January was a pretty good month to be Ryan Suter. The Wild defenseman was officially named to his second U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team on New Year’s Day, recorded his first NHL hat trick on Jan. 4 and on Friday was announced as an alternate captain for Team USA. Suter talked with the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo.
Q Is this about as good of a month as you’ve had in your career?
A You try not to think about what’s happened in the past. I mean, we’ve had a good month of January. It doesn’t matter if we have a bad February. We have to keep it in perspective. Obviously we’ve played well, got some wins and gotten right back where we need to be as far as the playoffs for the most part. It’s been a good month.
Q Looking back at that hat trick, that was a huge game given where the organization was (losing six of the previous seven) and where maybe Mike Yeo was. Does a leader have to step up in a game like that?
A Yeah. I mean, that’s not why I scored the hat trick; you want to come in every game with the mindset to play hard. I was just fortunate to get the hat trick. You never want to see your coach — if people are talking about firing your coach then something’s wrong with your team. Your coach doesn’t win hockey games. It’s your team that does, and it had nothing to do with him. We just weren’t playing the way we were capable of playing. You definitely take some of that on yourself.
Q How did you find out about being an alternate captain. Did Zach Parise tell you?
A No, Dan [Bylsma] called. It was funny. [Parise and I] were together, and he got a call and was talking for like 45 minutes. He got off the phone and came back inside and then I got a call. I looked at him and then I said, ‘Oh, now I get it.’
Q So he didn’t even tell you?
A No. Dan told me and then I came in and congratulated him.
Q You’ve said you wanted to be an Olympian before you wanted to be a pro. Does being named an alternate captain again mean that much more to you?
A I mean, it’s a huge honor to be on the Olympic team. It’s just a bonus to have [a letter] on. Everyone on that team is a leader on their own team. I feel very fortunate to be one of them.
Q How much has your family influenced your international career?
A Growing up, that’s all I wanted to do — be like my uncle and my dad and play in the Olympics. I really didn’t dream of being in the NHL. It was winning a gold in the Olympics.