It’s a fresh start for Brian Sutter as he takes a spot behind the bench of the Innisfail Eagles for the 2012-2013 Chinook League season.
He wasn’t going to tackle the job of coaching a team in the senior loop again but he saw an opportunity like the one which was presented to him many years ago in Bentley where his teams went to four national championship tournaments in five years.
The poor record of the Eagles from the previous season didn’t deter him at all.
“I don’t care whether you won a championship last year or won one game like Innisfail did. You start at ground zero every year and build up from there,” said Sutter about how he is approaching this challenge.
It’s been less than two months since the decision was made to get back into coaching and the off-ice work was mainly comprised of finding quality people, he said.
It’s a subject he is very passionate about and maintains if you are around good people, good things will happen.
Another focus was finding hockey players who were younger than what the rest of the league sends over the boards and so the result is an average age for the Eagles of around 25 years old.
“It’s a tough league to play in. It’s good minor pro hockey and you only practice once a week and it’s hard for guys as you get older to stay in shape,” said Sutter.
His philosophy in a working man’s league is simple – job and family are 1A and 1B and when they are at the rink the players need to know that when they arrive to a game. But they also need to know that when you are at the rink you leave everything there and not take it home with you, he said
Sutter agrees he does see some similarities between what he was greeted with when he coached the Generals and what has come together so far in Innisfail.
“It’s a day-to-day process and you have to put together people who want to work hard and make the commitment.
“We know there are some stairs to climb here for sure but we’re going to climb it with a bunch of good men and it’s going to take some time to do it,” he said. “We’ve already surprised some people and I promise you we’re going to get better.”
The Eagles opened their home side of the schedule with a game against none other than those Bentley Generals and a packed house watched the Eagles drop a 7-1 decision.
He admits coaching that first game against Bentley was tough in some respects but it’s not the first time for him to face a former team or people he was close to so his approach didn’t change.
“All the years I played and coached against my brothers and there was a lot of years and a lot of games. Those games you did not want to lose more than any others,” he said.
“Once the game started it was just another game.”
Of course there are team goals with the main one being to take a one-win team from last season and make it into the playoffs.
“To get respect you have to earn it and to earn it there’s a price to be paid,” he said.
“We’re willing to sacrifice to earn that respect and that’s where we sit.”