Darryl Sutter retires from NHL coaching

Former player led Los Angeles Kings to two Stanley Cups in three years

NHL teams looking for a new head coach now have one less candidate to pick from.

Columnist Eric Francis reported on Wednesday, June 20, that Darryl Sutter announced his retirement from NHL coaching. This move comes after Sutter, 59, said last year that he wasn’t going away, but he wanted the right fit and was willing to join a rebuilding team.

The former Los Angeles Kings bench boss says he’s been spending more time with his family at their farm in Alberta since being let go by the Kings along with general manager Dean Lombardi in 2017.

But Sutter changed his mind after a winter at the ranch at the family homestead.

“I love my schedule now – that’s the best way to put it,”  he told Francis, who quoted him on Sportsnet and in the Calgary Sun.

Storied coaching career

In his most recent gig, Sutter led the Kings to two Stanley Cup titles in three years, including their first-ever championship in 2012.

Sutter came along mid-season a few months before the 2012 Cup win after Los Angeles fired coach Terry Murray. He led the Kings to the Western Conference Final in the lockout-shortened 2013 season before winning another Cup the following year.

While Sutter’s years in Los Angeles were some of his – and the team’s – most successful seasons, he was also at the helm for a few disappointments.

In 2015, the Kings were the fourth team in NHL history to miss the playoffs a year after hoisting Stanley’s Mug. They lost in the first round of the playoffs in 2016 before having another early start to their summer the following season.

Sutter was fired after the Kings’ disappointing 2016/17 campaign. He still had two years left on a contract that was paying him more than $3 million per season.

On a more positive note, Sutter coached Team Foligno at the 2015 NHL All-Star Game alongside his son, Chris, who has Down syndrome.

Prior to joining the Kings, Sutter spent three years behind the Calgary Flames’ bench from 2003 to 2006. In 2004, he led the Flames to their first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 1989, but Calgary lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He left the Flames after their first-round playoff loss to the Anaheim Ducks in 2006.

Sutter also coached the San Jose Sharks for parts of six seasons in the 1990s following his three underwhelming years of guiding the Chicago Blackhawks. His all-time coaching win-loss record is 635-467-82 with 101 ties in 1,285 games, plus an 89-81 playoff record.

Former player turned coach

Sutter suited up for the Blackhawks for eight seasons from 1979 to 1987. He put up 279 points (161 goals, 118 assists) and 288 penalty minutes in 406 regular season games with Chicago.

The Viking, Alberta native also played in 51 NHL post-season contests and notched 43 points (24 G, 19 A) and 26 penalty minutes. He was drafted by the Blackhawks 179th overall in the 11th round in 1978.

Sutter is one of seven brothers, six of whom had productive NHL careers. His five brothers to make the big dance in the 1970s and 80s were Brent, Brian, Duane, Rich, and Ron. All of Sutter’s brothers except Rich and Gary, the seventh brother, worked alongside him during his Flames coaching stint.

Sutter recently teased a return to coaching, telling Francis he “would have listened for sure”  if the Flames called and asked about bringing him back to the Saddledome.

He wasn’t willing to go to the Washington Capitals after recent Stanley Cup winner Barry Trotz resigned, however.

“No way, I’d be too far away from the grandkids,”  Sutter told Francis.

Then again, never say never. Ken Hitchcock previously announced he was retiring from coaching after his final year with the St. Louis Blues, only to come back for one last year with the Dallas Stars before stepping away again.

What do you think? Should Darryl Sutter have called it a career? Should he wait for another opportunity to come up? Have your say in the comments section below.