WHL notebook: Sutter back on the bench with Red Deer

Before he departed for the NHL, Brent Sutter was the Red Deer Rebels. He was owner, general manager and head coach of the team. Even his son, Brandon, was the team’s captain.

So when Sutter returned to the WHL, it seemed just a matter of time before he ended up back behind the bench again, and Jesse Wallin was the victim.

Wallin was the first coaching casualty of the 2012-13 season when he was fired by Red Deer last week. The move cleared the path for Sutter to return behind the bench, though he said it would only be on an interim basis.

“After discussions with Jesse I made the decision to move forward in a new direction with our head-coaching position,” Sutter told the Red Deer Advocate.

“Coaching is a tough racket,” Sutter added. “Jesse is a very good coach, but for whatever reason the message just wasn’t getting through to the players and I really don’t know the exact reasons why that was or has been the case.”

Sutter coached the Rebels from 1999-2007, winning the 2001 Memorial Cup, before being hired to coach the NHL’s New Jersey Devils in 2007. He spent five seasons in the NHL, two with New Jersey and three with Calgary, before the Flames decided not to renew his contract in April. Sutter returned to Red Deer and reassumed general manager duties, a position Wallin also held, during the offseason.

Red Deer was 10-11-1-1 when Wallin was fired. Wallin guided the Rebels to a 154-126-7-24 record in four-plus seasons at the helm, winning the Central Division title in 2010-11.

“I had a lot to digest yesterday, but breaking the news to my kids was probably the toughest part of the day,” Wallin told the Advocate. “I had a coach myself who once told me that you have a day to feel sorry for yourself, then you have to pick it up the next day and get back right after it, and that’s where I am today.”

Jeff Truitt, former head coach of the Kelowna Rockets, was brought in to serve as associate coach.

Sutter said Wallin would be offered another position in the organization.

Around the WHL

Kamloops overage winger Jordan DePape was forced to end his WHL career because of a shoulder injury. The Blazers filled their open overage roster spot by acquiring center Charles Inglis from Red Deer for a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. The talented by controversial Inglis had just been sent home by the Rebels, the third WHL team he’d worn out his welcome with. … The Blazers also acquired 19-year-old winger Joey Kornelsen from Calgary for a fifth-round pick in 2013. … Kornelsen became available because Calgary received the gift of getting 19-year-old center Victor Rask back from the American Hockey League’s Charlotte Checkers. … Two other teams added overagers as Regina picked up defenseman Alex Theriau, a former Everett Silvertip, and Prince George picked up winger Ryan Hanes, both because of long-term injuries to other overagers. … Vancouver lost 19-year-old winger Marek Tvrdon for the season because of a blood clot in his shoulder. … Kamloops’ Colin Smith was named the WHL Player of the Week. The 19-year-old forward had one goal and six assists as the Blazers went 2-0.

League leaders

Points — JC Lipon (Kamloops) 50; goals — Lipon 21; assists — Colin Smith (Kamloops) 33; penalty minutes — Darian Henry (Calgary) 69; wins — Cole Cheveldave (Kamloops), Luke Siemens (Prince Albert), Eric Comrie (Tri-City) 14; goals against average — Mac Carruth (Portland) 1.41; save percentage — Carruth .947.

Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.

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