Flames players cancel trade demands after Sutter firing
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Flames players cancel trade demands after Sutter firing

Whoa! Ownership caved!



In case you missed the news earlier this week, the Calgary Flames officially walked away from head coach Darryl Sutter, firing him before he begins a massive $8 million contract. 

There was suspicion that the Flames may have fired Sutter after a dreadful regular season, but when GM Brad Treliving was let go of his job last month, those suspicions dissipated. Yesterday though, the Flames made it official and fired Sutter. Now the team is left with neither Treliving or Sutter for next season, leaving President Don Maloney with a busy offseason.

And according to reports from Flames insiders Wes Gilbertson and Eric Francis today, it was the Flames' players who drove Sutter out of a job.

From Francis' latest for Sportsnet:

(Treliving's) decision to fall on the sword two weeks ago due to professional differences with Sutter prompted ownership and hockey president Don Maloney to realize just how toxic an environment Sutter had created.

That, combined with some explosive exit interviews with players, and pointed conversations with coaches and player agents, made it clear the Flames needed a new coach.

The players simply hated going to the rink, where Sutter liked it being tense, heavy and unpredictable.

Sutter built a culture of fear, as he felt it helped him become one of the best coaches of an era.

No coach prepares players as well as Sutter, few work a bench as brilliantly as he does, and his forechecking mentality was, in fact, the best way for this team to play.

However, his tear-em-down, build-em-back-up approach sucked the love of the game out of many players, including franchise cornerstones Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri.

Sutter has changed in some ways, but not as a manager of people, which was his undoing.

His disrespect for the media has been a source of great entertainment for many, but it also gave people a glimpse into how he treats others while in coach mode.

- Eric Francis

And from Gilbertson's latest for the Calgary Sun:

Beyond a broad-strokes assessment that “the players were very, very frustrated with the season” Maloney wouldn’t dish on the specifics of his conversations with the skating stars. This much, however, was clear — they weren’t especially complimentary of the coach.

“They certainly didn’t force our hands,” Maloney protested during Monday’s press conference at the Saddledome. “Everybody has their opinion. And I think it’s today’s player, too. Ten years or 20 years ago, they wouldn’t say boo, generally, but the players of today want a voice and they have a voice and you have to listen to that voice. You don’t want to make it that the inmates are running the asylum, so to speak, but they had some real observations on how, in their minds, we should move forward. I’m not going to get in the specifics of it, but it was just one piece of the puzzle.

“Really, the whole evaluation was the entire organization, both inside and outside,” he continued. “The agents you speak to, they have influence on players staying here and attracting new players. They have lots of voices. So you try to touch base with everybody to say, ‘ OK, what’s your take on it? What’s your read on it? What do you think happened here with your client or other clients?’ That’s why it’s taken the two weeks that it’s taken.”

- Wes Gilbertson

Personally, I think the Flames were bound for a setback season regardless of who was behind the bench. You don't simply lose cornerstones like Gaudreau and Tkachuk and not have it affect your team chemistry. Throw a 'task master' style head coach to a team that's already dealing with morale issues and it's simply too much to bear.

In any case, the early returns from the Flames' players seem to indicate that the move to remove Sutter is a popular one. NHL insider Frank Seravalli reports that some players, including veteran forward Mikael Backlund, who last week said he was going to wait and see what management does this offseason before committing to the team any further.

From Seravalli:

- Frank Seravalli

Honestly... this stands to be the most entertaining offseason in Calgary in a long time. Which is saying a lot given what happened last offseason. Stay tuned.

Source: Frank Seravalli