Brian Sutter will not only be joining some famous names when he’s inducted into the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame Sept. 24, but also some good friends.
“I don’t get big into awards and things like that, but some of the guys who are already in there, like (baseball legend) Stan Musil and (former NFL quarterback) Jim Hart . . . those guys are great friends and great, great people,” said Sutter, a former St. Louis Blues player and head coach who received a call in late April informing him of the honour.
Other big baseball names in the city’s hall of fame include former Cardinal greats Bob Gibson and Lou Brock, football legend Dan Dierdorf, NBA player Bob Pettit and former hockey stars Bernie Federko, Al MacInnis, Glenn Hall, Brett Hull, Gary Unger, Red Deer Berenson and Scotty Bowman, who coached the Blues for four seasons in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.
“These guys were the top guys in their sports,” said Sutter. “The neat thing about St. Louis is it has a small-city feel for a big city. It’s a really close-knit town and the football and baseball players always thought the hockey players were a bit off the wall and they always wanted to be with us.
“We always thought it was special that we got to hang around with the Dan Dierdorfs and Jim Harts, and some of the baseball players and managers like Joe Torre and Whitey Herzog.”
Sutter was an icon and a fan favourite during his 12 years with the Blues, accumulating 678 points, including 324 goals, and amassing 2,035 penalty minutes in 844 regular-season and playoff games.
“Bernie (Federko) and I went through a lot together as teammates and there’s only a couple of guys who scored the amount of points we did,” said Sutter.
“It was a special time. I got to play with guys like Bernie and younger guys like Doug Gilmour, Ric Nattress, Joe Mullen, Rob Ramage and Mark Hunter.
“I used to say we were a farm team for Calgary. Those younger guys I mentioned were all traded to the Flames and they won a Stanley Cup (in 1989) because of that. There were adverse situations going on there (St. Louis) every year, money troubles of some sort. We had new owners just about every year.
“But it’s a great sports town and there are some people who stayed there and played a big part in keeping (NHL) hockey in St. Louis.”
While he always returned to his home near Sylvan Lake during the off-seasons, Sutter, who retired as a player in 1988 and then coached the Blues for four years, felt a special connection to St. Louis that remains to this day.
“My wife Judy and I married young and went to St. Louis and kind of grew up there,” he said. “This was always home but we felt lucky to have a second home in St. Louis. It’s a great community, that’s for sure. It’s a great sports town and to be involved with something like this (hall of fame induction) is pretty neat.
“The biggest thing for me is the other people who are already in there. That’s pretty special.”
While Sutter was close with many of the athletes who played in St. Louis in the late ‘70s and through the ‘80s, he was also familiar with the city’s more prominent sportscasters.
“Press guys like Jack Buck, Bob Costas and Dan Kelly . . . those were great announcers and great people,” he said. “St. Louis was kind of a mecca for a lot of things, and it’s still that way. It’s incredible the amount of athletes who go back there to live when they retire.”
On a local level, Sutter will be feted tonight during a gathering of friends and family at Jackpot Casino.