Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sutter Era Over In Bentley

As it turns out... Brent isn't the only Sutter who won't be coaching the same club next season.

The Bentley Generals have parted ways with Brian Sutter.

His time with the Generals won't soon be forgotten.  Sutter first came to the team in 2006 and guided them to an appearance at the Allan Cup in 2007.  He then left to coach the Red Deer Rebels for the 2007-08 season before returning to Bentley for four more seasons.  The Generals made it back to the Allan Cup in the first three of those seasons, winning the championship in 2009.

"We owe a great debt of gratitude for what Brian did over the years," Generals manager Jeff McInnis told me yesterday.  "It was great, it raised the level of success for our organization just by having him there."

But this past season was a huge step back for the franchise as they failed to make it past the provincial semifinals.  And as they prepare to host the 2013 Allan Cup here in Red Deer, the Generals felt now was the time to pull the trigger.

"We found that a change was needed so we made it."

The man tasked with the daunting challenge of replacing Sutter is Brandin Cote.  A member of the Generals 2009 championship squad, Cote was an Assistant Coach this past season with the RDC Queens and just last week was part of the coaching staff for Team Central at the Alberta Cup in Lethbridge.  Brandin is also the all-time leader in games played for the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League (352 games from 1996-2002).

McInnis is quite confident that Cote is the right man to take over command of the Generals Army.

"We look forward to having Brandin come in and give us a young boost of enthusiasm and a new outlook.  And maybe it's a blessing that it's the Allan Cup year for Brandin.  He can come in here and we'll have a lot of enthusiasm already.  It's an exciting time."

The Bentley Generals found out the hard way that the time for change had arrived.  After dominating the Chinook Hockey League for the past few seasons, they finished second behind Lloydminster in the regular season standings in 2011-12 before clawing and scrapping their way to winning the league playoff title.  The Generals were then promptly disposed of in Senior AAA provincial playdowns by the Horse Lake Chiefs.

"You find out when you're too old and too slow only one way [by losing]," admitted McInnis.  "We found that out that we need an infuse of youth and some grit and speed, so I think that's where we'll head.  We don't have to make a lot of changes but we do have to make some."

For Cote's sake, here's hoping his tenure as Bentley Generals coach goes better than the last guy who tried filling Brian Sutter's shoes.  When Brian left for the Rebels in 2007 he was replaced with Brent Fudge, who had just finished guiding the Red Deer Optimist Rebels to a silver medal the 2007 Telus Cup in our city.  Fudge was a poor fit with the Generals right from the start and was replaced before Christmas by veterans Kevin Smyth and Chad Beagle. 

As for Sutter... he has at least one fan amongst his former players.  Val Bure (@valbure) coincidentally tweeted last night "Brian Sutter needs to be back coaching NHL!!!! One of the best Awesome Family."

When it comes to the 2013 Allan Cup (April 15-20 in Red Deer) McInnis says the Generals will start making announcements later this month starting with the unveiling of their tournament logo and title sponsor.

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