Bob Suter, a member of the 1980 U.S. "Miracle on Ice" team and father of Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter, died Tuesday. He was 57.
"The sudden loss of my father has been difficult for myself and our family -- my dad was my hero and he taught me about life, hockey and what was truly important -- family," Ryan Suter said in a statement released by the Wild pn Wednesday. "He will be missed greatly and his legacy and spirit will be with us every day. He lived with the motto, 'It’s all about the kids' and forever he will be remembered by this.
"My family and I also want to say thank you for the tremendous outpouring of support we have received from the hockey community around the world. It means a lot to us to know how much he was loved and will be missed."
The cause of death was not given.
"We are very saddened by today's news that Minnesota Wild scout Bob Suter suddenly passed away," the Wild said in a statement. "The Wild organization sends its condolences to the entire Suter family during this difficult time. Not only was Bob a great hockey ambassador, he was a terrific person off the ice who will be greatly missed by all of us."
Bob Suter, a native of Madison, Wis., was a standout defenseman at the University of Wisconsin, helping the Badgers win the 1977 NCAA championship. He left school two years later and joined the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team, which upset the Soviet Union and defeated Finland to win the gold medal in Lake Placid, N.Y.
"It's a tough day for our sport, having lost a great friend and ambassador of the game," USA Hockey said in a statement. "Bob Suter will always be remembered for his role as a member of the 1980 'Miracle on Ice' team that captivated our country and whose impact is impossible to measure. His legacy, however, is far beyond that as he dedicated his life to advancing hockey and helping young people achieve their dreams. Bob's positive impact on our sport will be felt for generations to come. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Suter family at this difficult time."
Suter, born May 16, 1957, is the first playing member of the 1980 team to die. Herb Brooks, coach of the legendary team, died Aug. 11, 2003 in an automobile accident.
"We are all stunned," said Wisconsin women's hockey coach Mark Johnson, a U.S. Olympic teammate. "Everyone is shocked. It's a sad day for not only the community of Madison but the hockey community who knew Bob and all of the players who he touched and who he gave an opportunity to play hockey and climb up the ladder."
The Los Angeles Kings chose Suter at No. 120 in the 1977 NHL Draft, but he rejected their contract offer after the Olympics and sat out the 1980-81 season to become a free agent. Suter signed with the Minnesota North Stars in 1981 but spent the 1981-82 season in the minors and retired without playing a game in the NHL.
Suter returned to Madison after his retirement and opened a sporting goods store. He coached youth hockey and became part-owner and director of Capitol Ice Arena in Middleton, Wis.
He was a scout for the Wild from 2012-14.
"This is a heartbreaking day," said Wisconsin men's hockey coach Mike Eaves, who played in college with Suter. "Bob was the ultimate teammate. He could skate like the wind and was as hard of a competitor that I ever knew. He has passed much too young."
Suter's younger brother, Gary Suter, played at Wisconsin and spent 17 seasons in the NHL. Gary played in two Olympic tournaments and won a silver medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
Ryan Suter played one season at Wisconsin before turning pro with the Nashville Predators. He signed with the Minnesota Wild in July 2012, was a First-Team All-Star in 2012-13, and played for the U.S. Olympic Team in 2010 and 2014, winning a silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter talks about his father Bob's 1980 Olympic experience.