Friday, June 10, 2011
Louis and Grace Sutter's first son Gary was born first in 1954 and chose not to pursue a hockey career. Brian, the oldest of the six to make it to the NHL arrived in 1956 and was followed by Darryl in 1958 and Duane in 1960.
Brent Sutter was born on this date in 1962 and was followed by twin brothers Rich and Ron who arrived on the scene in 1963.
Louis and Grace Sutter with their seven sons
While the six younger brothers all had lengthy NHL careers, putting tiny Viking, Alberta on the map, they remember Gary as being the best skater in the bunch. Brian played 12 seasons, all with the St. Louis Blues. Darryl spent eight seasons with the Chicago Black Hawks and had his career shortened by injuries and went into coaching and is currently the general manager of the Calgary Flames. Duane spent eight years with the New York Islanders and closed out his career with three seasons in Chicago.
Brent followed the familiar Sutter path, first playing for the Red Deer Rustlers of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, and scored an amazing 171 points in 59 games prior to being drafted 17th overall in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islanders, who had already drafted Duane the year before. He then continued the established Sutter path of moving up to the Lethbridge Broncos of the Western Hockey League as Brian, Darryl and Duane had done before him.
He made his NHL debut in the 1980-81 season with three games with the Islanders, scoring 2 goals and 2 assists. He began the 1981-82 season between Lethbridge, scoring 46 goals and 80 points in just 34 games before getting called up to play 43 regular season games with New York, averaging a point a game in addition to racking up 114 penalty minutes, as he established himself as an NHL regular while displaying the trademark Sutter toughness. Once in the playoffs, Sutter scored 8 points in 19 games as the Islander dynasty marched on to it's third consecutive Stanley Cup championship.
Sutter played in all 80 Islander games in 1982-83 and had 21 points in 20 playoff games to earn his second Stanley Cup in a row.
1983-84 saw Sutter raise his personal goal scoring high to 34. In the playoffs, the Islanders again reach the finals and Sutter registered another 14 points in 20 games.
By far the greatest offensive season of Sutter's career arrived in 1984-85, when he reached 40 goals for the only time in his career with 42, while adding 60 assists, remarkable because it was the only time in his career he would have more than 36. His 102 points were second on the club behind only Mike Bossy's 117 and good for 10th overall in the league. It would also be the highest scoring season for any of the Sutter brothers ever and the only one to top 100 points in a season.
While he would return to Earth with 55 points the following season, it would start a run of consistency in the four subsequent seasons when Brent would score between 24 and 29 goals and 60 and 68 points each year between 1987 and 1990. He was also named as the Islanders captain from 1987-88 to 1990-91.
Duane and Brent played together for the Islanders from 1980-81 to 1986-87 - note the one color name on Duane's jersey while Brent's was two colors!
After another season on Long Island, Sutter would be traded to the Chicago Blackhawks early in the 1991-92 season. His 50 points in Chicago, combined with his 10 scored in New York, gave him 60 for the fifth time in six years and he would return to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1984. After a 20 goal, 54 point season in 1992-93, in which he was coached by his older brother Darryl, a changed role with the Blackhawks saw him limited to 9 goals and 38 points, ending a streak of at least 20 goals and 40 or more points dating back 12 years to the beginning of his professional career.
Brent would finish his career with four more seasons in Chicago, concluding at the end of the 1997-98 campaign. Although he did not score as often as he once did, he was quoted as saying, "I might not score as often as I once did but other areas of my game are better than when I was younger."
His final NHL totals were 1111 games played, 363 goals, 466 assists and 829 points as well as 1054 penalty minutes. Additionally, he played in 144 playoff games, scoring 30 goals and 44 assists for 74 points, made four trips to the finals, winning two Stanley Cups.
Internationally, Brent skated for Team Canada in the 1984 Canada Cup, contributing 4 points in eight games as Canada won the gold medal. 1985 saw him help Canada to a silver medal in the World Championships with 11 points in 8 games. Two more gold medals would follow at both the 1987 and 1991 Canada Cup tournaments, giving Brent an impressive three golds and one silver in four tries.
Rich and Ron Sutter both debuted in the 1982-83 season and played together for the Philadelphia Flyers in 1983-84 through 1985-86 and again with the St. Louis Blues in 1991-92 and 1992-93. Rich would play 13 seasons until 1995, while Ron's career spanned 19 seasons, lasting until 2001. For five seasons all six brothers played in the league at the same time, four of them became team captains and Ron's final season of 2000-01 was the 25th consecutive season a Sutter brother played in the NHL.
The Sutter family display at the Hockey Hall of Fame
Brent is currently the head coach of the Calgary Flames.
Today's featured jersey is a CCM 1990-91 New York Islanders Brent Sutter jersey. This jersey is from Brent's final full season as an Islander while he was serving as team captain. It lacks his first initial "B", as his brother Duane had moved on to the Blackhawks by this time.
Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a CCM 1991 Team Canada Brent Sutter jersey. as used in the 1991 Canada Cup tournament. While the name and number of this jersey are sewn on twill, the main crest and sleeve logos are screen on, which has resulted in the cracking and wear displayed here. The 1991 Canada Cup jerseys featured the Labatt Canada Cup patch, which is sewn on the upper right chest.
Here is footage of the Islanders celebrating their Stanley Cup victory in 1982, the first of Brent's career.
Here is a four part story on the Sutter brothers.
We conclude with Brent, then coach of the Devils, in a light-hearted moment talking about his mother dancing with broadcaster Chico Resch.