MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There’s no other moment in sports that comes close to what Americans felt that day in 1980, when a bunch of college kids beat the mighty Soviet Union in the “Miracle on Ice.”
And for that, we have Bob Suter to thank. Suter died Sept. 9 from a heart attack at the age of 57. But he left quite a legacy behind.
“My dad, he was a hard working guy,” said his son, Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. “He wore his blue jeans and work boots to work every day. He didn’t expect anything from anyone. Everything he got, he worked for.”
That includes a gold medal as a member of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” hockey team that shocked the world and made every member of that team, including Bob Suter, beloved by a nation.
Suter is the first member of the “Miracle on Ice” team to leave us. He was an American hockey hero.
But to Wild defenseman Ryan Suter, he was dad. And the pain of losing a parent, so suddenly, is hard to describe.
“My dad (and I),” Suter said, “We were pretty close.”
What’s easier to describe is the impact Bob Suter had on his family and on his sport. He retired from hockey two years after the “Miracle on Ice,” but never left it, running a rink near his hometown of Madison, Wis., and coaching hundreds of youth hockey players.
“He loved helping kids,” Ryan Suter said. “And he was just a really good person, and a good role model.”
He also worked for the Wild as a scout, and owner Craig Leipold flew the entire team to Suter’s funeral in Madison last Saturday, where it was evident how much he meant to hockey.
“Yeah,” Ryan Suter said, “I wish we could have done it when he was around. To have over 4,000 people come to the wake was pretty special. They were turning people away. That just shows what kind of guy he was, what kind of impact he had on hockey, and on people.
“Everywhere (I) go, people are coming up and telling (me) stories about how great my dad was. And it’s a pretty special feeling to hear the stories because, obviously, he’s gone. And that’s how we have to live on, through the memories.”
Memories that include the greatest day in American sports history. And others, shared only between Ryan and his dad. Now, he’ll honor his father by doing what they both loved — playing hockey.
“It’ll get better,” Suter said. “As we start playing games, getting closer to that, your mindset changes. We have to move on, and have a really good year for him.
“(He was) just a really good guy. Hardworking guy. I’m going to miss him.”
The Suter family established the Bob Suter Memorial Fund, which it will use to help kids play hockey. Donations can be made through the website of the Madison Capitols.