As a child, Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter didn't hear many stories about his father, Bob, winning a gold medal as a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team.
"Every teacher that I had, they were telling me all about it and wanted me to bring the medal in to school as often as I could," Ryan said. "I didn't know that much about it when I was younger, so they were more excited about it than I was. And that's where I learned how special it was."
No U.S. men's team has won gold since Coach Herb Brooks' underdog team upset the mighty Soviets and beat Finland in the Miracle on Ice, though Ryan's team lost to Canada in the 2010 finale at Vancouver. Ryan, a standout who averages an NHL-leading 29 minutes 34 seconds' ice time per game, will get another chance, at the Sochi Olympics, to match his father's feat.
"I'd love it. I could finally settle him down — just kidding," Ryan said Monday by telephone. "It would be a huge honor. I've always looked up to my dad, not just for his gold medal but because of what kind of person he is. To have a gold medal, to be in that same class as the 1980 team, would be a pretty special feeling."
FOR THE RECORD:
Ryan Suter: A column on Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter that appeared on the cover of the Jan. 28 Sports section stated that the Kings' Jeff Carter was acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers. He was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Suters are featured in a short film produced by Gillette to honor fathers' roles in raising Olympians, complementing an advertising campaign in which athletes thank their moms for helping them. But father and son won't be together in Sochi, at least initially.
Bob, who runs a skating rink in Madison, Wis., doesn't plan to be there from the start but might go if Team USA plays for gold. In an interview with CBS News, he cited as a reason security that "takes away from the athletics and the sports and stuff."
He told The Times on Monday his concern about terrorism "is there, but it's not enough of a reason that would keep me from going there. They wouldn't have the Olympics there if security wasn't going to be good and adequate."
He said he's staying in the U.S. to appear at promotional events with some of his 1980 teammates and because Ryan's wife and two young children aren't going to Sochi, he's not needed to babysit.
Ryan said logistics dictated that decision.
"With two little kids it's a long way to travel. It's just easier for them to watch it on TV. They'll probably get to see more anyway," he said.
But he's aware of possible danger. "I'm thinking about the security, but I think everybody is, because of the media coverage," Ryan said. "Everything is so hyped up and talked about, every little thing. I feel safe. I feel we're going to be taken care of and I really look forward to being over there."
It's all in the timing
The struggling team had high expectations but low production and needed a winger who would fit in with a tight group and score goals to take pressure off the excellent defense and goaltending. The team lost four straight games and eight of 10, and scored 15 goals in a 10-game span that included three shutout losses before a trade was made to fill that need.
That was the Kings' situation on Feb. 23, 2012, when they acquired Jeff Carter from Philadelphia, and it's a lot like their situation now. They had a five-game losing streak before they played Monday night at San Jose and were 4-10-2 in their previous 16. They had scored 28 goals and were shut out three times in that span.
General Manager Dean Lombardi made the right move at the right time to acquire Carter, who contributed eight goals and 13 points to the Kings' Stanley Cup run. It's time for Lombardi to again make a move that will inject offense into a stale lineup.
Lombardi has kept the core of the Cup-winning group together because he believes in it and its character. That's fine. But if he can't find a solution from within, it's time for him to change the equation and deliver a jolt that says no one's job is safe, and acknowledge staying the same is the equivalent of falling behind.
The Kings' salary-cap squeeze limits their ability to take on a big contract unless their trading partner keeps a portion, as Toronto did with Matt Frattin and Ben Scrivens. Lombardi will have to be creative, but he must do something to energize the offense before the March 5 trade deadline.
The NHL got lucky with conditions at the outdoor game Saturday at Dodger Stadium but had to battle snow and a 90-minute sun-glare delay Sunday when the New York Rangers faced the New Jersey Devils at Yankee Stadium. The Rangers will play the New York Islanders at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday before the outdoor series is put on hold for a bigger novelty — the Olympics.
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