Saturday night Ryan Suter went back to Nashville for the first time since he signed that massive deal with Minnesota and broke up arguably the most dominant defensive pairing in hockey.
To the surprise of literally no one, the sellout crowd at Bridgestone Arena spent the entire game booing him whenever he touched the puck, all night long. Well, hold on. One person was surprised that no one deigned to thank Suter for the years of his life he dedicated to making that city a hockey market.
“I was just trying to get through it, trying to block it out,” he said, wiping away tears as fresh and deep blue as Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes with a fistful of $100 bills, which he promptly threw in the trash. “It’s not fun being booed. It went the whole game, too. That kind of surprised me. They’ll probably have some sore throats tomorrow.”
I don’t know what it’s like to be a super-rich, mega-talented professional athlete. That may come as a surprise to you, but I have very limited experience being either of those things. So maybe I don’t understand what, in Ryan Suter’s world, was meant to have happened when he came out for warmups, or when he touched the puck. Should old men have wiped away tears of joy that their homegrown talent had finally cashed in and been able to buy a nice, comfortable home in the country for pretty much every member of his extended family? Should children who spent a week after the signing crying into their No. 20 Preds jerseys have gone wild at the chance to see their favorite player return to his old rink? Should drunk guys in their 30s have clapped in stoic appreciation of all he’d done to make them give a rat’s ass about this sport?
Maybe he thought they’d throw roses on the ice when he picked up an assist on Zach Parise’s goal to open the scoring, like a matador who had successfully slain the savage beast of The Pressure that comes with heading back to his old stomping grounds. He had to answer a lot of questions about it this week, folks. Show a little class.
The bad news for Suter is that an entire city of people hate him enough to boo him for a little less than half an hour. The good news for Suter is that his Wild won in a shootout. And also that he’s super rich and wouldn’t care if anyone who booed him in particular lived or died. But when they all do it at once? That’s a little tough to take.
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