The biggest ex-Blackhawks factor going into the Stanley Cup Final is Los Angeles Kings head coach Darryl Sutter. Sutter not only played 406 games for the Blackhawks, from 1979-1987, but he also was the Hawks’ head coach for two and a half seasons from 1992-1995.
When Sutter took over the reigns of the Kings on Dec 22nd, LA was in 10th place of the Western Conference with just 34 points. The Kings went 25-13-11 under Sutter and now his team is resting and waiting to see who they will be playing for Lord Stanley’s Cup. It took just 14 games to knock out the top 3 seeds in the West; Vancouver, St. Louis and Phoenix. The Kings have gone an astonishing 8-0, in road games, on their path to the Stanley Cup Final. The Kings are playing a tough, no nonsense, defensive minded game which has got Darryl Sutter written all over it. They have adopted the personality of their head coach and it is paying off big time.
Darry Sutter has always been an outstanding head coach. This will be his second appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. He guided the Calgary Flames to a Western Conference title in 2004 but lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning. His teams have never missed the playoffs in years where he has coached a full season. The Flames missed the playoffs in 2003, but he took over in midseason that year. He took the San Jose Sharks to 5 straight post seasons between 1998-2002.
He has won everywhere he has been, including here in Chicago. He won the last ever Norris Division title in 1991-1992, his first year behind the bench, replacing Mike Keenan. Sutter parallels Keenan in many ways. Not only did he replace him in Chicago, but as GM in Calgary, he hired Keenan as head coach before firing him in 2009. Both coaches have had success where ever they have coached but always seem to eventually wear out their welcome. Both guys have a “my way, or the highway” attitude which leads to winning, but will lead to friction down the road. The Kings are enjoying a tremendous run and are not worried about when Sutter’s style will wear thin on them. I am hoping the Kings bring home the Cup. Not only because they beat the hated Canucks, Blues and Coyotes, but also to get one of the greatest family names in hockey back on the Stanley Cup.