Sutter in Olympic coaching sights

TERRY KOSHAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

Brent Sutter has been flawless on the international stage and he might get to take his perfection to the Olympics.

Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson confirmed yesterday that Sutter, whose New Jersey Devils took on the Maple Leafs last night at the Air Canada Centre, is in the running to be head coach of Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

"He is on the radar, he is in that group, yes," Nicholson said on the phone from Calgary. "His record internationally speaks for itself. He has won as a player and as a coach, and that is a pretty good formula."

The dour Sutter, who usually gives the impression he has just bitten into a lemon, claimed he has not given much thought about 2010. In two runs with Canada at the world junior, Sutter guided the team to gold medals in 2005 and 2006, going a combined 12-0.

"Vancouver what? When the hell is that?" Sutter said. "This is 2008. That is a long way off. I'm not trying to be rude. But it is not even on my mind."

Nicholson's goal is to get the 2010 staff in place at some point this summer. Other candidates include Ken Hitchcock, Andy Murray, Mike Babcock, and, perhaps, Wayne Gretzky. Pat Quinn coached the gold-medal squad in 2002 and was behind the bench again in 2006 when Canada tumbled to seventh place.

Olympics or not, Sutter has made a fairly smooth transition with the Devils after eight seasons at the helm of the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League. Once the Devils got past a 3-6-1 start in its first 10 games of 2007-08, they were 34-18-5 before last night and they will contend for the Eastern Conference title. Sutter is an extension of general manager Lou Lamoriello, whose no-nonsense approach has been the Devils' hall mark for years.

"It has not been as big an adjustment as people think," said Sutter, whose NHL playing career ended 10 years ago. "When you have played at this level, you understand what players feel and what they think in situations and you try to help them through it. Sometimes it is a big pat on the back, sometimes it is a kick on the behind.

"If I was not enjoying it, I would not be standing here doing it, I can tell you that right now."


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