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Flames UFA Lewis Shares Lighter Side of Sutter



Every story has at least two sides. And when it comes to former Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter, we’ve only really heard from players who thought change was necessary.

The Anti-Sutters. They managed to influence management enough to make that change and fire Sutter a couple of weeks after the season ended in disappointment.

But there were guys who were big fans, too.

Tyler Toffoli, who won a Stanley Cup with Sutter’s Los Angeles Kings in 2014, just completed a career season with the Calgary Flames under Sutter’s management almost a decade later. He spoke highly of his bench boss anytime he was asked.

Teammate and fellow former King Trevor Lewis also mentioned the lighter side of Sutter in a recent appearance on the 2 Mutts podcast, telling the story of the first time his wife met the notoriously cantankerous (at least in front of the cameras) coach.

“One game, I think it was the first time my wife ever met him, we just lost and I didn’t play very good. I’m like, ‘Tomorrow’s going to suck. Darryl’s going to give it to me,’ ” Lewis recalled on the podcast.

“I walk out of the room after the game, and he’s hugging my wife, and my wife goes, ‘What are you guys talking about? This guy is the nicest guy I’ve ever met.’ ”

Sutter is enigmatic. He can be engaging and personable one minute, and then seem ready to run you over with a combine the next. In the locker-room, some of his charges would cringe at the thought of another confrontation, whether it was with them or a teammate. But to others, he was also the ultimate family man, generous with his time for causes around the hockey community.

“Off the ice, anything I ever needed, I could call him and he’d do it at the drop of a hat. I think he’d do that for mostly anyone too, he’s just such a family person. If you played for him, I think he’d do anything for you for the rest of your life,” Lewis said.

That’s a veteran’s perspective.

But even rookie Jakob Pelletier was perplexed this year. He was at the centre of the moment things seemed to go south for Sutter and the team this season when the coach seemed to make light of Pelletier’s NHL debut with a mock meant for the media but one that was felt in the locker-room, too.

“Darryl in front of the media was a different person,” Pelletier told Le Journal de Montreal a couple of weeks back (and translated loosely from French to English via Google. “There was another Darryl in front of us. He doesn’t really like talking about individuals at press conferences with journalists. It could sometimes upset him. When I found myself alone with him, I thought he was a very good man. He’s a family man and he’s funny.”

“But he remains a demanding coach. He is also outspoken. When you do something that doesn’t suit him, you know it pretty quickly.”

We’ll call it the dark side.

But there were certainly lighter moments along the way. Even if the public didn’t get to see them.

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