Wednesday, April 25, 2007



(Updated at bottom)
Darryl Sutter is going to be speaking to the media this afternoon at 2:30 MT. It's not one of those "the Flames will be making a major announcement" type things, as far as I can tell, it's simply a post-mortem on the season. I'll think I'll find an excuse to be in my car and tune in, though I believe you should be able to stream from the FAN960's site if you're so inclined.

Jim Playfair (now at ~97/3 to remain) did the same yesterday; I listened to most of a fairly lengthy interview he did with Rob Kerr. No, I wasn't too impressed. A general principle of mine is that when someone claims that they'll be learning from mistakes and gaining from experience, but does not admit to making any actual mistakes (let alone identify them), then they're probably just blowing smoke.

He also spent too much time (for my liking) explaining why this season wasn't actually that bad, and how most criticism was blown out of proportion (like "we were only 5 points worse on the road this year" -- I'm not too impressed with using the previous season's worst element as a benchmark). I'm really hoping that Sutter acknowledges -- explicitly -- that he had much higher expectations for this team, and that relative to those reasonable expectations, this season was a disappointment. I am fairly certain that his remarks won't carry the same relentless "we just have to keep doing what we're doing, improving on the things we need to improve on" undertone that Playfair's did.

For what it's worth (i.e. very little), I think I've accidentally mischaracterized Playfair's personality on occasion. He's not grim and uptight -- he's a likeable person (as evidenced by his treatment the last couple days from the beat writers, which has been mightly sympathetic, all things considered), and he's genuinely funny. To wit:
The day passed and Playfair returned to the school to pick up his offspring, aged 14, 12 and nine.

"I picked them up after school and I said, 'How was it?' " Playfair continued.

"They said, 'Aw, man' ... they were giving me the report on it [guff from fellow students - ed.]."

"I said, 'Hey, you guys get free tickets to every hockey game, suck it up.' "

I wish the guy exhibited more humility, though. Calmness and composure are near-universally desirable qualities in a person, but I really get the impression from him that he believes -- knows -- that this season's failures were the failures of others. He's only partly right.

If Sutter's presser is any good, I'll report back.

UPDATE: It wasn't, but here's a few quotes anyway (from memory), or descriptions thereof:
Not really what I was hoping to hear, exactly. I don't mind listening to how pleased Sutter is with himself the direction of the organization, but I was hoping for more than "it was an OK season". An "OK season" for a "very, very good team" is a top-4 finish and a loss in the 2nd or 3rd round, or at least it is if the English language still has any meaning.

However! I'm going to adjust my Playfair stay-or-gone meter back to 85/15. One of the few direct answers Sutter gave -- do you need to go out and get the players to reduce GA, get better results, etc., or do you have them? -- was We Have The Players. Part (a lot?) of that is no doubt a straighten up and fly right message to the players who will be back. But assuming that he actually believes it to a non-trivial degree, then clearly he's going to be looking critically at the coaching.

Bruce Dowbiggin borrows an interesting historical reference from Malcolm Gladwell today, and gets to the heart of the matter:
The options are these: 1) Either the messenger (Playfair) changes. 2) Or the message changes. 3) Or the people receiving the message -- the core of the 2006-07 Flames -- has to change. Trying to make the equation work on the warm notion that a year's experience will change everything is a faint hope at best.

With Darryl Sutter in charge of the program, it's highly unlikely the message will change any time soon. So scratch option 2). Which leaves changing the coach or changing the core.

Sutter's comments today, at face value, make (3) less likely, although it would appear that Dowbiggin dismisses option 4 (the warm notion) too readily; just because he (and I) see the odds of that working as "a faint hope at best" doesn't mean that Sutter does.


wo. did he just say the Flames played really well in the first two games?

Sutter seems content to keep the Flames on course.

He didn't think that they'd win the conference or the division? Did I hear that right?

What exactly were his goals for the Flames this season?

"Stay the course"?

Sounds like Dick Cheney.

Two different sound bites from the conference:

"okay is not okay."

And, later, in response to the question 'how would you rate the season?'

"Just okay."


Typical Sutter interview in the Hot Stove Lounge. He's a lot less crabby in there than in front of the entire press corps (he just can't hide his disdain when responding to Eric Francis) and, if one can get past the Sly enunciations, he doesn't mind the good questions, even if he doesn't reveal anything.

Essentially, you're right, Matt, in that Playfair is not off the hook yet and the only consistent theme was that he had the players capable of winning the division.

As an aside, I think Dowbiggin has misrepresented the Paul Revere reference in The Tipping Point. According to Gladwell, Revere was not successful because the people ignored Dawes; nor was Dawes unsucessful because he was saying the wrong things; Revere is remembered because he knew the right people to take the message to.

Using that analogy, Playfair could have been saying the right thing but the leadership in the dressing room was either not able or willing to carry the message to the rest of the team.

I can't believe those Warriner comments were glossed over.

Who's he talking about?

I think you and I are interpreting Sutter's comments in the same way. Sutter was very clear that he thought the players we have are the solution and not the problem. He was also very careful not to praise Playfair or the job he did.

Of course, there was no real condemnation of him either.

Looks like he'll be hanging around, but on a tight leash.


Oh, and regarding Playfair's season exit interviews...he's striking me more and more as a 'piss in my face and tell me it's raining' type of guy.

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