Despite winning their last game 7-3, Calgary Flames management decided late on March 4th that Geoff Ward would be fired as head coach of the team. Ward is the second coach to be fired this season following Claude Julien also being fired by the Montreal Canadiens. Ward’s replacement is multiple-time Stanley Cup winner Darryl Sutter. Sutter will have his work cut out for him as he tries to turn the Flames season around.
Why Was Geoff Ward Fired?
When Geoff Ward was promoted to interim head coach by the Calgary Flames organization in November of 2019 after the firing of Bill Peters, he led the team to a miraculous run to the playoffs. After the promotion of Ward, the Flames went 24-15-3. They ultimately met their demise in the first round of the playoffs at the hands of the Stanley Cup runner-up, Dallas Stars. Despite this early exit, the Flames would later name Ward the official head coach before the 2021 season.
After the early playoff elimination, the Flames had a big offseason as they brought in a star goaltender in Jacob Markstrom, a top-four defenseman in Chris Tanev, and a top-nine forward in Josh Leivo. The additions of these free agents were supposed to help put the Calgary Flames into legit contention for the Stanley cup. So far the result has been far from what was expected. In the 24 games to start the season, the Calgary Flames have won 11 games, lost 11 games, and have lost two in overtime. The poor results combined with the subpar results from the new additions ultimately cost Ward his job with the Flames.
Why Was Darryl Sutter Hired by the Calgary Flames?
The Sutter family has had lots of success in the NHL and Darryl Sutter is no exception. He is someone who has spent his entire life in the sport of hockey. Sutter started his career as a player for the Chicago Blackhawks before transitioning to a role as a head coach.
When Sutter was 34 years old, he got his first head coaching position in the NHL. He coached the Blackhawks for parts of three seasons before moving onto coach the San Jose Sharks for six seasons. After his time in San Jose had run its course, Sutter became the coach of the Calgary Flames for the first time in his career. He helped them win the Western Conference Finals and reach the Stanley Cup in the 2003-04 season. After the 2005-06 season, Sutter left the Flames organization and would not find another head coaching gig until 2011-12 when he took the reins of the Los Angeles Kings.
His time in Los Angeles was well worth it as it was the most success he has had as an NHL head coach. He helped the Kings win the Stanley Cup in his first season with the franchise and then two years later during the 2013-14 season they won the Stanley cup again. Sutter went on to coach three more seasons with the Kings before leaving after the 2016-17 campaign.
After almost a four-year break between head coaching jobs, the 62-year-old Sutter will look to have a fresh start in his second stint with Calgary Flames. Who knows maybe Darryl Sutter will spark a change in the organization to help the Flames play up the expectation they had at the start of the year and get in the playoffs.
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