COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Gary Suter, a 1982 graduate of Culver Military Academy, will be enshrined as a member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2011.
He will be joined by Chicago Blackhawks teammate Chris Chelios, Mike Emrick, Ed Snider, and Keith Tkachuk, it was announced Monday by USA Hockey. The five-member class will be formally installed into the Hall in Chicago this fall, with a date to be announced in the near future.
“It’s an extraordinary class,” said Ron DeGregorio, president of USA Hockey. “The varied contributions to the landscape of hockey in our country is truly amazing and, collectively, this class has positively impacted every level of hockey.”
Coming to Culver as a sophomore, Suter played on three Indiana state championship teams and was the team Most Valuable Player his senior year. Culver Prep Hockey Coach Al Clark said Suter is certainly deserving of the honor.
“He had a very high hockey I.Q.,” Clark said. “Gary understood the game very well. He was extremely determined. He wanted to the best in any drill and any game situation. He always wanted to be first.”
“He was also very skillful. He had the ability to control a game,” Clark added. “He had that rare ability to make the game proceed at his pace.”
Clark was Suter’s teacher off the ice as well, teaching him in math and geometry class.
“I think he would credit Culver for being the place where he learned to work hard in other areas besides on the ice. He did not want to do anything less than his best — and he did very well,” said Clark.
“He was the type of person who wanted to make the most of his abilities, there is no question about that.”
Suter’s 17-year NHL career included 844 points (203-641) in 1,145 games played after being drafted by the Calgary Flames in the ninth round (180th overall) of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft. Suter made an immediate impact with the Flames, tallying 68 points (18-50) en route to winning the Calder Trophy in 1986, which marked the first time an American-born player was named the NHL’s top rookie.
A staple on the Calgary blue line for 10 seasons, Suter set a career-high in assists (70) and points (91) in the 1987-88 season and helped the Flames to the franchise’s only Stanley Cup a year later. Suter spent five seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks (1993-98) and four years with the San Jose Sharks (1998-02) before retiring.
Suter was a finalist for the Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy twice during his NHL career. The honor is given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.
On the international stage, Suter earned a silver medal with the U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. He also helped the United States capture the first-ever World Cup of Hockey crown in 1996. He was named a co-Most Valuable Player of Team USA twice.
In all, the Madison, Wis., native represented the United States in eight international events. Suter, who played college hockey at the University of Wisconsin (1983-85), ranks fourth in NHL history in career points by an American defenseman.
Suter is also the uncle of Ryan Suter, who played for Culver in 2000-2001 before joining the United States National Team Development Program. The younger Suter is the first Culver player to be selected in the first round of the NHL draft.
There are currently three former CMA players in the NHL: Ryan Suter and Blake Geoffrion with the Nashville Predators and John-Michael Liles with the Toronto Maple Leafs.