NHL player Bobby Ryan made a triumphant return to hockey on Friday after a leave of absence during which he began treatment for alcohol addiction. Cheered on by fans, Ryan was visibly emotional during his first home game with the Ottowa Senators in more than three months.
He marked the occasion by scoring a hat trick, leading the Senators to a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, and putting a definite end to the Senators' current losing streak.
You can't write this stuff. pic.twitter.com/kEpw9VUsCJ— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) February 28, 2020
"I knew Ottawa being the community that it is that the reception would be good," he told The Associated Press. "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."
It was Ryan's first hat trick in more than five years, with the last being in 2014, and his first actual goal of the entire season. Talk about a comeback.
Ryan started recovery with the NHL's assistance program in November 2019, five days after his last home game with the Senators. Since then, he has played just one game since returning to the team.
Prior to Friday's victory, Ryan shared with The Associated Press how he had tried to keep his issues with alcohol under control and deal with them by himself. "I was trying the white-knuckle thing and doing things the wrong way," he said. "I'd have 20 days of nothing and one real bad one and you just can't get better without (help). There's such a stigma around asking for help and I was trying to do it. I've done that for a long time."
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