Innisfail Eagles net Brian Sutter as coach

Tuesday, Aug 21, 2012 06:00 am | By Victoria Paterson
Victoria Paterson/Innisfail Province
Victoria Paterson/Innisfail Province
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He won the NHL Jack Adams Award in 1991 as coach of the St. Louis Blues, led the Bentley Generals to the Allan Cup in 2009 and now he's coming to help the Innisfail Eagles take flight.

Brian Sutter has been signed as the new coach of Innisfail's Sr. AA hockey club, bringing with him coaching and training staff from the Generals.

"It's obviously an opportunity for us to build something and be with good people," Sutter said during an interview on Aug. 18.

Sutter played for the St. Louis Blues from when he was drafted in 1976 to his retirement in 1988. He took over as coach of the Blues until 1992. He's was also the head coach for the Calgary Flames, Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks. He spent five years coaching in Bentley, taking them to the finals for the Allan Cup three times and winning it once. He coached thethe Red Deer Rebels for one season before going back to Bentley, parting ways with the Generals earlier this year.

The eldest of the famous hockey siblings, Sutter was approached by the board of the Eagles to come be the team's new coach. With him comes his belief that it's the players, their support staff and the board of directors working together that can make a winning team.

For starters, he doesn't think of himself as a head coach.

"I just consider myself a coach with Brian Stephenson and Jason Lenz," he said of the coaches that are coming with him. "You got to do it together."

"Trainers are as important as coaches," he said. "Before you win on the ice, you got to win off the ice."

Sutter's hoping to take the Eagles to a higher level but said "there's a process" to become a winning team.

"I don't really care whether they won the championship last year or lost every game," Sutter said. The Eagles won one game of the 22 played during the Chinook Hockey League regular season last year. "There's a process you go to go through ... we're going to get results."

A team-first attitude and hard work on everyone's parts is crucial to those results, Sutter said.

"Winners don't talk about winning. It's just something they do," he said.

He's looking forward to coaching in Innisfail, describing the arena as "absolutely incredible" and noting the great community-minded people that populate the town.

"We need the support of people off the ice," Sutter said. He said the team needs to get results to get the community to fill the stands, but said that community involvement is important to the long term success of the team.

Sutter's not speculating on what adding his famous surname to the coaching roster of the Eagles will do for the team.

"I don't really know and quite frankly I don't really care," he said.

Sutter might not be sure of the impact, but Dean Turnquist, a board member for the Eagles, is hoping it will be a positive one.

"I think it will increase our commuity support," Turnquist said of getting Sutter and his fellow coaches and staff to bring their expertise to Innisfail. "That community support is something we're hoping to strenghten."

The board of directors is excited to have nabbed Sutter, Turnquist said. He said they approached Sutter to invite him to help better the organization.

"If the excitement level of the board is any indication, this is monstrous," he said of the news Sutter is joining the Eagles. Turnquist coached the Eagles for eight years and they were playing at the AAA level, a level he hopes they can attain again.

"We expect to win. There's going to be some growing pains," Turnquist said.

Sutter's a catch because he brings not just himself, but his staff and coaches, he said.

"That's what's really exciting from our perspective," Turnquist said.

The timing couldn't be better as it's the team's 65th anniversary this year, he said, and they're hoping celebrating that milestone and their status as the oldest team in the Chinook Hockey League will help bring them attention and financial support.

Turnquist explained while the Eagles have missed the cutoff to make it to AAA so they could play in this season's Allan Cup, Innisfail's applied to host the Doyle Cup for the AA provincials.

The team hits the ice to start practicing Sept. 9.

"I'm looking forward to it tremendously," Sutter said. The regular season game schedule has not been put on the league's website yet.

When it comes to playing hockey, the new coach of the Eagles said his father alwasy reminded him that while hockey is "just a game," he should give both hockey and farming his all.

"You do each as hard as you can every day," Sutter said.


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