Dreger: Flames remain committed to staying the course

Darren Dreger
12/2/2010 10:56:31 AM
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Following the on again, off again flow of speculation out of Calgary ranging from the demise of Darryl Sutter to the potential of a blockbuster trade, a weekly check on the state of the franchise on Wednesday reaffirmed the Flames intent.

In no uncertain terms, at least hours before a 7-2 home-ice loss to Vancouver, Calgary remained committed to its group, on and off the ice, and the decision-makers insisted during this conversation there is no plan to break up something ownership and management understands needs to be better, but believes is getting better.

It's too easy to pick at the carcass following a rout at the hands of an arch rival, however the trend this team has established of an inconsistant work ethic and the tools head coach Brent Sutter is using in an effort to break that trend is noteworthy.

Exasperated by his star forwards, Sutter employed an old school, junior hockey technique to get his players to compete.

Down 5-2 in the third,  Sutter, fuming over his team's unwillingness to work, sent out five defenceman to manage the final 30 seconds of a Calgary, third- period powerplay.

"That powerplay, we weren't doing anything on it," Sutter told reporters after the game.  "I didn't think our forwards were working very hard on it.  The first unit went out there and they never spent any time in the offensive zone whatsoever, so I thought I'd give the defenceman an opportunity to play on it.  That's really why I did it. They don't get that chance very often, and I thought, 'Why not?'"

Well, reaction following the loss and Sutter's tactics provide mixed reviews.

One NHL coach sees last night as a "tipping point," and doesn't believe the Flames players will respond, adding "the coach loses every time."

That may very well turn out to be the case again; however, what's clear is Brent Sutter is going to coach on his own terms, which means he will continue to demand hard work and the intelligence he expects his players to play with.

If it's not in their make-up to play this may get a lot messier, because based on Wednesday's example, Sutter is prepared to bring out the heavy artillery.

At the beginning of the season Flames management placed the onus on the players, specifically Calgary's leaders to guide this group back to the postseason.

As of Wednesday afternoon, that resolve hasn't changed.

Darren Dreger


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