Brent Sutter Out As Coach Of WHL Red Deer Rebels

One of the most common scenarios for a coaching change in all of sports is a team owner or general manager deciding that a new voice is needed. This common occurrence got a new twist in the Western Hockey League this week.

Brent Sutter is out as head coach of the Red Deer Rebels after 15 seasons. He coached the Rebels to WHL and Memorial Cup titles in 2001, and coached Canada to world junior men’s hockey gold in 2005 and 2006. Even with all of the success and longevity the team’s ‘higher ups’ felt that a change was needed. It’s been a particularly challenging year and the Rebels have a 6-6-2 record in a seasoned shortened and delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The team’s players are actually living in their home rink to maintain their own ‘bubble’ in hopes of remaining healthy.

Here’s where it gets interesting–Brent Sutter is not only the president and general manager of the Red Deer Rebels as well as the head coach he also *owns* the team. In essence, he ‘fired himself’ as head coach though he will continue as president and GM. Sutter had these comments announcing the move:

“At this time, I feel this is the right thing for our organization. Being involved in the game as long as I have both as a player and head coach, I’ve never looked at the game selfishly. The most important thing has always been what’s best for the hockey club.”

The 58 year old Sutter was a first rate NHL player who played over 1,000 games during an 18 year pro career. He won a pair of Stanley Cups with the dominant New York Islanders teams of the early 1980s along with Mike Bossy, Dennis Potvin, Brian Trottier, etc. This vintage Islanders team was so insanely deep in talent that you didn’t make the roster unless you could play. Sutter also served as Islanders’ captain for one season evidencing the respect that his teammates had for his character and ability.

Assistant coaches Ryan Colville and Brad Flynn, and assistant general manager Shaun Sutter will take over head coaching duties for the remainder of the season. A search for a new head coach–assuming that Sutter doesn’t have a change of heart–will begin during the off season.

About the Author: Jim Murphy

For more than 25 years, Jim Murphy has written extensively on sports betting as well as handicapping theory and practice. Jim Murphy has been quoted in media from the Wall Street Journal to REASON Magazine. Murphy worked as a radio and podcasting host broadcasting to an international audience that depended on his expertise and advice. Murphy is an odds making consultant for sports and 'non-sport novelty bets' focused on the entertainment business, politics, technology, financial markets and more.