Flames hire coach Darryl Sutter

After a month-long search, the Calgary Flames finally have their man.

The struggling club named Darryl Sutter as the team's new head coach Saturday, four weeks after firing former bench boss Greg Gilbert.

The posting is Sutter's second NHL job this season. He was fired by the San Jose Sharks on Dec. 1, two days before Calgary dismissed Gilbert.

Interim coach Al MacNeil took over for Gilbert while the Flames looked for a full-time replacement. He led the Flames to a respectable 4-5-2 mark in 11 outings.

Sutter will take over for MacNeil and make his Flames debut in Sunday's contest against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. His hiring comes less than 24 hours after the Flames fell 4-3 to the Toronto Maple Leafs, moving their league-worst home record to 2-9-4-1.

Calgary is tied with the Nashville Predators at the bottom of the Western Conference standings with a 10-18-5-3 mark.

The Flames could be the right fit for Sutter, whose family has roots in Alberta. Also, his brother Brian previously coached the Flames for three seasons.

Sutter's named moved to the fore of a list of candidates that included Ted Nolan, Scotty Bowman, Larry Robinson, Kevin Constantine and Jim Playfair, the coach of Calgary's AHL affiliate.

In five-plus seasons in San Jose, Sutter posted a 192-182-60 regular-season record and .512 winning percentage. He became just the second coach in NHL history to guide his team to five straight seasons with an improvement in points. Sutter also led the Sharks to a team-record five consecutive post-season berths.

He previously coached the Chicago Blackhawks from 1992 to '95, leading the club to the playoffs each year.

Sutter has a challenging task ahead of him. The Flames have fallen out of playoff contention in the Western Conference, eight games below .500 and 19 points behind the Northwest Division-leading Vancouver Canucks.

Calgary has struggled at both sides of the puck this season. The team's offence is ranked 29th in the 30-team NHL. Their defence isn't much better at 22nd overall.

with files from Canadian Press