Am I surprised? Yes and no.
I sit on both sides of the fence after today’s announcement that the Red Deer Rebels have fired Jesse Wallin as the head coach of their hockey club. Brent Sutter will step in on an interim basis while Jeff Truitt was named associate coach.
After trying to change the personnel of the team to produce a better product on the ice, but seeing no improvement in results, Sutter was left with the one option he probably didn’t want to exercise.
He let go his head coach, and a good friend.
As far as Wallin is concerned, I thought he might get more time to try and pull this group together, but as SecNDeserter pointed out on Twitter, Wallin only had a record over .500 in two of his five seasons in Red Deer, one season that included Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and former CHL Goaltender of the Year Darcy Kuemper.
Be that as it may, make no mistake about it…Jesse Wallin is a hell of a coach. You can argue about the players he had and what’s been available for him to work with on the ice, but Wallin is a good coach and won’t be unemployed very long. He may not necessarily find a gig in junior hockey either. Although he hasn’t had the success of some of his WHL predecessors, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jesse’s ‘alma mater’ reach out to him.
Would the Detroit Red Wings look to Jesse for some help down on the farm? I can’t see why not? Wallin won a Stanley Cup with the Wings back in 2002 and there’s a possibility that Detroit may look to him for help in Grand Rapids to work with some of their younger players and help in the development aspect for the Red Wings, something they’re very big on. I’m not citing any sources to suggest this to be a conversation that’s ever taken place…I’m just saying that from what I understand, he still has close ties to the organization, and while the timeline might not be quite on par, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them reach out.
But that’s complete and utter speculation, like most crap you read on the internet, so take it for what it’s worth. Thoughts spewed online and nothing more. Just something that I was thinking about.
Then you have Brent Sutter. I won’t get too much into this right now as I’m awaiting this afternoon’s media availability to hear what the Owner/President/GM/Interim Head Coach has to say about the situation.
And where does Jeff Truitt fit into all of this. The optics are pretty obvious in my opinion. Clearly, this is something that Sutter has been thinking about for awhile. You don’t fire a coach and name an associate from outside the organization at the same time if it was a ‘quick’ decision. And the interim tag? Who knows how long that sticks with Sutter. I’d call it more of a ‘grooming’ position to introduce and familiarize Truitt with the organization and players before moving him into a position become head coach. Whether that takes place now or to start next season, I don’t think Sutter names Truitt an associate coach today without having that in mind.
More to come later today, following the official announcement by Brent Sutter. Reaction and audio will be posted before the end of the day.