Saturday, February 12, 2005

Louis Sutter Dies

Louis Sutter, patriarch of the famed Sutter family hockey dynasty, died Thursday at age 73 after an 18-month battle with diabetes. He watched a record six of seven sons play in the NHL: Brian, Darryl, Duane, Brent, Rich, and Ron. Gary was the eldest brother and although he "had the hardest slap shot," according to Brian, an NHL career never panned out. Said to be the most talented of the brothers, he turned down a Tier II tryout to stay with his high-school sweetheart, and never got back on track with his hockey career. All seven brothers were able to return to Viking, Alberta and say their goodbyes before their father died. Louis will be buried on Tuesday, a day after the NHL deadline to cancel the season. And no matter the result, the hockey world will converge on the small town to pay their respects. Louis and Grace Sutter raised their sons in a modest 800-square-foot farm house on 1,400 acres. 477211 Range Road 120, Viking Alberta. With Ron playing on the 2000-2001 Calgary Flames, it was the 25th consecutive year a Sutter brother was an NHL player. Family totals include 5,597 total games, 1,320 goals, 1,615 assists, and 7,224 PIM. The arena in the small town of Viking, population 1200, holds the record of producing the most NHLers per capita:
Brian (October 7, 1956): played for St Louis Blues (1976-1988) coached St Louis Blues (1988-1992), Boston Bruins (1992-1995), Calgary Flames (1997-2000), Chicago Blackhawks (2001-present). Darryl (August 19, 1958): played for Chicago Blackhawks (1979-1987) coached Chicago Blackhawks (assistant 1987-1988 and 1990-1992, head 1992-1995), San Jose Sharks (1997-2002), Calgary Flames (2002-present) Duane (March 16, 1960): played for New York Islanders (1979-1987), Chicago Blackhawks (1987-1990) coached Florida Panthers (1996-1998 assistant, 2000-2002 head, 2002-2003 assistant) Brent (June 10, 1962) : played for New York Islanders (1980-1991), Chicago Blackhawks (1991-1998) Rich (December 2, 1963): played for Pittsburgh Penguins (1982-1983), Philadelphia Flyers (1983-1984), Pittsburgh Penguins (1984), Philadelphia Flyers (1984-1986), Vancouver Canucks (1986-1990), St Louis Blues (1990-1993), Chicago Blackhawks (1993-1995), Tampa Bay Lightning (1995), Toronto Maple Leafs (1995) Ron (December 2, 1963) : played for Philadelphia Flyers (1982-1991), St Louis Blues (1991-1993), Quebec Nordiques (1994), New York Islanders (1994-1995), Boston Bruins (1995-1996), San Jose Sharks (1996-2000), Calgary Flames (2000-2001)
"If I had to be adopted, I'd want to be a Sutter"
Pat Burns, New Jersey Devils head coach
The Sutter legacy is more than the shear numbers. It's about a gritty blue-collar work ethic that their father instilled in them, and which they have exhibited in their playing and coaching careers. With all the bad press the NHL is getting these days and will get once the season is officially cancelled on Monday, the Sutter story is a refreshing tale of determination. With years of celebrity, the family remains tight-knit and down-to-Earth. The brothers all married girls from their hometown, and their parents remained on the farm. The only change was that the farmhouse was furnished with a satellite dish so the parents could watch their sons play in the NHL. And the future generation of Sutter's is emerging. Brian's son Shaun, 24, was drafted by Calgary in 1998, and is playing in the ECHL. Darryl's son Brett, 17, is in his second year in the WHL. Duane's son Brodie plays peewee. Brent's son Brandon, 15, is just breaking into the WHL. Rich and Ron also have young boys who may someday play hockey. And the legacy lives on. UPDATE: TSN article covering today's funeral


At 2/12/2005 07:36:00 AM, Blogger Luiz Felipe Pedone said...

The hockey world will miss so much this guy. Sutter did one great family and great character players.

At 2/12/2005 09:53:00 AM, Blogger Matt Saler said...

I hope that marriage turned out okay for Gary because he'll always be remembered by omission as the Sutter brother who didn't make it since he is forgotten as part of the family entirely in most of the articles you see about the Sutters. It's always "six brothers," with Gary omitted. Poor guy.


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