Sutter accepting of role
Being the third-line center for the Penguins wasn't always easy for Jordan Staal, who realized his game could flourish with additional responsibilities in another organization.
Now, Brandon Sutter, also 23, finds himself in the identical situation.
And he's OK with that.
Playing on a team with centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin has its perks — going to work every day with arguably the game's two greatest players isn't a bad gig — but Sutter realizes that, barring injury, he will never move up the depth chart.
“I'm four years into my career now,” Sutter said. “I've still yet to play in a playoff game. I'm at a point now where it's about winning. I want to be there for that. What goes on in the lineup, with the two big guys playing in the middle, playing behind them will be a great opportunity for me.”
Pining for additional playing time was perhaps easier for Staal because, by age 20, his name was engraved on the Stanley Cup. In many ways, Staal felt his duties as a third-liner were through and admitted over the weekend that he preferred a bigger role. Staal's defense slipped last season as he tried to become more productive offensively when he scored 25 goals in 62 games.
The Penguins are interested in their third-line center being a rock defensively against the other team's best line and being a physical presence. Staal, after all, only scored four goals in the 2009 Stanley Cup run. His defense, though, was invaluable while Crosby and Malkin combined for 29 goals and 67 points.
In Sutter, the Penguins believe they have located the gritty player whose intangibles may exceed his respectable skill. Sutter said he wants to be a more prolific offensive player and “doesn't want to play defense all the time.” But he isn't losing focus on his primary responsibility with the Penguins as the team's new shutdown man.
“It's a role I'm very comfortable with,” Sutter said. “I enjoy playing against other team's better players.”
Many in the Penguins organization believe Sutter will be the perfect fit on the third line.
“The Penguins had to make a deal,” he said. “I'm just glad they picked me.”
Fitting into Pittsburgh might require some time, but Sutter is in a better frame of mind now than he was on Friday, the day of the trade. While at a friend's house, Sutter was contacted by Carolina director of hockey operations Ron Francis and told he had been traded.
“You feel your heart stop, and you take a deep breath,” Sutter said. “It's definitely something I'm not used to. It was a tough couple of days. More of a shock than anything. Now, I'm kind of relaxed a bit.”
Sutter joked about playing against Crosby and Malkin, saying, “It wasn't always a ton of fun.”
Playing with them — or even behind them — suits Sutter just fine.
“It's a new chapter,” Sutter said. “I'm coming in to do what I've done. I'm my own player. I don't feel like I'm here to replace anyone. Jordan is a great player. Hopefully one day I can find that level that he was at. And I think I can.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-664-9161, Ext. 1975.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.