2 members have voted
Fans like to make comparisons between the Sutter brothers and their coaching styles. Yet they couldn't be more different. Some will focus on their demeanor or communication styles as key differences. And although that is accurate I don't think that captures the real differences between the two.
Darryl expects effort from his players. Go hit something. Forecheck hard. Shoot the puck. Work, work work. That captures his approach. Darryl is less interested in following the X's and O's and more interested in getting the highest amount of effort from his players.
On the other hand Brent is all about the X's and O's. His expectation is the system. In fact he often mistakes a lack of adherence to his system as a lack of effort. And vice versa. He takes a faceless approach to the game where all players are interchangeable. "There is a certain way to play the game ...." An apt description of his coaching phylosophy.
There are advantages of approaching the game that way. It provides a level of predictability for your goalie. It fits certain playstyles like Glencross and Moss. It allows for interchangeability among the players which was a boon when the Flames were fighting through injuries. It worked for Jokinen who needed to recapture his career. And it simplified the game allowing players like Smith and Butler to play over their heads.
Unfortunately there are also downsides. Most notably it fails to leverage the strengths and mitigate the weaknesses of those players that don't fit the mold. Brent made little effort to match his lines or to deploy them in focused ways. Players were truly interchangeable. As a result some players didn't fit while other's didn't play to their potential.
The following players are those I see as most likely benefiting from the coaching change.
Stajan appeared to break out in the 08/09 season as a 24-year old putting up 55-points in 76-games. His PPG each season since then:
08/09 (TOR): 0.74
09/10 (TOR): 0.75
09/10 (CGY): 0.48
10/11 (CGY): 0.41
11/12 (CGY): 0.30
In Toronto he spent most of his time with Antropov and Ponikarovsky playing less then 17-minutes per night. Antropov was replaced by Kessel when he came on board. None were putting up huge scoring numbers. He played against middling to tough competition and was a postive possession player. In short he was full value for his production.
Since coming to Calgary Stajan has seen the quality of his line mates steadily decline. He has also seen his ice time drop down to 13-minutes per night with his PP time disapearing entirely.
Matt Stajan has generally produced when given ice time and when paired with the Flames better forwards. However, an inability to thrive in a fourth line checking role combined with a lack of compatibility as one of Sutter's prototypical forwards limited his opportunity.
Returning to 60-point production may not be a realistic expectation. However, being a productive 2-way forward capable of 50-points if given the opportunity under a different coach does seem pracitical.
Jay Bouwmeester hasn't been an inadequete player under Sutter. In fact he has continued to be a big minutes mobile shut down defender. However, his 6.8-million dollar contract was inked after 3-consecutive 15-goal and 4-consecutive 40-point seasons. Since then his PPG average has dropped from 0.51 to 0.33. More disturbing his GPG production has droped from 0.17 to 0.05.
Anybody that watched Bouwmeester in Florida knows that his production came from jumping into the play. Bouwmeester doesn't have a strong shot from the point. A large percentage of his production came while 5 on 5 during his time in Florida. He isn't a PP specialist.
In Calgary Bouwmeester has had limited opportunity to jump into the play. Especially 5 on 5. In part due to the system. In part due to facing incredibly tough competition each shift. Hopefully a new coach puts him into situations where he has an opportunity to produce offensively.
Babchuk is what he is. A defensively challenged power play quarterback with an elite level shot. He has the ability to put up double digit goal numbers. Most of them on the PP. When deployed in a sheltered enviroment focusing on offensive situations Babchuk can be a real threat from the right side. However, an inability to interchange into a Sutter sterotypical position severely limited his ice time and games played last season.
Backlund, Like Bouwmeester, has played well under Sutter. Also like Bouwmeester Backlund's strength is his hockey intuition and creativity and there was limited opportunity to play that way under the previous coach. This limited Backlund's offensive opportunities. You could see the impact to Backlund's comfort and confidence has he was shoved into the Sutter box. Hopefully a new coach will embrace what Backlund brings to the table and let him focus on those strengths.
Brodie has an incredible offensive awareness. According to Dobber's Hockey Bouwmeester and Brodie were on the ice for 10-points last season. By far the most productive defensive pairing on the PP despite the limited amount of time they were paired together.
Unfortunately we saw Brodie consistently discouraged from jumping into the play while playing EV. As a result we saw his point production drop from 4-points in his first 10-games (0.40, 75% EV) to 10-points in his remaining 44 (0.23, 50% EV).
I am not discounting the improvements we saw to Brodie's overall game. The Flames coaching staff deserve credit for his development. But Brodie isn't just another D-man and I hope the coaching staff of the future recognize the unique skill set he brings to the table and encourages rather then restricts that.