In Mondays Telegram, our cover story was a piece filed by reporter Peter Walsh on Bonavista native and Montreal Canadiens forward Michael Ryder. Walsh had a call from a friend in Habs town who had a spare ticket to Saturday nights game. So off he went ... on strict orders to get something on Ryders falling star (and no one in the office got souvenirs ... tsk tsk). He didnt catch up with Ryder. The former runner-up for rookie of the year hasnt been making himself available to the media. He did, however, get a wonderful colour story on the once-rising NHL talent, complete with the opinions of passionate Habs fans from La Belle Province. Even more interesting than the story itself (sorry Pete) were the web comments that followed. Canadiens fans in Newfoundland offered a range of opinions on several subjects surrounding Ryder. A lot of people seem to think hes being benched in the playoffs because of his poor regular season, others because coach Guy Carbonneau just doesnt like him. It was also suggested Ryder wont get ice time ahead of any Francophone player. Readers bandied about the notion that Ryder didnt get a contract this season because of his less than stellar skating ability, because of his attitude off the ice, and again, because he is not a French Canadian. People speculated that Ryder wasnt playing to his ability because of the media and fan scrutiny in Montreal which has, in the past, directly contributed to the exodus of guys like Jose Theodore and Mike Ribeiro. Like Maple Leafs fans and media, theyre fickle. If you dont think so, ask your friends who cheer for the Habs if they want Carey Price in net for Game 4. I can guarantee half will say they want Jaroslav Halak in net when the puck drops. And not surprisingly, there was a lot of talk dedicated to where Ryder would end up next season. The main consensus was Boston under Claude Julien, Ryders coach in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Gatineau Olympiques, the AHL with the Hamilton Bulldogs and in Montreal for his first two seasons. There were a lot of great theories and some splendid speculation, but no one has suggested that Michael knows what he was, or in this case, wasnt doing this season. For his first three years in Montreal, Ryder consistently added to his stock. Yet the teams management didnt deem it fit to reward him with anything more than a one year deal ... three times! And for what reason? My theory is that Ryder took to the ice this year with the intent of putting in a half-hearted effort. Essentially, if the team doesnt care enough to reward me, why should I reward them with my play when I can go somewhere else where they will appreciate and recognize my talents enough to give me more than a year-to-year contract? It might seem ridiculous considering the irreparable damage done to his own stock, but it is possible. This theory holds even more water if you consider Ryders tactics could be the very reason Gainey didnt move him at the trade deadline. A little management poke-check, if you will. Its almost certain he wont resign with the Habs in the off-season, and they probably wont offer a contract. The only question now is whether hell wear any NHL jersey or find himself like so many other underachieving NHLers: fourth-line duty waiting for a break to jump back into the lineup.
- July 27, 2010 - 13:55
From all the comments it appears nobody reads your blog but I will comment anyway. Methinks you don't have a clue about sports/hockey/players who will become unrestricted free agents at the end of the year. Your theory is ludcriouus and holds no water not even moisture. ALL players play their guts out in the year prior to being an UFA, some fans would argue it's the only year some players care about. The reason is they (Ryder) can tell their team to stick it if they don't want to come back while having the rest of the league bid on their services at the end of the year. Or they could like you say put in a half hearted effort and risk not being offered a contract next year or a samller one at best. Yeah that's a good strategy!