Fantasy Take: Flames Fire Geoff Ward, Bring Back Darryl Sutter

Ian Gooding

2021-03-05

Following Calgary's 7-3 win over Ottawa on Thursday, the Flames announced that they have fired Geoff Ward as their head coach and replaced him with Darryl Sutter.

According to Pierre LeBrun, Sutter has also agreed to a three-year contract that includes the rest of this season plus the next two seasons. The fact that Sutter has already agreed to an extension likely means that this change was in the works for at least a few days, so Thursday's result probably didn't matter when it came to Ward's future anyway. The Flames currently sit outside of a playoff spot in the North Division, in fifth place with an even .500 record.

Sutter has a long history as an NHL coach. This will be his second stint with the Flames, as he coached the team between 2002-03 and 2005-06 and was the general manager until 2010, leading them to the Stanley Cup Final in 2003-04. He also has two Stanley Cup rings as the coach of the LA Kings.

There were rumblings that the Flames had lacked the necessary work ethic and consistency on a nightly basis under Ward, a onetime schoolteacher who worked his way up the coaching rankings until he replaced Bill Peters last season. Sutter is a hard-nosed old-school hockey man who will keep players on their toes, at least in the beginning. This could be a team that benefits at least in the short term, particularly those who play a more rugged brand of hockey. Flames players who haven’t been putting forth the necessary effort won’t have the opportunity to try to force the new coach out of town, since he’ll be there for longer than the interim. However, will Sutter’s stern message wear off over time, as it reportedly did in Los Angeles?

Sutter is also known for a tight defensive system, particularly when he was the Kings' coach. Jonathan Quick was one of the league's top goalies during that time, and Drew Doughty one of the league's top defensemen. The Flames invested heavily in fixing the starting goalie problem that they've had for years, signing Jacob Markstrom to a 6 x 6 contract this offseason. In addition, they created a goaltending department to help maintain that asset. So far, the Flames are a middle-of-the-pack team in goals against, having allowed