Brent Sutter leaves Alberta junior team; reports say he will coach Devils

He declined to elaborate on his plans for the future after stepping aside Thursday as GM and head coach of the major junior team he purchased in 1999. He’s retaining ownership.

Older brother Brian Sutter will take over as head coach of the Rebels.

New Jersey is the only NHL team currently lacking a head coach. The job has been vacant since GM Lou Lamoriello fired Claude Julien with three games left in the regular season and stepped behind the bench himself.

Brent Sutter, 45, coached the Rebels to a Memorial Cup title in 2001 and his stature as a top NHL coaching prospect was significantly enhanced when he guided Canada to world junior gold in 2005 and 2006.

On June 21, Hockey Canada named Brent Sutter head coach of its team for the Canada-Russia junior showdown that’ll run from Aug. 27 through Sept. 9.

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During his playing career, Brent Sutter was a gritty leader in 18 NHL seasons, earning two Stanley Cup rings with the New York Islanders and later serving as their captain. He represented Canada in three Canada Cup tournaments.

Brian Sutter, 50, is the oldest of the six Sutter brothers who played in the NHL. He was a left-winger with St. Louis Blues from 1976 to 1988 and was captain until quitting to coach the club. He was the NHL’s coach of the year in 1991.

He also was head coach in Boston, Calgary and Chicago before returning to Alberta to farm. He coached a senior team in Alberta last winter.