Sutter support

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Darryl Sutter says his brother should be Wayne Gretzky and Kevin Lowe rolled into one.

"As long as Kevin and Wayne are running Team Canada, it's in great shape,'' the Calgary Flames coach said of our Olympic and World Cup teams.

"That's the way it would be with the junior team, too, if they gave the job to Brent every year. It's the same thing.''

Last year, Brent took over a Team Canada that had failed to bring back gold in seven successive trips to the World Junior.

Here today, against Finland, he leads a young, inexperienced, underdog team to try to do the double.

Sutter brother Brian talked to Brent back in the off-season when he was trying to decide whether or not to take the World Junior job for a second straight year.

The conversation went something like this:

Brent: "I'm thinking of coaching Team Canada again.''

Brian: "It'd be tougher this time.''

Brent: "I know. That's why I'm thinking about doing it again.''

Darryl, who took his team to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final last year, laughs.

"He certainly doesn't have the favoured team going in on paper.''

Then he gets serious again.

"The biggest advantage Canada has is their coach. They'll have an identity.''

And, in a way, this is more like it. This is the kind of team a Sutter should coach. There's no embarrassment of talent all over the roster like the team Sutter guided to gold last year in Grand Forks, North Dakota. This is a blue-collar team that has no chance to win gold unless it becomes a total team.

Brent Sutter, who as a player won three Canada Cups wearing the red Maple Leaf, goes into today's home-country World Junior lid-lifter against Finland undefeated.

At 6-0 with last year's ridiculously talented team, it's a whole different deal this time around with a young, inexperienced group that is not even favoured to win its own pool involving the U.S.A.

Only two Canadian coaches have ever been undefeated at the World Junior - Marcel Comeau in 1996 and Don Hay in 1995. No Canadian head coach has ever won back-to-back titles.

Darryl says he thinks coaching last year's team was tougher.

"There have been a lot of other years when Canada has gone to the tournament as big favourites and didn't win,'' he said.

"Last year was tough because he was supposed to win.

"But look at what they did last year and the way they did it. That was total domination every game. He made it men against boys. I don't think that team could have been better coached.''

Canada outscored the opposition 41-5 and beat the Russians 6-1 to win the final.

This time he'll be coaching boys against men as Canada has the younger team in the tournament, with the favourites loaded with 19-year-old players.

And his brother, he believes, has more to offer than anybody else in junior hockey on an annual basis, although he suspects Brent will not be happy with his suggestion that he should leave his own junior Red Deer Rebels for a month every single season.

Brent, the other brothers make the case, is the smartest one in the family. He's not in one of those hired-to-be-fired NHL coaching jobs.

"He runs 500-600 head of cattle and has the best of both worlds - in the country and in the town,'' said Darryl, who runs his gold-mine franchise different than most.

"Look at the Red Deer Rebels,'' says Darryl. "Kids are treated like NHLers.

"Brent left the game when he had a million-dollar-a-year contract. He knew what he wanted to do. He has that team set up in such a way that it is a lot easier for him to take a month off than anybody else in junior hockey.

"Look at Brent's track record. I'll take a guy with NHL experience as a player and has won Stanley Cups and Memorial Cups, a guy who doesn't have to ask or demand.''

Win a gold with this team and I say give him the job as long as Gretzky and Lowe have theirs.


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