This is a pretty brash generalization,* but I think Bobby Ryan generally splits hockey observers (fans, writers, executives) into two diametrically opposed camps: those who defend/laud him and those who linger on his shortcomings/believe he cannot spell the word intense.
To be fair, I think that Brian Burke - the guy who made that comment - probably has one foot in each camp (or at least a half of one foot in the defend/laud camp), but regardless, I’m decidedly in the “Bobby Ryan is quite good” category.
However you feel about that strangely divisive power forward, I think it’s pretty safe to say that he’s experienced a pretty terrible first season with the Ottawa Senators … at least when he hasn’t fared well on the ice.
Just to run things down:
-- Ryan was traded to the Senators from the Anaheim Ducks this past offseason. Even if it put those seemingly perennial trade rumors to bed, it must be difficult to stomach being a four-time 30+ goal scorer in the prime of your career who was traded despite a more-than-reasonable contract ($5.1 million per year) … especially since your winters will be a BIT less hospitable in Ottawa than they were in Southern California.
(I mean, I get that his deal will end after 2014-15, but there’d also be no Teemu Selanne and probably no Saku Koivu to pay for, too. Anyway, I’ll move on from that trade before things get too blustery …)
My feeling is that this trade will haunt the Ducks in the way that trading Tyler Seguin might sting the Boston Bruins: in the long term. Or at least if they fail in a playoff series thanks to an offensive drought.
-- Even as it appeared that he struggled to find chemistry with Jason Spezza (the dream fantasy scenario), Ryan pumped out great stats to finish 2013; he had 10 points in 12 October games, 15 in 14 November contests and 11 in 16 December bouts. Maybe he wasn't/isn't an offensive savior for Ottawa, but I'd say he proved that he can be a go-to guy.
-- Well, unless you're among the brain trust that put together the uncontrollable U.S. Olympic locomotive that routed bad teams and barely scored at all against quality teams. Team USA scored two goals combined against Russia, Canada and Finland in the tournament, and both of those goals came against Russia on the power play. (The only triumphant moment came when T.J. Oshie generated his 15 minutes of fame with that astounding shootout output against Russia.)
Could Ryan have made a difference in all/any of those games? Who knows, but I’d be stewing about it watching the U.S. team fail to score against genuine competitors back in February if I were him.
-- Of course, the narrative was that he blew his chance to prove the U.S. Olympic brass wrong, at least if you live off of hilariously small sample sizes. At least, until Team USA flopped in its own small sample size situation.
-- As the 2013-14 season progressed, it became clear that Ryan’s first season with the Senators would end outside of the playoffs (much like U.S. hockey architect David Poile’s Nashville Predators, but still …).
-- To cap it all off, the 27-year-old underwent season-ending sports hernia surgery on Thursday. Sheesh.
I don’t think Bobby Ryan experienced the worst season of anyone in 2013-14. If you throw out the “millionaire doing what he (presumably) loves for a living” thing away for a minute, though, it seems like life has dumped on him in a way that almost implies he must carry bad karma.
THE BRIGHT SIDE OF RYAN’S SLIDE
Seriously, did he do something to deserve all of this? Is it really so terrible to show a knack for scoring goals, yet not enough to alter the course of a franchise? I don’t get it, but hopefully that negative viewpoint will help you land Ryan a round or three later than you should in 2014-15.
Ultimately, in 70 games, Ryan generated 48 points, 46 PIM, 190 SOG and 104 hits. Not earth-shattering stuff, but I think you should feel pretty good about yourself if you grab him in a deeper spot in a draft this coming summer/spring.
But hey, I’ll admit you might also give up imaginary “grit” and “sticktoitiveness” categories if you grab spurned Americans I’d be in favor of like Ryan, Dustin Byfuglien and Keith Yandle, so obviously buyer beware (exaggerated eye roll).
The Boston Bruins are passing their tough tests left and right, including Thursday’s 3-0 win against the Chicago Blackhawks. It will be interesting to see how they fare on a four-game road trip against far more desperate teams (Washington, Philadelphia, Detroit and Toronto), though … Let me intensify my support for adding Thomas Greiss, as the muddled picture for Mike Smith makes me think he’ll get a solid run of things behind a decent (and most importantly desperate) team … I understand the disappointment with Martin Jones' decline in reps, especially since he's done nothing but play well. Still, Jonathan Quick has been even hotter, so can you blame Los Angeles? ... Gustav Nyquist's hot streak has obscured a comparable one for Tomas Tatar, who now has three straight two-point games (three goals, three assists) ... Max Pacioretty hit 33 goals last night, which might have been less heralded because of his scoring imbalance (only 18 assists). Still with 242 SOG and nine of his goals being GWG, I think most would agree that "Wolverine" has been a great success ... You can probably put any worries about Thomas Vanek (one GWG, two assists on Thursday) to bed, if they even remained ... Ryan Callahan scored two goals last night to give him four points and eight PIM in his last four games. Seems like he's rebounding nicely from a rocky start, which was understandable for injury reasons … The Minnesota Wild have to be at least 10 percent worried about missing the playoffs now. (Yes, I made that figure up off the top of my head.) ... Jiri Tlusty sure has had an odd NHL career, hasn't he? I wouldn't add him just yet, but keep tabs, as they scored two goals last night to give him four points in his last three contests ... Both Dustin Byfuglien and Shea Weber scored their 20th goals of the season last night. Fun fact: Dustin "Buffy the Hamburger Slayer" Byfuglien was selected in the eighth round by Chicago back in 2003. If you're going to call the unusual 29-year-old scorer/weapon/hybrid defenseman lazy, you better also call him an overachiever (which I imagine would be difficult).
* … You’re probably fairly accustomed to these in this space though, let’s face it.