ST. PAUL -- Two summers ago, Ryan Suter had to literally crawl up the stairs at his Wisconsin home because of an ankle injury some thought might end his career.
Worse, he said, was not being able to help put the finishing touches on the ice arena named after his late father, Bob. The home rink of the United States Hockey League’s Madison Capitols underwent a massive $2 million facelift in 2018, most of which took place while Suter was using a scooter to get around.
“It was probably a good thing that I wasn’t out there and wasn’t able to help,” Suter said with a laugh. “I probably would have annoyed some of those construction guys.”
A little more than a year later, Bob Suter’s Capitol Ice Arena the arena is about 95 percent complete, and Suter was able to help. He’s also 100 percent ready for Thursday’s season opener against the Predators in Nashville.
Instead of rehabbing for most of the summer, Suter was able to go through his regular routine. He took some time away from the game like he usually does, and when he finally got back on the ice a couple of months ago, it was a night-and-day difference.
“You look at it and last year you don’t start skating until the end of August last year and really don’t feel good at all,” he said, “and this year you start skating in the middle of July and feel comfortable and the way that you’re supposed to feel.”
More important, Suter no longer thinks about the injury when he’s on the ice. He started to feel like himself “at some point last year” and relishes the fact that he will again be relied on to play big minutes for the Minnesota Wild.
He averaged 26 minutes, 42 seconds of ice time playing in all 82 games last year, which, more or less, was right in line with his career average.
“If I can do it on one foot, I should be able to do it on two feet,” Suter said with a smile, emphasizing that he still feels like he has a lot left in the tank. “I mean, I’m 34 years old. What did Chris Chelios play until? Wasn’t he 45 years old? I’ve still got a little time.”
When watching Suter conduct rushes into the offensive zone and effortlessly break up plays in the defensive zone, it’s not hard to imagine him playing for 10 more years.
And if anything else, he’s stubborn enough to at least give it a shot.
“I’m going into this year like any other,” Suter said. “I’m healthy, so I have high expectations for myself and high expectations for our team. We know what we have. We know that we can do it. There’s always so much noise from outside the locker room. For us, it’s about focusing on us, and being together, and treating it like it’s us against everyone.”
If it sounds as if Suter is refreshed and ready to go, it’s because he absolutely is. Those busy days at Bob Suter’s Capitol Ice Arena tend to do that to him.
“It was great,” Suter said. “You get up, work out in the morning, and go out to the rink and help out around there. Everything was back to normal. Just the way that it should be.”
With opening night rosters due on Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 1, the Wild placed winger J.T. Brown was placed on waivers on Monday. If he clears, will be assigned to the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League. Joining him in the minors will be defenseman Louie Belpedio, who had a strong preseason and figures to play a role with the Wild at some point.