From his boyhood days in the Philadelphia suburb of Cherry Hill, N.J. to his current life as a National Hockey League star, hockey has always been instrumental in the life of Bobby Ryan.
Ryan, 24-year-old Anaheim Duck, was picked second overall by the Ducks in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Being picked by the Ducks was a dream that had come true for Ryan.
“I fell in love with [hockey] from seeing the Mighty Ducks movie when it came out,” Ryan said. “It was a little surreal when the Draft came and they were picking number two.”
Ryan has quickly become a fan favorite in Anaheim, especially when playing with NHL stars Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne.
“When he came up…he really had a great year in the NHL and has been hot ever since,” Mike Gastonguay, a Ducks fan, said. “Bobby’s a pivotal part of our team right now.”
Ducks fans may enjoy Ryan as a player, but they are not the only ones. Teammates, such as the Ducks’ captain Getzlaf, enjoy the opportunity to play with Ryan.
“He’s been great and we’ve had a lot of chemistry together over the years,” Getzlaf said. “I’m glad we have him on our side.”
One of the finer moments of Ryan’s promising career was the honor to represent the United States national team at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. Ryan actually scored Team USA’s first goal of the tournament.
Team USA lost to Canada in heartbreaking fashion for the gold medal. Nonetheless, it was an honor for Ryan.
“It’s something that you don’t get a lot of opportunity to do and to wear that jersey in that magnitude of a competition was incredible,” Ryan said.
While the loss to Canada was unfortunate, Ryan and several teammates found a way to the lighter side of it through comedy.
Ryan and Getzlaf starred in a skit that played at the 2010 NHL awards, which featured Getzlaf, part of Team Canada, rubbing the victory in Ryan’s face. A frustrated Ryan challenges Getzlaf to a series of interesting and humorous battles.
The skit proved to be popular and a sequel was made for the 2011 NHL Awards with other wacky challenges. Hilarity ensued for both skits.
“They’ve been fun to do and the fans seem to like it,” Ryan said.
Another way that Ryan interacts with fans is through social networking on Twitter. Ryan’s profile (@b_ryan9) has over 93,000 followers as of press time, and his followers continue to grow by the day.
“I think social media is important in today’s game,” Ryan said. “You gotta have a connection with fans, and they gotta have a connection with you.”
While Ryan’s tenure with the Ducks has been successful for the most part, it also had a downside. The Ducks got a rough start to the 2011-12 season, and rumors circulated of a major shakeup within the organization. Ryan was the subject of numerous trade rumors.
“You just gotta try to turn your mind off to it…there’s not much else you can do except lean on friends and family, and try to take the rink,” Ryan said of his techniques that got him through the rumors.
The Ducks did announce a major shakeup, but Ryan was not its focus. Head coach Randy Carlyle was fired and replaced by Bruce Boudreau, who had been fired by the Washington Capitals days earlier.
“[Boudreau] has come in and changed things around,” Ryan said. “He knows how to get the best out of his players.”
After hiring Boudreau, the Ducks have turned things around, and are squeezing into the Western Conference’s playoff picture. Ryan still continues to expand upon his promising career. The way he’s going, it will lead to success in the future.
“It was fate,” Ryan said of his picking, “I hope it’s something that continues.”