Sutter wants pack mentality

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 2:50 PM ET

Simply put, Brent Sutter felt the time was right to answer the call of his country. Sutter, the head coach, general manager and majority owner of the Red Deer Rebels, had been mentioned as a possible candidate to lead Canada's world junior team before, but this past spring, he finally decided to throw his hat in the ring.

"I'd had people approach me in the past to see if I'd want to look into it and possibly do it, but I just didn't feel comfortable leaving the Red Deer Rebels organization for a longer period of time," said Sutter, now in his sixth season with the Rebels. "This year I felt it was the right time. Listen, it's an honour any time you can represent your country but the reality is that it's all about the players. It's about giving them the best opportunity to accomplish a shared goal and to make your country proud. This is not about Brent Sutter. It's about trying to uphold the hockey culture we have in this country."

The product of Viking, Alta., conceded the task of paring down the roster from 32 to 22 will be a difficult one.

Sutter let it be known in the dressing room yesterday that the 12 returning players who helped Canada earn a silver medal in Finland best not be taking their roster spot for granted.

"Like I told the kids, they have to make it tough for us and I'm sure they will," said Sutter, who spent 18 seasons as a player in the NHL. "It comes down to what guys fill the right roles. At the end of the day, we're not taking 22 all-stars, we're taking the 22 guys who form our best team.

"I don't want to be a team that sits back, we're going to be on our toes and we want to play in-your-face. We've got a high level of skill and you want to go after your opposition. That's my makeup. We want to have the pack-of-wolves mentality."

Sutter downplays any pressure the media may heap on this group as Canada looks to bring home its first gold medal since 1997.

"We all understand the situation," said Sutter, who represented Canada as a player during the 1987 and 1991 Canada Cup and the 1986 World Championship. "Either you play well or you don't. It's pretty cut and dried. You learn from the past, take care of the present and you look forward to the future. That's my motto and that's how our team is going to be."

Rebels blue-liner Dion Phaneuf says Sutter's coaching style is easy to describe.

"He hasn't changed one bit, it's the same hard-nosed coaching style he's used from when I came in as a 16-year old," said Phaneuf, 19, who is expected to anchor a strong defence corps. "It's an effective style. He demands perfection and if you don't give that to him, he tells you. You know coming in that he's very straightforward and there's no in-between with him. It's either black or white."


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