I’m not much of a hockey fan, but I’ve found a good reason to cheer on the Los Angeles Kings in their pursuit of the Stanley Cup –an inspiring Dad, Darryl Sutter, who also happens to be the Head Coach of the team.
The third child born to LA Kings Head Coach Darryl Sutter and his wife, Wanda, is a now a 21-year-old young man named Chris, who has a form of Down syndrome. Although Sutter’s entire family is all about hockey (six members of his family have been NHL players) and he himself has been a NHL player and coach over 30 years, Darryl Sutter has made many career choices based on what was best for Chris when was younger.
For example in 1995, Sutter led the Chicago Blackhawks to the Western Conference Finals, but decided to resign from that position after he and his wife decided the best place for Chris would be the back on the family farm near Viking, Alberta in Canada. Sutter’s primary job became driving Chris to therapy sessions three times a week, a 50-mile drive each way.
There’s a great quote from the LA Kings website about Chris. `It’s a blessing for us,’’ Sutter said of raising Chris. ``It’s been everything and more. It’s awesome. It keeps everything in perspective. All these little problems that you think you have, it puts it all in place. All you have to do is talk to Chris or spend time with Chris. He can level the playing field out, just like nothing.’’
Chris has been a participant with the Special Olympics, plays the guitar, and enjoys spending time on the family farm.
My friend, Peter, who is a devout Kings fan, told me about Coach Sutter and seeing Chris at the home games in Los Angeles. Peter said, “Every time Chris is shown on the Jumbotron (the big score board screen), the crowd roars. We all love him and love to see him. He's always dancing, cheering and generally having a blast. I think most people don't even know he's the coach's son. He's just a joyful feature of a Kings game that puts everyone in a good mood.”