Bob Suter, a member of the "Miracle On Ice" team that won the Olympic gold medal in 1980 and the father of Minnesota Wild star Ryan Suter, died Tuesday at the age of 57.
Suter died suddenly in his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, and is the first player from the famed 1980 Olympic men's hockey team that upset the Soviet Union and beat Finland for the gold medal to pass away.
Suter did scouting work for the Wild and was a pillar of the youth hockey community and owned a sporting goods store in Madison.
"We are very saddened by today's news that Minnesota Wild scout Bob Suter suddenly passed away," the Wild said in a statement. "The Wild organization sends its condolences to the entire Suter family during this difficult time. Not only was Bob a great hockey ambassador, he was a terrific person off the ice who will be greatly missed by all of us."
Bob Suter was born in Madison in 1957, starred in high school at Madison East and went on to play for the University of Wisconsin where he helped the Badgers win the national title in 1977.
"This is a heartbreaking day," said Wisconsin men's hockey coach Mike Eaves, who was teammates with Suter in college. "Bob was the ultimate teammate. He could skate like the wind and was as hard of a competitor that I ever knew. He has passed much too young."
He was a rugged defenseman for Team USA at the Lake Placid Olympics, playing in all seven games and helping the team to one of the greatest upsets in American sports history.
"Sad news at the passing of Bob Suter a great teammate on 1980 Olympic team," Mike Eruzione tweeted. "He will be missed by so many RIP BamBam."
He was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 1977 and later signed a free agent contract with the Minnesota North Stars in 1981, but never played a game in the NHL. But he did pave the way for his younger brother Gary and son Ryan to become stars in the league, making the Suters one of the most revered families in hockey. Ryan played for Team USA as well and is one of the top defensemen in the NHL.
"We are all stunned," said Wisconsin women's hockey coach Mark Johnson, a teammate of Bob Suter's in 1980. "Everyone is shocked. It's a sad day for not only the community of Madison but the hockey community who knew Bob and all of the players who he touched and who he gave an opportunity to play hockey and climb up the ladder."
USA Hockey called Suter "a great friend and ambassador of the game."
"Bob Suter will always be remembered for his role as a member of the 1980 Miracle on Ice Team that captivated our country and whose impact is impossible to measure," the statement read. "His legacy, however, is far beyond that as he dedicated his life to advancing hockey and helping young people achieve their dreams.
"Bob's positive impact on our sport will be felt for generations to come. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Suter family at this difficult time."