It's not like Ryan Suter had a choice.

This was the point his uncle, former NHL All-Star Gary Suter was making. Gary was on his way back to Minocqua, Wis., from Madison, where he'd helped his brother -- and Ryan's dad -- Bob Suter run a hockey camp.

The subject was defense. As in, could Ryan have played anywhere else?

"It's in his blood," Gary said.

He has a point. Bob Suter was a defenseman on the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team. Gary Suter played defense for 18 NHL seasons. Ryan has a brother playing pro hockey, a cousin playing at UMass-Lowell, another cousin playing pro hockey in Finland.

All defensemen. Can you see trying to fit in at holiday gatherings if you were a forward?

"He'd be disowned," Gary joked.

But seriously, this is a family tradition. Grandpa Marlowe Suter played semi-pro hockey before coaching sons Gary and Bob. He was a defenseman. From an early age, Suters learn that playing D means playing more minutes. In a sport where so often young, talented players are pushed to the forward position, Suters stayed on the back end.

"This is generations now," said Bob.