Colorado Avalanche: Darryl Sutter Not Right Fit for Team

Oct 9, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter reacts during 4-1 loss against the Arizona Coyotes at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 9, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter reacts during 4-1 loss against the Arizona Coyotes at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Many Colorado Avalanche fans may want the organization to hire legendary coach, Darryl Sutter, who recently became available. However, Sutter’s style does not match what the Avs are currently building toward.

As a Colorado Avalanche fan, hearing about Darryl Sutter’s firing stirred conflicted feelings within me. Since the season went down the tubes, I have been a huge proponent of giving Jared Bednar a second year to prove himself.

However, I have to admit, the opportunity presented by Sutter’s firing did give me pause.

Sutter is an absolutely incredible coach, who was able to guide the Los Angeles Kings to two Stanley cups in his six year tenure with the team.

It’s tough to say with any certainty, but I would guess that the blame for L.A.’s failure this year rests more on former General Manager Dean Lombardi than Sutter, and Lombardi was fired too. Sutter is a coach who knows what he’s doing.

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Off the ice, Sutter definitely gives you even more to love. Rather than provide canned answers to media questions, Sutter has been known to be just a little weird, leading to some very funny press conferences.

I’d be lying if I said I preferred Jared Bednar’s consummate professionalism over Darryl Sutter’s Sahara-dry sense of humor. Unfortunately, hockey teams aren’t built on humor, and we must evaluate the product Sutter has put on the ice in his coaching tenure.

Sutter’s Style Stresses Size

Say that five times fast.

If Darryl Sutter were available two or three years ago, he would have been an excellent fit for the organization. With Patrick Roy stressing a physical game and lots of shot blocking, the organization was acquiring big bodies like Francois Beauchemin, Jarome Iginla and Andreas Martinsen.

You also can’t forget one of Patrick Roy’s favorite defensemen, Nick Holden, who towered over forwards on a mighty 6’4 frame. Roy and Sakic were building towards an old-school style that involved a few speedy skill players surrounded by an army of gritty grinders.

For his six years in Los Angeles, Sutter put a modern spin on the old approach, and combined the intense use of analytics with a gritty, big-bodied system. As our resident analytics enthusiast, Nadia Archuleta, pointed out, this style worked.

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It worked because in the 2013-14 Cup-winning season, Sutter had goliaths like Kyle Clifford, Jake Muzzin, Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty as central components of the team. Indeed, the team only had two skaters under six feet tall: Mike Richards and Trevor Lewis. Even this year, the Kings got more size by acquiring Jarome Iginla.

If the Avs had that kind of size and an opportunity to get Sutter on board right now, I would be jumping for joy. However, the Avalanche have spent the past few years, and especially this past season, building towards a speedy and skilled team. This has resulted in acquiring smaller players who likely wouldn’t excel under the system Sutter used in L.A.

Coach Bednar, on the other hand, has seen success at both minor league levels using a system that caters what the Avalanche are building toward. Obviously, this past season was unacceptable, but given the promise we saw from the young guns towards the end, I believe Bednar is the right choice going forward.

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Will I be heartbroken if Sutter is brought on and Bednar is relegated to being an assistant coach? No, as Sutter is obviously one of the best coaches around. But for this team, I don’t think he’s the right guy.