Despite the difficult situation that he finds himself in, you have to tip your cap to Bobby Ryan for his ability to handle things with a bit of humour.
It was announced ahead of the Ottawa Senators’ clash with the San Jose Sharks on Sunday that he would be a healthy scratch because head coach D.J. Smith didn’t believe he “deserved to be in the lineup”, according to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun. It was only the second time in his 12-year NHL career that he was a healthy scratch and the first as a result of performance concerns, per Garrioch.
While that isn’t ideal for any player that’s been in the league for quite some time, the spotlight shining on Ryan is a little brighter than most because he’s the team’s highest-paid player.
On Tuesday, a reporter asked Ryan about his current contract by connecting it to the iconic “my contract sucks” statement former Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo said about his deal back in 2013. And to Ryan’s credit, his approach to the pointed question definitely helped lighten the mood.
“Ah, to a degree, I think, I dunno... I think my contract’s okay,” he said with a cheeky smile before a good laugh when asked if he feels like Luongo. “It works for me!”
Once the chuckles settled down, Ryan was a little more serious about the business side of the sport and gave an honest assessment of his recent play.
“Everybody’s got an agent and they did their job. You know, you can laugh about it all you want. Obviously, everything gets magnified because of it and I understand that. And have I lived up to it (the contract)? At portions of the contract, yes. At portions of the contract, absolutely not. And I understand what comes with that...”
Selected right after Sidney Crosby in the 2005 NHL Draft, Ryan is currently in the fifth season of a seven-year, $50.75 million contract that he inked in October of 2014. And although his $7.25 million cap hit is the highest amongst the Senators this season, the 32-year-old has not played like it.
Ryan’s scored once and added three assists in 10 games.
The frustrations of Ottawa fans and the team’s coaching staff go beyond the slow start, though.
Of the first four years of his current deal, the initial season was the best — when he scored 22 goals and collected 56 points in 81 games. Since then, he hasn’t finished a campaign with more than 42 points.
The Senators won Sunday’s game 5-2 to improve their record to 3-7-1. It’s a result that makes you wonder whether or not Ryan’s absence from the lineup may become a regular occurrence in the future.
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