Anaheim Ducks forward Bobby Ryan the subject of trade rumors last week. It almost seemed like a certainty that he would be dealt, but obviously, it didn’t happen. He talked about that and the change behind the team’s bench when I caught up with him this weekend in Nashville. RLD: What has the atmosphere been like in the room ever since Bruce Boudreau took over? Bobby Ryan: It’s been incredibly upbeat. There’s a little bit of a feeling out process and getting to know the systems that he brought with him. He has turned around the morale and guys are believing more than they have in the past. It’s been great.
First coaching change for you since you came into the NHL – what has this experience been like for you?
Not to slight Randy (Carlyle), it’s been a positive for me. Bruce is more vocal and gives you more feedback. He instills confidence in you and things like that. Sometimes that’s what you need – you need a voice behind you and somebody to tell you you’re doing this right and that wrong. He’s been great for me; we’re developing a good player-to-coach relationship.
System-wise, what’s the biggest difference between Carlyle and Boudreau?
(Boudreau) hasn’t really changed much. He’s changed our neutral zone a little bit, he’s changed our defensive zone, as far as giving guys up. We’re playing a much tighter game with less gaps and we’re not accepting their forwards with so much speed like we did in the past. That’s been the biggest difference.
Before the coaching change, you were the subject of a lot of rumors. What were the emotions like over that 24-48 hour period?
It was tough. You’re reading everything and you just try to tune it out, turn the TV and radio off – whatever it is. Luckily for me, we were in the midst of getting ready for a big game, so I was able to focus on that. You hear things, you read things and even your family reads things, so you’re talking to them about it. It was emotional. It was tough. You just want to keep playing hockey. Fortunately I was able to do that.
Did that situation seem odd to you, considering the rumors weren’t shot down at all by your coach or GM? Usually they nix those rumors right away no matter what…
Yeah, the rumors seemed to grow and go the opposite way. The only good thing about it is that (GM) Bob Murray has always been vocal with me and very honest. When we talked I felt a lot better, even though the rumors were going on. Without saying too much, you obviously want to come to rink confident.
The team obviously isn’t where you want it to be – what’s the attitude like in the room?
Well, the whole month of November was at home and that’s where you win games. We didn’t do that. We had no consistency. We would play for 40 minutes in a game, but give 20 minutes away and that’s what would beat us. Coming to the rink in that span was very tough. I think we’ve turned the corner and we’re finally looking forward. With the coaching change we’ve got a guy that has come in and made us look forward and say ‘This is where we are, this where I’m coming into the team at.’ Now we understand what needs to be done. We’re just trying to attack each day and each game as a different opportunity to gain some points.
Is there one specific thing you guys need to improve on?
It has to be the turnovers. They’ve killed us and we’ve fed other teams transitions. One of those goals (on Thursday) wasn’t a dumb turnover, but just a play where the puck bounced and we had guys changing. It’s the way things go, and things went like that for a month and a half for us. It’s not just one or two guys, it’s the entire team. Cutting out turnovers is what we need to do to turn the corner.
Teemu Selanne has been here ever since you broke into the league. What have you learned from him?
I’ve taken so many little things from him – on the ice positioning and watching the things he does with the puck. But the biggest thing I’ve taken from him is the way he just loves being at the rink. He doesn’t take a day off and he wants to be there and be around the guys. That’s something that gets instilled in you. It’s tough to come to the rink when you’re losing, but this guy brings a smile every day and just continues to work to get better. 40 years old and he’s got 28 points – it’s impressive. Just the way he carries himself is the biggest thing I’ll take from playing with him.
Would much did you pay attention to realignment? Do you like the ‘radical’ change?
Not a whole lot because it’s not going to affect us short-term. I’ll read more and take part in some of the votes this summer. I read two or three articles on it and saw what they’re trying to do. I’m a traditionalist and like the way things are now. I do understand that you do need to cut down travel, because ours is a nightmare and teams in the middle of the country have it a lot worse by playing in the West. I understand things need to change in that regard and I’ll support it.
Finally, you haven’t been as productive this year as you would have liked. With all the rumors behind you and the coaching change, do you think that could act as a turning point for you this season?
Yeah, I’ve found my game over the last four or five games. I had a couple points Tuesday and Thursday, and hopefully things can continue to develop. It’s a whole mental process. I was as down as anybody, everybody starts to slump a little bit and you don’t come out of it. It’s all about changing your mental state. I wasn’t able to do that for a long time and everything kind of snowballed. We dug ourselves a hole and I got myself behind the eight ball. Hopefully now that I’m gaining some trust from Bruce I’ll see some opportunities come my way and run with them.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.