Sutter king of Canada coaches

Canadian junior men's hockey team player Kyle Turris, right, of New Westminster, BC, watches his...

Canadian junior men's hockey team player Kyle Turris, right, of New Westminster, BC, watches his shot as Team Russia player Maxim Mamin, centre, crashes into goalie Sergey Bobrovsky, during third period Super Series Game 7 junior hockey action in Red Deer, Alta., Friday, Sept., 7, 2007. The teams played to a 4-4 tie and will face each other again in final game on Sept. 9 in Vancouver.(CP PHOTO/Jeff McIntosh)

ERIC FRANCIS

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

RED DEER, Alta. -- Simply put, no one in the history of Canadian hockey has a more impressive record on the international hockey scene than Brent Sutter.

After last night's 4-4 tie in the seventh game of the Canada-Russia (not-so) Super Series he's 18-0-1 as Canada's national junior coach with two world titles.

He was a perfect 2-0 both years he headed up Team WHL against the Russians and as a player the two-time Stanley Cup winner won the 1984, 1987 and 1991 Canada Cups.

Yet, as the 45-year-old looks back it's the lone blemish on his international record he remembers like it was yesterday.

"We lost 1-0 to the Russians," said Sutter of a semifinal loss at the 1986 World Championships at which his squad bounced back to win the bronze medal match.

"(Igor) Larionov scored with four minutes left and they went on to win the gold. It was my only World Championship and it was in Russia. Things were certainly different in '86 then than they are now. That was what was so neat for me to go back."

TOP DOG

Little did he know it would be the first and last time he'd leave a tourney as anything other than top dog. And now, as he wraps up an eight-year junior coaching career that saw him turn a struggling Rebels franchise into a Memorial Cup winner and perennial contender, Sutter is again working Team Canada magic.

"Personally I've never put a lot of merit into what my record is," said Sutter, who will finish the eight-game series Sunday in Vancouver before flying to New Jersey to start as coach of the Devils.

"What's more important as a coach is providing leadership and direction to my players and trying to make sure they're the best they can be when they step on the ice. I know I'll be dealing with the next level soon but I'm not going to New Jersey to be someone different. Mr. Lamoriello offered me the job to be who I am."

And that's a winner. Asked what he'll miss most about coaching the youngsters, Sutter displayed a touch of the emotion he knew he'd feel last night after coaching his final game at the Centrium.

"It's not just about teaching them about the game but teaching them about life," said Sutter, who coached his son Brandon with the Rebels and Team Canada.

"When they come in you are their guardian and you have to make sure they're doing things right on and off the ice. You have to make sure they treat people the way they'd want to be treated, make sure they do their schooling and that they respect the homes they're in. What I'll miss is seeing a player come in at 15 or 16, play and when he leaves see how much growth he had in that period of time. And when they walk out and say goodbye to you they give you a big hug and they thank you for everything. It may not mean a lot to them then but in maybe 5, 10 or 15 years down the road they'll say 'those years in Red Deer were important years and got me on the path.' "

Reiterating the fact he lived out his NHL dream as a player and never once approached an NHL club for a job, he said the timing was finally right to make the jump after turning down several previous offers.

"I even loved the bus rides here," smiled the Rebels owner who handed brother Brian coaching duties.

"It's unique. You're with a group of kids watching movies that are totally out of your element but you put pillows on both ears so you don't have to listen to it. It's on the bus you really become a team. It builds integrity."

Something Sutter has exhibited and taught well.


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