November 23, 2017

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Sutter looks to forge his own path on ice

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Winnipeg Jets practice at IcePlex. Brody Sutter talks to head coach Paul Maurice.</p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Jets practice at IcePlex. Brody Sutter talks to head coach Paul Maurice.

A second-generation Sutter was on the ice with the Winnipeg Jets prospects Saturday morning.

Brody Sutter, the son of four-time Stanley Cup winner Duane Sutter, was inked to an American Hockey League deal during the summer, arrived in the city from Calgary last week and is participating in the club’s “mini camp” at the Iceplex this weekend.

At 6-5, 203 pounds, he towers over each of his famous uncles and a few cousins who’ve played pro as well. But the 25-year-old former Carolina Hurricanes draft pick acknowledges neither his physical stature nor the significant weight his last name carries in hockey is enough to guarantee a meaningful pro career.

In five seasons in the Hurricanes organization, he got into just a dozen NHL contests and didn’t register a point. Last season in Springfield of the AHL, the winger battled through three significant injuries and finished with just four goals and nine points in 19 games.

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A second-generation Sutter was on the ice with the Winnipeg Jets prospects Saturday morning.

Brody Sutter, the son of four-time Stanley Cup winner Duane Sutter, was inked to an American Hockey League deal during the summer, arrived in the city from Calgary last week and is participating in the club’s "mini camp" at the Iceplex this weekend.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Sutter last played in an NHL game during the 2015-16 season.</p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Sutter last played in an NHL game during the 2015-16 season.

At 6-5, 203 pounds, he towers over each of his famous uncles and a few cousins who’ve played pro as well. But the 25-year-old former Carolina Hurricanes draft pick acknowledges neither his physical stature nor the significant weight his last name carries in hockey is enough to guarantee a meaningful pro career.

In five seasons in the Hurricanes organization, he got into just a dozen NHL contests and didn’t register a point. Last season in Springfield of the AHL, the winger battled through three significant injuries and finished with just four goals and nine points in 19 games.

Sutter has been through enough down times to know nothing is given to you in his profession of choice. He need only look to his cousin, Lukas, a second-round pick by the Jets in 2012 who couldn’t carve out a pro career and is now playing university hockey in Saskatchewan.

"My dad always told me my name will only get me one look and then after that it’s up to me," Brody said. "Obviously, I’m aware of the accomplishments of my dad and my uncles have in the game and the respect they have. But I gotta forge my own path."

And that path has led him to Winnipeg, a place his good buddy, centre Adam Lowry, calls his hockey home.

Brody’s father was an assistant coach in Florida while Lowry’s dad, Dave, was helping the Panthers make it to the Stanley Cup finals against a Colorado squad that proved simply too powerful. The families have remained close ever since.

"This summer, I trained in Calgary with Adam basically six days a week. We started power skating in July twice a week and then come August we were on the ice four or five times a week along with six days in the gym," Brody said. "It was a busy summer, but we both made a lot of progress and got a lot stronger."

He said Lowry, heading into his fourth season as a Jets centre, talked up the organization — the big club and the AHL’s Manitoba Moose — and the community.

"For the three years since he’s been here, he’s said nothing but good things about the city, so hearing him rave about it made it easier to sign here," Brody said. "My focus this year is being healthy and helping whatever team I’m on, but I’m anticipating it’ll be the Moose. Hockey’s a funny game and you never know what can happen.

"That’s one thing that was enticing to me, playing here with the two teams and being seen. I think the more you watch me, the more you appreciate the type of player I am. Having someone in the building every night, I think, will bode well for me and puts a little added pressure on me to perform every night. That’s never a bad thing."

His last taste of NHL action came during the final stretch of the 2015-16 campaign that knocked the Hurricanes out of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.

At times, the memories of those heady times are fresh in his mind, while other times...

"It depends on the day," he said. "Some days it feels like it was yesterday and sometimes it feels like it was forever ago. I still think I’m capable of playing in the NHL. A lot of it comes down to opportunity and fit and being in the right place at the right time, to be completely honest.

"It’s always good to get a fresh start. It was a pretty miserable year last year, but, hopefully, I can stay healthy and have a good bounce-back year here."

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Read more by Jason Bell  .

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