Flames, coach Brent Sutter part ways

Brent Sutter won't be back for a fourth season as Calgary's head coach, general manager Jay Feaster announced on Thursday.
Brent Sutter went 0-2 in the postseason with New Jersey, and failed to reach the playoffs in three seasons with Calgary. (Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)

Brent Sutter won't be back for a fourth season as Calgary's head coach, general manager Jay Feaster announced on Thursday.

"Brent Sutter and I met and discussed a number of issues regarding the hockey team and the future," Feaster said in a statement. "Brent and I explored many options and ultimately determined that it is best to proceed in different directions. Brent is a great person and an excellent hockey coach. On behalf of the Calgary Flames, we sincerely appreciate his hard work, dedication and commitment to our organization, and we wish him every success."

The Viking, Alta., native came to the Flames with much fanfare in 2009 after two seasons with New Jersey, as well as success earlier with the WHL's Red Deer Rebels and Canada's entry at the world junior championships in 2005 and 2006. The Canadian juniors won gold in both tournaments.

"I wish the Calgary Flames all the best," Sutter said in the statement released by the club.

Calgary failed to reach the playoffs in each of Sutter's three seasons at the helm.

While the coach was saddled by a series of trades and draft picks that didn't pan out, he reportedly had a strained relationship with his brother Darryl Sutter, who preceded Feaster as GM.

Feaster also said that assistant coach Dave Lowry has been let go.

Craig Hartsburg and Clint Malarchuk are still under contract. The Flames GM added that the incoming coach will meet with those two assistants  and have the authority to decide to retain or let them go.

Feaster took pains during a news conference continually stress that the parting with Sutter was amicable.

He also took his share of the blame for the underachieving club.

"I've failed to provide the right players here, I've failed to provide the right chemistry to this team, this isn't about Brent not getting his message through," Feaster said.

Feaster said he's not going to limit his criteria for finding the right man to the job, or put a timeline on the search.

He did say that Troy Ward, coach of the team's Abbostford affiliate in the American Hockey League, would be considered.

Feaster was also specifically asked about Bob Hartley, a longtime friend. He was noncommittal about Hartley, who won a Stanley Cup as coach of Colorado in 2001.