LOS ANGELES -- "Honest" is the word every player on the Los Angeles Kings that was asked about their coach, Darryl Sutter, used to describe him. As in, he's kept the team honest or he's an honest coach.
Sutter, a former Blackhawks coach and winger, had turned the Kings around after taking over for the fired Terry Murray in December.
Sutter coached the Hawks for three seasons, stepping down in 1995 to devote more time to his family. He led the Hawks to the Western Conference finals in 1995. After that, the Hawks made the playoffs in just three of the next 12 seasons.
With an approach based on accountability and gruff straightforwardness, Sutter has inspired the Kings' stars -- notably Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar -- and it's resulted in a 14-2 record this postseason.
Here's what the Kings are saying about him:
Dustin Penner >>>
"His intensity is an intensity I haven't encountered yet from a coaching standpoint. It's game time. The way he talks makes it's way to the rest of the team, the way he talks, the way he teaches it, during practice, during the game."
Dustin Brown >>>
"Came in, keeping guys honest. There's games where I thought I didn't play my best. He brought attention to it pretty quickly. That goes a long way, whether you're a young player or older player. When you have a guy that's pushing you to be better, not just you but everyone, it goes a long way, maybe by helping you look at yourself in the mirror."
Colin Fraser >>>
"He's honest. He's straightforward. You know exactly where you stand, whether it's good or bad, and I think that's a good thing. There's no beating around the bush, there's no gray areas, whether it be where you fit in or what the system is or whatever. It's black and white. This is how it's going to be. It makes it easier on us. It's less thinking. It's just go out and play.
"I was here with Terry a little bit, and I think Terry instilled a lot of good things, defense-first qualities. All the guys respected Terry, really liked Terry. He was here for how many years building the program. Darryl didn't come in and try to revamp everything.
"Darryl, he's a pretty simple kind of guy. He just wants guys to play hard on a consistent basis. He just lets guys play. When you need a kick in the butt, he gives you a kick in the butt; when you need a pat on the back, he gives you a pat on the back. He's a tough coach for sure, but he's a fair coach."
Mike Richards >>>
"I think we have a good relationship. He's open my way, open his way. The door's always open. We discuss a lot of things, power play the most recent.
"He's hard on us. On the bench he;'s an intense guy. He really goes out there to get every single drop out of you. That's what you expect, that's what you want. It's not good to have an off night. It's something that you have to push and drive through. Some nights you might be grinding your teeth at him, but at the end of the day, you know that he's just trying to get the best out of you. You can't expect anything more from a coach."