Could new Calgary Flames Head Coach Darryl Sutter throw Sam Bennet a lifeline?
Back in February, Sam Bennett’s days as a Flame seemed very limited. Even a week ago, Bennett seemed like a ticking time bomb. The young forward was not necessarily underperforming by any means, but alas, was still getting benched as a healthy scratch and was a hot topic in the trade rumour mill.
However, there was a change in the Flames organization. The team announced on March 4th that Geoff Ward would be relieved of his coaching duties. Replacing him was veteran Head Coach and two-time Stanley Cup winner Darryl Sutter.
Sutter is well-known for his old-fashioned coaching style that pushes players to reach the peak of their physical game. He coached the Calgary Flames from 2002-2006 and was also their General Manager from 2003-2010. He has won two Stanley Cups in his coaching career, both with the LA Kings, and is already getting off on the right foot with a two-game series sweep of the Montreal Canadiens in his first games back behind the Flames bench.
Darryl Sutter could give Sam Bennett a much-needed lifeline with the Calgary Flames
Now Sutter’s coaching style seems to align quite well with the game number 93 plays. Bennett was one of the most consistent players in last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs and seemed to want to win more than almost anyone else on the team. He was emotionally and physically invested in those games and made a battle out of his ice time.
After that performance, you would have thought Bennett would be a more frequent addition on the top lines. That was not the case. Sam Bennett was hidden on the fourth-line for most of the start of the season while new additions to the team were automatically given top minutes without earning them based on game performance. Even without context, that is a pretty hard pill to swallow.
Obviously, in the professional environment a pro sports team operates in, you’re not always going to hear the full story. Rumours and assumptions can only begin to guess Bennett may have had some personal issues with Geoff Ward’s coaching style or philosophy.
There must’ve been something Ward was seeing he wasn’t too happy with to sit him out three games this season. Other key players, who have been on this team for years, also had some production issues but did not get the same treatment Bennett did. However, there is hope for more opportunity, given he earns it.
"“I’m definitely looking forward to starting fresh here and proving my worth again,” said Bennett to Calgary media."
Think about when you had a boss you didn’t agree with or a coworker who always got in your way. How much of a relief would it be to see someone else in that position? Someone with a background in the same company.
Playing hockey is these guys’ job. They go to the rink every day and work with the same people towards a common goal. They also receive feedback from the same line of authority. If they are feeling like they need a change, often a trade is the best option as firing a coach over the opinion of one player.
Internal leadership such as General Manager Brad Treliving have already directly addressed the improvements this coaching change could have for Bennett. Even if Sutter behind the bench just gives Bennett enough juice to finish out the season. Brad Treliving spoke on the dynamic Sam Bennett and Darryl Sutter could bring, saying in an interview:
"“Time will tell, but I look and this coach and player relationship could be a match made in heaven.”"
Sam Bennett has been a part of the Flames since 2015 when he joined the team for their Playoff run at the age of 18. He has spent his whole NHL career in Calgary thus far. He has earned his respect and even if he finds another place to play next season or gets exposed in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, he has been a great piece of the Calgary Flames’ puzzle and maybe he will flourish once again now Darryl Sutter is back in town.