NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -A homesick Brent Sutter resigned as the coach of the New Jersey Devils after just two seasons, citing family reasons and scoffing at the idea that some may criticize him for leaving so soon.
"It might not be the right decision for some people and that's fine," Sutter said in a conference call from his home in Red Deer, Alberta. "I don't look at it like I am quitting on anything. I threw two years of my life and made a big commitment 3,000 miles away from where my life was and tried to do everything I possibly could to accomplish a goal. So by me doing that my life has suffered in other areas, and those areas to me are bigger than the game."
Sutter said the Devils' crushing loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series had nothing to do with his decision.
New Jersey, which won its seventh Atlantic Division title in 12 years this past spring, ended its season by giving up two goals in the final 80 seconds to lose 4-3 in late April.
Sutter spent six weeks mulling whether to return for the final year of his contract, but decided to stay home to run an oil business, a junior hockey team and to spend with his family.
"I just wanted to make sure I never looked back and regretted it," Sutter said. "To be quite honest, I had a decent sleep last night for the first time in seven weeks."
Sutter said the vacant Calgary Flames coaching job did not influence his decision, noting that the Devils would have to grant permission for him to work for another NHL team next year. His older brother, Darryl, is the general manager of the Flames.
"Although disappointed, we respect the reasons for Brent's decision and appreciate everything he has accomplished over the last two years," Devils president and general manager Lou Lamoriello said in a statement. He did not immediately return a telephone message left by The Associated Press.
Sutter said Devils assistant coach John MacLean is definitely ready to become a head coach.
Sutter posted a 97-56-11 record with New Jersey. The Devils won a franchise-record 51 games this past season despite losing goaltender Martin Brodeur for 50 games with an elbow injury.