Flames find their man

It didn't take long for Darryl Sutter to find another job in the NHL.

Just 27 days after he was unceremoniously fired from his post with the San Jose Sharks, Sutter appeared at the Pengrowth Saddledome to announce he had signed on as the new head coach of the Calgary Flames.

"Good thing I've got a job again. It's tough doing nothing," said Sutter, who received a 2 1/2-year contract with the Flames for about $700,000 US a year.

The Sutter signing came as a welcome end to the Flames' lengthy and much-publicized search for a head coach.

Despite the criticism the organization received for the long wait, it appears at first glance general manager Craig Button and team president Ken King have found a perfect fit in Sutter.

Using a hard-nosed coaching style that helped the Sharks to five straight years of steady improvement, Sutter gives the Flames instant credibility.

Grit and toughness have always been a trademarks of Sutter ever since he played in the NHL -- one of six Sutter brothers to lace them up in the league -- and the Flames hope these attributes will help pull the team out of one of its worst seasons in franchise history.

"This is not a short-term deal for me," said Sutter, who already has 650 NHL games under his belt as a coach with the Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks.

"I want the identity of the Calgary Flames back to where it was. This is a tough town, a tough place to play."

Despite Calgary's horrific record, Sutter sounded optimistic he could salvage the season and make a run at the playoffs.

"Darn right, I believe it and the players better believe it," he said. "You've got to catch one team and they are in a position to do that."

It seems the Flames are also using the old Alberta connection to attract some more fan interest.

Darryl Sutter comes on board just 30 months after his brother Brian was dumped by the team in a full-scale housecleaning by the organization.

"I'm just happy for him,'' said Brian, who is now in his second year with the Chicago Blackhawks and a fan favourite when he was with the Flames. "It's a good fit. They need discipline and direction and not just the players. It's the whole organization. They need some stability.

"They've got some great hockey people there, but they need a rudder in the water. Otherwise, none of that works. It all comes from the coach.''

Canadian juniors

It's been a long time since Canada has struck gold at the world junior championship, but hockey fans across this nation are hoping this is the year.

Playing before raucous crowds in Halifax, the Canadian juniors have looked pretty good in their first two games, hammering Sweden 8-2 in the home opener and then beating the Czech Republic 4-0 to take their first two games at the tournament.

Generally disregarded in Europe and the USA, the world junior championship generates a loyal following in Canada.

Every one of Canada's games has been sold out for this two-week tournament, which pits the best under-19 hockey players the world has to offer.

Canada is looking for its first gold medal since 1997.