A Class Act
For some of us around here, today is a bit of a sad day. The Caps dealt Brian Sutherby to Anaheim today in exchange for the Ducks’ second-round choice in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. I’ve known Sutherby since the say he was drafted, and he was always a favorite of mine, both for the way he played the game and for the way he conducted himself off the ice.
Looking back upon his days with the Caps, I’ll always wonder how different things might have been for him if he hadn’t sustained that debilitating groin injury at the Center Ice Prospects Tournament in Traverse City back in the late summer of 2002. That injury dogged him for the next few years and almost certainly robbed him of some effectiveness and speed along the way. He never complained about it, never felt sorry for himself, just kept working hard to rehab and get back on the ice where he belongs.
His best year with the Caps was 2005-06, which also happened to be one of the team’s poorest seasons. When the media parade went downstairs en masse after each game, Sutherby could always be counted on to be sitting at his stall, win or lose. He never hid in the shower, never made excuses.
On the ice, he was a teammate’s teammate. He grew up idolizing Mark Messier and played the game with the same brand of “heart on the sleeve” intensity that the Hall of Fame captain brought to his teams night in and night out. If someone took liberties with a player who wore the same sweater as Sutherby, he was one guy you could count on to take note and at least try to exact some retribution.
This season was tough on Sutherby. He played in only five of Washington’s first 19 games, and had been surpassed on the team’s depth chart by other centers the club liked better. For a guy who loves playing the game as much as Sutherby does, it had to hurt to sit watch and it probably hurt even more to sit and watch the team not performing well.
So now he’s off to Anaheim, and I think he’ll be a good fit there in that lineup and that organization. Sutherby should certainly get a fresh start there, something he could use. He is only 25 years old and I know he believes he can contribute to a solid NHL organization and I believe he can, too. He’ll have more than a few folks in these parts rooting for him, among them my nine-year-old son. That’s fine with me, because Sutherby is the kind of guy you’d like your kid to look up to.
Good luck in Anaheim Suts, and thanks for being such a stand-up guy while you were here.