Minnesota Swarm captain Andrew Suitor will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury. (Photo: Chris Fischbeck)
The Minnesota Swarm have announced captain Andrew Suitor will miss the remainder of the 2013 NLL season with a knee injury suffered in Friday night's road win against the Edmonton Rush.
"We wish a speedy recovery to our captain & leader @Suits20, who will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL/MCL," the Swarm's team account posted on Twitter earlier today.
Suitor had posted five points (4+1) and 34 loose balls in five games this year. The Orangeville, Ontario native was coming off a career season in 2012, where he was named the NLL Transition Player of the Year, and collected All-Pro First Team and All-Star starter honors.
“We couldn’t have lost a worse person on our team to be honest,” said rookie defenseman Brock Sorensen. “He’s the backbone of our team. Our team knows it and I think everyone in the league knows it. He’s our motor. Anytime we need him, he’s there for anything that we need.”
“It’s just his intensity on the floor,” said Swarm forward Ryan Benesch. “He’s one of those guys where he gives you 110 percent every shift and he really can fire up a team by just going so hard all the time. It’s just going to be tough without him, that’s for sure.”
The 23-year-old is the league's youngest-serving captain and was given the captaincy prior to the 2012 season. Swarm forward Callum Crawford wore the 'C' on Sunday at home, but the team has not yet announced interim captaincy plans going forward.
“Everybody’s gotta [step up],” Crawford said. “Myself, by being a leader both on and off the floor, trying to lead by example by trying to use a little bit of my experience to help the guys keep moving forward.”
While no contact was made with another player, Suitor seemed to plant awkwardly on his knee and was carried off the field by his teammates. He did not dress for Sunday's game and learned of the extent of the injury after his MRI results came back.
Minnesota fell behind by as many as 10 goals Sunday in the home loss to Edmonton without Suitor. The Swarm are 0-3 this season without Suitor in the lineup.
“I don’t think we’re down 6-0 if Suits is in that game,” Sorensen said. “No way. It’s different when Suits is on the floor.”
Minnesota hopes to rally around their injured leader.
“It gives us something to play for,” Crawford said. “Not just for ourselves, not just for each other, but for Suitor. There’s nobody that wants to be out there and lead us more than Andrew Suitor does.”
“Our season’s on the line,” Sorensen said. “We’re going to have to play for 'Suits.'”
"This doesn't change what our team is, or our goal of winning a Champion's Cup,” Suitor said.
Suitor’s absence places even more weight on the shoulders of the Swarm’s youth.
“For the younger guys, it’s just a chance to step up and be leaders,” Benesch said. “Just because they’re young guys doesn’t mean they can’t be leaders.”
Suitor still plans to provide leadership from the sidelines.
“I’m going to be the number one cheerleader for the rest of the season," he said.
“He’s not a guy who’s going to sit back and not be vocal and not be a part of this team even though he can’t play,” Crawford said. “He’s going to lead from the sidelines. His leadership’s not going to be completely missed. Even without him there, we’re still going to have him.”
Swarm head coach Joe Sullivan released a statement today through the team.
“When you get a special person like Andrew Suitor on your team, you realize not just how great of a player he is, but also what a great person he is, and the positive dynamic he brings both on and off the floor," he said. "The fans get to see him run through three guys and score a highlight goal, but what they don’t get to see is how this young man leads a team.
"His ability to lead people through tough times is second to none, and I fully expect him to recover completely given his never quit personality. He’s going to be terribly missed."
"He’s not replaceable," Sullivan added. "It’s going to take more than one person to fill his shoes and we’re going to need guys to step up. The positive light on the whole thing is that it will give other people an opportunity to show us what they have."