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Suter not concerned about injury that kept him out of final game

Wild defenseman hurt his right foot early in Game 3 but believes he'll be ready to go well ahead of 2020-21 season

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

Like any other long-time NHLer, Ryan Suter is a creature of habit. 

So it was understandable that the Wild's recent trip to the bubble in Edmonton, and playing hockey in the middle of August, came as a bit of a shock, especially after spending four months training with the expectation that, at one point the Wild would be back ... it just didn't know exactly when. 

"Honestly, that was the biggest issue I had with the whole thing from the start," Suter said last week. "I mean, we were done in March, we trained, I haven't taken a week off since March just because you didn't know when you were going to start up again. You wanted to be in shape, you wanted to be ready to go."

That's going to be the issue too.

While Suter knows he can take some time off now, nobody knows for sure when the NHL will begin for sure its 2020-21 campaign.

The goal now is to start training camp in mid-November with the regular season commencing sometime around Dec. 1. 

Of course, that makes for a much shorter offseason that would be the norm. And after keeping in such good shape during the last layoff, Suter said it's hard to imagine losing that kind of progress. 

Video: Ryan Suter on growing as a team & next season

"You don't want to take too much time off now because you're feeling good," Suter said. "Guys are in shape and they put in all the work, you don't want to lose that, but you also don't want to wear yourself out when the season comes. I think that's got to be an important thing for the League to find out is when we're going to start so that guys can set their schedules and plan and be prepared for that day."

Indeed, that perfect-world scenario could certainly be pushed back, considering the unusual circumstances around COVID-19. 

Will there be a viable vaccine by December? Will there be people in arenas? Will kids be back in school full-time? Will life have any semblance of normal?

All of those questions cannot be answered in the middle of August, but they are certainly going to play a role in what that timeline could look like.

For now, Suter will take some time to let heal an injury to his right foot that he sustained in the first period Game 3 against the Canucks. Suter remained in the game until the final six minutes of regulation before leaving the game and not returning. 

He did not play in the series-deciding Game 4.

"It's the worst feeling ever. You battle and prepare to be in situations like that and you're not able to be in it. Then you see how the game is going and you know you could've helped," Suter said. "Then after the game to be around the guys is the worst feeling ever. You just feel like you let them down. I hate missing games and I hate it because of that reason."

It was Suter's right foot and ankle that was seriously injured in a game in March of 2018, a broken right ankle -- shattered talus bone -- as well as a broken fibula. It was a freak injury but one that nearly ended his career.

Suter admitted the injury sustained in Game 3 was on the same foot and was related to the previous injury, but that the severity isn't nearly as bad. 

In fact, Suter said he was already up and walking around on it a few days later, a good sign that he'll be ready to go well ahead of the start of the 2020-21 season ... whenever it is.

"I'm confident that it's not anything near that," Suter said. "I'm walking on it. We had an MRI [in Edmonton]. It was just pretty irritated so you couldn't really see much. I'm confident that I'll be fine."

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