12-14 years ago I recall Lou Lams shocking me as a diehard Devs fan, he hired Jaques Lemaire and Larry Robinson. I can recall thinking, WOW, what a move to get those types of 'names'. We all know that what happened was an unexpected cup in 1995, and actually what many forget is a 2 goal lead in the first period in the infamous "Guarantee night" in game six of the semi's against hated Rangers. And then we can recall the fact Dev's scored with a second to go in game 7 to make it appear for a moment that the Ranger curse was real....but I digress....
Lou found something then that was Montreal Canadians folklore. And it was something about finding the right people. Well he has done it again with Brent Sutter.
What Lou has done again here has really added a name. Added a guy who has a huge name for himself and of course his family. Someone that is not Devil-ish, but all of a sudden this team is getting in headlines in Canada, "What" ?
Sutter adds what this team has been missing, but not at the expense of what we as fans all like, offense. Julien seemed so intent to please Lou with a defenisve scheme that I had gone on record saying it was the most bored hockey I had ever watcehd Devils play. Even in the 1994-1997 years, they may have seemed boring, but really, look at the stats, they always had 30-40 shots, and had chances, and they had size !
Sutter has some interesting stories already. First, he broke the mold of what Hockey Canada typically hired when he coached the Junior Squad for the first time. Hockey Canada Junior program typcially hired coaches who had been brought up in the amateur system, and textbook was key, promoting Canadian Skill was vert important. Then they go to a gent who says, like many Canadians like to hear, that its about heart and hard work. At the time it sent shockwaves through Hockey Canada staffers in many cases. This was wrong for the program. This was a guy who was a pro style coach, not a coach for Junior team, and one to promote Hockey Canada's program of excellence. What of the coaches that were passed over for this coach that had not been part of the program.
It was widely speculated that Brent Sutter was a smart man, and that he only went to coach this team because it was Canada's destned dream team. This could be true of course as it was so out of character for Hockey Canada.
Brent Sutter threw out the guide that Hockey Canada had used for the camp almost instantly. He did not allow team red and team white to talk with each other. For the first time in recent memory there were scraps in the much anticipated red white games, with one involving two players from the same WHL team getting into a battle, as Dion Phaneuf went after Sid Crosby in an intrasquad game, and Colin Fraser came into to his defense. At the time it made headlines in the Calgary Herald.
He showed at the event that he could coach skill, and he had a tonne of it. As good as the team was he had to keep this superstars happy. What he showed was that he belived in a system, one that basically tore teams top players apart on defensive end, while letting his offensive guys do their thing. And all while being physical.
So, he won, no games lost, and everyone really had that pegged and waited for the next poor suker to come in line with only 4-6 retunees and the event in Canada in Vancouver. Well, shocker, Sutter signs up to coach the Junior team again (does not happen often--ever) for this team with few returnees, in Canada, and with star studding teams from US and Russia coming to town.
What he does is again make the team go loss-less, and in the process takes a team of players that were unhearalded and wins the event again. Once again with shut down duo of Parent-Staal that shut down man child Malkin.
What does it all mean ? Sutter is for real already. I imagine that he will have input on the Dev's player selection, and I believe there is a bigger promise here for him to be part of Management of this team. Have thought that from the start, and still believe it. It may take a year, but there will be a term in place here where if Sutter does not like the player on the roster, he will begone. I think no other coach in some time has had that type of input.
Some of the players I wonder about:
I wonder aloud of guys like Patrick ELIAS, who used to be hard working, and he might either return to form, OR he might be out West in 6-12 months. I wonder about Colin WHITE, so confused with defense, that he has forgotten the one thing he really was good at, being someone of loose cannon. he cannot be typical stay at home defenseman, nor should he be asked to. He's big, and should use what he has learned and also get his edge back.
Potential further moves:
I also wonder on MADDEN and PANDOLFO, Sutters ways of limiting teams to date, with Junior hockey has been physicality, can MADDEN and PANDOLFO get this done ? Or will LOU add a winger in the mold of Matt COOKE, Ville NIEMINEN, ROnald PETROVICKY to heelp the edge factor.
His successul teams have had shut down duos. Not guys who play offense too, shutdown duos. And I think that Dev's will find that. Who knows who that will be, but its says here, its WHITE, RACHUNEK, VISNEVSKI job to jell, and two of them will become that duo.
Lou has made a move here that does not start and end with Lou. I truly believe he has started the succession planning, like all good managers, and if so, it adds a level to his name. Lou is 14 years older now, than in 1993, and at some point in next 3 years I would not be shocked to head that Brent Sutter will be doing it all for the big club.