Calgary Flames coach Darryl Sutter denies abuse allegations from 2019

Calgary Flames coach Darryl Sutter denied allegations made by former NHL winger Daniel Carcillo that he saw Sutter kick a player on the bench and mentally abuse another player who was suffering from a concussion during his time coaching the Los Angeles Kings.

Sutter was hired as the new head coach of the Flames on Thursday.

Carcillo played 26 games with the Kings in 2013-14 when Sutter was the head coach in Los Angeles. In November 2019, Carcillo claimed that he saw Sutter kick a player in the lower back on the bench and that the coach berated Kings defenseman Matt Greene out of the dressing room before a team meeting, specifically because Greene had a concussion.

"Sutter said, I quote, 'what the f--- are you doing here? I don't want your negative energy in here. You're injured. Get out,'" Carcillo told the Global News back in 2019.

His accusations were not corroborated at the time, and Sutter did not comment on them.

Sutter was asked about the incidents during his introductory news conference as coach of the Flames on Friday. When asked whether he had done either thing Carcillo alleged, Sutter answered, "No. I think honesty and truth always prevails. We'll just leave [it at] that."

Carcillo's accusations came during a year of reckoning for hockey coaches, as players shared allegations of abuse in all levels of the game. That included accusations against then-Flames coach Bill Peters.

Akim Aliu, who is Black, accused Peters of using a racial slur against him when the two were in the American Hockey League. Peters was also accused of physically assaulting players on the bench while coaching the Carolina Hurricanes. Those accusations were confirmed by current Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour.

Peters resigned from the Flames in November 2019. After the resignation, Calgary general manager Brad Treliving faced questions about the team's vetting process. He said that the Flames "do a full scrub" on every hire and that the abuse allegations never came up in the conversations he had with Peters' previous employers.

"I don't know if you're going to find out all the information, or everything in everybody's past. You have to do the best job you possibly can. Are there things we can change and add? Sure, you look at your policies, you look at your procedures, you always have to get better. We will attempt to do that," he said at the time.

Sutter was first contacted about the Calgary job roughly three days before coach Geoff Ward was fired on Thursday. Sutter was immediately announced as Treliving's fifth head coach in seven years that night.

Carcillo told ESPN on Friday that the Flames hiring another coach who had been accused of kicking a player is indicative of hockey's systemic problems.

"The truth of the matter is that hockey is its own worst enemy. I've continued to say it. This hiring shows that. There's been numerous accusations against the Sutter family -- not just Darryl -- about the way they treat people and the abuse that's prevailed in organizations that they've been head coaches of and general managers of. I wasn't saying anything new," he said.

Carcillo had previously implicated Brent Sutter, owner of the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League, in 2019 for an incident involving the junior team's rookie party. Publishing a photo from that party on Twitter with the players' identities obscured, he claimed that there was "underage drinking, and physical, verbal and sexual abuse took place at the event and were reported to the Western Hockey League and to Hockey Canada" but that the incidents were ignored "because it involved the Sutter name."

Brent Sutter responded to those accusations at the time, saying they were "disturbing" and "we don't take them lightly." He listed the mental health options available for players through the team, adding, "I am not perfect, and have worked tirelessly to surround our organization with people who want to grow, change, and provide an even better experience for our players."

"Darryl is a bad human being," Carcillo continued. "I believe that from all of my interactions with him and from what I saw him do to teammates. He didn't get rehabilitated. I definitely know that Darryl didn't step away and get rehabilitated in any way, shape or form. And now he's stepping back. And that's ... how hockey culture works. They stand by these guys that they hold in high regard despite their behavior. That's the epitome of the problem."

When asked if he had changed the way he coaches players over time, Sutter said he has always related well to players on a human level.

"I have children that are the same age as most of our players. A have a lot of respect for them and what they're going through in their lives, not so much on the ice as off the ice. I've always had a great relationship with what's going on with players off the ice. It's something I've felt really good about: being able to help young players get through situations," he said.