ISS Diamond in the Rough: Brett Sutter

By Guy Flaming

Brett Sutter – Kootenay Ice

Birth Date: June 2/87; Position: Centre/Left Wing; Height: 5’ 11.5; Weight: 189

Some hockey players have to deal with the pressure of following in their father’s footsteps or maybe a brother’s, maybe even two brothers. It can be very difficult for a young player to cope with the expectations that genealogy automatically creates, especially if the other family member experiences a degree of success in their career. Imagine now for a second what it must be like for Brett Sutter who is not only the son of Darryl Sutter, Head Coach and GM of the NHL’s Calgary Flames, but also the nephew of five uncles who combine to create one of the most successful families in hockey history.

The legendary Sutter brothers were so influential to hockey that the term ‘Sutter Hockey’ is synonymous with a hard work ethic, guts and determination. But if you ask the next generation of Sutter skater, you might get a different and unexpected answer to the pressure question.

“To me he’s just a dad; he’s always there for me and gives me tips and pointers but it’s really no added pressure,” said Brett. “I’ve kind of adapted the style of game that he played; I like the hitting and getting dirty down low.”

Sutter is in his second year with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice and after a 44 game rookie season that saw him total 12 points, he’s looking to contribute more and take on a bigger role. What that role is involves a switch to the wing from his more natural centre position but the familiar style of play remains the same.

“I fit that Sutter stereotype pretty well and that’s how the coaches are telling me to play this year,” he said. “They want me to be the energy guy, the disturber and get the other team’s top guys off their games and just get my team’s energy up.”

Getting back to the pressure surrounding him, especially now in his draft year, Sutter admits he feels it at times.

“Of course there’s pressure and you think about it but you don’t want to be thinking about that the whole time so you put it in the back of your head,” said the Viking Alberta native. “You don’t want to try and do too much or be someone that you’re not. If you’re a grinder you need to be a grinder and not try too hard to be a goal scorer.”

Sutter’s year began at the U18 selection camp in Calgary where he competed for the opportunity to represent Canada in Slovakia during August. Although he didn’t make the squad, Sutter insists he looks back at the opportunity as a learning experience and not as a bitter subject.

“You can’t be bitter about those things because you can always take something from it,” he said. “It got to see what the competition was like with all the top players my age; those are the guys that I’ll be competing with for the draft so it was good to see where I fit in. I know what I need to work on to be with the guys who made the team. There were a lot of good players that didn’t make the team so I can’t look down on it, I have to get better from it.”

Sutter feels his skating and his strength have improved since last year but knows he needs to get even faster and thicker in order to take another step in his development. He feels his best assets are in his work down low and along the wall, fitting that family label extremely well.