Hockey in their blood
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Duane carved out a unique role with the Panthers since he was replaced as coach. He shepherds the Panthers' Draft choices through their initial professional steps and works on their skills development.
"We've become renowned for how we handle our players. Agents and junior teams all across Canada rave about how well we treat our players and how the players get so much attention that they really feel special. That's all because of Duane," General Manager Rick Dudley told Mike Russo of the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. "After camp, most teams say goodbye to their junior kids and barely talk to them again. Duane's in constant contact with our kids."
Brent was captain of the Islanders from 1987-92. He was a key factor in the Islanders' third-straight Stanley Cup when he came up for the last 43 games and contributed 43 points. He's the Islanders' fifth-leading scorer of all time with 363 goals and 466 assists for 829 points in 1,111 games.
He purchased the Red Deer Rebels in May 1999 and was voted the Dunc McCallum Trophy as the WHL's Coach of the Year and the Lloyd Saunders Trophy as the WHL's Executive of the Year in 00-01. Brent's currently coaching top prospects Boyd Gordon, a first-round pick of the Washington Capitals, and Jeff Woywitka, a first-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers. Promising NHL players Jim Vandermeer and Justin Mapletoft played on his 2001 Memorial Cup-winning Rebels.
While some say Brent may have been the most skilled of the brothers -- he had the longest career -- it's irrelevant to him. He basks in the accomplishments of the entire family.
The boys grew up working on a 640-acre farm southeast of Edmonton. They played baseball in the summer and hockey in the winter. Their farm had small ponds called sloughs, pronounced "slues," on the Canadian prairies on which they practiced and competed and "Saturday was minor-hockey day in Viking. With our different ages, we were there all day on Saturdays," Brian said.
"We were on the ice every day in winter, having our own shinny games," Brent recalled. "All seven boys and our friends. Some nights we skated through the night and on the weekends. You don't see that today.
"Sometimes, we had to clean two feet of snow of the ice so we could skate but it was something we loved. That's not the case anymore. You drive down the roads and don't see kids skating on the sloughs. It's just the way society is. We used boots to mark the goals. Sometimes, we'd go until we couldn't feel our toes. We didn't think about it, we just did it."
The brothers all say their parents instilled an expectation of hard work and excellence. Their was no shortage of jobs and all were expected to be responsible. They're still that way, accomplishing more work in a day in their 40s than most people half their age.
Brian spent the morning working his farm before the afternoon press conference announcing his appointment as coach of the Flames. He raises prized Black Angus cattle on his farm.
"I get seven months work done in three months during the summers," he said.
It's almost as if two personalities reside within but he's as happy at the feed store as at an NHL rink. Regarded as an incisive tactician who has helped shape today's game, Brian leans forward and speaks with intensity when discussing hockey strategy. Asked about farming issues or equipment he wishes he had, he leans back in a chair, quietly marvels about industry innovations and drawls observations like, "First time in 17 years crops been worth a damn."
"We lived off that land," Brent said. "That was our way of life. We were all responsible for the food garden and putting in the crops and clearing them off. Half that 640 acres was brush and we cleaned it to have more land to grow things. For eight or nine years, we were picking roots and rocks out of it. You just went out and did it. Anytime you have a farm, it's going to run as well as you make it run so you better do it right or not do it at all. It's a tough business but there's no better life."
Ron led all the Sutter brothers in playing for seven NHL teams: the Flyers, Blues, Nordiques, Islanders, Bruins, Sharks and Flames. He is still associated with the Flames.
Ron and his wife Margo also have twins, daughters Madisen and Reigen. Ron's wife is the niece of former NHL center Earl Ingarfield, Brian's junior coach at Lethbridge.
Rich and Ron are both pro scouts in Western Canada, Rich for the Minnesota Wild and Ron for the Flames. They live with their families in Lethbridge and are still active in local hockey. Last month, they conducted hockey-drill workshops for minor-hockey coaches at the rink there.