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.”

Rebels

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Seniors in the 65-unit Piper Creek Lodge are among those waiting for COVID-19 vaccinations. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Central Alberta senior lodges anxiously waiting for COVID-19 vaccinations

“Should be at the front of the line, not the back of the line”

Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau says the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on many challenges for the food processing industry. (File photo by The Canadian Press)
Feds invest millions to improve safety: Red Deer’s Olymel to receive up to $1.6 million

The federal government has announced funding for meat processing companies across the… Continue reading

The City of Red Deer has announced spring road bans starting March 8. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Spring road bans coming next week in Red Deer

Bans in place until further notice

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

A flare stack lights the sky from the Imperial Oil refinery in Edmonton on December 28, 2018. The federal government is unveiling proposed regulations for its greenhouse gas offset program that will govern how developers can register and sell credits earned through projects that reduce emissions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Proposed federal carbon offset credit regulations raise farmer advocate’s concern

CALGARY — Projects that qualify to sell federal greenhouse gas emission credits… Continue reading

The National War Memorial honouring Canadians who served in the military is shown in Ottawa on Sunday, March 31, 2019. A member of the Canadian Armed Forces has died in Afghanistan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canadian soldier found dead in his quarters in Afghanistan: military

OTTAWA — A member of the Canadian Armed Forces has died in… Continue reading

A flare stack lights the sky from the Imperial Oil refinery in Edmonton on December 28, 2018. The federal government is unveiling proposed regulations for its greenhouse gas offset program that will govern how developers can register and sell credits earned through projects that reduce emissions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Ottawa unveils proposed federal carbon offset emission credit regulations

CALGARY — The federal government is unveiling proposed regulations for its greenhouse… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government will keep… Continue reading

Supporters pray outside court in Stony Plain, Alta., on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, as a trial date was set for Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church. He is charged with holding Sunday services in violation of Alberta's COVID-19 rules and with breaking conditions of his bail release. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Judge rules Alberta pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

EDMONTON — A judge has ruled that an Alberta pastor will remain… Continue reading

Image courtesy Creative Outlet
Man found guilty in attack that left Winnipeg teen with hammer in head

WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg judge has found a man guilty in an… Continue reading

Pictured here is Stettler’s Jenner Smith with a guide dog from Aspen Service Dogs. An online auction will be running soon to help raise funds for Jenner to receive his very own service dog later this year. Jenner, who is four years old, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2019. photo submitted
An online auction is planned to raise funds for a service dog for a Stettler family

Jenner Smith, four, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2019

Team Canada third John Morris follows as second Carter Rycroft (right) and lead Nolan Thiessen (left) sweep his rock during round robin competition against Team Newfoundland and Labrador at the Brier curling championship, Wednesday, March 9, 2016 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Champions at The Brier list

Brier champions since the inception of the Canadian men’s curling championship in… Continue reading

Most Read