Ward fired as coach of Flames, replaced by Darryl Sutter

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Geoff Ward was fired as coach of the Calgary Flames on Thursday and replaced by Darryl Sutter.

Sutter coached the Flames for three seasons from 2002-06 and was their general manager from 2003-10. He has been an adviser to the Anaheim Ducks coaching staff since July 2019, and last coached in the NHL for the Los Angeles Kings in 2016-17, his last of six seasons with them. The Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014.

The Flames (11-11-2), who have won two of three games after winning one of their previous six, defeated the Ottawa Senators 7-3 on Thursday.

“There’s nobody that’s going to feel sorry for us,” Ward said after a 5-1 loss to Ottawa on Monday. “We’ve got to come up with the solutions ourselves. As a team, we’ve got to be more committed to playing the game the right way.”

The Flames are fifth in the Scotia North Division, two points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens. The top four teams from each division make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“We’re not spending a whole lot of time on what the white noise is, but I get it, everybody is up in arms,” Calgary general manager Brad Treliving said Wednesday, according to Sportsnet. “When you don’t perform, there are consequences. Everyone should be taking shots at you. Enough of the preaching, it all comes down to actions, not sucking your thumb and … moaning. Our players have got to be better, all of us have to be better. It’s easy to point fingers. That doesn’t help us get to where we need to be.”

Ward replaced Bill Peters, who resigned as Calgary coach Nov. 29, 2019. It was Ward’s first job as an NHL coach; he was 35-26-5.

The Flames were 24-15-3 in 42 games last season after Ward took over and finished eighth in the Western Conference with a .564 points percentage (36-27-7). They defeated the Winnipeg Jets in four games in the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers, then lost to the Dallas Stars in six games in the Western Conference First Round.

Ward was hired by Calgary as an associate coach in 2018-19.

“If you had an identity for our team, we’re an inconsistent team,” Treliving said. “That’s not usually the identity you draw up. When I say inconsistency, I’m talking about the highs and the lows. You’re not going to have your A-game every night. Good teams have a good B-game where they can have success some nights, playing airtight defensively and being good on special teams. Our problem is we’ve got an A-game and a D-game.”

Sutter was 634-467-83 with 101 ties in 17 seasons as coach with the Flames, Kings, Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks. He was 107-73-15 with 15 ties with Calgary and reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2004, when it lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games after leading the series 3-2.

The 62-year-old played 406 NHL games as a forward for the Blackhawks.

“I want to be hard to play against, hardworking, physical, tight-checking and have the skill and the ability to generate offense,” Treliving said.

Ward is the second NHL coach fired this season. The Canadiens fired Claude Julien on Feb. 24, also after playing the Senators. He was replaced by Dominque Ducharme. 

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