WINNIPEG - Lukas Sutter is carrying on the family tradition and he couldn’t be happier about it.
After watching his uncle Darryl raise the Stanley Cup over his head as the head coach of the Los Angeles Kings earlier this month and seeing cousin Brandon traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night, it was time for Lukas to take centre stage as the Winnipeg Jets selected him in the second round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft with the 39th pick.
“It’s an honour. It’s something you take a lot of pride and the last name is a legacy in the game of hockey,” said Lukas Sutter, who is the son of longtime NHLer Rich Sutter. “It’s something you want to live up to. For me, it was always hockey. It was never pushed on me. It was a personal choice. I grew up around the game and I don’t think there’s anything else I’d rather be doing.”
Having a strong support network to deal with the ups-and-downs in the game is an obvious bonus.
“It’s invaluable,” said Lukas Sutter. “Whenever you need a piece of advice, it doesn’t matter who you go to, you’re going to get the same thing from each and every one of them. They know how to play the game and they know what they’re talking about.”
Sutter, 18, made tremendous strides in his second season with the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League, piling up 28 goals and 59 points and 165 penalty minutes after producing four goals and 19 points and 179 penalty minutes in 71 games as a rookie.
“We really like the way he plays,” said Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. “He provides a lot of sandpaper for us.”
Sutter saw his stock rise dramatically during the past season and some thought he might go late in the first round.
After sitting through Friday night and not hearing his name called, Sutter went early on Saturday morning.
“It was tough. I prepared to be a spectator. I thought there might be an outside chance that someone would take a flier on me,” said Sutter. “It was a long night, but I’m really happy it happened so quick today.”
Sutter’s father was asked if there was a time when he knew that Lukas might have what it takes to get drafted and eventually make it to the next level.
“The biggest thing is his passion. He’s a very passionate kid,” said Rich Sutter. “To be around his uncles and his dad, not a lot has to be said, he’s been taught along the way. I really believe in my heart that if you want something bad enough and you stay grounded, good things will happen to those kind of people and he’s done a good job with that.”
That passion was evident when Sutter met with the media, showcasing plenty of enthusiasm throughout the session.
“It’s truly unbelievable. I’m extremely happy that’s how worked out,” said Sutter, who met with the Jets at the NHL Combine and again on Thursday before the draft. “My interview with them this week really stood out for me, they gave me a good feeling they might take a chance on me and I’m just hoping to prove them right."