By Ken Robison
The Fresno Bee
FRESNO, Calif. – Growing up Sutter. It was young Shaun Sutter’s legacy, a birthright into a legendary Canadian hockey family.
Six Sutter brothers played in the National Hockey League. Brian Sutter now coaches the Chicago Blackhawks. Darryl Sutter coaches the Calgary Flames.
Shaun Sutter – Brian’s son, Darryl’s nephew – is skating in the minors as a forward for the Fresno Falcons.
The Falcons begin their stretch drive toward the ECHL playoffs with a roster that includes names familiar to NHL fans – Sutter, Ftorek, Lorentz and Gare.
Sam Ftorek is the son of Robbie Ftorek, former NHL player and coach (Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins). Jim Lorentz is the son of Buffalo Sabres announcer and former player Jim Lorentz. Lanny Gare is the nephew of former NHL star Danny Gare, now a broadcast reporter for the Sabres.
It’s pretty rare for Sutter to have one teammate with NHL bloodlines, he said, much less three.
“It’s kind of neat for Shaun to be in that situation,” said Brian Sutter, tending to his cattle herd in Sylvan Lake, Alberta, while the NHL lockout keeps him off the ice.
“Robbie [Ftorek] and Jimmy Lorentz, those were guys I looked up to. Robbie played his heart out, with a lot of skill. Danny Gare was one of the great captains. Great competitors.”
The four Falcons tell similar stories – of hanging around the NHL ice and locker rooms as tykes, of meeting legends such as Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, of playing youth hockey in places such as Buffalo, St. Louis and Los Angeles.
Shaun Sutter recalls sitting in his father’s office in St. Louis and making stars on the blackboard roster next to the guys he thought should be traded.
Ftorek remembers being a second-grader dressed in goalie clothes by New York Rangers goalie John Davidson.
“The leg pads came up to my neck, the gloves went up my arm,” he said. “The guys shot pucks at me and it made me feel good when I stopped them.”
These four Falcons share a similar dream – playing in the NHL as their dads and uncles did.