Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - February 13, 2014

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16 // VARSITY February 13, 2014 BY MIKE LUCAS // UWBADGERS.COM LUCAS AT LARGE W hen Tony Granato, a former Wisconsin All- American forward in the mid '80s, realized that he would be returning to the Olympics ― 26 years later ― as an assistant coach with the U.S. hockey team in Sochi, Russia, he couldn't have been more grateful for the opportunity. "Anytime you can represent your country," said Granato, who still ranks as the third-leading goal scor- er in school history with 100 goals in 152 career games, "and you can be a part of something that could be very special, it makes it that much more exciting." Eight years after the "Miracle on Ice" in Lake Placid, New York ― where the Americans stunned the Russians and ended up winning the gold medal ― Granato joined Badgers teammates Mike Richter and Jim Johannson on the 1988 U.S Olympic team that finished seventh in Calgary, Alberta. "We were still somewhat feeling and living in what the 1980 team had done for us by putting USA Hockey on the map," said Granato. "When we were 14 and 15 and watching that game (the win over the Soviet Union) we dreamed that we could be one of those guys someday." Mark Johnson. Mike Eruzione. Jim Craig. Those guys. "Just wearing your country's colors is the greatest achievement you can have as an athlete," said Granato, who survived 13 seasons in the NHL with the New York Rang- ers, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. He also played in the 1991 Canada Cup and three IIHF World Championships. "The first time you skate on the ice in the Olympics and you see all the flags in the stands ― and you feel the joy and the excitement from being in that moment ― it's some- thing that you'll never forget. It gives me chills just thinking about it now knowing that I was able to be a part of that." Not medaling in Calgary didn't diminish the impact for Granato. "I don't want to say just being there is a reward in itself, that's not it," he said. "You want to compete at your best and you want to be the next Mark Johnson or Mike Eruzione. That was our dream, for sure." • • • • Johnson and Bob Suter lived out their own dreams with the 1980 team. Johnson is now in his 11th season as the coach of the UW women's hockey team. He has won four national championships. Suter spreads his time and energy between Suter's Gold Medal Sports and Capitol Ice Arena. Johnson coached Team USA to a silver medal in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. He has more than a pass- ing interest in Sochi given that five of his former players are compet- ing: Jessie Vetter, Hilary Knight, Meghan Duggan, Brianna Decker (United States) and Meaghan Mik- kelson (Canada). Suter also has something at stake. His son, Ryan, will likely be one of the key components to what- ever success the Americans have in Russia. The younger Suter, now 29, played one season for the Badgers before moving on to the NHL where he's now an all-star defenseman with the Minnesota Wild. Bob Suter, 56, elected not to travel to Sochi, though he admitted that he might reconsider if the U.S. makes a deep run in the tourna- ment and winds up playing for a medal. Otherwise, he has no regrets about staying at home, especially with all of the potential security concerns. "We went to Vancouver and it was great because we'd go differ- ent places on the days between the games," said Bob, noting that any such side trips would probably be out of the question in Russia for obvious reasons. "If you can't travel a lot, what are you going to do?" Bob has put on a lot miles follow- ing his son's development as one of the higher profile players in the league. "I've loved watching him play in Nashville and Minnesota," he said. One of Bob's brothers, Gary, played in more than 1,000 games in the NHL and on two Olympic teams in 1988 and 2002. Bob, who's scouting for the Wild, has heard the speculation that this might be the last time that the NHL allows its players to participate in the Olympics because of the lost revenue from shutting down business for 16 days and the injury concerns. "I can see their point," he said. If that's the case, this might be the last chance for Ryan Suter to double the gold medal count in the Suter family by adding one of his own to his dad's. "I could probably tour with him and make a little off Granato grateful to have Olympic opportunity Continued on Page 18

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