Wednesday, February 6, 2008

He Is Ryder, Hear Him Roar

Okay...maybe Ryder won't roar. It's not his style. He's one of the most laid-back, pleasant, genuinely nice people I've ever met. But he should be roaring, at least to his coach and GM.

The Canadiens are treating him like crap and have basically run him out of Montreal. The man scored 85 goals in his first three NHL seasons. Last year, he was a minus 25, and the coach and GM told him, "improve your defensive play." So he did. It also changed the way he plays. He started thinking of getting into position to prevent odd man rushes into his own zone, instead of thinking of getting in position to one-time passes in the offensive zone. The goals were hard to come by. After a while, he started hesitating with the puck on his stick, which, for a guy who built a career out of a super-quick release and hard, accurate wrister, was the worst thing he could have done. The line-shuffling helped a bit, but he never stayed on the same line long enough to prove much. Then he became the healthy scratch of the week.

So, here we have a player who's proven he can score goals, sitting in the pressbox, while a converted defenseman with fewer points and a worse plus/minus in more games played takes his spot. No one's pointing at Saku Koivu or Chris Higgins who are also doing nothing, and coincidentally, are the ones who should be setting up a sniper like Ryder. Number seventy-three is taking all the heat for the former first line's demise.

Now we will undoubtedly see him traded before the deadline. He will end up out west, and Bob Gainey will get some grinder, or underachiever or draft pick for him. Maybe the trade will work out for Montreal, maybe it will be another Ribeiro-for-Niinimaa. But it didn't have to be this way. If Ryder had been let play with someone other than his struggling former first linemates for a decent stretch, he might have put up some respectable numbers and helped the team complement the Plekanec line's scoring. Once you know how to put the puck in the net, you don't forget it. He will go to another team and he'll find it again.

I'm sorry Ryder's stay in Montreal will end on such an ignominous note. He might not be roaring...but all of us who cheered him in the past will be doing so on his behalf.

3 comments:

Naila J. said...

I agree.
Not only does Ryder deserve better treatment, a guy can't improve if he's not playing. You can't get your groove back if you don't try.

It's too bad that the Habs don't trust him, but unfortunately, I agree... It's probably the end of Ryder in Montreal

Brian said...

They destroyed this guy. He was on the way to becoming a bona fide sniper and they asked him to be more responsible on D. If they had tried that with Lafleur, he would have just looked at them and said, "You take care of your end of the ice, and I'll take care of mine." Great post. I still think that trading him will turn him into the Habs' Jacob Marley!

HabsInBlood said...

I agree about the way Ryder was treated this year. Perhaps his laid back attitude hurt him with Carbonneau and maybe added a few to the number of times he sat. If he had bitched about it, maybe Carbo would have seen it as a more positive sign in his eyes. I'm not saying Carbo was right ... just a personality thing. Remember (wait, maybe this hadn't happened yet the day this thread was first started :-)) how Dandy crabbed when he sat. He seemed to be back in the lineup in no time. I'm sorry but we need Ryder playing more than Dandenault, especially at a forward position.

If Ryder is gone for sure at the end of this year when you look at $$ numbers, I could digest a move that involved him by the trade deadline. But, if we can keep him here past this year, I still think he has a lot of upside in his career and I would hate to see him do it somewhere else.