How can a guy who’s only coached 57 regular season games already be the most popular coach in Kings history?
Win a Stanley Cup, that’s the short answer.
Perhaps all the attention is a little overwhelming for a good ol’ boy from the farm though.
“I try to stay really quiet,” said Darryl Sutter, when we asked about his growing popularity in LA. “I have a six block radius where I live, so I’m real popular in those six blocks. Other than that, I don’t know what popular or unpopular is.”
Maybe the cheers he keeps receiving in Los Angeles will convince him otherwise. Case in point, his name received the third most applause (and screams) when the players and coaches were introduced on opening day vs. Chicago.
And if you go back to the team’s Stanley Cup rally in late June, the emotion of the moment may have struck a nerve with Sutter – causing him to debut the now infamous Pumper-Sutter (shown in the picture above and briefly in the video below).
Yet, it’s been a curious twist of events since GM Dean Lombardi hired him in December 2011 - something that was largely panned at the time by most of the hockey media. In fairness, even though we actually encouraged the move in an article a week before his hiring, nobody could have imagined it turning out this well.
Nobody except maybe Lombardi that is.
So, does he find it a bit gratifying to see all the love shoveled at Sutter’s doorstep these days?
“Gratifying? No, because I knew it,” he told MayorsManor. “That was an easier deal than (acquiring) Jeff Carter, in terms of the way I looked at it – knowing him so well and knowing what I thought this team needed. So, like I say, you’re always questioning what you do and everything else. But, in the things I’ve felt best about, he may be one of the top three things in my career at that time. And then the type of person he is? That was so far off, you know [the stories about Sutter]. At the other end, I come back to the thing that’s most important – the number of text messages I received from former players. Even if he is a total jerk to you guys, the players will always play for him. So you have to take that. He’s not a jerk and most importantly the players know that he cares about them.”
While Sutter claims he’s not buying into all the hype, Lomabrdi is concerned about his coach’s new found popularity.
“I’m a little nervous about it,” the GM said with one of his big sarcastic smiles. “When I see 18,000 people going nuts when he does that thing, like he did back in June – I still remember seeing that now!”
Ah yes, the Pumper-Sutter.
Perhaps that’s what was used to shake up the team during their closed-door meeting following the first period in Columbus last night.
Whatever it was, it worked.
Just like the hiring of Sutter has for the Kings.
SUTTER’S SPEECH AT KINGS STANLEY CUP RALLY:
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Image of Darryl Sutter used on the homepage courtesy of Chasen Ikiri.