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Players have mixed emotions

by Kristi Hennessy / Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames gathered Tuesday morning after a 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres Monday night.

It was to be a quiet day. Some off-ice workouts, a little skate.

That changed quickly as the players were called to a meeting with coaches and team president Ken King. The news: Darryl Sutter was stepping down as the general manager of the team.

King announced that assistant general manager Jay Feaster would be taking over all day to day hockey operations responsibilities under the title of acting general manager.

As King and Feaster held a news conference in the media lounge, players skated on the 'Dome ice.< p/>

When the room was open, it was a large media contingent seeking reaction to the news of the day.

"It's a tough day," said Mark Giordano. "We all care and everyone respects Darryl as a guy. It's a tough day for the players and everyone around the organization.

"Things haven't gone the way we wanted but we feel like he is still part of this group. He put this group together and we can still turn it around and have a good finish. For a lot of guys if not most of us, Darryl is the guy who brought us in and gave us our shot."

Flames captain Jarome Iginla has been through thick and thin with Darryl Sutter over the last several years. Iginla shared his thoughts and opinions of the major change in management.

"He's done a lot of good things here in Calgary and for my career, he's been a big part of it," said Jarome Iginla. "There have been a lot of good times and he's made a lot of good decisions.

“At the same time as players we knew and we know that when you're not getting results in sports, changes happen and they happen all the way through. That's part of the game and our position after 35 games is not where we want to be. It's tough though to see anybody lose their job. And like I said, I've known Darryl for a lot of years. He's a friend too. I've been through a lot with him."

One media member asked captain Iginla what his thoughts are on Jay Feaster stepping in and what he and the rest of his group is going to focus on.

"He's pretty outgoing, it's been a good dynamic to have him around, there's no question," said Iginla. "I think for the immediate change, as a group, we feel like we're coming and can get ourselves back into this playoff picture. We're playing better and we're going to get better and that is our focus as a group of players."

Alex Tanguay also shared his emotion on hearing that Sutter is moving on from this organization.

"It's a sad day. I remember playing here in my early days and there weren't that many fans, the building wasn't sold out and then Darryl came on board. What he did by taking this franchise and putting people in the building and giving this city something to cheer for. Since they had that run, the fans have been great and the people have been great.

"I have nothing but good things to say about Darryl. I wish he could still be here but I guess hockey is like everything else, people change and times change. I certainly wish him all the best.”

"I was surprised," said Olli Jokinen. "I think we all feel bad. He did a lot here. Darryl was here eight years and did a lot. As a player, we have to take the blame. If we would have been able to get the job done when we are on the ice, he would have been able to keep his job."

Darryl had a lot of faith in Jokinen as he signed him not once but twice. When everyone lost faith, Darryl knew there was more left in the Finnish forward. Jokinen personally feels badly about Darryl stepping down as GM.

"It's a tough day," said Jokinen. "In this business, it always comes down to the way the players are playing. They control the coaches fate and they control the GM's future. Especially with me, he brought me back here. He's been very supportive. He was very supportive at the beginning of the year when I wasn't scoring and it's tough to see him go."

For Craig Conroy, this change is very difficult as Darryl was not only the General Manager to Conroy but his coach as well. He tips his hat to all that Darryl has done in Calgary.

"To see him let go is hard," said Conroy. "He's been here almost as long as all of us. The cup run, all the great things that he did and now it's over."

What was the relationship like between Conroy and Darryl considering Conroy was coached by Darryl?

"With Darryl it's back and forth, it's a love hate at times but I've always considered him a friend of mine. I'm actually looking forward to talking with him today. I feel bad, that Ken had to do it but Ken felt like he needed a change. It's tough because for the last 10 years he's been around and he's always been good to me.

"We're going to move forward but it is a wakeup call to everyone, hey, he made a big change and now a guy isn't here so we have to make a difference."


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