Sutter boys behind Darryl

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:24 PM ET

 It's fair to assume Darryl Sutter's occasionally gruff demeanour rubs some of his Calgary Flames the wrong way.

 Underachieve and you find yourself on the bench (just ask Martin Gelinas).

  Fail to live up to expectations and you may be taken to task in front of the media (Oleg Saprykin recognizes this scenario).

 Disappoint while earning among the league's elite at your position and you'll pay the price (Roman Turek can relate).

 But in the end, especially if the final chapter of the Flames story includes a Stanley Cup parade, even temporary tenants in Sutter's Pooch Penthouse will appreciate their taskmaster.

 After all, Sutter's demand for excellence has pushed the players to achieve their potential, driving the club to the Cup final.

 "It's a credit to the players for the commitment they made in buying into it because I've played for Darryl," notes Brent Sutter, 41, a two-time Stanley Cup champion during his sensational 18-year NHL career, including a stint in Chicago with Darryl behind the bench.

 "He pushes you but he's very fair, too, and I think in today's sports you need that. It's funny but players who play for a coach like that don't realize it until after they're done just how damn good a coach like that was for them in getting the most out of them.

 "That's why those players shouldn't take this for granted because it's something very special going on. Yet, you look back at it when your career is over and you look back at the coaches you played for who demanded a lot from you and realize he made you a better player and a better person. You had to work for things, nothing was handed to you."

 Brent Sutter also appreciates his older brother's front-office skills that have helped transform the Flames from 12th-place also-rans into Cup finalists.

 "I'm very proud of him and the whole organization, it's outstanding," says Brent, owner, operator and coach of the WHL's Red Deer Rebels, leading them to the Memorial Cup title in 2001.

 "I'm obviously very proud of Darryl and being his brother, it's very exciting for myself and the other guys also," he says.

 "Everyone talks about Darryl and his coaching abilities but the thing about him is people have underestimated how someone like himself -- and it was almost the same thing when I took over the franchise here in Red Deer -- that people wonder, 'What does he know about the business side?' Well, we've been involved in hockey for a long time and you have a feel for the game and type of players you need to be successful and the building process because you've experienced it as a player. It's not that big an adjustment.

 "So when Darryl was named Flames GM, people were skeptical but I had such a great feeling for what he could do because I'd already been through it, maybe at a different level, but the principles are all the same.

 "I knew how he coaches and how he is as a man and I knew he'd do a great job, so seeing where the Flames are today and how far they've come in a year and a half, I'm not surprised. I'm not saying that as his brother but as a hockey person."

 Having won Cups in his first two seasons as part of the New York Islanders dynasty, Brent Sutter learned plenty about what it takes to be the best. Having stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier and Clark Gillies taught Brent lessons he's confident brother Darryl also understands, although he's making his first Stanley Cup final appearance as a head coach.

 "The most important thing is to stay focused on the task at hand and not get caught up in anything else going on," Brent points out.

 "It's exciting for everybody. Obviously here in Canada, they're the only Canadian team left and the whole country's cheering for them but they still have to keep things in perspective and stay focused in what they have to do and everything else will take care of itself.

 "I have a good feeling that's been their mindset since Darryl's been on board there. He came in and brought that coaching staff, it's a day-to-day thing and that shouldn't change now. They have to let it all out and go hard and stay with what's given them so much success.

 "I think it's great for Canada, it's great for Alberta and it's great for hockey, period. When you look at that team, it's the way hockey is supposed to be played -- all out, paying the price every night and you overachieve like that."

 Darryl Sutter insists competing against his Cup-clinching siblings taught him plenty about living hockey's ultimate dream.

 "I was playing against them at the time," Darryl Sutter says.

 "We're not the type of family that talks about those things publically."


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