Sutterspeak

RICK BELL --Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 5:02 PM ET

 Having no appointment for a root canal and no booking for bamboo under the fingernails, Darryl Sutter puts up with pain in another way this day.

 He speaks to the sports scribes. Or at least Darryl's definition of speaking. After all, this is the first playoff game at home in eight years. A few words would be nice.

  Duty calls. Darryl decides to get the niceties over with promptly, while his players are on the ice for an optional skate. He walks down the hall, hands in his pants pockets, head down, telegraphing the mood. This talking stuff is a necessary evil. Heavy on the word "evil."

 The Flames coach is an obvious, and to some, an aggravating anomaly in this universe of vacuous verbiage, glib gab, empty expressions. You won't find him baring his soul to fill space.

 The atmosphere can be intimidating, not getting the canned quotes and the cliches ready for print. Usually the media monster munches on morsels or, more often, mouthfuls doled out by two groups. Boosters and bitc ... er ... whiners.

 There's the politician playing for power, the suit scoring with some scheme, the business fishing for a freebie, the organizers of events, the doctors of spin, the hired hands of hype, all more than willing to blab to get their bit of ink or their second or two of sound.

 There are also those with a grievance, loaded with legit or laughable laments, who will tell and retell their tale of woe to one and all, long after anybody cares.

 Not Darryl. Not this day. Even when he's offered softball questions, he won't play catch. He won't peel his personality away, as expected in this exhibitionist age.

 Darryl is asked if he thinks Calgary fans will be as rowdy as in Vancouver.

 "They weren't rowdy in Vancouver," he says.

 Well ... do you think Calgary fans will be as ... not rowdy ... how about excited as on the coast?

 "I expect the same. I think that obviously our fans are excited. You know they're going to be great."

 Is he happy with the excitement?

 "I came back to Canada to be in this environment. It's a neat feeling. It's sincere. That's what we're all about."

 He adds, "If it had been an annual event, the first round may not have been so exciting." You don't say.

 The drought is over on the ice, but not in Darryl's dictionary.

 Is getting into the playoffs satisfying? The stock questions search for the stock answer and get the stoic Sutter.

 "I don't get satisfaction. I expect to make the playoffs, that's why you go through hell for eight or nine months. We'll just continue to go through it."

 He admits when he's asked about the team's latest effort, he's driven nuts. "It's the playoffs. We get here from great efforts."

 You soon understand Darryl would rather be on the ice, behind the bench. He knows the score with us, but would much rather worry about the numbers on the board.

 Those who have been through a season of Sutterisms actually say this is a good day. Sometimes he says nothing. (This is something?)

 Others try to analyse his austere manner. Is it the cowboy thing, the rancher reticence, or does he just like tormenting us? Frankly, he could care less what we think. Oddly appealing attitude, don't you think?

 A couple nuggets to digest.

 "The difference between Game 1 and 2 is the other team scored five goals in Game 1."

 How about coming into Calgary with a split?

 "You're up 2-0, down 2-0 or tied 1-1, you know that."

 Finally the coach sticks to the script.

 "It's fun to see the people excited," he says, in deadpan delivery. Thanks Darryl.

 Speaking of excitement, Fraser Elliott, the fellow featured in Saturday's paper, who'll be attending his very first Flames game, will get his hardhat from yours truly and team prez Ken King, who got him the pair of tickets.

 Fraser promises to shout up a storm.


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