• PRINT
  • RSS

Former Shark Gary Suter Gets The Call

2002 Olympic Defenseman Named To U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2011

Thursday, 08.4.2011 / 3:19 PM PT / News
By San Jose Sharks Staff
X
Share with your Friends


Former Shark Gary Suter Gets The Call

SAN JOSE, Calif.
-- Gary Suter may not being playing hockey any more, but his on-ice exploits haven’t been forgotten.

The former San Jose (and Calgary and Chicago) defenseman was recently named to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

Gary Suter of the San Jose Sharks poses for a portrait in San Jose, California in September, 2001. DIGITAL IMAGE Mandatory Credit: Getty Images/NHLI
“(They) called me last week and let me know the news and they had a press conference when they released it,” Suter said. “It’s pretty awesome to be recognized in front of the hall. There are a lot of great players from the past who are in there. Not just players, but people who have had an impact on USA hockey.”

For Suter, the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame is a family affair. He’ll be joining his older brother Bob, a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic “Miracle On Ice” squad, in the Hall.

Suter was a very impressionable high schooler when the Miracle on Ice took place and is extremely appreciative for what his brother and his teammates accomplished. Until that time, Americans weren’t much of a factor in the National Hockey League. Most of the players came from Canada and Americans, or any one else, wasn’t considered in their class.

But the 1980 games in Lake Placid, N.Y. changed popular opinion.

“That group really opened the door for a lot of Americans to follow,” Suter said. “Up until that point, there weren’t a lot of Americans in the NHL. Those guys shocked the world, but they opened some doors, too. After that, we started to get a lot more of an opportunity at the pro level.

“Just like any opportunity, you’ve got to go there and it’s how you can play,” Suter added. “But you’ve got to get the opportunity first.”

Suter’s induction news this week may not have been the most important hockey news in the Suter household. Suter’s oldest son is trying to make one of his biggest decisions in his young life: where to play college hockey.

In fact, family life was a big reason why Suter retired early from the game. Sure, he had plenty of energy left to play in the NHL, but he wanted to experience what his kids were doing.

“I’ve coached pee wee, bantam, midget and now I’m helping coach the local high school team,” Suter said. “My kids were growing up and I wanted to watch them.”

Suter’s desires didn’t stop NHL teams from trying to obtain his services.

“There were teams that contacted me the first year I was out, nine or 10 teams,” Suter said. “The second year, there were a couple of teams that were interested. At that point I’m thinking, ‘I’m not coming back now.’ It was time for me to get out. I was 39 at the time and I’d been playing hockey for 30 years. I always knew in the back of my mind that I didn’t want to be the guy at the end of his career sitting at the end of the bench. I didn’t want to put myself in that position.”

Suter does have one regret – and not surprisingly, it’s family-related. If Suter knew how quick his nephew Ryan would crack Nashville’s top-six defensive unit, maybe “Sutes” would’ve prolonged his career.

“I didn’t realize that Ryan would be on such a fast track of going to the NHL,” Suter said. “I was out for two years and he was in the League. I know I could have played another year or two and the only regret I may have had is I could’ve had the opportunity to play with him.”

Gary Suter #20 and goalie Mike Richter #35 of the USA block a shot by Alexei Yashin #79 of Russia in the men's ice hockey semifinal during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games at the E Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. USA defeated Russia 3-2, advancing to the gold medal match against Canada. Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Suter’s San Jose legacy is that he was part of making the Sharks a contender instead of being a playoff team who scratched their way in as the seventh or eighth seed. Players such as Suter, his friend Tony Granato and Bernie Nicholls made other players really consider playing in Northern California.

“I think for a while there people probably had the idea that it was like L.A. was in the 80s and it was a place to go and hang out. No one cares about hockey and you can go to the beach and go surfing,” Suter said. “But it’s a great place to play. It’s a great organization, the fan base is outstanding. People want to go there.”

And Suter feels the franchise’s ultimate reward is still to come.

“They’ve got a great team and they’re really close,” Suter said. “I’ve picked them the last two years. It’s a matter of getting the bounces. Hopefully this is their year coming up.”

These days, Suter and his family spend their lives full-time in Lac du Flambeau, Wis., which considerably more remote than the Bay Area.

“When I first got traded from Calgary to Chicago, we wanted a place to spend our weekends and part of the summer. We ended up liking it a lot and wanted to try it full time,” Suter said of how he found his full-time residence

As for how much California is left in him, Suter still plays volleyball regularly, something he latched onto while in San Jose. He attempted surfing at one point (like there’s places one can do that in Wisconsin), but that didn’t stick as well.

“For about five seconds and down I went,” Suter said, laughing about the experiment. “I went to Santa Cruz with (ex-teammate) Scott Hannan and (former Sharks staffer) Rob Jaynes and those guys are pro surfers. I got tangled up in the kelp and thought I was going down. I had to get out of there. Those waves are too big.”

But not as big as being recognized as one of America’s top all-time hockey players.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 51 24 7 228 221 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 239 197 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 226 202 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 220 186 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 236 220 101
6 x - MIN 82 46 28 8 227 198 100
7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 223 204 99
8 x - CGY 82 45 30 7 237 213 97
9 LAK 82 40 27 15 218 197 95
10 DAL 82 41 31 10 257 257 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 209 223 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 224 226 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 193 276 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 165 267 56

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Pavelski 82 37 33 12 70
L. Couture 82 27 40 -6 67
J. Thornton 78 16 49 -4 65
B. Burns 82 17 43 -9 60
P. Marleau 82 19 38 -17 57
T. Wingels 75 15 21 -7 36
T. Hertl 82 13 18 -5 31
M. Nieto 72 10 17 -12 27
M. Karlsson 53 13 11 -3 24
M. Vlasic 70 9 14 12 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Niemi 31 23 7 .914 2.59
A. Stalock 8 9 2 .902 2.62
Image Map