If so, he's the only person who frightens Duane. The contributions he made to the Islanders last season couldn't be measured by his 15 goals and nine assists; Duane helped bring about a far more fundamental change by lending the team his peculiar knack of finding a way to win. "To me the Islanders never had a lot of heart before," says Brian. "Duane made guys like Clark Gillies and Bob Nystrom say to themselves, 'Hey, there's a young guy doing it. Why can't we?' "
Duane went to the Islanders' '79 training camp with little chance of making the team. He was only 19, and the Islanders were fairly secure at his position, right wing. Still, Duane was determined to make an impression, and Brian had given him one piece of advice: never back down. "He promised that if I ever started getting beat up badly, someone would jump in and help me," Duane says.
Sure enough, in one early exhibition game, Dave Schultz, then with Buffalo, overwhelmed Duane in a fight. But in his next game, Duane made the kind of impression the Islanders liked, thumping Pat Hickey, then with the Rangers, in, Madison Square Garden, the very place where the Islanders had been ousted from the playoffs four months before. "It's scary," said Islander Assistant Coach Billy MacMillan, now the head coach at Colorado, "but we're going to have to look for leadership from a 19-year-old kid."
"Sutter adds spark," Torrey says. "He's not going to win any Sonja Henie awards for skating, but from point A to point B, he gets there. And I like his intelligence with the puck. He won't throw it away."
To understand how the Sutters play, one must also understand how John Chapman, Duane's former coach at Red Deer, coaches. He is a short, stocky, Teddy-bear-faced man whom Louie Sutter introduces as the man who is "making goons out of my kids just as fast as he can—he only had Brian for one All-Star game and Brian got into four fights, and the kids get worse as they get younger." Chapman coached Brent and the twins at Red Deer; this season he will coach all three at Lethbridge.
Teddy-bear looks aside, Chapman is a brawler. He'll find a way to beat you. People who have never played hockey wonder whether the fights are real, why they happen, and why they can't be legislated out of the game. The simple truth is that they can; it's not fighting that the players enjoy, but winning. Intimidation is a way to win—like tight forechecking, like good goaltending. It's a tool, and as long as it is accepted as part of the game, good coaches and good teams will have it in their arsenal. Chapman has it in his, and he tells a recruiting story on himself that pretty much sums up his philosophy, one he has passed along to all the Sutters.
Chapman visited a prospect at the boy's home to try to persuade the kid to play for Red Deer instead of one of the other teams in the area. The young man had been approached by several other coaches. "Tell me something," the boy asked, "are you a goon coach?"
"What do you mean by that?" Chapman asked, surprised.
"Let me put it this way," said the boy, who was big and strong. "If a coach ever told me to go out on the ice and fight some guy, I'd throw my gloves down and never play for him again."
Chapman nodded, and then he stood up. "Son, you go play wherever you want," he said. "You're the kind of guy I'd rather have playing against me than playing for me." Then he left.