The new lovely Calgary Flames (no I am not a fan) is solid proof that a simple change can provide massive results in a team's outlook and culture (as Keenan would say). Calgary was a mediocre team - bad defense, bad goaltending, bad attitude, no focus - sound familiar?
What did they do? They changed one component of the team - the coaching. They brought in Sutter. He kept the nucleus of the team together and bingo/bango - they are the hottest team in hockey other than Toronto. Calgary has transformed themselves from a lousy undisiplined hockey team to a tight winning machine. And again, they just did one solid move, they changed the coach.
They stood back, identified what was wrong, went out and fixed it without massively increasing their payroll or making drastic changes. Sutter changed their thinking - from losing to winning. Yes, yes, easier said than done.
The Edmonton braintrust must recognized what happened?
The Flames are definitely a better team this year, but its' still early to tell whether they are the real deal, or just a good young hockey team that will still have some growing pains - remember the Flames at this same point 2 seasons ago??
the Canucks went through the same thing 3 years ago too... they were awesome in the 1st half, and fell apart in the 2nd (before the Naslund injury) only to squeak into the playoffs... it happens to young teams, and it may happen to the Flames.
but, having said that, no doubt that Sutter has had a very positive influence on the Flames... although I wouldn't give "all" the credit to Sutter... he did get a team with good young players - especially the defense - which has improved over the past few years just by the normal stages of team development... he did also make one huge trade bringing in Warrener who is arguably the Flames steadiest overall dman...
with the Oilers, they can be a much better team overall, by keeping exactly the same pieces - even MacT - after a few years of development... the Oilers are the league's youngest team, and with that you gotta expect your share of growing pains.
the young nucleus is good, but they will have more downs than ups at this stage... keep the team together and in a couple years they will have their share of players that help the team take the next step - guys like Torres, Hemsky, Stoll, Horcoff, etc are depth players right now (yea even Hemsky with all his flash is not scoring close to the pace he will when he gets more experience in the league), but in a few years, they'll be key players on a successful team.