The Vikings of the Sutter Family
Watching ice hockey may not be as dramatic and exciting as Game of Thrones, but the world of professional sports isn’t without its dynasties. One of which is closer than you may have thought.
The renowned Sutter family, darlings of the NHL, hail from Viking, Alberta. This small town gave us our favorite brood of players and coaches, despite only having around one thousand residents.
They may not still be as active in the game now, but their presence is likely always felt, especially about town. Whether the family members are playing hockey, coaching, or scouting, the Sutters still move the league forward.
But what was it like to live in this tiny town? And what made them leave for the hockey leagues?
By Vikings, For Vikings
As the name implies, the town was founded by Scandinavians in the early 1900s. Officially designated a village in 1909, Viking wasn’t a town until 1952.
Of course, the beginning of the settlement was more than likely less frightening than if actual Vikings had landed on shore. Instead of wooden ships, they would have more than likely rolled up in a F-150
from a nearby Ford dealership
Much of the original economic drivers are still in place today. Agriculture, manufacturing, petrol, oil, and a few local shops are keeping things moving, just as they did before.
The residents who continue living here seem to enjoy it. They may not have as many choices in purchasing electronics or vehicles for sale
, but it is safe and quiet.
Often, when someone needs to look at cars for sale, they are forced to a neighboring community. However, there are many car and truck dealership
choices close by, such as Vegreville Ford
The town also has a sense of humor. A visit to the Troll Park is sure to brighten anyone’s day with lush flowers and playful troll statues.
Who Are the Sutters?
The Sutter family has given us at least two generations of professional hockey players and coaches. The first generation had seven brothers, six of whom played for the National Hockey League.
The seventh, Gary, has been called the best player among them. Unfortunately, we’ll never know for sure; instead of pursuing his career, he worked the family’s farm.
The six who did play were Brent, Brian, Darryl, Duane, Rich, and Ron, all of whom played for the same two teams at one point.
Together, these brothers have a total of 24 seasons of hockey between them. Three of the second generation of brothers have gone on to play for the NHL as well, again all playing for the same team at one point.
If they aren’t playing, the Sutters are likely coaching. Four of the Sutters have even gone on to become general managers within the league.
What’s in the Water?
It’s interesting to note that one family can have such an extensive professional athletic career. Even more so considering just how small Viking, Alberta, is.
The population is a little more than a thousand residents, and the town physically isn’t that large. And yet, in addition to the Sutter family, other prominent sports figures hail from Viking as well.
Cory Clouston has been a professional hockey coach since 1994, currently with the DEL. Glen Sather has a storied hockey career and is now president of the New York Rangers.
Viking is also home to an Olympian. Although he didn’t earn any medals, Donald Sanderlin competed in both the 1968 and the 1972 summer Olympics in sports shooting.
What is it about living in Viking that leads to professional athletic careers?
Small Town Alberta
Despite being home to many professional athletes, Viking remains just your average little Alberta town. In fact, outside of the world of sports, the city continues living relatively quietly.
There are a few local shops and businesses to visit, mostly fast food and drugstores. You won’t find large retailer chains, and although you can see one or two car dealership
options, most wind up going to the next town to look at a new car
or truck for sale
A few years ago, the community ice rink nearly burned down. The saving grace is that it’s now fully restored, and the pieces of Sutter memorabilia were spared from the flames.
The town may not look like much from the outside, but the residents sure love living here. In fact, each year they come together to celebrate being proud Vikings.
Vikings in the Streets
While not everyone who lives here is going to become a famous hockey player, there’s still much to celebrate about living in Viking. The annual Vikings in the Streets prove that point.
This two-day festival ensures the entire community has a great time celebrating our Scandinavian heritage with family fun. There’s plenty of food, too, from the Chili Cookoff to the Pancake Breakfast, and who can resist lutefisk during a Viking-themed celebration?
Soon, just about anyone who has a substantial enough vehicle takes to the streets for the annual parade. What was once a small collection of used cars and new trucks transforms into Viking ships sailing down the main roads!
Where are the Sutter Brothers Now?
While most of the Sutters are done playing, some are still active in the league in some capacity. Considering that they played over 5,000 games between them, they’ve surely earned it.
Since 2009, Brent Sutter has been the head coach for the Calgary Flames team. Brandon, his son, is a centre for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Daryl is no longer active in the league, having helped coached the L.A. King’s to their Stanley Cup wins in 2012 and 2014. His son, Brett, is still active, playing for the Minnesota Wild team.
Brody Sutter is with the Western Hockey League, playing for the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Luke, his brother, also was drafted into the same league.
Other Sutters have an administrative role or have pursued other options entirely. But there’s no denying the mark this family has left.