Getty ImagesIt’s tough to place yourself in the shoes of another fan base, but here goes: If I were a Nashville Predators fans, I’d have more lingering bitterness about my captain signing an offer sheet with the Flyers than with Ryan Suter having left for the Minnesota Wild.
Suter signed a 13-year, $98-million contract with the Wild last summer as a package deal with Zach Parise. He took the money, but he also took to the opportunity to move closer to his home and that of his wife. While the Predators lamented that Suter had negotiated in some bad faith, one got the sense that Suter was genuinely remorseful for having caused the only team he had played for, and his general manager David Poile, any strife.
Weber’s reaction to Suter leaving was to ink an offer sheet with the Flyers, have his agents put over Philly as a more desirable location and then wait to see if the contract would scare off Poile. It didn’t; as the GM said, “Shea knew, when he signed the offer sheet, that he was going to play the next 14 years in Philly or Nashville.”
So perhaps one sees Suter as the catalyst for Weber's decision, or Weber as someone who tried to bail on his team during a moment of unprecedented turmoil. Whatever the case, Weber’s still in Nashville and Suter returns there on Saturday with the Wild, expected a chilly reception.
Should the fans boo Ryan Suter? And should the team honor him as it has other departed players?
“Have I ever had anything like what’s going to probably happen? Probably not,” Suter said in a phone interview. “It’s going to (stink), and I wish the fans knew … well, I know they know how much I enjoyed my time there. But it’s just part of the business. I mean, you have to make decisions for yourself and for your family.”
… Whether the Predators will acknowledge Suter with a tribute video has not been made public. Videos honoring former Predators Steve Sullivan (Coyotes) and Jordin Tootoo (Red Wings) were shown this season before games against Phoenix and Detroit.
“(Fans) probably won’t see me in the same regard as those guys. But that’s their decision. They have a right to be mad, and they have a right to cheer for who they want, and there’s nothing I can do about it,” Suter said.
No, sir, there isn’t.
So how is Weber doing without the Pippen to his Jordan?
Well, put it this way: Neither of them is going to contend for the Norris this season.
Put simply, when Weber hopped over the boards in years past (usually with Suter by his side), the flow of play turned remarkably in Nashville's favor, but this year he's been forced to scramble in his own end more often than not. Interestingly, Ryan Suter is experiencing the same phenomenon up in Minnesota. Like Weber, his Corsi-based metrics have fallen off the table.
Neither defenseman is playing at his best right now, and that's hardly shocking. You don't just split up a world class defense pair that had been together for years, and expect both guys to prosper right away independently. It will be worth checking back on these measures at the end of the season, to see if another 20 games or so helps them gain familiarity with their new partners.
Weber has skated with Roman Josi this season. Suter was most recently paired with rookie Jonas Brodin.
Prediction: Video tribute and lusty boos for Suter upon his return on Saturday.