According to the Canadian Press, Darryl Sutter will step down as head coach of the Calgary Flames in a Wednesday news conference. Assistant coach Jim Playfair should be named the heir to the head coaching spot.
Though this is a little out of the blue, it shouldn't really be shocking to anyone. To be quite honest, in the interviews done during the season, you could almost hear Sutter hinting to this being his last year behind the bench. He will keep his GM duties, which should help the Flames in the long-run, especially since Sutter won't have to worry about pulling double duty all year.
I do like reading the replies and reaction some people have. Sure, it's a hard hit to the Flames, but come on-- with the new rules making the NHL a more free-flowing offensive game, the game-plan of Sutter's was his demise in the playoffs. It's amazing that the Flames were able to have 10 shutouts last season with scoring opening up. That's not to say Sutter is behind the times, but it would be more beneficial to the Flames as a whole to get some new blood behind the bench. You almost got a sense that the Flames were tuning Sutter out at the end of the season.
Jim Playfair is a great choice for the replacement. Playfair joined the Flames organization in the '00-'01 season coaching the Saint John Flames in the AHL, leading them to the Calder Cup the same season. However, with the lack of good prospects, Playfair was less than fortunate in his tenure remaining there. However, when Darryl Sutter took over the role as head coach in the '02-'03 season, Playfair was named assistant coach and has been there ever since. Playfair started coaching with the Dayton Bombers (ECHL) between '93 and '96 going 106-76-24 during that time. While in Saint John, Playfair won the Calder Cup and had a record of 83-77-22-10 in two and a half seasons.
However, don't expect a drastic change for the Flames. They'll no doubt have more offensive punch with the pick up of Alex Tanguay, but Playfair, a former defenseman, will have defense first on his mind and worry about his own zone before the attack zone. For Sutter, it's time to kick back and watch the team he help build, as well as get a chance to relax....though it probably won't happen.