He gave up a lot to come to the Wild but gained so much more, with his son following Dad’s every move during his latest All-Star season.
Brooks Suter was all smiles, his cheeks red and his blond hair damp from a 70-minute outdoor practice at Minnesota Made in Edina on Wednesday night.
Ryan Suter helped gear down his 6-year-old son by unlacing Brooks’ tiny skates and removing the helmet with a No. 20 decal that pays homage to Brooks’ late grandfather and Ryan’s dad, Bob.
The Wild defenseman couldn’t help thinking this is why he signed with Minnesota in the first place.
“It’s perfect. The Midwest, where I grew up. Outdoor hockey. [Wife] Becky’s family is here. My family, three hours away. A winning team,” Suter said. “Things are good, and hopefully they stay that way. I didn’t do this for me. I did it for my family.”
As Suter zipped up Brooks’ bag, he spotted a “Let’s Play Hockey” magazine on a nearby table. On the cover was a picture of Suter with the headline “Like Father, like Son.” The story is about Ryan following in the footsteps of his father, who played on the Miracle on Ice 1980 gold medal team.
Suter pointed to the article, then lifted Brooks into his arms and carried him into the brisk night.
The image was perfect.
Suter has three children. Daughter Avery is turning 4, daughter Parker is turning 2. Brooks? “He’s my little buddy. I take him everywhere I go,” Suter said.
Golf outings? Brooks is at Ryan’s side. Co-owner of the United States Hockey League’s Madison Capitols, Suter brought Brooks to the league meetings a few weeks ago in Sioux Falls, S.D. A recent boat show appearance, there was Brooks. When Suter stood in for his dad at the unveiling of the new Herb cheap jerseys Brooks statue in St. Paul, Brooks tagged along.
“He gets it. He’s in the background and a good kid,” Suter said. “It’s a lot of fun to be around him.”
On Friday, Suter arrived in Los Angeles to take part in his third All-Star Game. Along for the ride are Becky, Suter’s 10-year-old nephew, and Brooks.
Brooks was 4 when Suter represented the Wild two years ago at the All-Star Game in Columbus.
“He still talks about that. He asks, ‘Can I come on the bench again?’ ” Suter said about Saturday’s skills competition. “He’s very into it. He watches all our highlights. He talks about Chicago. He says, ‘Dad, Chicago lost, so I think you guys are still in first,’ just cool stuff that a 6-year-old should not be caring about or knowing, and he does.”
Brooks couldn’t wait to meet Sidney Crosby this weekend.
“But I think if you asked him who his favorite guy is, he would say somebody on our team,” Suter said, laughing. “He knows the company line. He knows what teams not to like — or what team we don’t like.
“He was born there, but he knows we don’t like Nashville too much.”
Several times a week, Brooks skates with his friend, Zach, the oldest child of dad’s defense partner, Jared Spurgeon. Often after Wild games, Brooks, wearing a No. 20 Suter jersey, and Zach, wearing a No. 46 Spurgeon jersey, organize knee hockey games with other players’ children on the carpet.
Nightly during intermissions, in a suite high above Xcel Energy Center’s ice, Brooks plays mini sticks with Eric Staal’s and Jason Pominville’s kids.
On a frozen pond outside their home, Brooks will skate for hours, practicing different between-the-legs moves or celebrations.
“He’ll ask me things like, ‘Dad, how many goals have you scored top cheese or top cheddar?’ ” Suter said, laughing.