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Former Kings coach Darryl Sutter says joining Ducks as an advisor is 'not a big deal'

Curtis Zupke, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Hockey

LOS ANGELES -- Five years ago, when the Ducks brought the Kings to the verge of elimination in their second-round playoff series, Darryl Sutter seized the moment like only he can.

In a postgame news conference at Honda Center, Sutter sarcastically praised Ducks goalie John Gibson when he said, "He's the best goalie I've ever seen. I can't believe we got one by him."

It was Sutter at his cutting best -- tersely in command of a team on its way to its second Stanley Cup championship, at the expense of its rival.

To think that Sutter would one day be on the Ducks' side seemed as plausible as an ice storm in July, but snow fell last week when Sutter was hired as an advisor to the Ducks' coaching staff. The move reverberated locally and beyond, although Sutter didn't think it registered high on the irony scale.

"Not a big deal," Sutter said in a phone interview this week from his cattle ranch in Viking, Canada. "(They're a) divisional rival. It's not just the Ducks. I've (also) watched Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary the past couple of years."

As awkward as it will be to see Sutter on the Ducks' side -- he said he will be at training camp in September and at some games -- his hiring was logical given his longtime tie to former Chicago Blackhawks teammate and Ducks general manager Bob Murray, and his respect for first-year coach Dallas Eakins.

 

Sutter likened his role to that of Larry Robinson, the former Kings coach and player who is a senior consultant to hockey operations for the St. Louis Blues. And Sutter said it's a necessary role in today's NHL.

"It makes a big difference in the coaching staff," Sutter said. "You look at every team, they have big development staffs. You know what? The head coaches have a lot on their shoulders. You need someone to help guide them. That's why I wanted to do this. I think Dallas has a chance to be a star."

Sutter said that Eakins has the "right attitude and the right frame of mind to take the next step." He also pointed out that today's salary cap often forces teams to play entry-level players more, and Eakins is the ideal coach to usher in that development. Above all, Sutter likes how Eakins worked his way up from the lower ranks, in the American Hockey League, and rebooted his career with the San Diego Gulls to get another shot at the NHL.

"That's something that has to start happening (more)," Sutter said. "You bring players up from the minors, you should be bringing coaches up. So Dallas is classic."

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