As Ryan Suter lay sick in bed last week, he kept thinking to himself, “Why didn’t I get that booster?”
While many of his Wild teammates got a booster shot in mid-November because the mumps were slithering around the team, the Wild’s No. 1 defenseman declined.
He said with a big, embarrassed laugh Monday that it might have been a mistake.
“That’s the thing, I probably wash my hands more than anybody,” Suter said. “I go out of the way to make sure I’m a clean guy. So for me to get it, it stunk. Mentally, I always tell these guys, ‘You’ve got to be mentally strong and you’ll never get sick.’ So they’re all giving me a hard time: ‘Well, what were you thinking while you were laying in bed sick?’
“I’m glad it’s over.”
Suter missed two games because of the mumps but is expected to return Tuesday against the New York Islanders. Coach Mike Yeo is thrilled to have him back and hopes Suter, the fifth Wild defenseman to get symptons of the mumps, is the team’s last case.
“It’s hard to really quantify what he means to our team,” Yeo said. “You’re talking about half the game [that he plays] first of all and you’re talking about every key situation against every key player.
“I thought we did OK against Montreal without him, but his presence was missed last game against a bigger, heavier puck possession [Anaheim] team. He makes it so difficult for them to establish that type of game because of his execution, the way he’s able to break their pressure, but then if they do get set up and they do have control, he’s so sneaky strong, he’s so good with his stick and is in such good position that he helps us defend much quicker.”
Suter woke up Nov. 30 ill and with mumps-like symptoms. He thought the worst, like cancer, but after ultrasounds and blood work, the mumps were confirmed.
“I’m glad it’s out of my system,” he said. “There’s a few days there where you really can’t do anything. It’s a miserable virus.”
Suter, who has two children and a third on the way, quarantined himself from his family.
“I was just locked in the room,” he said. “My wife [Becky] was great. She’d knock on the door, leave the food outside the door and I’d go and get it. She’s an angel.”
Suter was hoping to return against Anaheim, but at Friday’s morning skate, he was dizzy and nauseous. Saturday, the Wild had a very tough practice and Suter looked exhausted and red-faced afterward. He said he felt much better after Monday’s practice and the NHL’s ice-time leader the past two years and again this season believes he’ll be able to step right in against the Islanders and play his usual role.
Forward Charlie Coyle missed Monday’s practice because he too was sick, but Yeo said, “I was told it is definitely not the mumps. It’s a stomach ailment. We’ll see where he’s at [Tuesday].”
If Coyle’s unable to play, the Wild will either need to recall a forward or play Stu Bickel at wing.
Goalie Josh Harding was hospitalized Saturday night and much of Sunday in Charlotte, N.C., because of dehydration sustained during his second Iowa Wild start. Harding had to leave Saturday’s game after two periods.
Harding’s dehydration is related to his multiple sclerosis, sources say, and he is listed by the Wild as day to day. However, Harding is expected to be sidelined indefinitely and won’t play again until this is figured out.
Harding, who missed the first two months of the Wild’s season because of a broken foot, missed the second half last year and a large chunk of the season before because of complications from MS.