It’s taken a few seasons, and a team change, but last night Darryl Sutter finally clutched the Stanley Cup in his hands. For eight seasons, Sutter toiled away as a Chicago Black Hawks‘ left winger (this was before the franchise made the team’s name one word, Blackhawks) and never once saw the Stanley Cup come his way. Time as a coach in Chicago, with the San Jose Sharks, and then most recently the Calgary Flames only lead to more heartbreak and disappointment.
Before last night, the closest Sutter had come to winning the Stanley Cup was in 2003-2004, when he and the Calgary Flames made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Pushing the series all the way to a Game 7, the Flames and Sutter walked away empty handed. The following season was the lockout, and the 2005-2006 season was the last time Sutter stepped behind a bench until he got the call in early December 2011 from the LA Kings that they needed his help.
From there, Sutter managed to extract the very best in all of his players. Pushing their captain to be one of the greatest stories of the playoffs, removing all doubt and proving the Kings could in fact score goals, and shaping a young goalie into a brick wall. The grinding team fought tooth an nail to clench a playoff spot. Not seeing the pay off of their hard work until the 81st game of the season when they were awarded that 8th seed of the Western Conference.
One goal shy of actually winning their division (placing them in 3rd), this team was anything but a traditional 8th seed. Sutter recognized this, capitalized on this, and in the end proved that his team was so much more than what was expected. What did this Sutter lead team accompish this post season? Well they only lost game one on the road the entire playoffs, were the first 8th seed to knock out the the 1, 2, and 3 seed, the first 8th seed to win the Stanley Cup, and Darryl was the first Sutter Brother to win the Stanley Cup as a coach.
As a Calgary Flames fan, it’s kind of hard not to celebrate this bittersweet moment: another playoff season has gone by without the Flames in it but at the same time a former member of the organization ending not only a personal drought, but a franchises drought.
Another season passed, another off season to rebuild, and another chance for the Calgary Flames to stare longingly at the Stanley Cup.
Will Bob Hartley be the breath of fresh air the Calgary Flames needed, much like Darryl Sutter was to the LA Kings? I guess only time will tell.
Congratulations to the LA Kings on your Stanley Cup victory and welcome to the Cup Club!