Five years later, L.A. has become a second home for Kings Coach Darryl Sutter and his family

Kings Coach Darryl Sutter watches the team take on the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center on Nov. 30.

Kings Coach Darryl Sutter watches the team take on the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center on Nov. 30.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Darryl Sutter wasn’t sure how things would work out when he replaced Terry Murray and made his Kings coaching debut five years ago, on Dec. 22, 2011.

Sutter had been working on the family farm in Viking, Canada, but his wife, Wanda, and their youngest son, Chris, were living in Calgary while Chris finished high school. They didn’t immediately join him in Los Angeles, where he moved into the home Murray had vacated after General Manager Dean Lombardi decided the 13-12-4 Kings needed a different coaching voice and style.

“I spent my Christmas alone, sitting there by myself saying, ‘I don’t know about this,’ ” Sutter recalled last week. “And when I came it was basically for the year. I didn’t sign anything. I still had to deal with Calgary and the farm.


“I just wanted to make sure that I liked it and that when Wanda and Chris were able to come, they liked it.”

Five years and two Stanley Cup championships later, Los Angeles is a second home to Chris and his parents. With 202 wins as the Kings’ coach, Darryl Sutter is 13 from tying Andy Murray for first on the franchise wins list, though his total has increased by only two in the first five games of a trip that continues in Nashville and Dallas and then halts for Christmas.

Chris Sutter, who has Down syndrome, helped Darryl coach the last two NHL All-Star games and is a favorite among players and fans in Los Angeles. Chris’ happiness led Darryl to sign a contract extension this year that’s believed to be for two years plus an option.

“Chris has been awesome,” Darryl said. “Even last summer when we got the contract done again, a big part of it was Chris. I talked to him, ‘What do you want to do?’ We can go to another place and coach, if you want. We can try and work it out here. We can go back to the farm.’

“He appreciates what he has. I tell him, ‘You can get up every morning and walk to the ocean, girls are playing volleyball, you know everybody,’ and everybody knows him. You never have to worry about him.”




When: Thursday, 5 p.m. PST.

Where: Bridgestone Arena.

On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 790.

Update: A club spokesman said forward Dustin Brown, who missed the last two games because of an upper-body injury, skated Wednesday. Brown’s status for Thursday is unclear. Defenseman Brayden McNabb (broken collarbone), has been skating with the team but isn’t expected to play. The Kings’ penalty killing has been outstanding, killing 20 consecutive penalties over the last seven games. Predators defenseman P.K. Subban missed the previous three games because of an upper-body injury and might not return Thursday. The Kings won the teams’ first encounter this season, 3-2 in overtime, on Oct. 27 at Staples Center.