and the Red Deer Rebels junior hockey team.

The 47-year-old from Viking, Alta., coached the Devils to a 97-56-11 regular-season record in his first two seasons as an NHL coach, but New Jersey was upset in the first round both seasons.

Brent said he knew three or four days after the season’s conclusion that he probably wouldn’t return to New Jersey.

Darryl had to get permission from Devils GM Lou Lamoriello to hire his brother and said he did so on June 12. When asked if the Flames had to pay compensation to the Devils, Darryl said no.

“There was some personal things that he understood,” Brent said of Lamoriello. “It affected other parts of my life that, at some point, you have to sit back and reflect back and say ’what’s the most important?”’

The appointment of Brent as the Flames’ head coach has been expected since he announced his resignation June 9. After firing Mike Keenan on May 23 with a year remaining on his contract, Darryl said his brother was a good coach, but could say little else because Brent was still under contract with the Devils.

The two have worked together before as Darryl coached Brent when he played for the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Flames underachieved last season with a fourth straight exit in the first round of the playoffs, despite spending up to the US$56.7-million salary cap to build for a long post-season run.

Calgary led the Northwest Division by 13 points in January, but injuries and inconsistent play eroded that cushion and cost Calgary home-ice advantage in the post season. The Flames finished fifth in the Western Conference with a 46-30-6 record.

Changes expected next season are a return to defence and a reduction in the workload of goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff.

Darryl pointed out after firing Keenan that his team had gone from No. 1 in the league in defence in 2005-06 to 23rd this season.

“Defensive hockey for a coach is the easiest part of the game to teach,” Brent said. “Defensive hockey isn’t just about how you play in your own zone. Defensive hockey is about how you play in the neutral zone, the offensive zone, defensive hockey is about puck possession time. There’s a lot of things involved in it.

“You need everyone committed to doing it. A good defensive team doesn’t mean you can’t be a good team offensively either.”