It's been three years since Ryan Suter's father, Bob, passed away suddenly while at work at the family-run ice arena in suburban Madison, Wisconsin.
And while the pain of losing his dad at just 57 years old still stings every day, the Wild defenseman is buoyed by the fact that the stories he hears from folks in all walks of life help keep his memory and legacy alive.
On the ice, Bob was best known for his work as a defenseman on the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, the Herb Brooks' led 'Miracle on Ice.'
Before he played in the Olympics, however, Bob had a standout career at the University of Wisconsin, one for which he was honored last week when he was inducted into the UW Hall of Fame.
As has become the norm for Ryan, he stood in for his father and represented his family at the event, something that even three years after his passing, remains difficult to comprehend.
"It was awesome, but I wish it would have happened a lot sooner so that he could have experienced it and had some fun with it," Ryan said. "I'm just excited that he's in it and it was an honor to be a part of it.
"Obviously, I'd much rather have my old man here; he deserved it, he should be the one getting all the glory for it. But honestly, that's not the way he would have wanted it. We're just fortunate that he was able to do all those neat things in his life."
A proud Madison native, and resident during the offseason, Ryan was able to partake in a University-related event, a rarity for him during the hockey season. Ryan himself played one season as a Badger in 2003-04 before signing a professional contract and debuting in the NHL less than two year slater.
With hockey season in full swing each September, being on campus brought a flood of nostalgia from his childhood.
"It brought back a lot of memories of when I was younger and being around the family in the fall," Ryan said. "My whole family was basically there. A lot of fun, a lot of great memories and a great honor for my family."
While Ryan was aware of the things his father accomplished on the ice, Ryan said his dad never bragged or showed off. Seemingly each time he attends an event on behalf of his family, Ryan said someone will approach him with a story about his dad. Sometimes it's about something he did on the ice, but often, it's about something Bob did for them off of it.
"I get to see all of my dad's friends and teammates and the people that impacted his life," Ryan said. "For me to finally be able to meet them and build a relationship with them [is special]."
While standing in for his dad has become commonplace, the impact Bob had on others makes doing it easier and more enjoyable. That was certainly the case last Friday, surrounded by family, friends and fellow Badgers.
The Hall of Fame honor is not the first for Bob, who was inducted into the Wisconsin Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001 and the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame as part of the 1980 team in 2003.
But having been born and raised in Madison and experiencing the success he did with the Badgers, Ryan said being in the UW Hall would likely be an honor extra special to Bob.
"For him to be in all those things is awesome," Ryan said. "I'm very proud of him and I know my family is very proud of him."