Member of 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, Madison’s Bob Suter, passes away

Madison native and 1980 Olympic gold medalist Bob Suter (right) participated in a ceremonial shave and send-off to the 2014 Sochi Olympics with his son, Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. Bob Suter died Tuesday at age 57.

Craig Lassig/Invision for Gillette

Bob Suter, a Madison, Wis., native who starred at the University of Wisconsin and played on the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" U.S. Olympic hockey team, died Tuesday at age 57.

Wisconsin hockey officials confirmed with Madison’s WISC-TV that Suter died of a heart attack at Capitol Ice Arena, of which he was a part owner.

After attending Madison East High School, Suter, a defenseman, played two seasons at Wisconsin from 1977-79, tallying 21 goals and 48 assists with 210 penalty minutes. He helped the Badgers win the 1977 national championship.

Following a brief stint on a tryout with the CHL’s Tulsa Oilers, Suter joined the U.S. Olympic team, which was coached by Herb Brooks and memorably won the gold medal in Lake Placid, N.Y. In 38 games with the Olympic team, Suter had seven goals, 11 assists and 67 penalty minutes.

Suter never played in the NHL — his pro hockey career lasted just one more season, 79 games in 1981-82 with the Nashville South Stars of the CHL. However, his brother Gary played more than 1,000 games in the NHL with Calgary, Chicago and San Jose, and his son, Ryan, currently plays for the Minnesota Wild. Both Gary and Ryan also played college hockey at Wisconsin.


"This is a heart-breaking day," said Wisconsin men’s hockey coach Mike Eaves, who played alongside Bob Suter collegiately. "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."

"We are all stunned. Everyone is shocked," noted Wisconsin women’s hockey head coach Mark Johnson, who was also a member of the 1980 Olympic team. "It’s a sad day for not only the community of Madison but the hockey community who knew Bob. . . ."

The Wild issued a statement on the death of Bob Suter late Tuesday afternoon:

"We are very saddened by today’s news that Minnesota Wild Scout Bob Suter suddenly passed away. 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 is the only member of the 1980 team to have a son play in the NHL.


He is the first player from the 1980 Olympic team to die. Brooks died in a car crash in 2003.

Suter owned a sporting goods store in Madison as well as the ice rink upon his retirement. But it is the gold-medal team for which he will be most remembered.

"That’s probably why it’s still so prominent 33 to 34 years later, a bunch of young guys playing against professionals," Suter said back in February, before the 2014 Winter Olympics. "No matter if the U.S. wins, and I hope they do, it’s not the same as what we did."