Ryan Suter was one of the best players the Predators put on the ice over the franchise's relatively brief history. He was a homegrown prospect, drafted by the team seventh overall in 2003, developed through the team's minor league system and played in 542 games as a member of the Predators. So when he left, everyone in Nashville was a bit upset.
Last year, Suter was booed mercilessly by the Bridgestone Arena faithful in his return to Nashville as a member of the Minnesota Wild, the team he signed a 13-year deal with as an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2012. Here's the video from our friends at SB Nation of his first shift in Nashville as the enemy.
With that in mind, his teammates wanted to make sure their star defenseman was prepared for what awaits him Tuesday night when the Wild make their first visit to play the Predators in 2013-14.
According to Michael Russo of the Star-Tribune, the Wild let Suter have it during the morning skate:
To get him ready for tonight, Suter's Minnesota teammates humorously booed him during the morning skate the first time he touched the puck.
It's probably going to be a lot worse when he takes the ice Tuesday night. Preds coach Barry Trotz is looking forward to the reception his former No. 2 defenseman will get from the Nashville fans as he told Russo:
Suter and Trotz ran into each other before the skates today.
“He said, ‘I thought you liked me?' I do like Ryan. I just know Section 303's not going to let him off the hook. So I've just played along with it,” Trotz said. “Ryan's a big part of our history. He's an exceptional defenseman, and we know it. One thing you'll find out about the Nashville fans, they are passionate.
“Ryan is like one of our family, seeing him as an 18-year-old, but he's the enemy now. So if they want to stay tough on them, that'll be 303's decision, not mine. But I read all the blogs. I'm pretty sure he's not going to be let off the hook for a while.”
If Trotz has his way, it will be a long, long while. The Predators coach told 102.5 the Game in Nashville last week (via Section303.com):
“I hope [the booing] goes on for the next decade. I'll tell you, that throws people off. I know Chris Chelios used to hate coming here. That's perfect. When you hate coming to a building because the fans are having an effect, that's awesome.”
According to Russo, Suter doesn't like that he's booed in Nashville now.
Suter from today on his bumping into his former coach Trotz: “I asked him why he's telling everyone to boo me. I said, ‘I thought we were a little closer than that.' He said it's part of it. I think he was a little, uh, a little embarrassed by it, but it is what it is.
“A year's gone by now, and I've moved on and we have a great team here. I'm just looking forward to the game. Just another game.”
While getting booed by the fans he played in front of for so many years may sting personally, it probably doesn't affect Suter too much on the ice.
In his only appearance at Bridgestone Arena last season, he finished the game with one assist, two shots on goal and logged 28:59 of ice time as the Wild won in a shootout. If he logs those kind of minutes again, it might be Nashville fans feeling a little worse for the wear. All that booing might lead to nothing but a sore throat.