Darryl Sutter joins brothers on Stanley Cup

A third Sutter is getting his name on the Stanley Cup.

Darryl Sutter never won the Cup as a dependable left wing for

the Chicago Blackhawks, and the well-traveled coach’s Calgary

Flames lost Game 7 of the finals in 2004 to Tampa Bay.

But the Los Angeles Kings’ unlikely midseason savior led the

franchise to its first title Monday night, turning an

underachieving bunch of low scorers into champions. The 53-year-old

coach is a first-time champion, and he is still getting used to the

notion.

”Seems like a long time ago, middle of December, whenever it

was,” Sutter said. ”But you know what? You look at the big

picture now, and I was right on how I thought about what type of

players these guys were.”

After leaving the Flames in December 2010, Sutter was pretty

much out of hockey when the season began, content to work on his

farm while watching games every night on television. He replaced

Kings coach Terry Murray shortly before Christmas at the behest of

longtime friend Dean Lombardi, the general manager who assembled a

talented roster that couldn’t score.

The Kings needed a few weeks to respond to Sutter’s discipline

and direction, but the results were spectacular after they squeaked

into the playoffs as the eighth seed.

Darryl came in, (and) I felt like everybody felt a little more

accountable for their own actions, their day-to-day play, practice,

everything,” goalie Jonathan Quick said. ”But obviously at the

end of the day, you know, no matter what, it’s got to come from the

room, and guys have to make a decision to work. I think we did

that.”

Sutter agreed, repeatedly refusing to take any credit for the

startling transformation of the Kings.

When the engraver gets to work, Sutter will be the third of the

six hockey-playing brothers from Viking, Alberta, who have their

names on the Cup. Duane and Brent Sutter won championships as

players with the New York Islanders.

”Dog and Brent got their name on it six times,” Sutter said.

”I wish each one of my brothers could have been on there.”

And moments after leaving the Staples Center ice as a champion

coach, Sutter couldn’t help think about what’s next.

”Take a run at it again,” he said. ”That’s the next

thing.”

TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM: Defenseman Rob Scuderi absorbed the

hardest hit in the Los Angeles Kings’ Stanley Cup clincher when

Steve Bernier took a run at him behind the Kings’ net and sent him

careening headfirst into the boards.

He stayed down for an uncomfortably long moment before heading

to the dressing room under his own power. By the time he returned,

the Kings had scored three power play goals on the ensuing 5-minute

power play following Bernier’s boarding major.

Talk about taking one for the team.

”You’d rather that not be the way you contribute to the game,

but what’s the difference?” Scuderi asked. ”Our power play was

able to take advantage of a tremendous opportunity, and really

helped us get control of the game. All the credit goes to the guys

who were on the ice, and certainly it was great to have the guys on

the power play come through for us.”

Scuderi received a battery of tests in the dressing room before

he was cleared to continue.

”I had to go through some doctor stuff, things along those

lines, so I didn’t get back until the start of the second period,”

Scuderi said. ”It’s standard procedure when anyone takes a pretty

good shot, but I thought the trainers and doctors did a good job.

They asked me a million questions in a short amount of time.”

This was Scuderi’s second Stanley Cup title, and he is just one

of four Kings with a ring. He won with Pittsburgh in 2009.

”I knew I was one of a few guys that experienced being to the

finals, but it still feels like the first time when that horn goes

off and it’s over and you’ve been part of a team that’s been able

to do it,” he said. ”It’s a special feeling.”

BITTERSWEET TIME FOR MELROSE: The Los Angeles Kings’ Stanley Cup

celebration must have seemed like an out-of-body experience for

ESPN analyst Barry Melrose.

He led the Kings to the finals as a rookie coach in 1993,

falling three wins short of a championship despite the efforts of

Wayne Gretzky, Luc Robitaille and a young Rob Blake.

”A lot of things seemed familiar,” Melrose said. ”I saw Luc

out here, Blakie was here also, and I was talking to Gretz the

other day. Then (former trainer) Pete Demers came up and saw me

today. So I saw a lot of friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. It’s

been a great day.

”It’s a bigger building than the Forum, but it was great,”

Melrose added. ”The L.A. fans are great, some of the best fans in

the world and the most rabid fans in the world, and they showed

that during these whole playoffs. This building has been packed all

season, so I think people are seeing that L.A. is a great hockey

town.”

No team has repeated as Stanley Cup champs since the Detroit Red

Wings in 1998, which is probably the last thing on the minds of

everyone in the organization now that they’ve won it for the first

time in the franchise’s 45-year history.

”There’s a great foundation here. But don’t forget, we were

saying the same thing about Pittsburgh and Chicago, and they

haven’t been back. So it’s hard to come back,” Melrose said. ”You

think you’re going to come back every year. I mean, look at me. I

went to the Stanley Cup finals my first year and didn’t get back.

But this team has got everything it needs. It’s got a motivated

owner, a revenue-producing building and a good GM. All the good

players are in their prime, and they’re only going to get

better.”

SECOND SIX SELECTION: The Kings left behind both the Devils and

the St. Louis Blues during the Stanley Cup finals.

St. Louis is now the only existing team from the NHL’s first

expansion in 1967 that has yet to win a championship. That Second

Six expansion class doubled the six-team league’s size and forever

changed the game from an insular, Northeast-based sport to a

continent-wide endeavor.

Philadelphia won the Second Six’s first Cup in 1974, and

Pittsburgh won it in 1991. The Minnesota North Stars triumphed in

1999 after moving to Dallas.

One of the Second Six teams is long gone: After two name

changes, the Bay Area’s California Golden Seals moved to Cleveland

in 1976 and disappeared when they merged with the North Stars two

years later. The NHL wanted two teams in California to fend off the

potential creation of a rival regional league while also hoping to

get a bigger television contract, but hockey in the Bay Area didn’t

take hold until the San Jose Sharks arrived.

Los Angeles also is the fourth straight team to end a lengthy

drought by winning the Cup. The Boston Bruins, last year’s

champion, hadn’t won since 1972, 2010 champion Chicago hadn’t won

since 1961 – the NHL’s longest drought at the time – and 2009 Cup

winners Pittsburgh had only waited since 1992.

Toronto, which won its last Cup title in 1967 – right before

expansion – still has the NHL’s longest championship drought.

WILLIE’S REWARD: Willie Mitchell began his NHL career with New

Jersey in 2000, but played just two games for the champion Devils.

That wasn’t enough to get his name on the Stanley Cup.

Just 12 years later, he’s a champion.

Mitchell even got to raise the Cup right after captain Dustin

Brown, an honor traditionally reserved for long-serving veterans

whose reward was overdue.

”It was classy,” Mitchell said. ”It’s a classy thing to do. I

guess it might have been tradition in the history of the game, for

the older guys like (Simon) Gagne, (Matt) Greene, (Jeff) Carter and

(Mike) Richards. All of us had our different reasons for being

here, and that’s what we’re playing for.”

Mitchell scored three points in 20 postseason games while

playing tenacious defense in numerous situations. He was a key

component of the Kings’ peerless penalty-killing unit.