Darryl Sutter called it a hockey career last week, and the former Sharks coach got away before I could have him autograph an anthology of quotes I put together entitled, Sutts: I Didnt Invent Telling it Like it is, But I Made Howard Cosell Sound Like a Sniveling Equivocater.
Sutter was one of seven boys who lived with their parents on a farm in Viking, Alberta. Six of the boys played in the NHL. The Sharks were just six years old when Sutter was hired. Ive been fortunate enough to cover a number of compelling managers or coaches. I never met anyone quite like Sutter. He shook the Sharks awake when he got to San Jose. He brooked no fools and raced to the heart of the matter, spraying skate snow when he got there.
Here are my hand-selected Top 10 quotations from Sutters time with the Sharks.
1. June 9, 1997 (upon his hiring): This team has to learn how to work. They have to go from being one of the worst defensive teams to one of the best. They need great goaltending. They were the most-penalized team in the league, and basically that shows a total lack of discipline.
2. Oct. 23, 1997 (nine games into his first season): Ive had it right to here with the veterans. To hell with them.
3. Nov. 19, 1997 (talking about his childhood): Till 1967, and I was 10 years old, we didnt have power, running water, none of that stuff. (No) telephones, TVs. I still remember being little boys, and being out by the wood pile and Dad chopping wood. Wed all stand there (with arms outstretched), and he would fill us up with wood and wed all walk back to the house and fill the wood box by the stove. Going out and pumping water. You had to do that every day.
4. Dec. 26, 1997 (upon seeing reporters in the locker room with no one to talk to because the players were hiding out in off-limits quarters): You need players? Ill get some.
5. April 22, 1998 (on the eve of the playoffs, discussing the Sharks surprising postseason runs during their early years): When they were in the playoffs (in 1994 and 1995) they (had success) basically because of (manure)-house luck and because they had a couple Russian players who played well. Teams didnt respect them. They didnt prepare for them. When I was with Chicago and we played them, we (didnt).
6. May 6, 1998 I guarantee you if we wouldnt have made the playoffs, I would have gone home (to stay). Thats what I told (the players). Its not a job if youre not in it to win.
7. Nov. 11, 1998 (after a 4-2 loss to Nashville): For guys like (Mike) Ricci, (Murray) Craven to play like that, (Marcus) Ragnarsson, (Mike) Rathje, thats a joke. Awful. Thats inexcusable, that kind of performance at home.
8. Dec. 20, 1998 (discussing the Sharks anemic offense): I dont call it a slump because its consistent. You look at our last (few) games 2-1, 2-1, 2-1, 1-0, 3-3, Christ we should have a parade.
9. During the 2002 playoffs (asked about Owen Nolans inability to score a goal): Hes playing like (expletive).
10. Dec. 2, 2002 (after being fired and asked if he was able to let bygones be bygones): I think anybody who knows me knows thats not the case. Ill work again; I know that. Its just the picking up. Now Ive got to find a realtor.