Darryl Sutter, former head coach of the Calgary Flames and a member of Alberta's most renowned hockey dynasty, promised to temporarily trade the ice for cold politics when he lobbies U.S. President Barack Obama on behalf of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Sutter, who currently coaches the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the Los Angeles Kings, said he had every intention to talk pipeline with Obama when the two met on Tuesday, the Globe and Mail reported.
“It’s 20 feet underground," he told the Globe, which also reported the former Flames head coach and GM still owns a 3,000-acre ranch in Viking Alberta.
"How can we not want to keep North America [energy self-sufficient]? Why does the border have to separate that? It doesn’t make sense. For sure, I’m going to ask him.”
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While some readers found it in poor taste that Sutter would politicize the event, others cheered the Alberta-born Sutter, and quickly made comparisons between the hockey coach and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.
Mulcair drew the ire of political opponents and Keystone supporters earlier this month when he went to Washington and spoke against Canada's environmental record and the proposed pipeline.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall went as far as saying the NDP leader had betrayed Canada's interests.
Sutter was born in Viking, Alta., a town of 1,000 souls about a 90-minute drive southeast of Edmonton—and still owns a ranch in the area. He was born into an eventual hockey dynasty of a family, as one of six brothers who would go on to play in the NHL. Sutter never won a Stanley Cup a player, but his stats were respectable. And, after coaching the Calgary Flames to the Cup final in a losing cause in 2004, Sutter guided the Los Angeles Kings on their championship run last spring. He embodies that hard-working, determined western spirit.
The proposed pipeline, which would start in central Alberta and carry oilsands bitumen through the U.S. and down to the gulf coast, seems to be inching towards approval by the U.S. government.
But opposition to the pipeline is also reaching a fevered pitch, as an entire group of Canadian politicians, including ministers and provincial premiers, have headed down south to lobby for the project in recent weeks.
Obama, who was hosting the Kings, as well as the LA Galaxy soccer club, to mark their championship win last spring, gave a speech and posed for pictures with the teams, CTV reported.
There is no word, however, if Sutter was able to speak to the president about the pipeline.