We have been talking about Darryl, Jay, and Le Michel. We have been talking about the change in titles and (you would think) responsibilities. We have speculated that this is Darryl's last year with the organization. But our talk may have been all wrong.
Darryl Sutter got the fancy new title of Executive Vice President, which in most business's would be translated as 'Head Marketer', but as Darryl is the guy holding that position for the Flames, we know it isn't that. What is it?
Well, he isn't the Head Marketer, that is Ken King's, President, job. So we think the basic arrangement has been flipped, and probably because Darryl isn't a 'titles' guy. The President will be the Head Marketer, and the Executive Vice President (oh it sounds sooo regal) will be Head Of Hockey Operations.
What does this mean?
Let's leave Ken aside for now. He sells a lot of jerseys, he sells a lot of tickets, he sells a lot of advertisements. He is probably the most successful Flame on the roster.
Let's look at the hockey side. This is how we suspect the structure goes now. Darryl is at the top, Jay below, then the scouts. Breaking news, we know, but this means something. The something that this means is that Darryl does indeed have a lifetime contract.
Why do we make that leap? Well, because we just happened to notice that Darryl was removed from the public firing line and moved to the ultimate corporate position. Executive Vice President? Really? What duties does that include? Anybody know? Anybody?
And that was exactly the point of the move. You may have noticed that over the end of the season and the long, long offseason, Darryl wasn't that popular a guy among the fans, the press, the people. Obviously, employing someone your paying customers tend to despise is not good for business. What to do? Easy. Give the guy a new title, promote him, and give him a job with nebulous responsibilities.
It really is quite stunning, if you take time to think about it. Darryl Sutter was brought here to coach the team, and he immediately became, with all due respect to Mr. Iginla, the face of the franchise. The next year, Sutter became the GM of the team and the coach. Nobody really seemed to be that mad at the move, and why would they? Sutter had come in and had gotten the team, a shitty, shitty team, to play .500 hockey. It was largely understood that the uptick in play to end the 02-03 was because of Darryl's coaching. Nobody thought twice about concentrating the levers of power in his hands for the following season.
The results from that year speak for themselves. The Flames trade for Miikka (and Ville, Dome Beers favourite) and the team goes to the Stanley Cup finals. 'In Sutter We Trust' was born. Darryl could have run for Mayor, and he would have won. The guy could do no wrong.
And the team embraced it. Darryl was around. He did radio, he did TV, he talked to the print guys. Although Jarome wore the ' C ' and Kipper had the hottest selling jersey, the real captain, the real fan favourite, was Sutter.
In short, Sutter sold. We would bet the guy didn't pay for a round of golf, dinner, or cow semen for those two years.
Look at the situation now. Darryl Sutter is poison. The team hired Jay Feaster, who was the GM of the hated Tampa Bay Lightning, to come in and basically do press conferences for the team (it sure as hell wasn't for his ability to manage salaries in a cap world). In other words, Darryl has been removed from his role as face of the franchise, face of Calgary Flame hockey. The team still wants him around, just not around anybody.
The fall from grace is stunning. But the response from the organization is also telling. Instead of giving in to the calls for Sutter's head, they kept him on. They hired Jay to be the visible face of the front office. The media raises questions about the scouting? Michel Goulet is a Hall of Famer. That brings credibility. Jarome's giving interviews from a golf course, as the cemented face of the franchise. Sutter who?
It is honestly a masterful stroke of marketing genius. The organization is all in with Darryl. They bring in the players he wants, the coaches he wants, the scouts he wants. It's Darryl's fiefdom. But the organization also recognizes just how bad that situation is for the optics. So what do they do? They put him in the corner office in the wing of the building nobody goes to, on the floor of the building you need a key to access. Nebulous Executive Vice President.
Darryl Sutter gets to maintain his fiefdom, and the organization gets to enjoy the praise of having done something. The fans are happy because they believe (falsely) Darryl isn't running things anymore. The media is happy because they think they got a scalp.
But make no mistake, Darryl is still running the show. Jay and Michel are insulation, period. The move takes away the storylines about Darryl because, hey, who signed that guy, Jay or Sutter?
The media already hates Darryl because he treats them with the respect they deserve. They will probably play up Jay, as a way to take shots at Sutter's ego. We predict that that is exactly what the Flames want. From their perspective the more the people hear about Goulet or Feaster and the less they hear about Sutter, the better.
And now he is safely ensconced in a protected position of power. Lifetime contracts are real nice.
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Furthermore, I think Peter Loubardias should be fired.