Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter is not new to the Olympics. His dad, Bob Suter, won gold in 1980 and was a part of The Miracle. His uncle, Gary Suter, won silver in Salt Lake City in 2002.
Ryan gets his second chance at adding to the family glory in Sochi. It will be ironic if the son of the member of the Miracle team wins gold in Russia. There are even more connections to the 1980 game, as Viktor Tikhonov, the grandson of Viktor Tikhonov the coach, who was behind the bench in Lake Placid, will suit up for Team Russia.
I had a chance to have a quick chat with both Bob and Ryan Suter about the upcoming Olympics.
Q. Bob, as a former Olympic gold winner, this is the second time you have to give your son some advice. What is it this time and how is it different from four years ago?
BS: “It’s something that I have been preaching all along: just keep your head up and be positive. That’s why we are doing what we are doing. That’s also the reason we got together with Gillette to do a video about staying positive. That’s something I have been trying to teach him since he was a little kid. Because what happens happens, and you just have to enjoy it while you can.”
How often did you pull out the gold medal to show it off?
BS: “Not so much lately, since he’s been in the NHL, because it’s kind of having to show off other stuff. When they were younger, the kids would always take it to school, would want to always learn about it. We didn’t really talk that much about the Olympics with them. Ryan has probably found out more over the last four or five years than I probably told him the rest of his life.”
Ryan, but for you growing up in a family where your dad is an Olympic champion it must have meant a little bit more than other players?
RS: “Yes, growing up I heard all the stories about the 1980 team, my dad’s team, but I didn’t think that much of it. And then I watched my uncle play in a couple of Olympics, and it started to sink it how special what my dad had accomplished was, and what my uncle had accomplished playing in two Olympics and winning the silver medal. It is a huge honor to come from a family where my uncle and my dad won medals. I am just really looking forward to the Olympics and being a part.”
Surely you have tried your dad’s gold medal on!
RS: “Well, I used to bring it to school often when I was a kid, because my teachers would always ask me to bring it in. They wanted it there every day, so they would show it to other teachers. Sure, when I was younger I used to put it on. Pretty much everyone in my class put it on. It was probably also dropped a few times. It was pretty neat to bring it in, but at the time I just didn’t know how special it really was.”
Bob, your path to gold in 1980 was through USSR, and now Ryan and Team USA have a real chance to win gold in Russia. Wouldn’t it be ironic?
BS: “It is pretty amazing, and it would be such a great thing. Who knows if this will be the last Olympics [for NHL players], and playing over there and winning the gold would be pretty cool.”
Ryan, during the selection process for Team USA, was there any awkwardness between you and David Poile?
RS: “No, no. Not at all. That’s old news. He understood. He understands that it’s a business. We have both moved on. We are really looking forward to teaming up again and going for the gold medal.”
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for Team USA in Sochi? Will it be big ice? Will it be the lack of chemistry because there’s no time to really practice together? Or something else?
RS: “That’s a good question. I think that a lot of us have played together before. I think 80 percent of the team was on the last Olympic team. I think we all know what to expect now. We have been to the Olympics, we have been to that stage. We were lucky enough to play in the gold medal game in Vancouver and we learned a lot from that. I think playing in Sochi is going to be a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to the challenge.”
Ryan, as one of the best defensemen in the NHL you always play against opponents’ best forwards. You will see the same guys on the ice in Sochi. Who would be the top three you will have to face?
RS: “I mean, every single player on an Olympic team is a top player. I honestly don’t think one guy is going to be harder than the next. It was amazing the last Olympics playing in those games and going back to the NHL, I guess the guys did have two and a half weeks off, but it was just a totally different feel. The Olympics is pretty much an All Star Game every game. But with hitting, meaning and that kind of stuff. There are no easy games. Every player in the Olympics will be a challenge.”
The Miracle was a really big deal that even a movie was made. If you win gold in Sochi and another movie is made, what actor would you like to play you in it?
RS: “Ha! I am not much of a movie guy. I don’t think you can make another movie like The Miracle. It’s fun to watch, and it’s great that they’re playing it a lot more on TV now. My son just loves watching it! But to answer your question, it doesn’t really matter as long as we win gold.”