Sutter has fond memories of first NHL coach Arbour

Brent Sutter will forever be grateful that Al Arbour was his first NHL coach. The Red Deer Rebels owner/president/GM and head coach on Friday spoke fondly about his former New York Islanders bench boss, who died earlier in the day at the age of 82.

Brent Sutter will forever be grateful that Al Arbour was his first NHL coach.

The Red Deer Rebels owner/president/GM and head coach on Friday spoke fondly about his former New York Islanders bench boss, who died earlier in the day at the age of 82.

“It’s a tough day, a sad day,” said Sutter. “He touched every player that he coached. For me, personally, my (NHL) career wouldn’t have been what it was if it wasn’t for Al Arbour.”

Arbour coached the Islanders for 19 seasons. The club won four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1980 to ‘83, with Sutter experiencing the last two after joining the club early in the ‘81-82 season.

The legendary coach had a gift for pushing all the right buttons as basically a one-man show.

“He just had a great feel for the room and for the game,” said Sutter. “When you think about it, back in that day when we won Stanley Cups in the early ‘80s, there was only one coach on the bench. He ran the forwards and the defence, but he had just such a great pulse for it.

“I was very fortunate to have him as my coach, without a doubt he’s the best coach that I’ve every had as far as the way that he respected players, the way he talked to players and his mannerisms around players. He knew when to be strict and when not to be, but he never showed any disrespect to individuals.”

Arbour’s influence has remained with Sutter, whose playing career ended in 1998.

“Even after I was done playing, from a coaching perspective . . . I learned so much from him. Al was my mentor, a guy I looked up to when I came into the National Hockey League. He was like a father to all the players, he was someone who was always there for you.”

Sutter eventually became the Islanders captain and appreciated the confidence that Arbour showed in him.

“He had a good feel for letting you handle the room, and yet when he felt he needed to step in, he did,” said Sutter. “ But he had a lot of trust in myself as the captain.”

The Islanders, during their glory years, also featured the likes of future Hall of Fame inductees Denis Potvin, Billy Smith, Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy, yet Arbour didn’t show any preference to the more decorated players.

“He was always there for you and he kept everybody grounded,” Sutter recalled. “During the years when the Islanders were winning Cups they had some pretty high-profile players, but everyone parked his ego at the door, and if he didn’t Al made sure he did. He just knew how to handle everybody.

“Al was my mentor, the most respected man that I know in the game. He was someone who was more than just a coach. He was a person who cared very deeply for his players and never showed a lack of respect toward anyone. He was an amazing man.”

Just Posted

Red Deer student excels: 11 year old hosts fundraiser to help kids

A Red Deer student is like most students, with a few exceptions:… Continue reading

Survey suggests many Red Deer-area employers ready to hire in early 2019

Red Deer-area employers expect a hopeful hiring climate in the first quarter… Continue reading

Experts offer tips about how to prevent online ad spoilers during the holidays

Looking to prevent your Christmas surprises from being spoiled by online ads… Continue reading

WATCH: CP Holiday Train rolls into Lacombe

Kelly Prescott performed for hundreds of Central Albertans

WATCH: CP Holiday Train rolls into Lacombe

Kelly Prescott performed for hundreds of Central Albertans

Dumba scores twice, Wild rout Canadiens 7-1

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Reeling and banged up, the Minnesota Wild were… Continue reading

Coach Hunter wants up-tempo Team Canada as world junior squad hits ice

COLWOOD, B.C. — Team Canada coach Tim Hunter says the team that… Continue reading

Study finds female-led films outperform male ones

NEW YORK — A study organized by Time’s Up, the organization formed… Continue reading

Price Is Right contestant wins winter trip to Winnipeg, Churchill

WINNIPEG — Who wants to visit Winnipeg in the dead of winter?… Continue reading

CBC Gem streaming service to launch exclusive content, partners with Wattpad

TORONTO — The CBC has launched a new streaming service featuring live… Continue reading

‘Part of the solution:’ Alberta seeks proposals to build new refinery

EDMONTON — Alberta is looking for someone to build a new oil… Continue reading

Online ads spoil Christmas surprises, raising privacy concerns: experts

Lisa Clyburn knew she had found the perfect gift for her nine-year-old… Continue reading

Most Read