Calgary Flames\' head coach Brent Sutter, centre, reacts to the teams loss as players, left to right, Blake Comeau, David Moss, Matt Stajan, and Lee Stempniak sit on the bench during third period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, March 28, 2012. The Flames say the team and Sutter have agreed to part ways. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CALGARY - The Calgary Flames are looking for a new coach.
After meeting with general manager Jay Feaster, Brent Sutter agreed to part ways with the NHL team after three seasons.
"The Calgary Flames and Brent Sutter have come to a mutual agreement that we are parting ways," said Feaster during a Thursday afternoon press conference. "I want to thank Brent Sutter for his loyal and dedicated service to this organization."
The Flames narrowly missed the playoffs in all three seasons under Sutter, compiling a 118-90-38 record overall. Sutter's contract was due to expire at the end of June.
"It's not an easy day," said Feaster. "It's beyond just the fact that we're both on the page that we need youth and enthusiasm and all those things.
"The one thing I want to make clear is this is not about fault or blame or finger pointing."
The Flames also announced that assistant coach Dave Lowry will not have his contract renewed.
Sutter's resume also includes a two-year stint with the New Jersey Devils and a seven-year run with the Red Deer Rebels, the Western Hockey League team he continues to own.
"After discussions with Jay since the season ended, it was in the best interest of the organization and myself to part ways," said Sutter. "I wish the Calgary Flames all the best."
Brent was hired by the Flames in June 2009 when brother Darryl was the GM. Feaster replaced Darryl Sutter in December 2010.
Darryl called his brother "a top coach in the National Hockey League."
"He'll be coaching somewhere else soon, too," said Darryl, who was hired to replace Terry Murray as coach of the Los Angeles Kings on Dec. 17.
When asked if he was surprised by the firing, Darryl replied: "Coaching is coaching, right?
"Brent wants to coach in the National Hockey League, he'll coach in the National Hockey League," said Darryl, who is in Vancouver for the Kings quarter-final series against the Canucks. "It's pretty straight forward."
Feaster agreed that Brent won't be out of a job for long.
"I don't think there's any question that Brent will coach again in the National Hockey League," Feaster said. "For me personally, one of the best things in the past two years in being in Calgary has been my relationship with Brent. I think he's a very, very good hockey coach."
While admitting that parting ways with Sutter was difficult, Feaster said that the search for Calgary's new head coach will begin right away.
"We will begin to put together our list and then set about the process of interviewing candidates," Feaster said. "I'm not going to set a deadline to have a new coach on board, but we will get at the process right away."
One candidate who will be considered for the job is Troy Ward, who is currently head coach of the playoff-bound Abbotsford Heat in the American Hockey League. Abbotsford is the AHL affiliate of the Flames.
"Obviously one of the people that we would speak with is Troy Ward," Feaster said. "He's done such a great job. At the same time, we'd like to see a real, nice, long playoff run in Abbotsford."
While the Flames will identify several candidates to interview for the vacant coaching positions, Feaster added that he'll undoubtedly be contacted by other worthy contenders for the job.
"There will be people coming out of the woodwork to coach," he said. "There's no question that we will be contacted."
With files from Monte Stewart in Vancouver