Enough already!

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:37 PM ET


 As soon as the San Jose Sharks earned a date with the Calgary Flames, Darryl Sutter knew the line of questioning he'd face.

 Among other things, he'd be asked about his five-and-a-half-year association with the Sharks, his familiarity with the players and how both would affect the series.

 He wants nothing to do with any of it.

 "I don't want to talk about it anymore," said Sutter, mere minutes after the obvious questions began.

 "You know why I don't like talking about those things, because they're all just distractions. It's not a big deal. It's got no bearing on this at all. It's red versus blue ... or teal."

 To Sutter, hockey has always been black and white -- when you get to the rink it's war -- especially in the playoffs. One team wins and one loses and Sutter has always been willing to do whatever it takes to ensure his team lives for another day.

 "When it's over and done then you have friends again," said Sutter.

 Until then, you're enemies.

 It's not a facade or a dramatic motivational tool aimed at keeping his players focused. It's a way of life perfectly illustrated by Flames assistant Jim Playfair who learned much about the man when playing two years in the minors for him.

 "When we won the 1990 Turner Cup in Indianapolis, Wayne Thomas was coach of the Peoria Rivermen and he and Darryl had coached together in Chicago for a year or two," said Playfair, Sutter's captain that year.

 "I'll never forget the day we were walking into the rink together and Wayne said, 'Hi Darryl, how are you?' Darryl just looked straight ahead and kept walking.

 "In the hallway between the two dressing rooms there was a metal door you could roll down and when we went by, Darryl just dropped the door right down and said, 'We don't talk to anybody on that team -- we're going to war.' What that did was bring us closer together and made us more focused on us."

 Many suggest stands like that are too harsh considering the Sharks were his extended family for almost six years before he was fired in December 2002. After all, not only did Sutter put the franchise on the map by improving the club's point totals five straight seasons he also watched several of his players form a powerful bond with young son Chris, who has Down's Syndrome.

 "I have a ton of respect for the organization and the players I coached over there," said Sutter, whose club opens the conference finals in San Jose Sunday.

 "The differences or similarities between the clubs aren't what's important -- it's the respect we have for them and how we have to counter that."

 When Sutter played, he and brother Brian never spoke to one another during the season.

 With that in mind, it's easy to see how the familial lines fans and media often draw between players and former teammates is an old story for any of the Sutters.

 After having to compete so hard against five siblings in the NHL, Darryl learned long ago to drop the proverbial curtain between him and all opponents once he got to the rink. It wasn't hard for him -- it was natural.

 Sutter arrived at the 'Dome yesterday well aware of the ties Dave Lowry, Miikka Kiprusoff, Shean Donovan and Rich Preston all have with the Sharks. He also knows Chris Simon was coached by Sharks boss Ron Wilson, with whom Darryl played in the minors.

 So, in the morning, he assembled his players for a meeting during which he stressed the media focus on him and the aforementioned has nothing to do with what's important.

 "He believes it's not about anyone individually -- it's not about Jarome (Iginla), it's not about Kipper, it's not about Darryl -- it's about our team and I think that's why he really wants to take the focus away from himself," said Playfair. "You have to create a war and it has to be about challenges."

 Obviously flooded with phone calls following his club's triumph over Detroit, Sutter was asked if any calls came from San Jose.

 "California" was all he offered, trying hard to hold back a rare grin.

 He was then asked if he wished the whole Sutter/Sharks storyline would disappear.

 "It just did," he said with a cold, hard stare.

 Cue the metal door.


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