Sutter rolls sevens

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:19 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Tonight, Brent Sutter will leave the Pacific Coliseum with the longest winning streak of any Canadian coach at the World Junior.

Eight straight.

And the next night, he'll make it nine.

There's also a lot of talk around here about brother Darryl Sutter's suggestion that Brent should be put in this position year after year to become the Wayne Gretzky and Kevin Lowe of this Team Canada.

LOOSE TALK

It's all loose talk that Brent doesn't like to be hearing as he goes into Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final against, er, Switzerland tonight. Or Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final against, well, Norway Thursday.

It's a tough concept to sell.

Switzerland. Game 7.

Norway. Game 7.

"Every game is Game 7 for us. In this tournament you have to play every game like it is Game 7. The biggest game is the next game. That's how we're approaching this."

As for becoming the coach with the longest winning streak, Sutter shakes his head.

"That is so irrelevant. This is about the players. This is about an opportunity for the players to succeed in their dream. Many of them are never going to get an opportunity like this again."

As for his brother's suggestion that he be given this job on an annual basis, he shakes his head again.

"I'm doing what I'm doing this year. My job is to do what I'm doing this year. It's nice of Darryl to say that, but ..."

He doesn't even give you the idea that's in his head to use this job as a springboard to an NHL career like it did for Claude Julien, Tom Renney, Mike Babcock, Mike Keenan, etc.

"All junior coaches don't make good NHL coaches," he said. "There are lots of NHL coaches who don't make good junior coaches."

He says a lot of people don't get it about coaching junior players.

"There's a lot more teaching in this game. And it's not just about the game but about life in general. Look back to when you were 16 to 20. Those are some of the most important years in your life in terms of who you are and what you become.

"Not all junior players end up playing in the NHL. That, for me, is what is so rewarding."

And it's extra rewarding at the World Juniors.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing for these men. It's something they'll never forget.

"You want them to have fun and yet have respect and accountability for what's on the front of that jersey. Playing for your country is a phenomenal thing."

Sutter plays the role of a tough taskmaster and good guy at the same time without much thought to being either.

"I really don't care," he said when asked how he thinks the players view him.

NOT ALWAYS THE NICEST

"I'm not always going to be the nicest guy in the game. But I care very deeply about my players. Sometimes you have to pat them on the back. Sometimes you have to kick them in the behind.

"As a coach, your job is always to make your team overachieve. Your job is not to have every player play great but to have every player just play well. If you do that, the team is going to be great."

And that's what he was selling here yesterday.

"It doesn't matter the colour of the sweaters or the name of the country you're playing. It's irrelevant what country. It's the biggest game of the tournament for us to date."

Today it's Game 7. Against Switzerland.


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