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Former Olympic foes now part of Team USA family

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators
Bob Suter and Peter Stastny were combatants during the 1980 Winter Olympics when the United States and Czechoslovakia squared off in the preliminary round. Suter and Team USA stunned Stastny's club, 7-3, sending Czechoslovakia on its way to a fifth-place finish while the Americans continued on their miracle run.

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What does Stastny say to Suter when he sees him today?

"You stole our opportunity. We came there as the favorites," Stastny joked with NHL Live! on Thursday.

Fast forward 30 years, and now their sons are not only playing in their own Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but they're doing so with Team USA.

Center Paul Stastny of the Colorado Avalanche and defenseman Ryan Suter of the Nashville Predators are part of the young core of the U.S. team's 2010 entry in Vancouver, and entering Thursday's preliminary-round game with Norway, they're both giving their dads a reason to be proud.

Stastny, who was born in Quebec and carries dual citizenship, is centering Team USA's top line with Zach Parise and Patrick Kane. The trio combined for eight shots, but no goals, during the U.S. team's 3-1 victory against Switzerland on Tuesday. While they were held off the scoreboard, Stastny's dad liked what he saw.

"I really thought they played well," Stastny said of his son's line. "They didn't connect the way they wanted, but sometimes that's all it takes -- get a goal, get something going. Really, it's a little too early after one game to jump to conclusions."

Stastny was really impressed by the unit's first shift of the game.

"They jump on the ice, and their first shift was unbelievable," Stastny said. "They spent a minute, minute and a half in their zone, having three, four, five scoring chances. They played way above anybody's expectations. Overall, they produced their scoring chances and obviously there's room to improve, and they will."

Suter had a strong first game for Team USA as well. He picked up an assist while logging 19:03 of ice time, just 20 seconds less than the team leader in that category, defenseman Erik Johnson.

Dad would like to see him do one thing a little more frequently, though.

"The only advice I give him all the time is shoot the puck," Suter said. "He could shoot a lot more. He almost passes too much. You make something happen when you throw the puck at the net."

Neither father said they try to push advice on their Olympian sons, instead leaving the door open if they ever want to talk about hockey. For them, it's more of a pleasure trip to enjoy watching their children get to experience what they did in 1980.

Of course, both dads are getting a thrill out of seeing their kids play on the world's biggest stage.

"It's great pride. This is something he's worked hard for and he made sacrifices when he was in high school and went away to play in the USNTDP (U.S. National Team Development Program)," Suter said. "I know this was one of his two great dreams, to play in the Olympics along with playing in the NHL."

And for Stastny, it's even more special. He planned on attending last year's All-Star Game in Montreal, a contest in which Paul was scheduled to participate. But a broken left arm sidelined the Avalanche star, causing his dad to cancel the trip and miss out on seeing him play against the NHL's best.

"Last year, I had a ticket, everything ready to go see the All-Star Game. Every time there's something special, I try to be there," Peter said. "I was just praying and hoping everything would be all right, and now we are here (in Vancouver)."

He'll just have to settle for seeing Paul play against the world's best at the Olympics instead.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter at: @DLozoNHL
Author: Dave Lozo | Staff Writer
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