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  • Writer's pictureDerek Ochej

Sutter brothers bingo

The story of the Sutter brothers is legendary in professional hockey. Six brothers who grew up on cattle ranch in Viking, Alberta, that have all played in the NHL. Even more impressive is that all of the brothers established above-average NHL careers, playing between 406 games (Darryl) and 1,111 (Brent). After nearly 5,000 combined games of playing experience, each brother has also gone on to management roles in the NHL or other levels of hockey.

With such a breadth of NHL experience in a single family (not including a second generation of sons), I wanted to see how many NHL franchises have had a Sutter brother as part of their organization. After adding it all up, 19 of 32 current day NHL franchises have had a Sutter within their ranks at one point in time.

Chicago leads the way with five of six brothers: Rich, Darryl, Duane and Brent in playing roles, and Brian as head coach. Their home province Calgary Flames place second with four Sutters: Darryl and Brian as head coaches, Duane in player development and Ron as the only player (but also with management experience). Finally, three brothers played for the New York Islanders: Duane, Ron and Brent.

When adding in the second generation (Brandon, Brett and Brody), you can add one more franchise in the Carolina Hurricanes, for which all three have played.

Card 315 - Shawn Burr

A forward, Burr was drafted seventh overall by Detroit in 1984 after playing one season with Kitchener in the OHL. He spent another two seasons with the Rangers, scoring 127 points in 59 games during the 1985-86 season. During this time Burr played a handful of pro games with each of Detroit and their AHL team Adirondack, scoring his first NHL goal during the 1985-86 season.

Burr made the NHL full-time in 1986-87, scoring 22 goals and 47 points, finishing fifth in Selke and sixth in Calder voting. During that season’s playoffs he scored seven goals in 16 games, good for second on the Wings. Over the next five seasons in Detroit he scored between 17 to 24 goals per season, eclipsing the 50 point mark twice. In 1988 Burr finished fourth in Selke Trophy voting.

Burr was a Wings veteran when the team broke through in the 1995 playoffs, making their first Cup Finals appearance since 1966, ultimately getting swept by New Jersey. A few days after the season ended he was traded to Tampa Bay for Marc Bergevin and Ben Hankinson. Burr played two seasons with the Lighting, scoring 35 points in 1996-97. June 1997 saw Burr traded to San Jose for a draft pick, playing 60 games with the Sharks over two seasons, playing much of the 1998-99 season in the IHL.

August 1999 saw Burr traded back to Tampa Bay in a five-player swap. Again he played most of the season in IHL, playing his four final NHL games during the 1999-2000 season. In 16 NHL seasons, Burr played in 878 games, scoring 181 goals and 440 points. In 1993 he was part of a group including Red Wings teammate Dino Ciccarelli that purchased the OHL’s Newmarket Royals and moved the team to their hometown of Sarnia the following season; Burr left the ownership group in 1996.

In retirement Burr was president of the Red Wings alumni association but in 2010 was diagnosed with leukemia. He underwent chemotherapy treatment but the disease returned and in August 2013 Burr died after a fall in his home.

YouTube clip: A tribute video produced by the Red Wings after his death.

Card 316 - Calle Johansson

A defenceman, Johansson was drafted fourth overall by Buffalo in the 1985 draft. He played two seasons of pro hockey in his native Sweden before coming to the NHL for the 1987-88 season. Johansson scored four goals and 42 points in his rookie season, was named to the all-rookie team and earned some Calder Trophy votes.

Late in the 1988-89 season Johansson was traded to Washington with a second round draft pick for Grant Ledyard, Clint Malarchuk and a draft pick. He paid immediate dividends with Washington, scoring eight points in 12 games. Over the next decade with the Capitals Johansson developed into a steady offensive presence from the blueline, recording 10+ goals and 40+ points four times. In 1991-92 he scored a career-high 14 goals and 56 points, winning the Viking Award, given to the best Swedish NHL player.

In 1998 the Capitals made their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance, with Johansson contributing 10 points in 21 games as Washington was swept by Detroit. An assistant captain at various points through his career with the Caps, Johansson played five additional seasons with the franchise after 1998, missing the majority of the 2001-02 season with a knee injury.

By the 2003-04 season Johansson had unofficially retired and was working for Washington as a scout before signing a late season contract with Toronto. He played eight regular season and four playoff games with the Maple Leafs before retiring officially at season’s end. In 17 NHL seasons Johansson played in 1109 games, scoring 119 goals and 535 points.

From 2012 to 2014 Johansson worked as an assistant coach with Washington, and has also coached and worked in TV broadcasting in his native Sweden. It is also worth mentioning that he was named a tournament all-star at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.

YouTube clip: scoring on an end-to-end rush early in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Card 317 - Rich Sutter

A right winger, Rich was drafted 10th overall by Pittsburgh in 1982, six selections after twin brother Ron. Following the draft Rich played his third and final season with Lethbridge in the WHL while appearing in four games with the Penguins.

Sutter’s time in Pittsburgh was short, as after five games in the 1983-84 season he was traded to Philadelphia with second and third round draft picks for three players, and first and third round picks. Reunited with his twin, Rich scored 16 goals and 28 points in his first full NHL season. He played two more seasons with the Flyers, including a trip to the 1985 Stanley Cup Finals, before a trade to Vancouver in the 1986 off-season that saw J.J. Daigneault go to the Flyers.

In his first season as a Canuck Sutter scored a career-high 20 goals and 42 points, playing another three seasons with Vancouver before a trade to St. Louis late in the 1989-90 season with Harold Snepsts and a second round draft pick for two high draft picks and Adrien Plasvic. Rich scored between 25 and 27 points in three seasons with the Blues, recording 100 or more penalty minutes each season, a mark he would eclipse nine times in his career. A trade in September 1991 with Philadelphia brought twin brother Ron over to the Blues.

Prior to the 1993-94 season Rich was claimed in the waiver draft by Chicago, a team coached by his older brother Darryl. 15 games into his second season with the Blackhawks Rich was traded to Tampa Bay, playing just four games in three weeks before being sent to Toronto for cash. Sutter played 18 regular season and four playoff games with the Leafs (against his brother Darryl and former team Chicago) before retiring at the end of the 1994-95 season.

In 13 NHL seasons, Rich Sutter played in 874 games, scoring 149 goals and 315 points. Much like his five brothers, Rich has remained in hockey after his playing days, working as a scout with Minnesota (1999-2005), Phoenix (2005-08) and Columbus (2016 to present). From 2008 to 2010 he was the assistant general manager with the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL and in 2015-16 was an assistant coach with the University of Lethbridge.

YouTube clip: fighting Normand Lacombe 16 seconds into a Flyers/Canucks game, one of 77 career fights. This sits third amongst Sutter brother, behind Brian (157) and Duane (107)

Card 318 - Al Iafrate

A defenceman, Iafrate was drafted fourth overall by Toronto in 1984. During his draft season Iafrate played with the US National Team, going to the 1984 Olympics; he also played 10 games with the Belleville Bulls of the OHL. He jumped immediately to the NHL as an 18-year old, scoring five goals and 21 points in his rookie season.

Iafrate recorded modest point totals of 33 and 30 points in his next two seasons. He exploded offensively in his fourth season (1987-88), scoring 22 goals and 52 points. The following season he scored 21 goals and 63 points, earning Norris Trophy and all-star team votes.

Iafrate suffered through some bad Maple Leafs teams in the late 1980s, and just as the team was turning a corner, he was traded to Washington early in 1991 for Bob Rouse and Peter Zezel. Iafrate’s first two full seasons with the Capitals were the best of his career, scoring 25 goals and 66 points in 1992-93, a season where he was named to the second all-star team. That season the Capitals boasted three defensemen with 20+ goal totals (the other were Kevin Hatcher with 34 and Sylvain Cote with 21). Playoff success continued to elude Iafrate, as the 1993 Capitals were eliminated in the Patrick Division Semi-Finals by the New York Islanders, despite Iafrate scoring six goals in six games.

Late the following season he was traded to Boston for Joe Juneau. Iafrate played 12 regular season and 13 playoff games with the Bruins but then missed all of the next two seasons due to knee and back injuries. In June 1996 he was traded to San Jose for Jeff Odgers and a draft pick. In two final NHL seasons in San Jose Iafrate played in 59 games, scoring eight goals and 24 points. He was selected by Nashville in the 1998 expansion draft, but never signed with the team, instead signing with Carolina but never playing due to injuries.

In 12 NHL seasons Iafrate played 799 games, scoring 152 goals and 463 points. He played in four all-star games (1988, 90, 93 and 94). At the 1993 all-star game he set the record for hardest shot at 105.2 miles per hour, a record that stood until broken by Zdeno Chara 16 years later. Iafrate also won the hardest shot competition in 1990 and 1994. In retirement he was worked in research and development for hockey equipment companies, and also works with Columbus as a consultant on, appropriately enough, sticks and shooting.

YouTube clip: highlights of his biggest clappers. Also marvel at the glory of his famous skullet hairstyle.

Card 319 - Bob Bassen

A centre, Bassen signed as a free agent with the New York Islanders in 1984 while playing with Medicine Hat in the WHL. He turned pro in 1985-86, playing 11 games with the Isles and scoring three points while spending most of the season with Springfield in the AHL.

Bassen became a full-time NHLer in the 1986-87 season, playing two seasons with New York before a trade to Chicago early in the 1988-89 season with Steve Konroyd for Marc Bergevin and Gary Nylund. After back-to-back 77 game seasons with the Islanders, Bassen played only six games with the Blackhawks that season, playing with Indianapolis in the IHL and earning first-team all-star honours.

In October 1990 he was claimed by St. Louis in the waiver draft, and that first season with the Blues was the most productive offensive season for the defensive-minded forward, with Bassen scoring 16 goals and 34 points alongside 183 penalty minutes (all career-highs). He played three more seasons with St. Louis before a trade to Quebec during the 1993-94 season. With the Nords Bassen scored 11 goals in 37 games during his first season, and 12 in 47 games the following season.

In 1995 Bassen signed with Dallas as a free agent. In three seasons as a Star Bassen did not play more than 58 games in a single season and in July 1998 he was traded to Calgary for Aaron Gavey. He lasted 41 games with the Flames and began the 1999-2000 season in Germany before signing back with Dallas. Bassen did not clear re-entry waivers, as he was claimed by his former team St. Louis, playing 27 games with the Blues before retiring at season’s end.

In 15 NHL seasons Bassen played in 765 games, scoring 88 goals and 232 points. From 2001-04 he was an assistant coach with Utah in the IHL. Since 2012 he has worked for the Stars, first as director of the alumni association and currently as an assistant coach with their youth hockey program. Bassen’s father, Hank, was a NHL goalie in the 1950s and 60s, and was one of the four players Detroit received from Chicago in exchange for Ted Lindsay and Glenn Hall.

YouTube clip: fighting Chicago’s Steve Smith, but first needing to toss referee Kerry Fraser out of the way.

Card 320 - Mike Krushelnyski

A forward, Krushelnyski was selected 120th overall by Boston in the stacked 1979 entry draft. He played a second season with Montreal in the QMJHL before turning pro in 1980-81 in the AHL.

Krushelnyski made his NHL debut in 1981-82, playing 17 games with the Bruins, earning a full-time roster spot the following season, scoring 24 goals and 65 points while earning Calder and Selke Trophy votes. Following his third season as a Bruin, he was traded to Edmonton one-for-one for agitator Ken Linseman. In Krushelnyski’s first season as an Oiler he set career-highs with 43 goals and 88 points, finishing third in the league with a +60 rating and playing in the mid-season all-star game. To top off the season, Krushelnyski won his first of three Stanley Cups with the Oilers, contributing 13 points in 18 playoff games.

Over the next three seasons in Edmonton he would struggle to equal his first season’s goal production, putting together totals of 16, 20 and 20 goals respectively. In August 1988 he was traded to Los Angeles as part of the biggest trade in NHL history, the one with Wayne Gretzky . In his first season as King, Krushelnyski scored 26 goals and 62 points. He played one more season with LA before a trade to Toronto early in the 1990-91 season for John McIntyre.

In the 1993 playoff Krushelnyski would run into his former Los Angeles teammates in the Campbell Conference Finals, with the Leafs losing in seven games; Krushelnyski contributed 10 points in those playoffs. After a fourth season in Toronto he signed as a free agent with Detroit, playing the final 20 games of his NHL career in the 1994-95 season.

Krushelnyski played the 1995-96 season in the AHL as a player-coach with Cape Breton before playing two games in Italy in 1996-97 to round out his pro career. In 14 seasons he played in 897 games, scoring 241 goals and 569 points. Krushelnyski left Italy to take an assistant coach role with Detroit for the 1996-97 season, a role that lasted one year before coaching with Fort Worth in the CHL until 1999. He returned to the coaching ranks in the 2000s, in Russia from 2006-2010, with a stop in Germany during the 2007-08 season.

YouTube clip: scoring the double overtime winner for Los Angeles in Game 6 of the 1990 Smythe Division Semi-Finals. While almost flat on his stomach, Krushelnyski eliminated the defending Stanley Cup champion Calgary Flames.

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