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Flames All-Time Countdown Chapter CXL: 7. Gary Suter

Chapter 140 of our summer-long feature focuses on four-time all-star and Calder Trophy winner Gary Suter.

7. Gary Suter

Gary Suter was a 6’, 205 lb. defenseman from Madison, Wisconsin. Born on June 24th, 1964, he comes from a hockey family. His brother Bob starred on the United States’ 1980 National team, famous for the "Miracle on Ice." He is also current Minnesota Wild Ryan Suter and current NCHA player Garrett Suter’s uncle.

Gary spent two seasons with the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the USHL, scoring 12 goals with 34 assists and 144 penalty minutes in 59 contests. After one season with the University of Wisconsin (35 games, four goals, 18 assists, 68 PiM), the Flames selected him in the ninth round of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft with the 180th overall pick. He stayed on for one more season with the Badgers, scoring a dozen markers with 39 helpers and 110 penalty minutes in 39 games.

1985-86 would see Suter make his NHL debut with the Flames right out of camp. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year, scoring 18 goals on 195 shots with a team second 50 assists, a plus-11 rating and a team-seventh 141 penalty minutes. He led the club by potting four game winners, placed second with 38 power play points (nine goals, 29 assists), and was third on the team with 8.1 point shares. He played in all 80 games that season for Calgary, not including his first time playing in the all-star game. The team went 40-31-9, placing second in the Smythe Division and tearing through the Campbell Conference before getting stopped short in the Stanley Cup Finals by the Montreal Canadiens in five games. Suter had two goals and eight assists through 22 playoff games.

In 68 games for the Flames in 1986-87, Suter scored nine goals on 152 shots with a team-fourth 39 assists, a minus-10 rating, and 70 minutes in the penalty box. His 5.3 point shares were only fourth best amongst the Flames blueliners. The Flames improved their regular season record by six points, to 46-31-3, but couldn’t get out of the first round of the playoffs, losing to the Winnipeg Jets in six games. Suter played in all of them, earning three assists.

1987-88 would see Suter total a career high and team-fourth 91 points for Calgary. He lit the lamp 21 times on 204 shots with a team leading 70 assists. He was third on the team with an NHL-fifth plus-39 rating, sixth with 124 penalty minutes, and second with 43 power play points (six goals, 37 assists). He led the team with an NHL-fifth 11.1 point shares. For his efforts, he played in his second career all-star contest. In 28 games, he registered more than one point, including 12 times when he finished with three or more. On December 26th, he registered assists on each of Calgary’s goals in a 5-4 heartbreak against the Edmonton Oilers. On New Years’ Eve, he scored twice, including the game winner and adding an assist in a 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Calgary posted a 48-23-9 record, winning the Smythe Division Title. They defeated the Los Angeles Kings in five games before dropping the Division Finals in four to the Oilers. Suter had one goal and nine assists to lead the Flames in the playoffs.

In 1988-89, Suter scored 13 times on 216 shots with 49 assists in 63 games for the Flames. He had a plus-26 rating, 78 penalty minutes, and a team third 8.9 point shares, and appeared in his third all-star game. He was second on the team with 41 power play points and with 33 power play assists. He finished with multiple points 18 times with three three-point games. Calgary racked up 54 wins with nine ties against only 17 losses, winning the President’s Cup with a club record 117 points. They went on to claim the Stanley Cup after rolling through the postseason with only six losses. Suter was limited to only five appearances due to a broken jaw suffered in the opening round series win over the Canucks, and contributed three assists.

Suter racked up 76 points in 76 games for the 1989-90 Flames, scoring 16 goals on 211 shots with 60 assists. He had a plus-4 rating and 97 penalty minutes. He again ranked second on the club in power play assists and points, with 38 and 43 respectively. His 9.2 point shares ranked second on the club only to fellow defenseman Al MacInnis (still yet to come on this countdown). He had 16 multipoint games, including seven with three or more. On December 14th, he had two goals with three assists in an 8-2 win over the Quebec Nordiques. On February 5th, he dished out five assists in a 10-4 romp over the Oilers. On March 15th, he served out four helpers in a 5-4 win against the New Jersey Devils. Calgary posted a 42-23-15 record, earning 99 points and another division title. They lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Kings, in six games. Suter totaled a single assist and 14 penalty minutes through the series.

1990-91 would see Suter play the fourth all-star game in his then six NHL seasons. He scored 12 times on 258 shots with a team-third 58 assists in 79 games. He had a plus-26 rating and 102 penalty minutes, with a team second 32 power play assists. He was third on the team with 9.4 point shares. He finished with more than one point a dozen times, with five three-point performances. The Flames finished the season with a 46-26-8 record, then lost in the first round to the Oilers in seven contests. Suter had a goal and six assists.

In 1991-92, Suter played in 70 games, and ranked sixth on the club with 55 points. He scored 12 goal on 189 shots with 43 assists, a plus-1 rating, and 128 penalty minutes. He was second on the team with 25 power play assists, and third amongst all skaters with a 6.5 point share. He started off the season by collecting four assists and 16 penalty minutes in a 9-2 win over the Oilers on October 4th. He had multiple points a dozen times. Suter’s down year was mirrored by the Flames, who missed the postseason for the first time in 17 seasons at 31-37-12.

Suter played 81 games for the Flames in 1992-93, scoring a career high and team-fifth 23 goals on 263 shots. He was second on the club with 58 helpers, and led the team with 44 power play points (10 goals, 34 assists) and 9.9 point shares. He had a minus-1 rating and 112 penalty minutes. He had 22 games where he earned more than one point, including four games with three or more. On February 10th, he scored twice with three assists in a 13-1 laugher over the Sharks. On April 9th, he had five assists in a win against Vancouver, 8-1. Calgary returned to the playoffs with a 43-30-11 season, but lost in the first round to the Kings. In six games, he scored twice with three assists and a team-worst minus-9 rating.

1993-94 would see Suter play 25 games for the Flames, scoring four times with nine assists, a minus-3 rating, and 20 penalty minutes. On March 10th, the Flames traded him with Paul Ranheim and Ted Drury to the Hartford Whalers for James Patrick, Zarley Zalapski, and Michael Nylander. The next day, the Whalers sent him to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Suter played most of five seasons with the Blackhawks, scoring 53 times with 126 assists in 301 contests. He later played four seasons with the San Jose Sharks, scoring 22 goals with 79 assists in 227 games.

All-Time Statline: 617 games, 128 goals, 436 assists, plus-93 rating, 872 penalty minutes, 69.25 point shares.