Former Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter said goodbye to the State of Hockey on Thursday with a piece at The Players Tribune titled "I'm Going to Miss You All So Much, Minnesota."
The piece describes how he felt after signing with the Wild in July 2012 and how the state welcomed him and his family off the ice.
"When I signed here with Zach [Parise] in 2012, there was so much excitement bubbling up for this franchise," Suter wrote. "You could really feel the energy in the community everywhere you went.
"But as an athlete, for better or worse, I’ve always kind of been conditioned to keep my guard up. It’s just really hard to know whether people are being nice to you because you’re a hockey player, or if they really like you as a person, you know what I mean?"
Suter went on to recall going to his son's hockey practices and trying to keep a distance before other parents included him in the community.
"Before I knew it, I had about a dozen close friends — people who, to this day, are some of my dearest friends in the world," Suter said. "And it was so cool to go to the rink or ball field for games or practices, and then head over to The Hilltop or Bunny’s with the whole crew and just hang out together. Everything about it felt so completely right."
Suter said the friendships and relationships he made off the ice were the biggest reason for disappointment when he found out the Wild were buying out the remainder of his contract on July 12.
"When the call came in about the buyout, I was basically in shock," Suter recalled. "I remember I was actually at a loss for words on the phone and barely even said anything before hanging up. I was in Madison, just about to step out on the ice for a workout, and I was kind of a wreck after getting that news. I quickly tried calling Becky, who was with Brooks and Beau in Minnesota for a baseball tournament. She didn’t pick up, so after my skate, I texted her with the news, and by that point she’d already heard. That’s just life in 2021, right?"
"But her response? Short and sweet. You know that muscle emoji? The arm making a bicep curl? It was just that, and I think she said something like, “We got this.” And that was it."
Suter said he got hundreds of calls and texts once the news spread. While he said he wished he had been able to bring the Stanley Cup to Minnesota, he looked back on the success the Wild had during his nine seasons in Minnesota and the players he got to play with including Dany Heatley, Matt Cullen and Parise.
"Even though it wasn’t our choice to move on, nothing can put a damper on how incredible our time has been here," Suter said. "You all have given me and my family so much. So we just truly want to thank everyone who has been a part of our lives for the past nine years."
The next chapter of Suter's career will take place with the Dallas Stars, who signed him to a four-year, $14.6 million contract on Wednesday.
The Wild went to work replacing Suter on the blue line during the first day of free agency adding former Gopher Alex Goligoski on a one-year deal and Dimitry Kulikov on a two-year contract.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday night, Wild general manager Bill Guerin said he had no regrets about buying out Suter and the Wild were far from done from building their final roster.
“We had some players targeted that we missed out on. But that’s OK. That happens,” Guerin said per Michael Russo of The Athletic. “… I don’t think that this was the year that we’re going to have our whole roster filled out in one afternoon. … We’re still working with other players to fill out our roster. And, having flexibility isn’t the worst thing in the world.”