By Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer
Monday night, after picking up his son Lukas from the NHL Scouting Combine, Rich Sutter brought his family over to the Southern Alberta home of his twin brother Ron. That night, the twins who played a combined 32 NHL seasons watched their older brother Darryl Sutter and his Los Angeles Kings take a commanding 3-0 series lead in the 2012 Stanley Cup Final.
It's the latest chapter for one of hockey's most famous families, one that has seen six brothers combine to play over 5,000 NHL games and four of them serve as NHL coaches.
"Darryl and I are pretty close. We've gone through a lot together," said Brian, the eldest of the six Sutters who played in the NHL. "[We] played against each other for years, were captains of our teams, and coached against each other for years. It's exciting for him. Darryl has pushed the right buttons to get them to do the job."
Among the brothers, there's a special regard held for Darryl, who began the season out of hockey before becoming the Kings' head coach in December.
Four of the Sutter brothers (Duane, Brent, Rich, and Ron) were selected in the opening round of the NHL Draft while Brian was selected in the second round. Darryl, on the other hand, was taken in the 11th round, the 179th pick in the 1978 NHL Draft, only to enjoy a stellar playing and coaching career that could be within hours of a Stanley Cup win.
And with Darryl on the verge of glory eight years after coming so close as coach of a Calgary Flames team that lost in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2004 Final, the whole family is excited.
"We're a close family. We want to see us all do well," said Ron, who is currently a Flames scout and was coached by Darryl in San Jose. "It's his second kick at the can as a coach. I know we're all rooting him on and hopefully they can win. Our kids are eating it up and enjoying it. Probably more than us adults."
Almost 30 years after Duane and Brent won the Stanley Cup together with the Islanders, the Kings' Cup run has been especially exciting for the next generation of Sutters, including Brent's son Brandon, Darryl's son Brett, and Duane's son Brody, all of whom are in the Hurricanes organization.
"That's the most gratifying thing, to see how the kids get behind it," Rich told NHL.com. "Some of the kids will text him. Darryl's not great at replying, but you know darn well he's reading them."
Through their divergent NHL careers, the Sutters remain incredibly close and talk frequently about everything from hockey to family. But those talks took on a different tone when Darryl was offered the Kings job in December. After spending the previous months tending to his Alberta farm following his resignation as general manager of the Flames a year earlier, Darryl sought counsel from each of his brothers.
The Sutter family, which has placed six brothers in the NHL, is watching and waiting to see if Darryl and the Kings can bring home a championship. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
"We did talk shortly after L.A. contacted him. When there is an important decision made among all us brothers, we've always been able to rely on one another and bounce questions off each other," Ron told NHL.com. "I remember telling him, 'If you're going to take a coaching job again, make sure it's a team that has a chance to win. Don't go to a team where you're in a rebuilding mode.'"
That advice was prophetic, but in the Kings' dominating run toward the franchise's first Stanley Cup, communication between brothers has been limited -- due more to Darryl's superstitions than anything else.
"Darryl can be a bit of a superstitious guy, so we just try to keep the same pattern as when the playoffs started. Just have a good talk before a series starts and leave him alone," Rich said. "That's kind of how we've left it. We tend to be superstitious at times. The way they were going earlier, why switch it up?"
None of the brothers expect to travel to Los Angeles if Darryl's Kings capture the Cup. But as each of them has maintained his roots in Alberta, it's more than likely they'll find a way to celebrate together and add another chapter to one of hockey's great legacies.
"We're as proud of him being a coach and [possibly] winning it as when our other brothers won it as players. These opportunities don't come up that often," Ron said. "When you have someone you know [win the Cup] it's special. When it's a brother, it's extra special."