In 1984 Gary Suter had a job in a Madison, Wisconsin, beer plant lugging cases of beer. He'd been playing hockey for the University of Wisconsin Badgers when he learned that he'd just become the Calgary ninth pick and the 180th selection overall in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft.
He won the Calder Trophy in 1985-86. In the 1987-1988 season, Suter led Calgary in assists with 70, a career high, and also set a career high of 91 points. He scored a point in each of 16 straight games and was a nominee for the Norris Trophy for best defenceman. For six consecutive years, Suter ranked fourth among NHL defenders. Suter also competed for his native land, the U.S., in the World Championship in 1985.
Suter helped the Flames to the Stanley Cup finals against Montreal in 1986 but victory eluded them. But he was a member of the 1989 Stanley Cup Champion Flames team.
In 1994 Calgary traded Suter to Hartford and the next day traded again to Chicago by Hartford. He played with Chicago for four years until San Jose signed him as a free agent on July 1, 1998.
The Sharks management and team members had been in a state of high anticipation for months over the prospects of having the mobile, hard-hitting defenceman dress in San Jose teal. Once the Blackhawks traded for Paul Coffey, the Sharks realized that the hockey decision-makers in the Windy City were getting ready to get rid of Suter. So at the NHL Entry Draft on June 27th, San Jose cleverly and quietly traded a ninth-round pick to Chicago for the rights to negotiate with Suter a few days early.
It isn't difficult to imagine that the Sharks were excited about the possibility of acquiring him. In 918 career NHL games with the Flames and Blackhawks, he has amassed 744 points and 1,156 penalty minutes. He has played in four All-Star games and was part of the U.S. World Cup championship team of 1996. In 1995-96, Suter became the first Hawks defenceman to score 20 goals since former Blackhawk great and original Sharks captain Doug Wilson had accomplished the feat six seasons earlier.
Upon his arrival in San Jose, Suter would miss the better part of the season due to injury before returning for three more seasons before retiring at the end of the 2001-02 seasons. Throughout his 17-year NHL career, Gary Suter played in 1,145 games, finished with 845 points and was a member of the U.S. silver medal winning team at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.