Darryl Sutter's return to Calgary went pretty much as expected. From the moment the Kings left the ice, following their morning skate, reporters formed a semi-circle in front of the area where Sutter would eventually speak. They were unaware, apparently, that Sutter now holds full-team meetings after the skate, so the stand-around session lasted for a good 20 minutes. (I have a picture, to be posted shortly.) When Sutter finally spoke, here's how it went. Remember, the relationship with this city is long and storied. Sutter coached the Flames to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004, then was fired as general manager six-plus years later...
Question: Can you explain the emotions of coming back to Calgary?
SUTTER: It's good to see my family.
Question: How about being back in this rink? Some good times, some bad times?
SUTTER: A lot more good than bad, so that's pretty good. [laughs] It's nice to come see some people, people that work in the building and that you spent early mornings and late nights with.
Question: You didn't speak when you left last December...
SUTTER: `I didn't know you had to. There you go.
Question: Is there a reason that you didn't want to speak to the media upon your departure?
SUTTER: For what reason?
Question: I think a lot of people were interested in the things you accomplished here. Looking back, do you maybe wish you had an opportunity to talk to some people?
SUTTER: No. I talked to lots of people privately, but I don't think I had to do it in a public forum.
Question: Did you think that you were done with coaching, or was your desire always to get back into it?
SUTTER: We talked about it last summer, the different opportunities, and we kind of just decided that unless it was the real right one (he wouldn't come back). So you kind of narrow it down, obviously with the family being here.
Question: Is your family going to move down to L.A.?
SUTTER: No. (His son) Chris, he still has to finish high school here, finish this year. He was on the fence this morning though. He wants to be in the other (dressing) room, he wants to be in this room... [laughs]
Question: Biggest differences, coaching here in a hockey hotbed or being down in Los Angeles? SUTTER: To be from Alberta, and to be in a market like Edmonton or Calgary, it was a privilege, awesome. Anyone who gets that opportunity should relish it. Comparing the two, that's not really how I look at it. I look at it more like the opportunity to have been with four great ownership groups, and this is another one.
Question: The way things ended with the Flames, did that change your relationship with your brother Brent in any way? SUTTER: No. I mean, our family is not about public opinion. You think about how close we've been all our lives, and to be all over like we've been, it's pretty unique. We probably have a lot closer relationship, because of the size of our family, guaranteed, than anyone standing here.
Question: In that sense, is that what was so different, in terms of the way the media tried to cover the relationship between you and your brother?
SUTTER: Everybody is entitled to their opinion. There's just not necessarily much fact in it anymore.
Question: When you look back at your time here, any regrets or anything you would change at all? SUTTER: No. I came here in a tough situation, in every area, on and off the ice. It was one of the most successful on- and off-the-ice NHL teams for a long time. So that's pretty good.
Question: Do you think you've changed your approach?
SUTTER: I don't think (about) approach. I just think, with every team, you have a different approach, just because of personnel. This group here, they have six or seven kids that are bordering on being elite players, so you've kind of got to help them get there.
Question: Because a lot of people think the game has changed, and the way you have to coach has changed. Do you have to change the way you coached from 10 years ago? SUTTER: Probably from 10 years ago. They call it the 'new' NHL, but the new is seven years old. You have to try and emulate the top teams, and the best three teams, clearly, are Boston, New York and Vancouver. You've just got to come to play every night and have your star players show up every night. If you can get that, and you have those types of players, then eventually it's going to work, because they proved it works.
Question: Were you surprised when you were asked to resign last December?
Question: Have you settled into a routine as a head coach again?
SUTTER: My biggest problem is staying out of the way in practice. You get back down there and you forget how good they are. Pretty fast. It's like I told them after the first game, 'You guys are a lot better than I was.' [laughs]
Question: Will you be keeping score, going head to head against your brother? Did you keep score against Brian? SUTTER: You know what? We've done it our whole lives. You guys, I don't know why you want to dwell on those things. My brothers and I, I learned right away in the NHL. Brian was the captain in St. Louis and I was the captain in Chicago. We're ready to go.
Question: What do you think you'll experience at the start of the game?
SUTTER: A team that's got 19 of (the last) 20 points at home. So I think we better try to have a good experience. That's my thought. It's certainly not about me. That's the last thing anybody should be thinking about. Our team has to be ready to go, because of how the Flames are playing at home. That's clear.
Question: Any nerves at all? SUTTER: There need to be. That's when you're ready. If you're not nervous, you're not ready.‚‚
Question: Do you see why this is a big story, you coming back here? I know you don't like dealing with this, but do you understand why it's a big story?
SUTTER: Well, I never left, so... Being a well-known hockey family and being from here, it's probably the biggest thing.
Question: But you had eight high-profile years here, with highs and lows...
SUTTER: I don't look at it like that. I look at what we accomplished. That's what is always measured. That's about it. It's awesome to see the great fans. That's the way you've got to look at it. Hockey is just a piece of it.
Question: Are you saying you had offers to coach other teams?
SUTTER: I had opportunities to work for other hockey teams.
Question: With everything here, do you kind of see it as a city's appreciation for what you did?
SUTTER: As I said, it's an awesome city. To see the building the way it‚s been again, that gives me shivers. That's what it's about. I've been lucky, in every city that I've been in. L.A., Chicago, San Jose, Calgary. I'm a pretty fortunate guy.