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Continued: Wild season preview: In Year 2, Ryan Suter shines in the light

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Last update: October 3, 2013 - 6:03 AM

Everyone says Suter gets it from his dad.

“We played a midget tournament in Wisconsin, and some of us stayed with Ryan and his family,” said Rob Davidge, 29, teammates with Suter at Culver (Ind.) Military Academy 13 years ago and now a financial adviser in Columbus, Ohio. “We played at the rink they own [Capitol Ice Arena in Middleton].

“His stepmom is working the snack bar. His dad was on the Zamboni and sweeping up the locker rooms. I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. This guy was on the 1980 team.’ It just seemed so very common, so very … nice.”

Road to the pros

Suter grew up playing for the Madison Capitols, then one year at Culver. His biggest rival — a flashy, hyped-up kid who played for the Minnesota Blades and Shattuck-St. Mary’s — was Zach Parise.

“We’d slash and hack and fight and beat the heck out of each other,” Suter said.

“It was ugly. I hated playing against him,” Parise said. “I don’t like to use the word, but he was dirty.”

The two would eventually become pals playing for the United States in various international tournaments.

“He is so good,” Parise said. “He’s also tougher than people give him credit for. He’s got farmer’s strength, the way he knocks players off the puck.”

Last year, Suter secretly played three weeks despite a broken rib following checks from Los Angeles’ Justin Williams and St. Louis’ Chris Porter in back-to-back games.

It was obvious something was wrong because at some junctures, Suter could barely shoot or catch a pass.

“It was excruciating,” he said. “I could hardly breathe. They had to shoot it up every game.”

Wild assistant coach Rick Wilson, who has coached some of the game’s great defensemen, such as Sergei Zubov and Rob Blake, said Suter is one of the sports’ rare blue-liners who plays at the tempo he believes the game needs to be played at.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Suter does all the little things that often go unseen but that coaches love.

“He plays the score of the game as well as anybody in the league,” Hitchcock said. “He was the most underrated player in the whole [2010] Olympics. He was more competitive against fierce competition than anybody in the tournament.”

Hockey smarts

Suter is a true leader, taking Brodin under his wings and standing up to his buddy David Backes, the St. Louis Blues captain, in a Sept. 25 preseason game when Suter felt Backes was picking on 19-year-old Matt Dumba.

He doesn’t seem to sweat, despite topping 30 minutes 10 times last season. And there never seems to be anxious energy when Suter is on the ice.

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