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Home on the Range | Darryl Sutter brings the Stanley Cup home

By Bill Plaschke / Photos by Robert Gauthier

VIKING, CANADA – The road to the heart of hockey’s greatest team is covered in gravel and clouded in dust.

The road is bumpy, barren, stretching out from a town with no stoplights into a vast and desolate countryside blanketed in an interminable silence interrupted by the occasional chirping from a tree or rumbling of a train.

Make a left on Range Road 120, bounce past Township Road 472, continue rattling through holes that shake tires and giant insects that splatter across windshields. Stop in front of a narrow driveway that leads back to a cluster of trees, barns and bales. Make a right turn at a metal sign stuck in a rusted wagon, its wrought-iron letters distinct and startling.

A sculpted sign at the entrance to the Kings coach's cattle ranch.

A sculpted sign at the entrance to the Kings coach’s cattle ranch.

The Sutter’s.

Yeah, it’s him.

Grass flattens and rocks spit as a car slowly crunches up the driveway and into a parking spot in a ditch. The door is opened into thick air cut by the twang of an accordion, laughter of children and the swatting of mosquitoes.

He’s up there on the right, sitting on the back porch of a tree-shrouded modern house, right next to his mother’s house, a few yards away from his childhood barn, the totality of his 56 years spread around him like a piece of Canadian prairie heaven.

The Kings’ king is a farmer, dressed in checkered shirt and jeans shorts, clutching a cold Molson’s in his giant hand, leaning back in a rickety lawn chair, slipping off his suede loafers, smiling as bright as the Stanley Cup, which happens to be sitting on a card table back by the horses.

“Look, shhh,” Darryl Sutter says in a loud whisper, pointing toward a buzz in grove of trees. “A hummingbird.”

That is not a quote you’ve heard in his infamously mumbled news conferences. That is not a smile you’ve seen from his infamously stern game face. This is not the Darryl Sutter who has been perceived as a distant and forbidding taskmaster while leading the Kings to two Stanley Cup championships in three years.

“Nope,” says his brother Brian during Sutter’s combination Stanley Cup celebration/potluck supper earlier this month. “This is the real Darryl.”

Kings coach Darryl Sutter shares a moment with his son Chris during a weekend party with the Stanley Cup at the family ranch.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter shares a moment with his son Chris during a weekend party with the Stanley Cup at the family ranch.

1 Comment

  1. October 8, 2014, 7:57 am

    In your headline, Stanley is incorrectly spelled as Stanly.

    By: Priscilla Ogacich

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