Best of the Books: Top 10 Sutters

Ken Campbell
(Darryl Sutter, by Jeff Vinnick/National Hockey League)

They are, without a doubt, hockey’s royal family. And like most reigning monarchs, they’ve been through their fair share of bloodbaths. Whether it was against each other on the frozen slough in Viking or against the best the NHL had to offer, the Sutters have always picked (and finished) their own battles.

And they’ve been pretty good hockey players along the way, too. Here are our top 10 Sutters, with a pair of unrelated namesakes rounding out list.

10. Fabian Sutter
We thought we’d throw a little curve at you with No. 10 on the list. You may have never heard of Fabian Sutter, but hockey fans in Switzerland certainly have. Sutter represented his country in the World Under-18 championship in 2000 and the World Juniors in 2001 and 2002. He is in his 16th season in the Swiss League, where he won championships with Davos in 2002 and 2005.

9. Rich Sutter
A former scout for the Phoenix Coyotes, Rich played 13 years in the NHL and maxed out at 20 goals and 42 points with the Vancouver Canucks in 1986-87. With 1,411 career penalty minutes, he’s the second-most penalized player of the Sutter clan.

8. Brandon Sutter
By far the most accomplished of the second-generation Sutters thus far, the son of Brent has already played almost 400 games in the NHL, first for the Carolina Hurricanes and now with Pittsburgh Penguins. In international play, he helped Canada win the 2008 World Junior Championship.

7. Patrick Sutter
Anybody who can play defense at 5-foot-8 and 171 pounds is tough enough to be a Sutter in our book. One of the top non-NHL defensemen Switzerland has ever produced, Patrick has played in seven World Championships and one Olympic Games for Switzerland. He won two Swiss League championships and was the league’s top defenseman in 1999-2000.

6. Ron Sutter
The last of the Sutter brothers to retire, Ron was an industrious defensive center for most of his 18-year career, but did have some very productive seasons early on when he played for the Philadelphia Flyers along with his twin brother Rich. He and Rich are believed to be the only players in NHL history to have their first and last names on the backs of their sweaters. Ron won a Memorial Cup with the Lethbridge Broncos in 1983. He was also the highest drafted of the Sutters, going fourth overall in 1982.

5. Darryl Sutter
He had the shortest playing career and is the lowest scoring of the original six Sutters, but Darryl gets high marks for his coaching career. An integral part of the Los Angeles Kings’ Stanley Cup championship in 2012, Sutter has coached more than 1,000 games in the NHL. He also led the Indianapolis Ice to a Turner Cup (emblematic of supremacy in the defunct International League) and helmed the Calgary Flames to a Cup final in 2004.

4. Brian Sutter
The oldest of the Sutter clan and the only one to have his number retired by an organization, Brian served as captain of the St. Louis Blues for nine years and was named head coach of the team almost immediately after he retired. With 1,786 penalty minutes in 779 games, he’s also the most penalized of the Sutters. He never won a Stanley Cup as a player or coach, but won the Jack Adams Award in 1991 and guided the senior AAA Bentley Generals to the Allan Cup in 2009.

3. Duane Sutter
The most decorated of the Sutter clan, Duane won Stanley Cups in each of his first four NHL seasons as a member of the New York Islanders. Tough, but skilled, he led all Islanders with seven points in the 1983 Stanley Cup final against the Edmonton Oilers. He is now a pro scout for the Oilers.

2. Brent Sutter
The most talented and productive of all the Sutters, Brent won two Stanley Cups alongside Duane with the Islanders and was a mainstay for Canada in the Canada Cup, winning the tournament three times during his career. After retiring from the NHL in 1998, he bought the Red Deer Rebels and led them to the Memorial Cup in 2001. Sutter coached in the NHL for three years, helming both the New Jersey Devils and the Calgary Flames. He was also behind the bench for back-to-back gold medals for Canada in the 2005 and ’06 World Junior Championships. Sutter has returned to the Rebels as the coach-GM-owner and was behind the bench for Canada at the 2014 world juniors.

1. Grace and Louis Sutter (with a shout-out to Gary)
None of the Sutters would be in the NHL today if not for Grace and Louis, who raised seven boys on a farm in Viking, Alta., southeast of Edmonton. They went on to see six of their seven boys play in the NHL, with the exception of Gary, their oldest, who turned down a chance to play major junior hockey. But Gary taught all his brothers how to skate and the ones who played in the NHL maintained that Gary was the most talented, and best skater, of them all.

This is an excerpt from THN’s book, The Hockey News Top 10.