SUN Hockey Pool

Farmer waits in wings

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

Wandering in from the barnyard where he has been busy with calving, Brian Sutter takes a break to talk about his second-favourite topic -- hockey.

Out of the game since 2004 when his coaching contract with the Chicago Blackhawks was not renewed, Sutter lives on his 1,500-acre farm outside Red Deer where he raises 175 head of Black Angus.

A farmer at heart who just happened to play NHL hockey for a dozen years and coach for 13 more, the 49-year-old insists there's no place he'd rather be.

For now, anyways.

"There's nothing I enjoy more than seeing those little calves on the ground," said Sutter, the Flames head coach from 1997 to 2000. "I thoroughly enjoy this type of life and where I'm at.

"Stress is a bull trying to run me over and a cow falling on me when she's (in labour). I've been going around the horn here non-stop -- 18 hours and you still need more time. I know I'm different than 99 percent of the people in hockey but hockey is just a game and farming is our life."

Still, the conversation doesn't go long without hearing the passion in his voice that suggests he'll soon return to the NHL in some capacity.

"That feeling never goes away," said Sutter, who will be in town for tonight's 3-on-3 Pond Hockey Gala and tomorrow's tourney as coach.

"If I want there to be a next time, it'll be there. I've had a couple different offers at both ends (as coach and administrator) but it has got to be the right situation. Obviously, when you're calving 175 (head of cattle) some guys don't understand you don't just walk away.

"People who only know hockey don't understand that."

Much the same way Brent Sutter would have to be bowled over by the perfect opportunity to leave the Red Deer Rebels he owns and coaches, Brian feels he has also earned the right to be selective.

And the more you think about it, the more sense it makes to suggest Brian could very well return to hockey as coach of the Calgary Flames. Younger brother Darryl hasn't hidden his plan to hand over the coaching reins sooner rather than later so he can concentrate on GM duties.

Who better to hire than a like-minded soul you've known your whole life?

"I really haven't thought about it," said Brian, unconvincingly, of a situation that makes sense on so many levels.

"Who knows what will happen down the road? I've had some neat things on my plate the last few years. It's been interesting. I'm more determined now about what has to happen next time."

Translation: He's looking for an organization with stability -- something the Flames (like the Blackhawks) were devoid of when he coached the Young Guns.

"I've always loved coaching kids and building something but when you do that you're always going to have heartache," said Sutter, seventh in NHL games coached with 1,028.

"Whether it's in Calgary or Chicago you had to be patient to build something. Ninety-nine percent of the people around you aren't patient. Right now, it's nice to be a fan, sitting back and watching all those players who people thought couldn't play. Guys like Reggie (Robyn Regehr) Marty (St. Louis) and Savvy (Marc Savard). They needed time, is all."

So, does he miss being behind the bench?

"I miss being with the guys and the competition but I don't miss all the other B.S. that goes with it, including everyone else thinking they're experts," said Sutter.

"You've got to do what you think is right, not what 19,000 people in the stands think. The game hasn't changed."

Neither has Brian, meaning it shouldn't be long until he takes his fourth go-round on the NHL coaching carousel -- a ride second only to calving in excitement.


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