The Detroit Red Wings signed forward Bobby Ryan to a one-year contract on the first day of NHL free agency last month after his buyout from the Ottawa Senators.
Ryan, who has also played in the NHL for the Anaheim Ducks, earned the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for 2020 as the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey; he’d taken a leave of absence from the Senators last season, citing alcohol abuse. In his first home game since returning, he tallied three goals and was named the game’s 1st star.
For Ryan, he jumped at the chance to join the Red Wings after parting ways with Ottawa.
“I’d never been through free agency before. I’ve had six years in Anaheim, seven years in Ottawa,” he said. “This was a first, I guess, to hear pitches. When you’re a guy who is going to make a million, a million five, the pitches are not going to be long or outstanding but Steve (Yzerman’s) was. It was just an outstanding conversation. It was a fun process, to hear teams kicking tires, thinking about where you might want to live for a year. Detroit just made the most sense for so many different reasons.”
“I knew that I needed to prove there is still some high-end hockey in me. I didn’t want to go somewhere and immediately be a third- or fourth-line guy. I still think I can play in the top six to nine. Steve made it clear I can earn that there. Whereas other teams I talked to, I don’t know if there were a lot of opportunities to move up. Steve was honest and candid about the fact of, “Listen, if you’re having a very good year and you want to leave at the deadline and I have offers, we can sit down and talk about those things, then we’ll do that.” This opportunity gave me the most chances.”
“And I’m excited to play with those young guys. They have four or five really really good young forwards there that not only are they young, they’ve been in the league. Dylan Larkin is, what, 25? It feels like he’s been in the league for 10 years. I’m looking forward to maybe having a chance to play with him or whoever it might be in that top six if I work my way in there and prove I can still score and that I have some legs left, some hockey left. Then we’ll reassess. If something happens at the deadline, great, if not, I’ll stay with Detroit. I’m very happy about the situation there.”
Meanwhile, after having touched base with Larkin, Ryan is getting more and more comfortable with his new NHL home – and the “refreshing” goal the team has of being far more competitive in the upcoming season than the last.
“I reached out to Dylan through mutual friends in the roller hockey world, we had some mutual friends in that. I shot him a text to ask about the city, the team, the guys, everything — coaches. We texted back and forth for a little while. He was good. He’s been around forever. He knows the ups and the downs of it and he’s adamant they’re going to be more competitive this year. He thinks they’ve got a lot to grow and they’re going to grow a lot throughout the year. That was refreshing to hear that.”
– – Quotes via Craig Custance of The Athletic Link – –