The first thing Predators fans did when looking at the new 2012-13 schedule was find the dates where the Minnesota Wild appeared. That first date is tonight, Jan. 22, as the Predators head to St. Paul to take on Ryan Suter and the Wild.
As you know, Suter declined to stay in Nashville and signed a 13-year, $98 million contract with Minnesota on July 4. Suter, a mainstay on the Predators’ blue-line for seven seasons, didn’t leave on the best note with Nashville or its fans.
However, the Predators’ locker room isn’t focused on facing Suter tonight. The Predators, still searching for their first win of the season, is going up against a high-flying Wild club that has won its first two games.
“Guys aren’t going to think about it; it’s not a big deal to them,” said Predators head coach Barry Trotz. “They just know we’re going to Minnesota. Yeah, Suter is over there but we’re playing the Minnesota Wild. He’s not a part of us anymore. He was a great player for us but he’s not with us anymore. He’s now the enemy.”
In Suter’s time with Nashville he accumulated 238 points in 542 games. Alongside Shea Weber, Suter made up half of the league’s top defense pairing. Suter was also a key piece of the Predators’ leadership group in recent years.
“He was here for so long that once you talked about Nashville, Suter was one of the guys you thought about,” goaltender Pekka Rinne said. “You can’t think of too many better players to play for the Predators. You can’t deny that Suter was such a big part of this organization, but now it’s time to turn the page.”
Rinne mentioned that it will be weird seeing Suter in red and green instead of blue and gold.
“I’m sure it will. … Maybe the first game it’s going to feel weird, but after that it’s just another game,” he said.
Said Weber of seeing Suter in a different uniform for the first time: “It was [weird] the first time I saw a couple pictures, but I don’t think it’s going to take too long. He was here for a while, now he’s gone and we have to move on as well.”
Photo: Shea Weber, left, and goalie Pekka Rinne. / Sanford Myers / The Tennessean