BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Star players get traded around the NHL all the time. It’s just not as big a deal anymore as maybe it used to be. As you’ll often hear from inside the dressing room, “If Wayne Gretzky can get traded, anybody can.”
Now, Bobby Ryan didn’t enjoy quite that immortal stature during his five seasons as an Anaheim Duck, but the time he spent in SoCal — whose hockey boom coincided, of course, with Gretzky’s 1988 arrival in LA — was pretty darned special.
In that time, Ryan put up a quartet of 30-goal seasons, was nominated for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie and won silver with Team USA in the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games.
Ryan might not have become the face of the franchise, but he certainly put himself among the NHL’s elite wingers.
And if not for the league’s salary cap — and with it, Ducks’ long term commitment to fellow forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry — Ryan might indeed have become a fixture in Anaheim.
But such was not to be the case.
Last summer, the 26-year-old Ryan was the centerpiece of a deal with the Ottawa Senators that saw him take up residence in Canada’s capital.
Ever the resilient one, Ryan said he took to the change in venue right away.
“It’s a new team, and a new environment,” Ryan said, “[But] I feel pretty comfortable.”
Playing on the Sens’ top line, Ryan potted six goals and helped on three others in the team’s first 11 games.
Production, he said, is the best way to show new teammates that you belong.
“It was very easy,” said Ryan, who grew up in Cherry Hill, N.J. “You’re never quite sure how it’s going to go. It’s a young team, but a close-knit team. I feel like I’ve [already] become part of that. Everybody’s been amazing, so I felt comfortable, right from the get-go.”
Ryan, who was an important part of Team USA’s medal grab last time around, said he is eager to earn a spot on the team that will head to Sochi, Russia, in February for next year’s Games.
“You spend half the season, trying to make the team,” he said. “You do think about it away from the rink. Especially with it being in Russia. You’ve got to make plans for it ahead of time. [Still] you don’t know if you’re going or what’s going to happen. I do my best to separate it. When I come to the rink, I’m a member of the [Senators]. But it’s always something that’s on your mind.”
The key, he said, is not allowing the back of the mind to dominate the front. That bit of wisdom was something he gleaned from his Olympic experience the last time around.
“In 2010, and even going back to 2009, it was on my mind a lot,” he said. “It wasn’t a detriment, but it was something I focused on. Anybody can play [the game] of checking stats, seeing where other guys are at. How many minutes they’re playing. I won’t do that this time around.
“I’m a little older, and a little better at handling those things now.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.