Darryl Sutter has been known to clearly define the distinct realms of his personal and family life against his profession.
“It’s what I do,” he said in May of coaching. “It’s not who I am.”
On Sunday, the Los Angeles Kings coach welcomed a few cameras among a joyous collection of family and friends to his Viking, Alberta, homestead, where the Stanley Cup was on display in what resembled an authentic Western Canadian hootenanny. A bluegrass band, backed by his son, Chris, on a mini-fiddle, entertained dancing guests while family and friends rode horses across the 3,000-acre farm that grows wheat, canola and barley. Darryl was more host than head coach on Sunday, cutting a pair of “LA Kings Stanley Cup Champions” cakes into squares and serving his guests.
He joined brothers Duane and Brent as the accomplished family’s Stanley Cup winners — the two brother combined for six titles with the New York Islanders in the early 1980s — and the first member of the family to win a Cup as a coach.
It was an afternoon the small town southeast of Edmonton with a population of just more than 1,000 will never forget.
“When you’re in Canada, especially in rural parts out here, hockey is what they do in the winter,” Sutter said. “You’ve got to remember it’s dark at 4:30, and you start watching hockey games at 5. Everybody that’s in this yard today will know as much about the game as I do, for sure. So for them to be able to see the Cup and get pictures with it is very important.”
It’s also a welcome celebration, considering the farming community suffered through what was a challenging winter, as Sutter explained during the Kings’ Cup run.
Because there was little snow on the ground for much of the winter, there was little to stop the ground from becoming hard and frozen. Snow works as an insulator, as several interested reporters learned in an offhand moment during a break between the Phoenix and New Jersey series.
A cold winter was the last thing on anyone’s minds on a glorious Sunday, as Darryl posed for a Stanley Cup photo opportunity with five of his brothers in front of a barn before putting on sunglasses, sitting on a hay bale and welcoming his mother, Grace, into the shot in a family portrait.
A day earlier, he had brought the Cup to a senior home and a community center in Viking as part of a public appearance that allowed those in town to have their pictures taken with it. Earlier in the week, Kings center Colin Fraser hosted a public event in Sylvan Lake, Alberta, where he arrived to the party in a speedboat, Cup raised high. It is common for Cup winners — especially those hailing from the smaller Canadian towns — to host public events as part of their day with the Cup.
“It’s good to bring it home,” Sutter said. “A lot of people that I knew when I was a little boy are in the lodges here, in extended care, and I bring it to the hall so that a lot of the kids could get to see it. It’s special for me. A special place.”
It was an interesting change of pace for the Cup, which earlier in the team’s championship summer experienced a rather long weekend in Las Vegas, where it was hoisted in nightclubs and photographed in the team’s suite.
A different crowd drank from the Cup on Sunday.
“Here, have a drink,” Sutter said before placing the Stanley Cup in front of one of his horses.