The Sutter family, originally from Viking, Alberta, Canada, are one of the most famous families in the National Hockey League (NHL). Six brothers: Brent, Brian, Darryl, Duane, Rich and Ron, reached the NHL in the 1970s and 80s. Four brothers, Brian, Duane, Darryl and Brent, have gone on to become coaches and general managers as well. In addition, of the six brothers who reached the NHL in the 1970s and 1980s, all but Rich have been employed at one time or another by the Calgary Flames. A seventh brother named Gary is said by his brothers to have been the best hockey player of all seven boys. Rather than making his living as a hockey player, Gary stayed home to work on the family farm, as Rich remarked on an episode of the Canadian sports show Off the Record.
Collectively, the Sutter brothers played nearly 5000 games and won the Stanley Cup six times as players (and a seventh Cup as head coach). The second generation of Sutters have reached the NHL, as Brandon Sutter and cousin Brett Sutter were members of the Carolina Hurricanes organization for a few seasons.
The brothers' father, Louis John Sutter, died on February 10, 2005, at the age of 73, following a lengthy illness. Many established hockey figures attended his funeral, including then Edmonton Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe, then Oilers coach Craig MacTavish, then Calgary Flames coach Mike Keenan, Hall of Famer Lanny McDonald and a busload of players from the Calgary Flames.12
All six brothers took the same path to the NHL. Each player began their junior careers with the Red Deer Rustlers of the Alberta Junior Hockey League before moving onto the WHL's Lethbridge Broncos. A seventh brother, Gary, was offered a tryout with the Rustlers at the same time Brian was, however he declined, choosing not to pursue a career playing hockey professionally. Gary's brothers have suggested that he may have been the best player of all of them.3 Gary's wife did win a $10-million lottery prize with co-workers at a lumber company in Kelowna, British Columbia.2
Drafted in the first round, 17th overall by the New York Islanders in 1980 NHL Entry Draft, Brent Sutter had the most success in the NHL, playing 1111 games and recording 829 points. He won the Stanley Cup twice with the Islanders in 1982 and 1983 along with his brother Duane. After finishing his NHL career, he bought the WHL's Red Deer Rebels where he also formerly served as the Rebels' Head Coach and General Manager. Brent led the Rebels to the Memorial Cup in 2001. He also became the first coach to lead Canada to consecutive gold medals at the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, which he did in 2005 and 2006. In 2007, Brent left his posts with the Rebels to become the head coach of the New Jersey Devils. On June 23, 2009, he was hired as the head coach of the Calgary Flames. On April 12, 2012, he and the Flames came to an agreement for him to leave the club. His son Brandon was a first round draft pick of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2007.
Brian Sutter was drafted by the St. Louis Blues 20th overall in the 1976 NHL Entry Draft and by the Edmonton Oilers 36th overall in the 1976 WHA Amateur Draft. He played 12 seasons, all with the St. Louis Blues, appearing in three All-Star Games before becoming a head coach with the Blues, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames and Chicago Blackhawks. Brian won the Jack Adams Award as best coach in 1991. His #11 is retired by the Blues. Brian was the director of pro personnel for the Calgary Flames organization until he took the head coaching position with the Bentley Generals of the Chinook Hockey League.
Darryl Sutter was the lowest draft pick of the family, waiting until the 11th round, 179th overall, before being selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1978 NHL Entry Draft. Darryl's playing career was cut short by injuries in 1987 after which he turned to coaching. Darryl spent 11 seasons coaching the Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks and Calgary Flames – leading the latter to a surprising run to the 7th game of the Stanley Cup Finals as both the coach and General Manager in 2003–04. He replaced Terry Murray as the Los Angeles Kings head coach on December 17, 2011. He led the Kings to their first Stanley Cup Championship in 2012.
Duane Sutter was selected by the Islanders, 17th overall, in the 1979 draft. He won the Stanley Cup in his first four seasons with the Islanders. Duane also briefly coached the Florida Panthers from 2000–02. Duane Sutter is currently a pro scout for the Edmonton Oilers.4
Rich Sutter, twin brother of Ron, was drafted 10th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft. He led the Lethbridge Broncos to a WHL championship in 1983 and a Memorial Cup appearance. Rich played 874 games with seven teams during his 13 year career. Rich currently is a scout for the Phoenix Coyotes. Rich is the only Sutter brother to have neither played for nor worked for the Flames.
Ron Sutter was the highest draft pick of the family, taken 4th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1982 – six spots ahead of his twin brother Rich. He was a leader of the 1983 WHL champion Broncos. Ron played for seven teams during his NHL career. Ron finished his career with the Calgary Flames in 2000–01. Rich and Ron spent three seasons together with the Flyers in the early 1980s, and three more with the Blues later in their careers. As a San Jose Shark, Ron was coached by brother Darryl. He is currently working for the Calgary Flames organization as a scout.
Ron and Brian are the only brothers who did not play for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Thus far, two second generation Sutters have played in the NHL. Brandon, on the Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins, and Brett, on the Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes. Two others have played in the WHL, and a fifth was drafted into, but never played in the NHL.
Shaun Sutter, Brian's son, was drafted by the Calgary Flames in the 4th round, 102nd overall, in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft but never made it to the NHL. He spent the early stages of his career in the ECHL, before heading to Europe to play in the British Elite Ice Hockey League in 2005 where he has since played with the Nottingham Panthers, Sheffield Steelers and Belfast Giants. He was recently appointed an assistant coach with the Western Hockey League's Regina Pats.
Merrick Sutter, Brent's son, took a different path. He had a brief career with the Canmore Eagles of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Sutter elected to go the U.S. College route and gave up a hockey career to concentrate on his academics. He currently serves as the Senior Vice President and Alternate Governor5 for the Red Deer Rebels, a team his father owns.
Brett Sutter, Darryl's son, was drafted by the Calgary Flames as the 179th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He played pee-wee and midget hockey with the San Jose Jr. Sharks, then went on to captain his uncle Brent's Red Deer Rebels in the Western Hockey League while playing with his cousin Brandon. He made his NHL debut on December 23, 2008, playing against the Anaheim Ducks, and scored a goal while being named the game's third star. He was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in November 2010, rejoining Brandon, and has spent most of his time since the trade with the Hurricanes' AHL affiliate Charlotte Checkers, where he was named team captain for the 2011–12 season.
Brandon Sutter, son of Brent, is a player for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He played under his father Brent as a junior with the Red Deer Rebels and Team Canada at the 2007 Super Series. He served as an alternate captain with the Rebels and played with cousin Brett. He was drafted 11th overall, the highest of the second-generation Sutters, in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes, and became the first of the second generation to play in the NHL. He scored his first NHL goal for the Carolina Hurricanes on October 23, 2008, against the Penguins. During the 2012 NHL Draft, he was traded to the Penguins, with Brian Dumoulin and the 8th overall pick, for Jordan Staal.6
Brody Sutter, Duane's son, is currently a forward for the Charlotte Checkers. He was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes 193rd overall in the 7th round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He played hockey in Florida until his Bantam age for the Florida Jr. Panthers. He eventually went on to play in the WHL for the Saskatoon Blades and Lethbridge Hurricanes before turning pro.
Lukas Sutter, Rich's son who was born in St. Louis, played midget AAA hockey for the Lethbridge Titans. He was drafted by the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League 42nd overall in the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft.7 Unlike cousin Brandon, who has played for Team Canada, Luke has played for the United States in international competition, having been selected for the 2009 U.S. Under-17 Select Team for the 2009 Under-17 Five Nations Tournament. He was drafted by Winnipeg Jets with the 39th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft 8 He currently plays for the Red Deer Rebels in the WHL.
- Francis, Eric, Big brother is watching, Calgary Sun, February 6, 2004, accessed December 29, 2006.
- Merrick Sutter's role with the Red Deer Rebels
- "PENGUINS TRADE STAAL TO HURRICANES FOR SUTTER, 1ST RD PICK". TSN.