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Sharks fire Sutter as part of shakeup

©Associated Press
December 2, 2002

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Sharks fired coach Darryl Sutter and assistants Lorne Molleken and Rich Preston in a dramatic shakeup of the slumping team.

Doug Wilson, the Sharks' director of pro development, and scout Cap Raeder will run the team until a new head coach is hired. General manager Dean Lombardi doesn't expect his search to last more than a few days.

The Sharks are 8-12-2-2, putting them 13th in the Western Conference and last in the Pacific Division, which they won last season before losing the conference semifinal in seven games to Colorado.

Lombardi agonized over the decision before firing Sutter, a friend and a respected coach who led the Sharks to five consecutive seasons of improved point totals while helping transform them from a laughingstock into a Stanley Cup contender.

"It's not an easy decision to make when you've had a track record with a person for a long period of time," said Lombardi, who hired Sutter in 1997. "I don't think you can sum it up as any one thing. That's why these decisions are never easy."

San Jose became a consistent winner in Sutter's tenure, but he couldn't do much this season with an underachieving club that's been one of the league's most surprising disappointments.

San Jose got off to a slow start while goalie Evgeni Nabokov and defenseman Brad Stuart held out, but their returns haven't helped the Sharks' poor play on both ends. The Sharks have struggled to score and have allowed more goals than any Western Conference team except Phoenix.

"When we brought Darryl in, he did what we asked him to do," team president and owner Greg Jamison said. "Unfortunately, we determined that a change was necessary. There is still a lot of hockey to be played this season."

Sutter finished with a 192-182-60 mark and five straight playoff appearances.

Sunday's games

RED WINGS 4, FLAMES 2: Curtis Joseph stopped 31 shots, and four Detroit players scored on just 18 shots. Brendan Shanahan, Henrik Zetterberg, Sean Avery and Sergei Fedorov made the most of host Detroit's shot output, which tied a season low.

Craig Conroy and Jarome Iginla scored for Calgary, which lost for the 10th time in 11 games.

Jarome Iginla made it 3-2 with a power-play goal, scored with Turek off for an extra attacker with 1:35 left. He beat Joseph on a one-timer from the top of the left circle.

But Fedorov scored an empty-net goal to seal the victory. It was his 14th goal.

DUCKS 3, BLACKHAWKS 2: Paul Kariya and Marc Chouinard scored 23 seconds apart in the first and Patric Kjellberg also scored as host Anaheim ended a five-game winless streak. Alex Zhamnov and rookie Tyler Arnason scored for Chicago.

THRASHERS 5, CAPITALS 4: Tony Hrkac scored the tiebreaking goal for host Atlanta after a turnover in the Washington zone with 1:04 remaining. Atlanta remained last in the Southeast Division, six points behind the fourth-place Capitals.

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