Ryan Suter Hanging Up on Bill Guerin Yesterday Probably Tells Us Why He Was Bought Out

PHOTO: CARLOS GONZALEZ – STAR TRIBUNE

The world of professional sports can be a very brutal and humbling space. When there are billions of dollars up for grabs, ‘being a nice guy’ won’t be the highest priority. Minnesota Wild players, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, were hit with that reality throughout the early tenure of Bill Guerin as the team’s general manager before it all came to a head on Tuesday.

Parise’s frustrations were more up-front throughout the 2020-21 season because his playing time diminished as it went along. First, his role and minutes declined. Then, he was excluded from the power play before finally being scratched from the lineup altogether, including three playoff games.

So yesterday’s news was just the latest piece in a season-long drama between the Wild front office and Zach Parise. But the same thing cannot be said about Ryan Suter’s buyout. He was a top-4 defensive fixture for the Wild all season long and never came to heads with Guerin or Evason publicly.

Hung Up on

Apparently, nobody was as surprised as Suter, himself. Michael Russo (The Athletic) wrote in a column last night that said the 9-year Wild defenseman actually hung up on the 2-year general manager yesterday, when told by Guerin that he’d been bought out. What an amazing exchange this would have been to witness.

Parise, the all-time leading goal scorer among Minnesotans in NHL history, hung up and immediately called his longtime comrade in arms, Suter, to inform his 2012 free-agent tag-team partner and fellow nine-year alternate captain that the Wild were buying out the final four years of his contract.

Suter tried to lift Parise’s spirits. He even told him that funny enough he himself had a missed call from Guerin.

That’s when Guerin suddenly called again. The veteran defenseman answered and was blindsided with the exact same news that he, too, was being bought out of the final four years of his contract.

That call with Guerin wasn’t as lengthy … or as friendly.

Suter, never, ever envisioning that the Wild would actually buy out both contracts at the same time, hung up on the GM.

“These calls are not fun to make,” Guerin said a few hours later at a news conference. “In this position, the chair I’m sitting in, you have to do difficult things.”

Michael Russo – The Athletic

Reasoning?

As we discussed for quite a large portion of today’s ‘SS Minnesota’ (clip below), there seems to have been more bubbling below the surface between Ryan Suter and the Minnesota Wild brass, than what we’ve been led to believe. The move wasn’t based on his play. Suter was still a contributing member of this team and it’s unlikely they’re better off without him next season.

Guerin has made it very clear, however, that the time to “move on” is right now. Obviously, he wants a change in the leadership structure of the Minnesota locker room. Cutting Suter and Parise loose will allow guys like Jared Spurgeon, Matt Dumba and Joel Eriksson Ek to lead a new era of Wild hockey.

Buy in or get out…

At the end of the day, this moves feels like one based on Ryan Suter’s “buy-in” to Bill Guerin’s team construction plan. Was he rolling his eyes in meeting rooms? Did he push younger players to buy into the plan Billy was trying to sell? As a leader, he needed to.

Keeping your mouth shut and not openly speaking out against management doesn’t necessarily equate to buy-in. If Bill Guerin thought Ryan Suter was standing in the way of building his best version of the Minnesota Wild, then it was best to cut ties now. Letting things fester further would’ve become a detriment to the chemistry of this team going forward.

Without Suter around, media can’t write about a diminishing role within the team, should that have happened sometime in the next 4 years. He can’t stand in the way of a new leadership structure you’re trying to build in the locker room, either. And after what happened this season with Parise and the distraction it caused, even while both sides handled it rather professionally, Guerin may have just decided, “enough is enough”.

We’ll see if Bill Guerin’s big balls pay off. Either way, I’m expecting big seasons for both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. It’s the Minnesota way.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan