If the (highly expected) happens within the next few days, what kind of coach will Darryl Sutter be for the Kings? Well, there’s two ways to look at it: statistically and emotionally. Sutter joined the NHL’s head-coaching ranks at age 34 with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1992. In stints there and in San Jose and Calgary, he has a career record of 409-320-131. He has led his teams to the playoffs in 10 of his 11 seasons, and reached the Stanley Cup Finals once (Calgary, 2004), the Western Conference Finals once (Chicago, 1995), lost in the second round twice and lost in the first round six times.
What have Sutter’s teams looked like? They’re rarely been in the top 10 in the league in either goals-for or goals-against, but they consistently have strong scoring-margin totals. Only once in Sutter’s coaching career has his team allowed more goals than it scored, and three times, Sutter’s teams have have goal-margin totals above plus-40 (for comparison, the Kings were plus-22 and plus-21 in the past two seasons, and are now minus-5). Here’s a year-by-year breakdown of where Sutter’s teams ranked in the league, in terms of goals scored and goals against (not counting 2002-03, when Sutter didn’t coach one team for a full season)…
(Year, team, goals-for ranking, goals-against ranking, goals plus-minus)
1992-93 — Chicago — 19th — 24th (out of 24 teams) — plus-49
1993-94 — Chicago — 19th — 22nd (26 teams) — plus-14
1994-95 — Chicago — 7th — 26th (26 teams) — plus-41
1997-98 — San Jose — 18th — 13th (26 teams) — minus-6
1998-99 — San Jose — 21st — 23rd (27 teams) — plus-5
1999-00 — San Jose — 16th — 16th (28 teams) — plus-11
2000-01 — San Jose — 17th — 28th (30 teams) — plus-25
2001-02 — San Jose — 4th — 22nd (30 teams) — plus-49
2003-04 — Calgary — 19th — 28th (30 teams) — plus-24
2005-06 — Calgary — 28th — 30th (30 teams) — plus-18
So that’s the statistical side. On the personal side, Sutter is known as a hard-nosed, demanding coach who isn’t afraid to tell players exactly what’s on his mind. There’s no soft and cuddly with Darryl Sutter, but Sutter also seems to have respect from those he has dealt with. Two stories in the Calgary Herald — the city of Sutter’s last stop, as coach and general manager — look at Sutter from a mostly positive angle, but a Hockey News story says he’s not the right guy for the Kings. Also, here’s a Sportnet video in which Flames start Jarome Iginla talks about his two seasons playing for Sutter.