Brent Sutter steps down as head coach of Red Deer Rebels

Red Deer Rebels head coach Brent Sutter. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)

RED DEER, Alta. -- Brent Sutter has stepped down as head coach of the Western Hockey League's Red Deer Rebels, which is a team he owns.

Sutter has run the Rebels for 20 seasons and coached them for 15. There was a five-year interruption to be an NHL head coach of the New Jersey Devils and Calgary Flames from 2007 to 2012.

Sutter navigated the Rebels to WHL and Memorial Cup titles in 2001, and coached Canada to world junior men's hockey gold in 2005 and 2006.

The 58-year-old from Viking, Alta., who won two Stanley Cups as a player with the New York Islanders, remains president and general manager of his WHL club.

Assistant coaches Ryan Colville and Brad Flynn, and assistant general manager Shaun Sutter take over coaching duties for the rest of the season. The search for a new head coach will wait until the off-season.

"After lots of thought and consideration of all the variables that go into being a head coach, at this time I feel this is the right thing for our organization," Sutter said Saturday in a statement.

"Being involved in the game as long as I have both as a player and head coach, I've never looked at the game selfishly. The most important thing has always been what's best for the hockey club."

The Rebels are 6-6-2 in a WHL season shortened and delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Red Deer's players are living in their home rink, Westerner Park Centrium, while they try to complete the season.

"Since we were shut down over a year ago, it has been a very difficult and trying time for all of us, especially the players," Sutter said.

"In my heart I know this is the right thing to do, and is best for them at this point in time. They need a different voice for the rest of this season and moving forward."

The Rebels faced the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Saturday after losing to the 'Canes 6-3 the previous evening.

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