Monday, August 27, 2012

Brent Sutter Takes Over As Rebels GM

He'd long been thinking about making a move to bring a General Manager.  In the end, he needed look no further than in the mirror to find his man.

This afternoon, Red Deer Rebels Owner/President Brent Sutter announced that is taking over as the team's General Manager.

Jesse Wallin will now focus solely on his head coaching duties.
It's a move that should surprise no one.  The overwhelming demands of wearing a dual GM/Head Coach hat in the Western Hockey League make it a very daunting, nearly impossible, task to pull off (although a select few, including Medicine Hat's Shaun Clouston, still do it).  Having the availability of a guy with Sutter's pedigree/experience/passion, regardless of the fact he pays the team's bills, is a luxury you simply can't pass up.

"It's important to make sure you have all your bases covered on the hockey operations side of it, as it is on the business side of it" Sutter told the local media today.  "As a General Manager, you gotta have your finger on the pulse [of the team] all the time.  You are the leader of the pack."

Sutter explained that this decision was not one which he made overnight.  He put about three months of thought into it before announcing it today.

"I looked at doing different things.  Jesse and I talked about different ways.  But to me, there was always a grey area in anything we discussed.  And what eliminated that grey area was pretty simple... having one person be the GM and one person be the head coach.  And that's the right thing to do.  It really is."

For the two men involved, this move provides plenty of clarity.  Firstly for Sutter, having to divide his attention between the Rebels and whichever NHL team he is coaching will no doubt be refreshing.

"I'm looking forward to the new challenge again.  A different challenge, obviously, than coaching at the NHL level.  I don't know what my future holds at the National Hockey League level.  But I do know I am owner of this hockey team.  This team is tattooed to my behind.  And it's something that you put a lot of work into over the years.  Now being back here, I just felt that I'm best suited for being the General Manager at this point in time."

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the move also provides Wallin the opportunity to have a clear focus as a Head Coach.  He too is excited.

"As a coach to really be able to focus and not have the responsibility of player personnel and those types of things, and have someone with Brent's experience and expertise to be able to take care of that for you, that's huge.  I'm really looking forward to having that."

When you think about it, the 2012-13 season will be a brand new experience for Wallin.  Having an 'eye in the sky' for the firs time will be a big help.

"I look forward to the opportunity of having a General Manager in the building and at the games. A voice to give you different perspective.  As a coach, you're wrapped up in the emotion.  You're on the bench and very emotionally engaged.  And sometimes that can be very difficult to separate in making decisions."

Even while filling multiple roles, Wallin's stock as a coach has continued to rise. He's already been called up on multiple times by Hockey Canada and has started to generate (albeit a small amount of) buzz when it comes to perhaps coaching professionally.  So does this provide Jesse with the chance to chase his passion and see where it takes him?

"It definitely frees things up that way a bit.  But as I told Brent my focus has always been here in Red Deer.  Pro hockey hasn't been something I've pursued at this point in time.  And yet, I think there's a part of everybody that wants to compete at the highest level.  If that point in time comes and I earn that opportunity then that's something I would entertain.  But right now I am focused on the Red Deer Rebels and want to have success here."

While Sutter plans on handling the GM duties on his own for the immediate future, he did say that at some point he plans to hire a "Special Assistant" to assist him.  No timeline for the hiring was given.


Now to today's on-ice happenings (yes, there was still training camp)...

After the rookies had the rink to themselves for the better part of two days, it was the veterans turn to lace 'em up for the first time and do battle in scrimmage. 

It was kinda fun to see all of the returnees out there.  Especially the likes of Patrik Bartosak and Joel Hamilton who missed a large chunk of last season due to injury.  Overall, the scrimmage had a pretty good pace and some good physical play to help get some of the kinks out.  Here are a few other quick notes...

- Mathew Dumba did take part.  He took a couple of shifts at forward, including one on a line with newcomer Jesse Miller and Trace Elson, before playing on the point the rest of the way.

- Conner Bleackley, whose offense has high end potential, made a couple of solid plays in his own zone to break up scoring chances.  That's a good sign.

- Chad Robinson showed good speed while leading some forays into the offensive zone

- Bartosak looked like the goalie Rebels fans fell in love with last October.  He was beaten twice on screened shots but otherwise looked solid and confident.

- Grant Naherniak didn't look as comfortable during his time between the pipes.  He seemed shaky early on in his half of play, especially when it came to controlling rebounds, but did make some nice saves later on

- Bolton Pouliot was scored on early by Adam Kambeitz then didn't face many tough shots after that.  Matt Mitchell also went relatively untested during his half of play.

- Haydn Fleury, after I originally gave credit to Jan Bittner before being duly corrected by @SecNDeserter, dished out the biggest hit of the night... catching Tyson Ness with an open ice jolt near the blue line.

- Kambeitz, Scott Feser, and Turner Elson scored for Team White in a 3-2 win over Team Black.  Cody Thiel and Ness scored their goals (see rosters below)

NOTE... Tuesday's training camp schedule has changed.  Three scrimmages involving three different teams (black, white, silver) will take place at 9am, 1:30 and 6pm.


No comments: