Ryan left the Senators in November to enter the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program to deal with alcohol abuse. He re-joined the Senators in February. Ryan joins teammate Craig Anderson as the only Senators to have won the award.
The other nominees are Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom who successfully recovered from cancer and Stephen Johns who missed 22-months of hockey because of post-traumatic headaches, unrelated to concussions.
IT’S BOBBY! pic.twitter.com/TTfUwCOxpb
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) September 7, 2020
Bobby Ryan Wins Masterton
Ryan has been dealing with alcohol issues for a long time, the tipping point came in November when he realized he needed help to deal with the issue. Because he entered the player assistance program during the season, it became public. Ryan returned to playing in February.
“I am doing very, very well,” he said after returning to the team. “It’s been trying at times, but everybody’s been very supportive and my recovery has been a process and a learning thing for me for sure, but I’ve come a long way and just continuing to get a little bit better with it each day.”
Ryan said this wasn’t a catalyst for his issues but a part of them was about dealing with his childhood. Ryan grew up in Cherry Hill, New Jersey with the name Bobby Stevenson. When he was ten his father assaulted his mother and forced his mother to go to the hospital. His parents made amends and fled to California to avoid prosecution. They changed their names and that is when Bobby Stevenson became Bobby Ryan. They were caught a few years later when U.S. Marshals stormed their home when Ryan was sleeping and took his father away. His father served a five-year prison sentence.
When Ryan came back to play for Ottawa, he scored a hat trick in his first home game.
What This Means for the Future
The most important thing is that Ryan is permanently able to put his issues behind him. His journey may also help players feel more comfortable about entering the player assistance program.
It is tremendously difficult to admit to needing help and being willing to seek it. Hopefully, Ryan’s experience of being accepted for seeking help will make it easier for other players to make that decision. Even if it needs to happen in-season where that information is public.