Darryl Sutter hits the dusty trail

The Calgary Flames announced this afternoon that long-time team general manager Darryl Sutter has stepped down from his capacity as general manager and executive vice-president. He will be replaced on an acting basis by assistant general manager Jay Feaster, who joined the organization over the summer.

The move comes on the eighth anniversary of Sutter’s hiring as head coach of the Flames, replacing Greg Gilbert (and interim head coach Al MacNeil). Sutter gained general manager duties on April 11, 2003 following the expiration of Craig Button’s contract. As coach and general manager, Sutter brought the Flames back towards respectability – coaching the team to a 2004 Stanley Cup Finals berth in its first playoff appearance since 1996 and guided the team to six playoff appearances in his seven seasons with the organization. However, the team’s sagging fortunes over the past year or so likely spelled the end of Sutter’s tenure.

Other than the 2004 Stanley Cup run, Sutter will likely best be known for some of his bolder moves – amongst them acquiring Miikka Kiprusoff from the San Jose Sharks for a draft pick, acquiring Jay Bouwmeester’s rights at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft for Jordan Leopold and a draft pick (and then signing him) and the acquisition and development of players like Rene Bourque and Mark Giordano.

Feaster becomes the sixth general manager in Flames franchise history, following in the footsteps of Hall of Famer Cliff Fletcher, Doug Risebrough, Al Coates, Button and Sutter.

The Flames play their next game Friday with their annual New Year’s Eve tilt, this year against the Colorado Avalanche.