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Besides the timing, the only surprising thing about the news that Calgary Flames VP/GM Darryl Sutter has relinquished his post is that it was audible over the champagne corks popping and celebratory noises from Flames Nation after the inevitable finally occurred.

Assistant GM Jay Feaster will move up to acting GM, taking over a job that many assumed would be his if the Flames continued to struggle. They have, and it is.

From the Flames:

Calgary Flames President & CEO Ken King announced today that Darryl Sutter is stepping down as Executive VP and General Manager of the hockey club. Effective immediately, Jay Feaster has been appointed Acting General Manager and will assume full and complete responsibilities for day to day hockey operations.

"Darryl has performed valuable service to the Calgary Flames organization for 8 years," said King. "He was the leader that ignited a renaissance of Flames hockey, moving us from a non-playoff team to an organization that was viewed as a respected and popular contender each year. We thank Darryl for his leadership and his important contributions to re-establishing the Calgary Flames as a model franchise. As we enter the next phase of our growth in the NHL, we are restructuring our leadership and processes. We are pleased that Darryl has agreed to assist in an orderly transition and will provide his valuable guidance in the process. He remains dedicated to the success of the team he worked so hard to build".

"We will move forward under a new administration with Jay leading our hockey operations as Acting General Manager," said King. "For the remainder of this season, Jay will be provided the opportunity to evaluate the team from the GM's chair and build a long term plan. We believe that while we continue to compete for a playoff position this season, this period will provide both the organization and Jay time to decide on critical future decisions."

Feaster, the architect of the Tampa Bay Lightning's 2004 Stanley Cup, gets another shot at the helm; this time of an overpaid, overage team that's 14th in the Western Conference despite being second in total cost.

Basically, there are maids in Los Angeles who had an easier mess to clean up after Motley Crue stayed in their hotel than Feaster has in Calgary post-Sutter.

The sins of the former GM? Allow George Johnson of the Calgary Herald to count the ways:  

They're old, expensive, set in their ways. One pick in the Top 100 in the 2011 NHL entry draft. Outside of Mikael Backlund(notes), their top "young" players are 27 (Mark Giordano(notes), Jay Bouwmeester(notes)), 29 (Rene Bourque(notes)) and soon-to-be 29 (David Moss(notes)). Now there's a boy band that'll top the charts.

People, roll out of bed and sniff the dark roast already.

Yet the ground is littered with casualties - the unfortunate Jim Playfair, the not-so-unfortunate Mike Keenan, assorted assistants - yet it's always, apparently, a coaching deficiency. Darryl Sutter still stands defiant, apparently as bulletproof as Eliot Ness' flak jacket. Why? How?

He should've been gonged this summer.

Instead, he's gonged in December, having built a roster that already has $56,265,833 (via Cap Geek) tied up for 2011-12.

From Dome Beers, a Flames blog, a take on Sutter's firing:

Darryl did a lot for this franchise, bringing back its legitimacy, both in the local market and across the league. He took the team from being a 70 point one to a 90 point one. We thank him for that, and we will always thank the man for reigniting the fan base with the magical Cup run of 2003-2004.

But the man went crazy. He was like one of those Chinese Emperors who drank mercury and lost his mind. Kotalik? Stajan? Ivanans? And that's just this year. That is us not even talking about Keenan or Joseph or Marchment or all the traded draft picks.

He had to go, but at the end of the day, he wasn't the only one who has to go. 

In some ways, Sutter is very much like Lou Lamoriello in New Jersey, and not just because they both hired Brent Sutter as a coach. (Who will, undoubtedly, be the next Sutter unemployed.)

Neither GM could manage the cap after the lockout, at times playing shorthanded because of it. Both relied on old familiar faces (Alex Tanguay(notes), Olli Jokinen(notes), Steve Staios(notes) for the Flames) rather than going cheaper and younger. And both spent gobs of money in the wrong places, like adding Jay Bouwmeester to a blue line that didn't really need Jay Bouwmeester in Calgary (and doing so for a $6.68 million cap hit and, in the end, for Dion Phaneuf(notes)).

All of which leads to a team being at or near the bottom of the conference and, in Sutter's case, out of a job months after it should have happened.

Check out a nice roundup of Sutter's many moves as GM at Inside Hockey. The man who traded for Kiprusoff and traded away Dion Phaneuf for spare parts. Quite a legacy.

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