It's eyes wide open for Brett Sutter
Brett, the son of Calgary Flames general manager Darryl Sutter, is one of the few remaining youngsters vying for a spot on the Flames roster this season after playing for his uncle, Brent Sutter, in Red Deer of the Western Hockey League last season where he tallied 28 goals and 29 assists in 67 games.
"The thing that I see is he knows the game and he reads the game," said head coach Mike Keenan of Sutter, who recorded an assist Saturday in the Battle of Alberta. "He's got the footspeed and the ability to think the game. That's a huge advantage."
Keenan has coached four Sutters through his career -- Brent, Ron, Rich and Duane -- so he knows there won't be a problem with work ethic.
"They have a work ethic that goes a long with (their skillset) which is profitable for the player," said Keenan.
Young Brett, at 20, and a sixth round draft pick in 2005 (176 overall, the same as his father) is a wide-eyed kid in a candy shop at Flames camp, absorbing everything he can from the veterans.
"What you can learn from these guys in a couple of days is amazing," said Sutter. "It has helped a lot to get to see the speed of these guys at main camp. Speed and strength are huge.
"You get a confidence boost being up here. You learn how to prepare every day, every game. You see all the things these guys do right. If you prepare properly every day you are going to be good at the rink and that is what you have to do."
Sutter, having been coached by Brent in Red Deer, said his preparation for camp began during last season in junior.
"I played a lot last year. That helped. Playing under Brent, he can teach you a lot of little things to do," said Sutter.
And dad can provide a fair bit of knowledge himself.
"He has been a big influence. It doesn't hurt to be able to go to him and talk to an NHL player and coach about things. You can learn a lot from a guy like him. But once the camp starts it is a totally different relationship. He moves into the general manager role and I move into the player role and that is the way it has got to be."
Sutter, whose cousin Brandon (Brent's son) played in Red Deer and was a first round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes, said growing up a Sutter and being compared to the Sutter's who have graced the NHL is pretty common. "I think we've been through it growing up in it from minor hockey through junior so we are pretty used to it," he smilled. "We try to build our own identity through junior and we want to carry that through to pro."
But, like we said, Sutter isn't out to wow you with Jaromir Jagr-like moves. For him, the theory is to keep it simple.
"I am going to be a guy that keeps it simple and plays with a lot of energy and moves his feet," said Sutter. "If you are going to be a third or fourth line player you have to be physical, do the little things right and be good in your own zone. I know I am not going to be a guy who scores a bunch of goals."
Sutter showed his energy on Saturday in a 5-4 loss to the Oilers.
"I wanted to come here and earn a spot for as long as I can," said Sutter. "So far, it has been going well."