NEW YORK — Darryl Sutter joked on Tuesday that when Dean Lombardi called in 2011 to offer him the Los Angeles Kings’ head coaching position, he originally said no. It took some time, but Lombardi eventually got his man after selling Sutter on the fact that he could transform that Kings team into a Stanley Cup champion.
Six months later, Lombardi’s faith in Sutter paid off. Two years later, they’re both in the same position, one win away from a second Cup in three seasons.
“Well, most players, coaches, trainers never get any chance, zero,” said Sutter. “So when you get the opportunity, and I've been fortunate to be in quite a few of them, so it's always a testament to the group you have and to understand how tough it is.
“That’s why not many people or teams win it because it's hard for them to take on the whole challenge of what it is to win and the price you got to pay and the sacrifice you got to make.”
One more win and Sutter will tie brother Brent with two championship rings. They both still trail Duane, who won four with the New York Islanders.
Sutter was behind the bench for the Calgary Flames when they fell short in Game 7 ten years ago to the Tampa Bay Lightning. That loss, however, provided a learning experience for him that would finally lead to success eight years later.
“It's something that everybody wants to talk about,” Sutter said. “You go to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup, you get beat 2-1. The best and worst part of winning is til you’ve won it, you don't really understand what that is. Then when you lose, you're pretty close to understanding it. Anybody that's never been in either one of those positions, they’ll never understand it, never. That's why there's teams that say they’re happy to make the playoffs because they don't understand the big goal part of it.”
Ask his players and they’ll you that Sutter isn’t a rah-rah type of coach. There was no big speech before Games 4-7 against the San Jose Sharks. There will be no Herb Brooks speech before Game 4 Wednesday night. There will be, however, an entertaining press conference, as always. “I think we see a different side of Darryl than you guys do,” said Matt Greene.
Sutter’s demeanor has carried over to his team and with the Kings sporting a very similar roster to the 2012 team, the expectations on both sides are established and the response has been just what Lombardi hoped it would be as he made that call two and a half years ago.
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