Bob Suter, a member of the "Miracle on Ice" Olympic hockey team and father of Minnesota Wild standout Ryan Suter, died Tuesday after apparently suffering a heart attack in Madison, Wis.
Bob Suter, 57, is the first player from the 1980 U.S. gold medal-winning hockey team to die.
Suter was a standout defenseman at Wisconsin before playing on the Olympic team, which was a huge underdog when it upset the Soviet Union in the medal round at Lake Placid, N.Y. The U.S. then beat Finland to secure the gold medal two days later, landing it a spot in sports history.
The team's coach, Herb Brooks, died in an auto accident in August 2003.
Ryan Suter, 29, was on the ice with the Wild at an informal practice at Braemar Arena in Edina when his wife, Becky, arrived, clearly broken up. Suter immediately left the ice and departed the rink with his wife. Teammates were stunned to learn the news after practice.
"We are very saddened by today's news that Minnesota Wild Scout Bob Suter suddenly passed away,'' the Wild said in a statement. "The Wild organization sends its condolences to the entire Suter family during this difficult time. Not only was Bob a great hockey ambassador, he was a terrific person off the ice who will be greatly missed by all of us."
Bob Suter scouted the United States Hockey League and Wisconsin high schools the past two years for the Wild. He was a big reason the Wild drafted defenseman Gustav Olofsson in the second round two years ago.
"Bob was a tremendous asset to our scouting staff,'' said Brent Flahr, Wild assistant general manager. "He loved the game of hockey, he was around rinks all of his life, and he had a natural eye for talent. He put countless miles on his truck in order to scout games for us, and he loved to talk hockey.
''He was a lot of fun to have at meetings, he had a great sense of humor, and was just a positive guy to be around. It was a sad day for all of our staff, and he will be greatly missed.''
Bob Suter, who attended Madison East High School, played at the University of Wisconsin from 1975 to '79 under coach Bob Johnson. He helped the Badgers win the 1977 NCAA title.
"This is a heartbreaking day," said Wisconsin men's hockey coach Mike Eaves, who was teammates with Suter in college. "Bob was the ultimate teammate. He could skate like the wind and was as hard of a competitor that I ever knew. He has passed much too young."
He was a rugged defenseman for Team USA at the Lake Placid Olympics, playing in all seven games and helping the team to one of the greatest upsets in American sports history.
"Sad news at the passing of Bob Suter a great teammate on 1980 Olympic team," Mike Eruzione tweeted. "He will be missed by so many RIP BamBam."
Added, Mark Johnson, Suter's USA teammate in 1980 who now coaches the Wisconsin women's hockey team: "We are all stunned. Everyone is shocked. It's a sad day for not only the community of Madison but the hockey community who knew Bob and all of the players who he touched and who he gave an opportunity to play hockey and climb up the ladder."
Suter was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 1977 and later signed a free-agent contract with the Minnesota North Stars in 1981, but never played in the NHL.
After the 1980 Olympics, he briefly played minor league hockey before returning to Madison, where he opened a sporting goods store and coached youth sports.
His younger brother, Gary, was an all-star defenseman in the NHL. Gary Suter, 50, also played in two Olympics, winning a silver medal in 2002.
Ryan Suter has played in the past two Olympics for the United States, winning silver in 2010.
Staff writer Mike Russo, the Associated Press and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel contributed to this report.