Kings Coach Darryl Sutter, left, and his brother, Calgary Flames Coach… (Andrew D. Bernstein / NHLI…)
Reporting from Calgary, Canada — Christopher Sutter has pictures of John Wayne and Flames captain Jarome Iginla on the wall of his bedroom and was recently given a picture of his father, Darryl Sutter, on the bench as the Kings' coach.
But the 18-year-old has been going to Calgary hockey games with Connie Sutter, his aunt, to watch the Flames, who are coached by his uncle Brent Sutter.
So here it was on Saturday night: Dad's new team vs. his old team. How do you cheer for Dad against your uncle, and, well, Iginla?
"He was on the fence this morning, though," Darryl Sutter said after the Kings' morning skate. "He wants to be in the other [dressing] room. Wants to be in this room."
This was proof that Sutter vs. Sutter is not a breeze for all family members involved. The brothers have dealt with the competitive aspects of hockey nearly all of their lives, playing against one another and, at times, coaching.
Saturday was the first time Darryl and his younger brother Brent have coached against each other in the NHL. Darryl has coached against brothers Brian and Duane in 31 games. Some of those games took place before Christopher was born or when he was a youngster in San Jose.
Sutter had stepped aside in 1995 as coach of the Blackhawks to devote time to Christopher, who has Down syndrome. Now Christopher is close to completing high school in Calgary, and he and his mother, Wanda, will remain here instead of immediately relocating to Los Angeles.
Despite the long-standing ties to the Flames, Darryl Sutter said that Christopher was planning to wear a Kings' jersey to the game, saying: "He said it's my [Darryl's] jersey."
That was a few minutes after Sutter had finished a question-and-answer session with the media about the game, his tenure with the Flames and the challenges of returning to coaching for the first time since 2006.
"It's different," he said. "With every team, you have a different approach just because of personnel. This [Kings] group here, they have six or seven kids that are bordering on being elite players. So you've kind of got to help them get there."
Darryl gave a one-word answer — no — when asked if he was surprised when asked to resign as the Flames' general manager a little more than a year ago.
He added later that had no regrets about his time in Calgary. The Flames came within a game of winning the Stanley Cup in 2004.
"No. I came here in a tough situation, in every area, on and off the ice," Darryl said. "It was one of the most successful — on and off the ice — teams in the NHL for a long time.
"As I said, [Calgary] is an awesome city. To see the building the way it's been again gives me shivers. That's what it's about. I've been lucky in every city that I've been in, if you think about it. L.A., Chicago, San Jose and Calgary. I'm a pretty fortunate guy, right?"
The Sutters spent the morning trying to downplay the event, to no avail, of course. Brent got off one of the better lines of the morning about one family trait, saying: "You know what, we're both grumpy behind the bench."
They've answered these questions and will do so again. In fact, that will happen as early as Thursday, when the Flames play in Los Angeles.
"It's not the first time brothers have coached against each other," Brent Sutter said. "And it won't be the last."
Said Darryl: "Our family is not about public opinion. You think about how close we've been for our whole lives. We probably have a lot closer relationship because of the size of our family than guaranteed anybody standing here."