Hockey

Flames name Brent Sutter new head coach

Brent Sutter was officially named head coach of the Calgary Flames Tuesday.

Brent Sutter was officially named head coach of the Calgary Flames Tuesday.

The Flames also named Ryan McGill, Dave Lowry and Jamie McLennan as assistant coaches.

"To me, it's a big day," said Flames general manager Darryl Sutter, Brent's older brother, during a press conference introducing the new hires. 

"To be able to get who I think is the best free agent head coach out there and to be able to add the group together and see how they're going to work is an awesome thing."

Rumours of such a move have swirled since Darryl Sutter fired coach Mike Keenan on May 22 and Brent Sutter subsequently stepped down as coach of the New Jersey Devils on June 9.

"Our job is to give the players an environment that they have the opportunity to succeed in," said Brent Sutter. "The standards in this organization are high, and to be quite honest, I can speak on behalf of the whole coaching staff that we wouldn't want it any other way."

It's the third coaching change in four years for the Flames.

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All in the family

By hiring Brent Sutter, what's widely known as the "First Family" of the NHL has suddenly become the ruling clan of the Calgary Flames.

In addition to Brent behind the bench and Darryl in the front office, brothers Duane and Ron Sutter also work for the Flames. Duane is director of player personnel, Ron a scout.

Darryl's son Brett also played for Calgary's AHL farm team last season, which means five members of the Sutter family are a part of the Flames organization.

"When you're in it long enough, it's probably going to happen when you have that many brothers who have been in the game as long as we have," Darryl said.

Flames president Ken King wasn't too worried about the numerous Sutters in the organization.

"If there was any grave concern about it, we wouldn't do it," King said. "We're not concerned about them having the same last name.

"What we are concerned about is who they are as individuals and who they are as people and where they have been and what their expectations are and understanding what our expectations are."

The younger Sutter, who had one year left on his three-year contract with the Devils, indicated at the time he wanted to be closer to his family in Red Deer, Alta.

"It was for all the right reasons," Brent Sutter said about his decision to resign. He said Devils GM Lou Lamoriello understood his request to leave and accommodated his wishes.

Sutter, 47, recently told reporters that the Flames' coaching vacancy had had "zero impact" on his decision to quit the Devils. He also denied interest in joining the Edmonton Oilers, who later hired Pat Quinn.

The Viking, Alta., native guided New Jersey to a 97-56-11 regular-season record but failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs in both seasons with the team.

Before joining the Devils, Sutter spent eight seasons as the owner, president, general manager and coach of the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League, winning the Memorial Cup in 2001.

Sutter also coached Canada to consecutive gold medals at the world junior championships in 2005 and 2006.

With the addition of Brent, there are now five Sutters in the Flames organization. Darryl and Brent's brother Duane is director of player personnel and brother Ron is a scout. Darryl's son, Brett, played for the Flames' AHL farm team last season.

Darryl Sutter said family connections played no part in his hiring decision.

"I'm the GM, Brent's the head coach, and this is the coaching staff," he said. "They were the very best people available. It didn't really matter what their last name was."

McGill, 39, is being called up to the big club after coaching Calgary's AHL affiliate for four years, guiding the squad to the playoffs once, back in 2006-07, where the team lost in the first round.

Lowry, 44, was the head coach last season of the WHL's Calgary Hitmen, who were ranked as the top Canadian junior team for most of the 2008-09 season before losing in the WHL final to the Kelowna Rockets. He's also a former Flame.

McLennan, 37, will be Calgary's goalie coach. He spent three seasons as the Flames' backup goalie, from 2002-04 and again in 2006-07.

Darryl Sutter has coached all four of his hires during their time in the NHL. He was behind the bench in Chicago from 1992-95 when he barked orders to his brother Brent, coached Lowry and McLennan in Calgary, and saw McGill in 1988-89, when the two were part of the Saginaw Hawks in the now-defunct International Hockey League.