“It’s nice that’s over with,” Suter said.
“Nice what’s over with?” Suter was asked.
“The attention,” he said. “I’d rather just go out and have nothing said and nothing written about me. Looking back now, I guess it’s pretty cool. But it doesn’t make a guy’s career, I don’t think, if they win a Norris Trophy or are a finalist. I mean, my uncle was one of the best defensemen in the league for a long time, and he never won the Norris. He was Rookie of the Year, but I don’t think a Norris makes or breaks you.
“It just was kind of an inconvenience.”
As Suter uttered those words, walking-by media relations director Aaron Sickman stopped short, gave Suter an “Are you kidding me?” look and “Please retract!” grin.
“I know I probably shouldn’t say that, but it is,” Suter said in his typical quiet, laid-back way. “I want to be the best player. I just want to be the best player … without anybody noticing. Some guys love the attention. Some guys play in the NHL just so they can say they played in the NHL. I just like playing … and want to win a Stanley Cup.”
Jake Dowell, who plays for the Iowa Wild, played with Suter at Wisconsin and is one of Suter’s closest friends, said Suter understands that attention and off-ice responsibilities, such as promoting the team, come with the contract.
“Sometimes people think he’s grumpy or rude, but he just is shy and he doesn’t like the spotlight,” Dowell said. “He likes to go out there and do his thing. That’s it. He’s awesome at what he does, and he’d like to blend in.”
During the offseason, Suter can hardly be reached. He returns home to his 120-acre farm (he rents corn and alfalfa fields to local farmers) and exquisite home outside Madison (Parise calls it a compound) and is all about his wife and two children.
The household’s one rule: “No talking about hockey,” Suter said.
He pays no attention to hockey summer happenings. At August’s U.S. Olympic camp, he asked Bobby Ryan why he was carrying an Ottawa Senators bag, having no clue Ryan was the center of one of the summer’s biggest trades, going from Anaheim to Canada’s capital after the Senators lost captain Daniel Alfredsson to Detroit.
Every morning at 6:30, Suter’s 2½-year-old son, Brooks, wakes up to work out with Dad and Uncle Garrett.
“Well, he drinks orange juice and watches Mickey Mouse while we work out,” Suter said.
Then, Brooks will spend all day outside with Suter, who in jeans and boots works on his property with his brother. They put in sod, mow, pull out the log splitter and clean up the woods.
This past summer, Suter built an enormous retaining wall made of boulders to protect the tennis court he built. He poured concrete on his big driveway, painted a 500-foot fence.
“I like to always be doing stuff,” Suter said. “We’re building a home here in Minnesota. I go there every morning before practice. After practice, I go home, get Brooks and look at the home again. I wish I had all my tools here so I could be doing a lot of the building.”
Suter is “just simple and down to earth,” Dowell said. “When we were in college, the guy would drive around in his truck in snowstorms and look for people in ditches to pull them out. He’s a country boy.”