It was perhaps inevitable that Garrett Suter someday would become coach and general manager of the Madison Capitols.
Wednesday was that someday, as Suter, 28, was named to help carry on his family’s legacy with the United States Hockey League team.
“Our new head coach is coming to us with a lot of hockey in his DNA,” said Capitols president Bob Gazich. “I think probably since he was as young as his daughter that he’s carrying around today he’s been preparing for this day. I don’t think it was a matter of if, but a matter of when he was going to be coaching.”
Suter replaces Troy Ward, who resigned last month after one season at the helm. He becomes the fourth coach and GM since the Capitols returned to the USHL two years ago with his brother, Ryan, as chairman and co-owner.
The Suters, of course, have been among the first families of Madison hockey. Marlowe Suter helped found the Capitols youth hockey program in 1977 and his son Bob took it over after a stellar career at the University of Wisconsin and as a member of the U.S. Olympic squad.
Garrett, who played three seasons in the USHL and four years at UW-Stevens Point, returned to help his father run the youth program at Capitol Ice Arena and coached the Under-18 team the past two seasons. His role expanded after the sudden passing of his dad in 2014.
Among the Suters’ top priorities is to strengthen the bonds between the youth and the USHL Capitols programs. That, in turn, will enhance the level of hockey throughout the Madison area, they say.
“Maybe the reason that I am the fourth coach in two years is that we want it done a certain way,” Garrett Suter said. “We want to include the youth program a certain way. We want to include Madison kids and kids in this area a certain way.
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“So far we hadn’t found someone that had those same goals and visions for the future that we do. We’re in it for the long haul. We’ll be around for years to come and we want it done a certain way and we believe we’ll have success that way.”
Ryan Suter said that his grandpa was excited when he was told Monday that Garrett was going to become coach and that another of his grandsons, Jake (son of Gary Suter) would become an assistant coach.
Ryan said he figured his younger brother eventually would become Capitols coach, but that it happened sooner than anticipated.
“Garrett is young but he knows hockey,” Ryan Suter said. “He’s going to do a great job. I know that. I’m his biggest critic, so I know he can do it.
“We’re about developing players, developing our brand. I think having Garrett here accomplishes that. I think in the past we were not good at developing players and I don’t think we were good at developing our brand in the community. It’s not just the Capitols that we want to improve. We want to improve all the youth hockey in Madison.”
Garrett said he’s looking forward to working for his brother, an 11-year NHL veteran defenseman who has spent the past four years with the Minnesota Wild.
“Everything Ryan and I do is pretty collaborative,” he said. “He trusts me and trusts my judgment. If he didn’t I wouldn’t be doing this. That’s the agreement we have. He believes in me and believes in what I can do.”