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Los Angeles Kings Coach Darryl Sutter and son Chris visit the hayloft, scene of boyhood hockey matches, at the family farm in Alberta, Canada. Temporary addition to the scene: the Stanley Cup.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Flanked sons Christopher and Brett, right, Los Angeles Kings Coach Darryl Sutter carries the cup into the hayloft.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Stanley Cup keepers Mike Bolt, right, and Howard Borrow hold it up in the hayloft door as Kings Coach Darryl Sutter rides by on his horse.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Kings Coach Darryl Sutter fiddles with a toy fiddle given as a gift to him as he celebrates the Stanley Cup at his farm.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Cassidee Morken, 3, naps as sisters Abby Lynn, 6, and Trinity, 6 months, great nieces of Darryl Sutter, stop for a photo with the Stanley Cup at the town hall in Viking, Alberta.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer stands guard at the back door to keep people from sneaking into the Viking community hall as hundreds of locals line up to see Darryl Sutter and the Stanley Cup.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Wanda Sutter unfolds a poster of her husband, Kings Coach Darryl Sutter, as she decorates for a Stanley Cup party on their farm.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Duane Sutter raises the Stanley Cup with son Brody at his side at a party hosted by his brother, Kings coach Darryl Sutter. Brody, a draft pick of the Carolina Hurricanes, did not touch the cup. Superstition has it that it's bad luck to touch the Stanley Cup if you aspire to one day win it. His father Duane's name is engraved on the cup four times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Stanley Cup keeper Mike Bolt hands the trophy to Kings Coach Darryl Sutter for a photo as Sutter celebrates with family late into the night on his farm.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Friends and family of L.A. Kings Coach Darryl Sutter gather around a campfire as they celebrate the Stanley Cup's visit to his farm.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

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Touring with the Stanley Cup: Coach Darryl Sutter

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Touring with the Stanley Cup: Coach Darryl Sutter

By Robert Gauthier

Alberta, Canada, is as immense as it is fertile.  An infinite landscape of tall, emerald-green grass, wheat and gold flowered canola, undulates to the rhythm of lazy winds pushing clouds across a land rich with oil.

In the heart of Alberta’s prairie, the Sutter Farm cuts a wide swath from the small town of Viking.

Standing on the highest point of his 3,000 acres, where nearly 600 head of cattle graze, Los Angeles Kings Coach Darryl Sutter points east to a tiny speck on the horizon.

“You can see forever,” he says to a visitor.  “You see those silver grainers over there? That’s our farm.”

That, and everything in between, is a family legacy built by the Sutter family over more than a century.  It is the pride of Viking. As you drive into town, a sign reads, “Welcome to Viking, home of the Sutters.”

Of the seven boys raised by Louis John and Grace Sutter, six made it to the NHL, two have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup.  Darryl joins brothers Duane and Brent when the Kings are added to the bottom ring.

Less than two months removed from winning the NHL championship and seemingly more than a million miles from Los Angeles, Sutter has the Stanley Cup for the weekend.

The trophy sits in front of a freshly painted red barn.  Unlike most visits, the cup isn’t repeatedly hoisted, nor does champagne or beer flow from the bowl.  At the Sutter ranch, it is more of a shrine, less of a plaything.  Darryl dutifully holds it for photos but is otherwise more interested in being with his friends and family attending his party.

It is here where seven Sutter brothers grew up. Together, they would come home from school, do their chores, eat dinner, then play hockey in the hayloft late into the night.

The last time he played here was 38 years ago, when he had to leave home for junior hockey as a 16-year-old.  The sticks remain, as does the chicken wire used to keep the tennis balls from leaving the building.

“We used to be so loud up here, even the neighbors would give mom hell.”

He bangs a hockey stick against the weathered wood.  A loud boom reverberates, igniting memories of a rough and tumble childhood.

“You put eight up here, hammering guys, fightin’ and cryin’, you can only imagine,” he says with a wry grin.  “The only time we’d quit was when we had to milk the cows. The cows wouldn’t come in with the noise we made.”

Less than a year ago, the cows were the only thing on his mind.  In the midst of winter, Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi fired coach Terry Murray and convinced Sutter to leave the farm and rescue the Kings.  Widely respected as a tough, honest player, he brought his farmer’s ethic to L.A. and harvested a bounty of talent from an underachieving team.  Like a prize cow fetching top price at the annual auction, Sutter saw the fruits of his labor celebrate on the Staples Center ice in June.

Today, surrounded by dozens of family and friends, Darryl sits in a camp chair, leaning back in a short-sleeve, checkered shirt, jeans, boots and white straw cowboy hat, his granddaughter on his lap.  A few feet away is the Stanley Cup, a mere a backdrop to life’s real prize.

1 Comment

  1. August 6, 2012, 1:18 pm

    That’s our Coach Darryl for ya.

    Family, farm and friends first, and fame a far off fourth.

    F yeah!

    By: duncanz1

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