A Clean Slate for Ryder
The Bruins new winger visits Boston
Wednesday, 08.20.2008 / 10:46 AM ET / Features
By John Bishop - BostonBruins.com
“There’s hectic stuff going on,” said a smiling Ryder as he walked up the back stairs in the TD Banknorth Garden to the Bruins locker room following a quick meeting with General Manager Peter Chiarelli. “I am trying to figure it out, but I think I have it narrowed down to two or three spots.”
What do you think of the city, Michael? And where will your apartment be?
“I haven’t gotten to see much of the city,” confessed Ryder who laughed and let us in on another secret. “Today was pretty much going around and trying to look at places, and I got lost.”
“Well, we were driving around and (my real estate agent) knew where she was going, but I had no idea where we were,” he said. “But once I come back I’ll get to see more of the city.”
Come back -- those words have new meaning for the affable right wing whose signing created “some” heated discussion in the hockey press; discussion which prompted Chiarelli to write about it in his new blog On Point with Peter on BostonBruins.com:
I know in some circles we’ve been criticized for paying the money we paid to Michael.
We saw him on numerous occasions (he being in the same division as us), and I’ve seen him on a number of occasions prior to that with Ottawa. He’s a player that we made an organizational decision on to bring into our mix, and I don’t feel the need to justify or to address the criticisms that we’ve been given on signing him. At the end of the day, as a management team, we’re judged on these decisions and we’ll be judged on this one. We were and are excited to get Michael, as he’s a young player who can score goals and competes hard.
We feel he’s really going to fit into our mix, and we’re going to have some success with him.
“Last year was a tough year and I put that behind me and start off with a clean slate now.” - Michael RyderRyder was asked if he had followed discussion about his contract in the hockey media.
“A little,” he said. “I’ve been trying to follow it.”
But as far as his feeling any extra pressure, Ryder said, “No, not really…I’ve just got to prove everyone wrong, right?”
In truth, Ryder has been under pressure since he hit junior hockey with the Hull Olympiques and proving people wrong has been a habit for the former Canadien.
An underdog even in juniors, a certain coach helped the right wing from the Rock round out his game in Hull.
“When I was young (Claude Julien) coached me in junior and he pretty much got me thinking about my work ethic,” explained Ryder, who also played for Julien in Hamilton and Montreal. “Back home I didn’t play very much hockey -- 10 to 15 games a year, max -- so I didn’t really put much effort in sometimes on the ice because I didn’t really need to when I was home.
“But he taught me to do that (because) he’s a coach that tries to get the most out of every player.
“He got the most out of me and I think that’s why we’ve worked pretty well together,” he said.
Ten years ago, Ryder was chosen in the eighth round of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, 216th overall. In 314 NHL games, the Newfoundland native has scored 99 goals and helped on 108 others for 207 points.
But a 14-17-31 line last season had some scratching their heads, particularly because 63, 55 and 58 point seasons had preceded that 31-point campaign.
Undaunted, Coach Julien gave a ringing endorsement of his once and future player earlier this summer.
“Last year was a tough year for him and he probably didn’t quite ‘fit’ as he did in the past,” said Julien. “This is an opportunity to come to a team that, I think, will definitely use his type of player to its advantage.
“He is good down low, strong on the puck and has a great release and a good shot.
“He is capable of being physical and I think our style of play fits him to a ‘t’. There’s no doubt he’ll be a good fit for our hockey club,” he said.
|Ryder (photo CHC)|
“I just have to go out and play my game and everything will work out,” he said. “Last year was a tough year and I put that behind me and start off with a clean slate now.”
As such, a strong September and October are clear aims for the sniper.
“(This summer’s) pretty much been trying to stay in shape and making sure that I get off to a good start and help the team – just try and start winning (right away) and get into the playoffs,” said Ryder. “That’s the main goal, right?”
Sounds like he’s off to a pretty good start, already.