After declaring his independence from the Nashville Predators when he signed his 13-year, $98 million deal with the Minnesota Wild July 4, Ryan Suter made his return to Bridgestone Arena Saturday night when his new team faced the one he spent the first seven years of his NHL career with at Bridgestone Arena.
The Predators and Wild had already played twice this season in St. Paul, so facing his former mates was nothing new, but this was his first opportunity to step in front of the sold out Nashville crowd since he traded his Predators gold in for the Wild's green and red.
From the moment he came onto the ice for the warmup, Suter was loudly booed by the Nashville faithful. The booing continued each time he hit the ice.
“I was just trying to get through it, trying to block it out,” he said. “Obviously it is not fun being booed, but it is part of it. They went the while game too, that kind of surprised me. They will probably have some sore throats tomorrow.”
In Minnesota’s 2-1 shootout win, Suter logged a game-high 28:59 of ice time, and assisted on the Wild’s only non-shootout goal. His coach thought things went well for his star blueliner.
“This has been probably not easy for him and for him to play the way that he did, and on top of that the way the team played for him too, you could tell that our guys wanted to make help make this a good night for him,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said.
Suter was in the penalty box serving a roughing minor when the Predators got their only goal of the contest. The fans were happy to see their former first pairing defenseman sent off on the call.
“I spent seven years here,” he said. “I had a great time here. I had a lot of respect for the fans. I mean I still do. It is part of being a fan. I understand that. It is tough to take, but it is what it is.”
The Predators decided not to show a tribute video of Suter’s time in Nashville. His former head coach thought that was the right decision.
“I thought that was a way to protect Ryan who was here for a number of years,” Barry Trotz said. “Get used to it, you are going to see him in the conference for the next 14 years. But if the fans can keep that up for 14 years, it will be awesome.”
In the end, Suter’s team got the win, and that is what was most important to him.
“That makes it fine,” he said. “When you win games, that’s all that matters. If we could win the rest of the games and I get booed the whole game, that’s all part of it.”