When Ryan O’Byrne signed a contract extension with the Colorado Avalanche, it was natural to make jokes about his own-goal and purse-snatching blunders. Some players have the regrettable moments that we cannot help but rehash over and over again, like hockey-playing versions of that profane Winnebago Man. (One almost wonders if Mark Recchi is retiring in part to avoid jokes about his not-so-scientific critiques of Max Pacioretty.)
Rugged defenseman Andy Sutton probably fits under that category. Hockey fans with long memories will likely spout one line when they hear Sutton’s name: “Are you an expert?” Maybe it’s not as profane a moment as Winnebago Man’s expletive-laced outbursts or as humiliating a moment as “Boom goes the dynamite,” but that awkward exchange with a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter will probably follow Sutton until he retires. The moment was even given the Facebook treatment, one of life’s great backhanded compliments.
If his career path is any indication, then that phrase will need to do some legwork to keep up with his movements. He went from the New York Islanders to the Ottawa Senators during the 2009-10 season, then played with the Anaheim Ducks in 2010-11. He’ll need to find new experts in a new city now, though, as the Ducks traded him to the Edmonton Oilers for defenseman Kurtis Foster.
Foster’s story might be the opposite of Sutton’s plot. Where Sutton might receive some jeers and laughter, Foster is an inspirational story. His career was in jeopardy after he suffered a broken leg when Torrey Mitchell hit him after Foster touched the puck on an icing play, but Foster fought back to become an everyday player again.
From a hockey standpoint, it’s a lateral move, though. Sutton is probably more responsible in his own end as more of a defensive defenseman while Foster’s laser beam slap shot makes him more useful offensively. They’re both big guys (Sutton’s listed at 6-6, Foster is listed at 6-5) who are depth blueliners, so it’s not a game-changer.
It will, however, give some Oilers humorists a couple extra punchlines during a strange day of hockey transactions.