Why Not Us?

Posted by Amey Doyle on May 16, 2017
Why Not Us?

This article is a great story from a guy who has dealt with a lot of controversy in his life.  A great story on how important understanding your role on and off the ice and how that role may change during your career! One of the hardest things for players to understand is what their role on the team is! Not everyone can be the first line centre, but sometimes the fourth line centre can be just as important! Parents and players at every level can learn that every position on the team is important.  If your daughter is playing on the third line, there is a reason. Maybe she is works great on the back check, maybe she wins her battles in the corner, maybe she is responsible in the defensive zone.  Instead of criticizing the coach for putting her on the third line, why not think about the positives. Think about why and run with it!

Enjoy the read

Photo cred: The Players Tribune

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I had to stop going to the grocery store this season.

For one reason or another, the grocery store has always been where I get recognized the most in Ottawa. I can hang out in pretty much any restaurant or bar and be in the clear, but at the grocery store I’ll pretty much always be spotted. For the most part, I’ve always enjoyed that. Engaging fans is one of the most rewarding things about making it to the NHL. But one thing you learn after playing in Canada for a while is that Canadian hockey fans are … honest.

I might be in the produce aisle squeezing a tomato or something when an elderly woman will approach me.

“Pardon, but are you Bobby Ryan from the Senators?”

I’ll perk up, clear my throat, and in my best I’m A Professional voice respond, “Yes ma’am, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

And without hesitating, she’ll go full beat-reporter on me, “You haven’t scored in a while, eh? Maybe you’re holding the puck too long at the point?”

After hearing that, I might set the tomato down (or maybe squeeze it harder, I’m not sure) before responding. My impulse will be to defend myself, so I’ll say something like, “Well, uh, yeah, I’ve been in a bit of a slump. But I managed to redirect a couple of pucks last game, and I think the goals are going to start comi—”

And that’s when I’ll stop myself and think, Why the hell am I talking about my job at the grocery store?

That type of scenario played out a lot this season. By the time I’d get home, my wife would be confused because I’d be super stressed-out from buying a couple of bags of groceries. Eventually she started doing the shopping. It was for the best, I suppose.

Yes, I know I didn’t score as many goals this season as I have in the past. Yes, I’ve gone stretches where, if you looked at a score sheet, you probably would have had a hard time telling I’d been on the ice at all. I get it. Sometimes, I was frustrated too. But whenever I got down this year I just had to remind myself that this was by design.

Before training camp started last September, I sat down with Coach Boucher and for about two hours we talked hockey. Some of it was specific to our team, but much of it was a broader discussion about hockey philosophy. What makes a good team tick? What causes a talented roster to fail? How do you construct a consistently good power play? 

He told me that if our team was going to succeed, we needed reliable “net guys.” For his system to work, he needed players who could do the dirty work in front of the goalie and behind the net in order to set up chances. I agreed with it, but didn’t realize he was implying that he wanted me to step into that role. Once training camp began and he started putting me in those situations, it became clear that I was going to need to alter my game pretty drastically.

That wasn’t easy for me to do. For most of my life, I’ve been asked to make plays by floating to the outside and putting pucks on net. Suddenly I was being asked to be more physical and screen goalies to help set up chances for other guys.

That meant fewer scoring opportunities for myself, which, for most of my career — and according to people at the grocery store — me not scoring has meant failure. There were stretches this year where I’d be doing everything the team asked of me, and doing it fairly well, but I wouldn’t show up on the score sheet for four or five games at a time. At one point, I went 16 games without a goal, which felt awful. 

But I stuck with it, because I knew that I was part of something more. I had seen what this team was like when I was a sniper and honestly, it wasn’t bad… but it also wasn’t great. In that first meeting, Coach told me that things were going to change around here, and that if I was willing to buy into it — to truly buy in and change the way I played the game — the results would come.

And now, here we are.

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