Five individual inductees including Mel Davidson plus the Sutter Family were the 2017 inductees into the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame at an Awards Gala on Sun. July 23 in Canmore, Ab. From the left, Rich, Gary, Grace (mom), Ron Sutter, Bob Clark, AHHF Selection Committee chair; Brent, Darryl and Brian Sutter. ECA Review/Submitted
Melody Davidson, one of five individuals inducted into the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame at an Awards Gala on Sun. July 23 in Canmore, Ab. ECA Review/Submitted
Five outstanding individuals, and perhaps one of the most celebrated families in all of hockey comprise the 2017 Induction Class for the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame (AHHF).
Hockey Alberta and the Hockey Alberta Foundation announced on AHHF Awards Gala in Canmore on Sun. July 23.
Brent, Brian, Darryl, Duane, Gary, Rich, Ron, Grace and Louis.
For any hockey fan in central Alberta, and especially in their hometown of Viking, Ab. the last name isn’t necessary. They are, simply, the best known, most recognizable and most famous hockey family in the world.
And for residents of central Alberta, the Sutter Fund has played a significant role in providing financial support to youth athletic associations and other groups. The Sutter Fund was created in 1996, and funds are raised through the annual Sutter Fund golf tournament.
Six brothers played in the National Hockey League. Four of them went on to become coaches and/or general managers.
They all got their start in minor hockey in Viking, and continued on to play junior hockey in Red Deer.
Gary, reportedly the best hockey player of the family, ended his hockey career after playing junior to work on the family farm.
Their NHL statistics are amazing:
Regular season: 4,994 games played; 1,320 goals; 1,614 assists; 7,224 penalty minutes.
Playoffs: 603 games played; 122 goals; 153 assists; 1,170 penalty minutes.
Overall: 81 NHL player seasons, six Stanley Cups as players (Duane four, Brent two, all with the New York Islanders), and two (so far) as a head coach (Darryl, LA Kings, 2012 and 2014).
Looking at the individual careers of each brother tells the tale of the immense impact of the Sutter family on hockey across North America:
Brent: played 18 NHL seasons, Islanders (1980-91) and Chicago (1991-98); coached Team Canada to back-to-back World Junior Hockey Championship gold medals (2005, 2006) with an unbeaten record both years; Head Coach and GM of the Red Deer Rebels (1999-2007), including a Memorial Cup title in 2001; Head Coach of New Jersey Devils (2007-09) and Calgary (2009-12); returned to the Rebels in 2012, and continues as coach and GM.
Brian: played 12 seasons in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues (1976-88); Head Coach St. Louis (1988-92), Boston Bruins (1992-95), Calgary Flames (1997-2000) and Chicago Blackhawks (2001-04); Jack Adams Award recipient as NHL Coach of the Year (1990-91); Director of Pro Personnel with Calgary; coached Bentley Generals to the 2006-07 Allan Cup title; St. Louis retired his number 11 in 1998.
Darryl: played eight seasons in the NHL, all for the Chicago (1979-87); NHL coaching career includes Los Angeles (2011-2017) including Stanley Cup championships in 2012 and 2014, Calgary (2002-06), San Jose Sharks (1997-2003), and Chicago (1992-95), and an International Hockey League Turner Cup title with Indianapolis (1990); General Manager Calgary (2003-10), which included hiring brother Brent as Head Coach in 2009.
Duane: played 11 years in the NHL, with New York Islanders (1979-87) and Chicago (1987-90); coached the Florida Panthers (2000-02); currently a scout with Edmonton Oilers.
Rich: 13 NHL seasons as a player with Pittsburgh Penguins (1982-84), Philadelphia Flyers (1983-86), Vancouver Canucks (1986-90), St. Louis (1990-93), Chicago (1993-95), and Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning (1994-95). Drafted 10th overall by Pittsburgh in 1982. Also part of the 1983 Lethbridge Broncos Western Hockey League championship squad.
Ron: 19 NHL seasons as a player with Philadelphia (1982-91), St. Louis (1991-94), Quebec Nordiques (1994), Islanders (1994-95), Boston (1995-96), San Jose (1996-2000), and Calgary (2000-01). Drafted 4th overall in 1982 by Philadelphia, just six spots ahead of Rich.
Grace Sutter, the boys’ mother still resides in the Viking area and is active in church and her family activities. The brothers’ father, Louis Sutter, died on February 10, 2005, at the age of 73, following a lengthy illness.
And the next generation of the Sutter family is already making its mark at various levels of hockey across the continent. Brandon, son of Brent, plays for the Vancouver Canucks. Brett, son of Darryl, is with the Minnesota Wild. Brody, son of Duane, is with the Carolina Hurricanes. Lukas, son of Rich, was drafted by the Islanders. Shaun, son of Brian, was drafted by the Calgary Flames and now works in hockey management. Merrick, son of Brent, works in hockey management with the Rebels.
When you mention Mel Davidson’s name, the topic is likely to be about the growth and development of women’s hockey in Canada and around the world.
Mel is probably best known for her work behind the bench of the Canadian Women’s national team that won Olympic gold medals in 2002 (Salt Lake City, Assistant Coach), 2006 (Torino, Head Coach), and 2010 (Vancouver, Head Coach).
She was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 2011.
Her coaching resume also includes four gold medals (2007, 2001, 2000, 1994) and two silver medals (2009, 2005) at the IIHF World Championships; silver at the IIHF World Women’s U18 championships (2008); and five golds and a silver at the 3 Nations/ 4 Nations Cup.
The native of Coronation, Ab. Mel got her start in coaching in Oyen, coaching her brother’s team. She got involved in women’s hockey in 1989, and was a member, coach and mentor with Team Alberta for the 1991, 1995 and 1999 Canada Winter Games.
She was Head Coach for two American collegiate varsity women’s programs: Connecticut College (1997-2000) and Cornell University (2003-06).
She has also been an assistant coach in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (2006-09, 2010-11), and the Edmonton Chimos (1996-97), when they won the gold medal at the Esso Women’s National Championships.
Beyond her success at the international level, Mel is true leader and champion for women’s hockey. Recognition for Mel includes but not limited to nine other awards throughout her career.
Mel is a certified NCCP Level 4 hockey coach and graduate of the National Coaching Institute. She is also a certified NCCP coach in baseball, softball and volleyball. Mel was named Hockey Canada’s general manager of national women’s team programs in July 2013.