SAN JOSE, CALIF. – Fourteen years after his exceptional 18-year NHL career ended, Gary Suter got to take a ride on the Wild’s charter late Saturday.
By design, the uncle of Wild defenseman Ryan Suter was honored by the Sharks before their game against the Wild as part of San Jose’s 25-year anniversary season. Gary and Ryan hung out Friday afternoon, then in a cool moment, Ryan Suter took the ceremonial pregame faceoff from Uncle Gary, not captain Mikko Koivu.
After the Wild’s 4-3 loss, the 51-year-old Suter hitched a ride back to the Twin Cities.
“I was happy for him because he was always a guy that flew under the radar,” Ryan Suter said of his uncle. “He was always quiet and didn’t like the attention. That was a lot of fun.”
Gary Suter, who enjoys the simple life like his nephew, lives in northern Wisconsin. He doesn’t get to watch Ryan, the son of Gary’s late brother, Bob, a lot in person “because I don’t like going to big arenas. But I watch every game on Fox Sports North.
“We’re very proud of Ryan and what he’s done. He’s become one of the best defensemen in the league with the amount of ice time he plays and how he makes it look so effortless, but what he’s doing away from the game as far as developing youth hockey in Wisconsin. He’s taken on his dad’s legacy.”
Bob Suter, a 1980 U.S. gold medalist, died Sept. 9, 2014, after suffering a heart attack at his rink in Middleton, Wisconsin.
“We’re still coping,” Gary Suter said. “It was tough on Ryan and his siblings, but you keep marching on and everybody’s doing great.”
Gary Suter, a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, played for the Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks and the Sharks, winning the Stanley Cup with the Flames in 1989. He ranks fourth all-time among U.S.-born defensemen with 844 points in 1,145 games.
“My dad had a theory when we were going up,” Gary Suter said. “Forwards are a dime a dozen. Teams are always looking for good defensemen, and it was true for my whole career and for Ryan, too.”
Haula heats up
One game after scoring a shorthanded goal against Los Angeles, Erik Haula picked up his fifth point in his past seven games on Chris Porter’s first-period goal.
“For me the goal is to be in the lineup and stay in the lineup,” Haula, scratched five times this season, said. “I have to play great, I have to be on top of my game to stay in and to challenge every night.”
Coach Mike Yeo lauded Haula’s game Thursday, saying, “I’d like to see him continue to play at this level. He’s getting involved offensively. He’s always got a good defensive game. There’s a good base there. He’s a guy that I definitely trust and can put up on the ice really against anybody.”
• The Wild returns home for one game before the All-Star break Monday but won’t be able to get into its arena for Sunday’s practice or even Monday’s morning skate because of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. The practice and morning skate will take place at off-site rinks. … That’s also why the puck drop for Monday’s game against Arizona is 7:30 p.m. as opposed to 7.
• Ryan Carter missed his sixth consecutive game because of a hand injury and isn’t expected to play Monday.