It's the best time of year!
On Saturday I caught up with Ducks forward Bobby Ryan and got his thoughts on an assortment of topics as the season begins…
RLD: How do you feel about the team this year?
Bobby Ryan: “Obviously we’re not a team that’s been touted to do a whole lot. I think we’re an underrated team. (Friday) wasn’t exactly a tribute to the way we feel we can play. There’s some big names in the room, some guys that have won Cups, guys that have been around who know what it takes. I think we’re a team that’s going to surprise a lot of other teams and people within the hockey world.”
RLD: Do you have any personal goals? 40 goals? 50?
BR: “Every year 50 goals is something I like to strive for. My role’s changed a little bit and they’re looking for me to be more of a complete player and try to contribute in different ways… whether it’s the point on the power play, which takes me off that half-wall that I’m used to and things like that. I’d certainly love to shoot for that 50 mark, that’d be a heck of a year.
RLD: What makes Ryan Getzlaf the right choice for captain on this team?
BR: “Well, I think this is his team. He’s bought his time here; he’s a leader and a catalyst for us offensively for the past four years now. He’s a little bit older and little more mature now, and he’s certainly well-respected in the room. So I think he was the obvious choice.”
RLD: Is (Getzlaf) a rah-rah guy or does he lead by example?
BR: “I think he’s still got to find that out on his own. He is certainly a guy that when he speaks, people listen. I think the best way for him to lead is going to be by example, because he’s so good and physically capable of taking over a game. I think that comes with trial and error. It’s tough to step into a new year and get that responsibility handed to you, but he’ll do just fine.”
RLD: With guys like Selanne and Koivu – and even Niedermayer before he retired – in the room, are those guys you look up to at your age?
BR: “Yeah, absolutely. I’ve been fortunate enough to play with those guys for a few years; Teemu has been here since I started. They’re guys that have been around, Teemu’s won a Cup and has 600 goals… it’s hard not to listen to a guy like that and they’re certainly guys I go to when I’m wondering or trying to learn something. For me, the opportunity to be a sponge and soak up all of their knowledge is a heck of an experience.”
RLD: What is one memory you’ll take away from the Team USA experience?
BR: “It’s tough to say… the biggest thing for me is probably the camaraderie. I’ve never been on a team like that where they threw 20 guys together. Everybody checked their egos at the door and bought into that system, and guys were given different roles. I was given a fourth-line checking role, and other guys were asked to kill penalties. And everybody just went into that, took their role and ran with it. The whole Olympics, the camaraderie between teammates was incredible.”
RLD: I spoke with a couple other Team USA players this summer, and they had that same answer. It seems like it was a family in that locker room…
BR: “Yeah, you never know when you put 20 guys together. Everybody there obviously shares the ultimate goal, and that’s to get that gold medal. The way guys stood up for each other was incredible.”
RLD: What was it like being named to the Olympic team at the age of 22? Did you ever expect that?
BR: “Certainly not. I knew the cuts were made and phone calls went out and I didn’t get one, so I thought I was in a good place. To get that call from (Brian Burke) here in Nashville was an incredible and very surreal feeling that you just can’t take away.”
RLD: Going on overseas right now, there are the NHL games in different countries. You guys went over to England a couple years ago. What is the transition period like afterwards… does it take a while to get back to normal?
BR: “It’s tough. Those guys are gonna have to battle for at least a week or two, because as soon as you get acclimated with everything, you play your two games and you’re out. From a logistical and health standpoint, it’s a nightmare. It’s good for the league and good to build bases, but those guys are going to have a tough time; you just got to take care of your body, get your rest, and hydrate is probably the biggest thing I can tell those guys, because I was probably dehydrated for a week after coming back.”
RLD: What was your ‘Welcome to the NHL’ moment?
BR: “Mine was sitting at dinner two nights before my first game. I was like sitting there with Pronger, Niedermayer, Marchant, Brad May, Todd Bertuzzi… Bertuzzi was a guy I looked up to my whole life. Sitting around dinner, realizing I wasn’t just a kid anymore, I was actually a part of the team and I was going to go play with them in a couple days, I was overwhelmed.”
RLD: Who did you look up to or try to resemble your game after?
BR: “Todd Bertuzzi is probably the biggest name that comes to mind. I looked up to Mike Modano because he was an American-born player. He and Bertuzzi were probably my two biggest heroes.”
RLD: What are some of your off-ice hobbies? Golf? Video games?
BR: “I love to golf. I don’t mind playing video games. I do play Tiger Woods quite a bit, but other that, just play a lot of guitar.”
RLD: Do you like the new social media aspect, with Twitter, etc.?
BR: “I do think it’s important; especially for teams on the west coast to grow the game out there and have fans be able to connect with you is an important thing for us.”
If you aren’t already, you can follow Bobby on Twitter: @b_ryan9
Photo credit: Getty Images
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