Sutter's old grudge remains

Kings head coach Darryl Sutter watches the play during a game against the Flames at the Scotiabank...

Kings head coach Darryl Sutter watches the play during a game against the Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alta., Jan. 14, 2012. (TODD KOROL/Reuters)

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:40 AM ET

CALGARY - To say Darryl Sutter wasted little time reminding the Calgary media how miserable life in and around the Flames organization could be at times when he ran the joint would be wrong.

In fact, the recently-hired L.A. Kings coach seemed to delay his much-dreaded meeting with the media Saturday as long as possible by scheduling a 35–minute sit-down with his players after the morning skate.

After that, he skipped past the awaiting horde to casually visit with acquaintances before facing questions from inquisitors he despised long before they helped run him out of town.

Then again, after going more than a year since his ouster without speaking publicly or to his younger brother Brent, what’s another three quarters of an hour?

So, Darryl, any emotions upon your return to a city and arena you spent eight years in?

“Good to see my family,” said a curt Sutter, whose wife and youngest son stayed behind when he joined the Kings five weeks ago.

Your thoughts on coming back?

“Lot more good than bad,” he said. “Nice to come see all the nice people working in the building that you spent early mornings and late days with.”

Darryl, you didn’t speak after being asked to resign last Christmas …

“Didn’t know you had to … There you go,” he interrupted.

Any reason why?

“For what reason? I spoke to lots of people privately. I don’t have to do it in a public forum.”

And so it went. The contempt he held for anyone who ever questioned anything he ever did here clearly remains.

No one gasped when he was asked if he had any regrets or if he would change anything he did here.

“Nope,” he replied. “I came here in a tough situation in every area on and off the ice and (became) one of the most successful organizations on and off the ice for a long time, so that’s pretty good.”

Indeed, he deserves credit for turning the franchise around. He made being a Flames fan cool again, gave the team an identity and a winning record.

And he did it by himself.

His autonomous approach also led to his and the club’s downfall when trades and signings went sideways.

Things became so dysfunctional, he and head coach Brent essentially stopped talking.

Did the experience change his relationship with Brent?

“No,” said Darryl, clearly unwilling to share.

“Our family is not for public opinion. You think about how close we’ve been all our lives and to be all over as we’ve been is pretty unique. We probably have a lot closer relationship because of the size of our family than anybody standing here.”

Asked further about Brent, he interrupted.

“Everybody is entitled to their opinion. There’s just not necessarily much fact in it anymore,” he said.

He did raise eyebrows by admitting he wasn’t surprised when asked to resign last December. He said he had several opportunities last year to work with NHL teams but wanted the right fit. L.A. seems to be it.

Too stubborn to admit his first game back had any additional meaning, he did concede that his approach has changed somewhat.

“Every team, you have a different approach just because of personnel,” said Sutter, who had just one regulation loss in his first 10 outings in L.A.

“This group here has six or seven kids that are bordering on being elite players, so you kind of have to help them get there.”

So far, he has helped.

No one expected the cantankerous coach to change his stripes along with his address.

But surely he could have at least tried to play nice.

I know he hates questions, but would that have been too much to ask?


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