MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Wild’s Ryan Suter will play in his 1,000th NHL game Thursday night at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.

He is at a much different place than when he entered the NHL.

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“You’re trying to survive your first couple years,” Suter said. “You’re trying to find a place, and you’re trying to find yourself, find how you’re going to fit in.”

The defenseman has fit in, and has been a force. And while it is just a number, it is also a reminder.

“That’s at least 10 or 12 years of 80 games a season,” said Head Coach Bruce Boudreau. “And just the durability of that is incredible.”

Ryan Suter (credit: CBS)

To understand the magnitude of 1,000 games played, it is not just about talking to Suter. It is about talking to the young players who can hardly even begin to aspire to that mark.

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Suter has demonstrated what it means to be a pro, and he has done that for a long time.

“It’s awesome,” said defenseman Jonas Brodin. “I mean, to play here 1,000 games, that’s a big thing. So it’s going to be awesome to be a part of.”

And Suter has proven something this season, coming back from injury that left his career in question.

“When people say you can’t do something, that’s kind of how I’m motivated,” Suter said. “They tell me I can’t do something, and you want to prove them wrong.”

They will celebrate his comeback and longevity on Friday night.

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“He doesn’t get anywhere near the accolades he deserves to get for what he does, so I’m really happy for him,” Boudreau said.

Mike Max