Brent Sutter has stepped down as head coach of the New Jersey Devils, citing personal and family reasons.
"It might not be the right decision for some people and that's fine," Sutter said during a Tuesday conference call from Red Deer, Alta. "I don't look at it like I am quitting on anything. I threw two years of my life and made a big commitment 3,000 miles away from where my life was and tried to do everything I possibly could to accomplish a goal.
"So by me doing that my life has suffered in other areas, and those areas to me are bigger than the game."
Sutter has a year left on his contract with New Jersey.
"Today was a big day. This was a big decision and I know there are lots of people who felt that the process was delayed for too long," said Sutter.
"But it wasn't a delayed process at all, it was a matter of myself thinking things through properly. It's a big decision, a career decision, but there are times in your life when other things have to come ahead of your career, and this is one of those times.''
Devils president, CEO and general manager Lou Lamoriello said the news of Sutter stepping down was disappointing but understandable.
"We respect the reasons for Brent's decision and appreciate everything he has accomplished over the last two years," Lamoriello said in a media release.
If Sutter is to become a candidate for the vacant Calgary Flames head coaching position, the Flames would have to ask permission from New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello to speak with Sutter.
Lamoriello would be within his rights to refuse that permission because Sutter owes the Devils a year on his contract and, technically, if he's going to coach in the NHL next season it must be for the Devils.
But if Lamoriello wanted to effectively let Sutter out of the final year of his contract, he could do so by simply giving permission to the Flames to talk to Sutter.
NHL rules do not permit for compensation so if Lamoriello were to grant permission, he would be doing so knowing he would be freeing Sutter of his contractual obligations in New Jersey. That scenario, were it to play out, would pave the way for Sutter to coach in Calgary.
If not, though, Sutter would be content knowing that he's back in Red Deer with his family and focusing on his ranch and his Western Hockey League franchise, the Red Deer Rebels.
"The way the contract works, any team still has the ability to contact the New Jersey Devils and ask for permission to talk to me," said Sutter. "If the Devils give them that permission, then yes, they can talk to me.
"That's just the way it works."
At the end of the day, it's Lamoriello who holds the cards on whether Sutter is a candidate in Calgary.
Sutter, who was brought to New Jersey on July 13, 2007, spent two seasons behind the Devils' bench compiling a record of 97-56-11. He led the team to the post-season both years, but failed to move on past the first round, most recently falling to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games.
Prior to his time in New Jersey, Sutter served eight seasons as the owner, president, general manager, and coach of the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL.