The Calgary Flames have relieved coach Geoff Ward of his duties. The announcement was made following the team’s 7-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night. Former coach Darryl Sutter has already signed a three-year deal to replace Ward.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) March 5, 2021
Flames Fired Geoff Ward, Hire Darryl Sutter
Geoff Ward has been fired as coach of the Calgary Flames. He leaves the organization after two seasons with a 34-26-5 regular-season record. In his only postseason appearance, Ward led Calgary past the Winnipeg Jets in the Qualifying Round before losing in the 2020 Western Conference First Round to the Dallas Stars in six games.
In reaction to the firing, the Flames have immediately announced Ward’s replacement, signing Darryl Sutter to a three-year deal.
Sutter previously coached the Flames between the 2002-03 and 2005-06 seasons. However, in his second year, he took on more responsibilities in a dual role as both coach and general manager, leading the club to its third Stanley Cup Final. They lost in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
After the 2005-06 season, Sutter stepped down from coaching to focus on the GM role. He is best known in that capacity for acquiring goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff for a second-round pick in 2003.
Following a six-year hiatus behind the bench, Sutter returned to coaching in 2010 and won two Stanley Cups with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014. He hasn’t coached in the NHL since being fired by the Kings, nearly four years ago. Overall he has a 634-437-101(ties)-83 coaching record in 18 seasons.
What This Means Going Forward
Recently, the Flames have hit a rocky patch in their season. Calgary (11-11-2) sits fifth in the North Divison based on points percentage. They have lost seven of their last eleven games and have been outscored 39-27 in that span. Despite signing Jacob Markstrom, the best goaltender in the 2020 free-agent market, the team is struggling defensively with a -7 goal differential.
However, it doesn’t appear that the franchise has any plans on rebuilding. The fact that the Flames fired Geoff Ward mid-season coupled with the length of Sutter’s deal seems to suggest that the club believes they can still compete for a playoff spot in the North Division.
Geoff Ward becomes the second coach to be fired this season. Claude Julien was fired by the Montreal Canadiens on February 24th.