No one, least of all Bobby Ryan, could’ve imagined a night like this.
The Ottawa forward returned to home ice and scored a hattrick, helping the Senators to a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
It was in november last year that the Senators announced that Ryan would enter the NHL/NHLPA assistance program, and last week the forward said he’d been battling an alcohol problem.
Ryan was in the lineup for Tuesdays game in Nashville, but last night, the big return to Ottawa happened. And it couldn’t have ended any better.
He netted a hattrick with the crowd giving him a standing ovation and chanting his name. Sitting at the bench after scoring his third, the 32 year old was emotional, holding back the tears. Players and coaches also cheered Ryan on at the bench.
“I knew Ottawa being the community that it is that the reception would be good,” said Ryan according to the Canadian Press post-game. “It just got harder to keep the emotions down throughout the game. It was incredible. They supported me and I got to contribute. You can’t write that, the way that went. It was just an incredible evening, so thank you to all of them.”
Bobby Ryan was named the first star of the night. He credited his wife for helping him through the last couple of months, and said she also deserved a first star.
Canucks head coach Travis Green obviously wanted his team to win. But at the same time, he appreciated the fact that Ryan got the comeback of his dreams.
“You don’t ever like to lose or see other players score on you, but it was obvious by the reaction of the crowd, and there’s still that human element in the game that when guys go through tough things or battle through things,” Green said. “It was just good to see him back out there playing.”
Ryan also engaged in a fight during his comeback, dropping his gloves against Chris Tanev late in the first period.
This will be a night that Ryan, and the hockey world, will never forget.