Darryl Sutter

It’s all about “game day” for Kings under Sutter


When Dean Lombardi tapped Darryl Sutter to replace Terry Murray in December, the reviews weren’t overwhelmingly positive.

Many felt the Kings needed a fresher, more dynamic head coach to bring out the best of a talented group that inexplicably couldn’t put the puck in the net. Not Sutter, the GM’s buddy and epitome of old school.

Fast forward to the present and the Kings are two wins from their first Stanley Cup championship. Not surprisingly, it’s hard to find someone with anything bad to say about the guy behind the bench.

Los Angeles players were especially complimentary of their head coach this morning.

“His intensity is an intensity I haven’t encountered yet from a coaching standpoint,” said Dustin Penner. “It’s game time. The way he talks makes its way to the rest of the team, the way he talks, the way he teaches it, during practice, during the game.”

Willie Mitchell concurred.

“He’s been the ultimate as far as preparing the team,” said the veteran d-man. “I think that’s what we need. We’re quite a young team. We’re a young team. Being in L.A., being in the sun, walk outside, 75 degrees, sunny, nice. Sometimes it’s human nature to forget about what’s at hand.

“Like I said, he’s done a great job with the young guys, preparing them to play.  That’s been a great reason for more consistency in our game.”

Looking back, Sutter’s reputation really took a hit for the decisions he made as general manager of the Flames. The Dion Phaneuf trade with Toronto that failed to return much of anything. Signing Matt Stajan to a four-year, $14 million contract. Jay Bouwmeester was a big free-agent acquisition that didn’t pan out as hoped. Calgary didn’t draft particularly well on his watch.

But as coach of the Flames, he went 107–73–26 and took them to the Stanley Cup finals in 2004. He left the bench in 2006 to focus on his duties as GM.

Sutter was asked today what he liked most about coaching.

“Game day, no question,” he answered. “I said that when I wasn’t coaching. Just like a player, best part’s game day. What is that line that Junior Seau said? Plays the game for nothing, gets paid to practice.”

It’s obvious his message has been received and taken to heart.

“Day one when he got here, the preparation, the mindset, how we need to be, where our attitude and heads need to be on game day when he came in,” said Jarret Stoll. “That was a big change for some guys.

“Not to say we weren’t prepared at all, but it just made us that much more of a prepared team throughout. We were ready to start games.”

‘It was a scary incident’: Colaiacovo returns to Sabres practice after dented trachea

Carlo Colaiacovo
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Carlo Colaiacovo‘s remarkably quick recovery from what appeared to be a serious injury continued on Monday, as he returned to practice roughly 48 hours after suffering a dented trachea.

Colaicovo, who was hospitalized after taking a Viktor Arvidsson cross-check to the throat on Saturday, skated with his Buffalo teammates on Monday in advance of tomorrow’s game against Detroit.

“I feel good,” Colaiacovo said, per the Sabres’ website. “Obviously it was a scary incident and at the time it was pretty painful but it is what it is.

“Right now, it’s not really stopping me from doing much.”

Though he said he’s still feeling pain in and around his throat, Colaiacovo is eligible to return to the Sabres’ lineup tomorrow.

The 32-year-old, who has appeared in 15 games this season, would no doubt like to go up against the same Detroit team that employed him during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, only to buy out his contract at the end of the year.

Couture (fractured fibula) continues skating with Sharks, says return is on schedule

Logan Couture
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Some good news at Sharks practice today — Logan Couture continued to skate with teammates, just one week after returning to the ice from a broken leg suffered on Oct. 17.

What’s more, Couture says he’s on schedule to meet the 4-6 week timetable for return.

“[I’m] where I thought I would be at this point in time,” Couture said, per CSN Bay Area.

While the 26-year-old wouldn’t put an exact date on his return, it’s clear both he and the Sharks are anxious for him to get back in the lineup — especially with the club surging, and Couture having only played in three regular-season contests this year.

Looking ahead, there are some dates worth circling on the ol’ calendar.

The Sharks have a relatively light week. After beating Calgary 5-2 on Saturday, they play just once in five days — Tuesday’s home tilt against the Penguins — before a weekend back-to-back set against the Ducks on Friday and Lightning on Saturday.

The Ducks game is in Anaheim, but the following night’s contest against the Bolts is at the friendly confines of SAP. So that could be a potential date to watch for — but it is worth noting Couture said he’s still hesitant about getting into game action until his first step is back.

“Until then, I’m not going to force my way out there and put myself in a bad spot,” he explained.

Kesler believes Ducks are ‘too good to not be in the playoffs’

Shane Doan, Ryan Kesler

It’s been 24 games for the Anaheim Ducks, more than a quarter of the season, and still they’re having trouble winning.

Friday against Chicago, they surrendered two goals in the last two minutes of regulation and lost in overtime.

Currently, the Ducks sit five points out of a playoff spot with a record of 8-11-5.

Still, forward Ryan Kesler is confident they’ll find a way into the postseason.

“If we keep playing like we are, we’re going to get into the playoffs — this team is too good to not be in the playoffs,” Kesler told The Province ahead of tonight’s home game versus Vancouver.

“We had a bad start and, to be honest, some guys weren’t ready to start the season. There’s a lot of hockey to be played and we’re ready for the challenge.”

To match the 45-30-7 record the Flames squeaked into the playoffs with last year, the Ducks would need to go 37-19-2 over their next 58 games.




Depends who you ask.

Anaheim’s playoff chances will depend a lot on how Pacific Division teams like San Jose, Arizona, and Vancouver finish. The Ducks may need to leapfrog two of those three to get in.

Yes, there’s always the chance four teams from the Pacific qualify, because it’s not like Colorado, Winnipeg, and Minnesota don’t have their problems. Even Nashville you have to wonder about lately. Heck, even Chicago isn’t assured of anything yet.

Bottom line, though, the Ducks have dug themselves a hole, and it’s starting to look a lot like the one the Kings dug last year.

In the NHL, even good teams don’t always climb out.

Related: Boudreau does the playoff math, and it’s no ‘easy task’ for Ducks

Video: Ryan Suter doesn’t seem very happy with his coach


As you can see in the video, apparently Ryan Suter doesn’t like being paired with fellow lefty Jonas Brodin.

The Wild defenseman rather openly questioned the coaching staff’s decision-making today after practice.

“Yeah, I don’t know what they’re thinking,” said Suter. “I need to play with a right-handed defenseman. To give me more options. Neutral zone. Offensively. And even coming out of the D zone, it’s not fair to put a guy on his off side.”

Suter didn’t know if the pairings were just for practice or not. The Wild play tomorrow in Chicago. Minnesota has just one win in its last seven games.

Suter also had something to say about that.

“It does no good to pout and get pissed off at each other,” said Suter. “You’ve got to come together and dig out of this. Now’s when you need leadership more than ever. It’s easy to be a coach and a leader when things are going good.”

Yeo, by the way, has not been very happy with the Wild lately.  In fact, one could go so far as to say he’s been acting pretty “pissed off.”

For example, at today’s practice:

The Star Tribune has more on what went down today.

Yeo, you may recall, went a little “nuts” during a Wild practice last season.