As a Chicago Blackhawk fan, it is very easy for me to hate certain players. Jordin Tootoo wears a visor when he fights, Tomas Holmstrom is a slow turd, and Chris Chelios is a turncoat. However, there is one player who has earned my wrath not because he plays for a Central Division rival, but because he greatly shamed me. That player is Ryan Suter.
July 4, 1998: My family travels to a suburb of Madison, WI to watch fireworks. Why did we have to travel across the Illinois state line to stare at burning alkali metals? I only had to summon Knights of the Round to look at pretty colors. And did fireworks ever beat Sephiroth?
We stayed at my cousin’s wife’s parents (In the interest of your time, I’ll just call them CW’s dad and mom). Decent people. Packers fans, but decent people. After watching Dina Meyer get naked in Starship Troopers, I stepped outside to observe my surroundings. Next door, a man was unloading hockey gear from a used pickup truck. CW’s dad tells me that he is Bob Suter, member of the 1980 Miracle on Ice team.
Misanthropy and hatred, not satisfied with occupying my unconscious, quickly spread to the rest of my brain. I had nothing against Bob Suter; the man’s place in history is set. However, I hated his brother, Gary Suter, with the force of one thousand high sticks to the face. Yes, he won the Calder Trophy in 1986, but twelve years later, his defensive laziness and penchant for stupid penalties were two reasons the Hawks failed to make the playoffs for the first time in my fourteen years. He also belonged to the infamous 1998 Olympic Men’s Team that wrecked an Olympic Village hotel room after their final loss in group play. No names were released, but Chelios, then the Blackhawks captain, paid $3000 out of his own pocket to cover the damages. Although U.S. coaches downplayed the entire incident, I assumed the worst and blamed Suter for throwing chairs and denting walls.
Meanwhile, back in the saner world, some teenagers joined Bob outside. One looked to be a little older than me, while the other looked a little younger. CW’s father told me their names: Justin and Ryan, and said they were rambunctious. I inquired no further, viewing them as bullies, kids who would injure my 5’10”, 125 lbs frame with relative ease. On top of that, I knew that I would say that their uncle was a disgrace to the Indianhead. It would be best to keep my distance.
For the rest of the afternoon, I sat in a lawn chair, struggling to enjoy my time away from the PS-X. No Castlevania, no Final Fantasy VII, no Dragon Force, just a cooler full of non-alcoholic beverages and a body covered in mosquito bites. Across the street, the Suter children were playing with water guns, running haphazardly to dodge each other. I thought about joining them, but realized that I already hated their souls. I also did not want to get wet.
Those little devils did not stay on their property for long. Justin and Ryan, squirt guns in hand, menacingly approached CW’s father and me. We wanted to remain dry, we said, but they did not listen to either us. As a last resort, I warned them that if they shot, I would say something mean about them. My pitiful caution did nothing to prevent them from unloading their liquid arsenal on us. Instead of telling them off, I simply repeated my threat, which CW’s father told me not to say. The brothers left, and my Levis jorts and striped Sonoma shirt were ruined for the next 10 minutes. Goddamn was I’m a pussy.
Fast-forward to 2003: my braces are gone, my hair is shoegaze-band length, and I’ve filled out to 170 lbs. I go to ESPN’s website to look at the NHL’s first round draft picks. Marc-Andre Fleury, Eric Staal, Nathan Horton, Nikolai Zherdev, Thomas Vanek, and Milan Michalek do not tell me anything (For that matter, Brent Seabrook meant nothing to me either). Who do I see at #7?
Asshole #1: Ryan Suter. As if I didn’t have a good enough reason to hate the Predators for playing in the same division as the Blackhawks. Now, I have a sworn enemy playing for them. When I told my father this story, he gruffly said, “You need to let things go”. Oh no, Dad. I still owe him at least one evanescent shot that he can easily forget.
Ryan Suter, your uncle was the bane of my existence from 1997-1998. And you want to meet George W. Bush? No wonder you’re single!