Skip to Main Content

Sutter guiding Kings through demanding stretch

by Curtis Zupke
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- One of the challenges Darryl Sutter has had to re-learn in his latest coaching stint is managing the schedule.

Since he took over the Los Angeles Kings on Dec. 20, Sutter has repeatedly talked about working through the back-to-back sequences and travel demands of a West Coast team.

Sutter is quite familiar with it from his tenure as San Jose coach, and this run up to the All-Star break is getting busy. Thursday's game against the Calgary Flames comes after three games in four nights on the road, and tonight will start a stretch of three games in five nights for Kings.

"I told the guys when I came in, 'I'm going to give you every break physically. You guys got to be with me on the brain part,'" Sutter said.

"That's kind of how you got to look at it. Successful teams, that's what they have to trust their training and what they do for 12 months, not what they do the day before the game or the day after a game. You have to set your team up so that when you start training in the first of July to get prepared for back-to-backs and travel."

Sutter is aware of the team's six-game road trip in February, which includes back-to-back games at the New York Islanders and Dallas Stars.

"They aren't machines," said Sutter, who held an off-ice workout Wednesday and saw full attendance at Thursday's morning skate.

"You have to learn as a staff and as an organization how to manage it properly, because it can affect making the playoffs, not making the playoffs, home ice ... the old way of beating players up after you lost a game the next day, it serves zero purpose. It's way different."

Sutter vs. Sutter, part II: This will be the second meeting in six days between Darryl Sutter and brother Brent, who coaches Calgary.

There isn't as much media focus on the brothers this time around, and Darryl predictably said, "It wasn't very hard last time … We're used to it."

L.A. scored a 4-1 win last Saturday in Mike Cammalleri's first game back with the Flames. Darryl said Cammalleri isn't the only player to worry about.

"They've still got their goaltender and they've got an awesome defense and they really get up the middle," he said. "I'm not really worried the individuals more than positions."

Sutter on warm-up procedures:
Sutter delivered the line of the day when asked about the Taylor Hall incident and talk of players wearing helmets during warm-ups.

"If they wear wigs and sunglasses, I don't care," Sutter said. "It doesn't bother me one way or the other. It's an isolated, once-a-year (incident)."

Sutter, who had to wear a facemask on his helmet because of a facial injury as a player with Chicago, felt strongly about players' freedom not to wear a helmet in warm-ups.

"I still like the players having an identity," he said. "I think that's important in the game, and I think it's important that they grandfather the (face) shields in because the kids grow up with the shields and it's hard to imagine them taking it off. I still think that identity and the people seeing the player, I still think that's something there to it. I like that."

Sutter added that the facemask he wore was rather primitive.

"I got a football (cage) from Mike Ditka, from the (Chicago) Bears," Sutter said. "That was before the plexiglass and all that stuff, so I was either going to get Joe Girardi's catching mask or something from the Bears."

Nicholls helping power play:
Former King Bernie Nicholls has been working with the team as a consultant, particularly on the power play, and the results are tangible.

The Kings are 6-for-19 on the power play in the past five games.

"His experience helps," Jarret Stoll said. "He's seeing different things up there. It looks a lot different up there than it does down on the ice. He's letting us know what he sees, what he thinks is open, if we're not moving the puck quick enough, if we're not shooting when we should. Just little simple things, which make sense."
View More