Wild’s Suter runs on different fuel
By Chad GraffSt. Paul Pioneer Press ST. PAUL -- The Suter family usually keeps four gallons of milk in its refrigerator at home. Three gallons are organic, and they are for Becky Suter, a proponent of healthy consumption, and her two children. Th...
By Chad Graff
St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL - The Suter family usually keeps four gallons of milk in its refrigerator at home.
Three gallons are organic, and they are for Becky Suter, a proponent of healthy consumption, and her two children.
The fourth gallon in the fridge is whole milk (read: high fat). That jug is for Dad.
“I’ll only drink the regular milk,” Wild defenseman Ryan Suter said. “I don’t want the organic stuff. It’s such a waste of money, I tell her. I was like, ‘If I was raised on this, why can’t my kids be?’ Who knows?”
The ironman of the NHL, the league leader in ice time the past two seasons, isn’t the Minnesota Wild’s healthiest eater. He’s not a regular in the gym. And he’s usually the first player off the ice at practice.
But what Suter might lack in physical preparation, he more than makes up for intellectually, and he plays a smarter brand of hockey than most - the main reason he is able to play more than everyone else.
Last season, he led the league by playing an average of 29 minutes, 24 seconds every game, more than two minutes more than the next player. Two seasons ago, he led the league with average ice time of 27:04. Since signing with the Wild, he hasn’t missed a game, playing in all 150, including the playoffs.
Best of all, on the ice against the best players in the world, his game looks effortless.
After the Wild’s 3-0 victory over the Avalanche in Colorado on Saturday, Wild players spoke about the toll playing in Denver’s high altitude took on them.
Meanwhile, Suter asked a nearby team official how many minutes he played. The answer: 28 minutes, 19 seconds.
“Really? Felt like 22,” he said with a laugh. “I’ll have to talk to the coaches (about getting more minutes).”
Teammates say the secret to Suter’s success is he sees plays developing before everyone else. When other defensemen jump out of position to try to make a play, Suter seems to be in the right spot, and doesn’t exert energy until he needs to.
“Some guys go from A to B to C back to A; he’ll just stay there in A,” Wild defenseman Keith Ballard said. “As the play develops, he’s not all over the place, he’s not in places he doesn’t need to be. Some call it conserving energy, some call it just being smart. Where other guys are physically overpowering guys, he just thinks the game better.
“He can use 80 percent of the energy somebody doing the same thing does.”
Over the summer, Suter works out with his younger brother in Madison, Wis.
“Normal workouts,” he called them. “Nothing too special.”
He spends less time on the ice during the summer than his teammates.
“I don’t do a lot of conditioning in the summertime because I try to save it for the season,” Suter said. “At least that’s what I tell the coaches.”
Those who know him well, though, say he downplays the hard work he puts in.
“He is better conditioned than may come across,” coach Mike Yeo said. “He might not eat organically, but he does take very good care of himself. I don’t think he’s eating at Burger King every day.”
Despite minimal gym time, Suter has the strength of a bull. On the ice, he often is able to hold off forwards with one arm while he controls the puck with the other.
“He’s that farm strong that I don’t have, that us city folk don’t have,” teammate Zach Parise said with laugh. “I just think he’s one of those guys - there’s not a lot of them, but there’s a few guys - where it’s effortless for them and they just glide all the time. They don’t exert a lot of energy. I don’t think there’s anything he does off the ice that’s a secret.”
Especially his diet. His eating habits aren’t as unhealthy as he leads you to believe. But the organic food? He’ll pass.
“I don’t like the organic stuff,” Suter said. “I’m sure there’s something to it. But I try not to eat it. I probably eat the worst compared to everyone else.”
But, hey, he burns off the calories with all that time on the ice.
“If I start getting fat,” Suter said, “then I’ll start watching it.”
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with the Forum News Service