The Brandon Prust Trade


I’m not exactly a Darryl Sutter apologist, but I do think he’s getting a rougher ride than he would otherwise be getting if Calgary had made the playoffs this year. However there is no doubt that he deserves most of what he’s getting right now in terms of people calling for him to be fired.

There is no doubt that the scouting and farm club should be in better shape than it is after seven years under Mr. Sutter’s administration. Recent trades have been highly suspect too, although as I’ve previously discussed there may be strong reasons for moving Phaneuf.

Let’s face it, there’s no way Sutter ever does better than one of his first trades when he acquired Mikka Kiprusoff from San Jose for second-round selection in 2005 draft. How do you top that? That’s a once-in-a-career deal. It buys you years and years of goodwill and forgiveness for lesser moves. And there’s no doubt that in comparison, everything is a lesser move.

Which brings me to my point; why are so many people still fretting about the loss of Dion Phaneuf? In my opinion, more damage was done to the team long term by getting rid of Brandon Prust.

Prust played 43 games with Calgary in the ’09/’10 season. He accumulated 98 penalty minutes, scored one goal and notched four assists for a total of five points. He racked up 65 minutes in penalties, most of which were probably for fighting since that’s pretty much all he was encouraged to do while he was here. In February, Sutter packaged Prust up with Jokinen and sent him to the Rangers in exchange for Christopher Higgins and Ales Kotalik. Even more than the Phaneuf trade – which perhaps can be rationalized if the Dion/Mrs. Conroy rumours prove to be true – the deal with the Rangers is the one that smacks of desperation to me.

Everybody was excited when Oli Jokinen finally arrived in Calgary last year. It had been rumoured and desired for years. In hindsight it didn’t work out, but at least Sutter tried to get a big centre for Iggy. I can forgive that. What I can’t forgive is taking on Kotalik’s salary when we could have just let Jokinen walk at the end of the year and cleared a ton of cap space. That’s desperate.

Making it exponentially worse is packaging in a cap-friendly guy like Brandon Prust who, by all reports, is also an absolute jewel in the dressing room. He and Eric Nystrom are cut from the same cloth (which makes me worry about Nystrom’s future). When he arrived in NYC, Prust was given more ice-time and responded by scoring four goals and recording nine points over 26 games.

“I’m going to be honest with you, I knew nothing about Prust when we got him except that he was a tough kid who was willing to fight,” said Rangers coach John Tortorella. “But that was a great deal for us because when he got here he began to change our locker room with his personality, and he played great for us down the stretch.”


I’m fond of reminding that the Flames Stanley Cup run in ’04 was accomplished with a bunch of pluggers. Other than Iginla, Conroy, Gelinas, Regehr and Kipper I defy anybody to name five others members of that team off the top of their head. I remember Ville, Oliwa, Montador and Mike Commodore. That’s it.

What I do know is that the 2004 squad that almost went all the way had amazing chemistry. The whole was absolutely much, much greater than the sum of its parts. In February, Darryl Sutter traded away a great part.

Unlike when Prust went to Phoenix with Matthew Lombardi and a first round pick last year (don’t. get. me. started) in exchange for Jokinen and then came back in the off season, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see Prust wearing the Calgary uniform again.

It’s too bad, and it’s the clearest indicator that Darryl Sutter panicked, and for that he should lose his job. The Kipper trade feel-good vibe is over.