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On Golden Ponds: Bobby Ryan's Non-Olympic Adventure

The tale of Bobby Ryan, Brian Burke and the Team USA selection process

By Jim Iovino
|  Thursday, Jan 2, 2014  |  Updated 2:58 PM EDT
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Bobby Ryan's Non-Olympic Adventure

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Bobby Ryan

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The year didn't end well for Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan, as explained in a tweet from Dec. 30, 2013: 

Unfortunately, 2014 didn't start off any better. The Cherry Hill, N.J., native's name wasn't called out when the U.S. Olympic hockey team was announced Wednesday after the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Mich.

To add insult to his injured pride, the entire selection process was documented for the world to see in a tremendous behind-the-scenes article on ESPN.com by reporter Scott Burnside. And Ryan, formerly a member of the Anaheim Ducks, wasn't portrayed in the best of light.

Ryan was one of a handful of forwards up for the final couple of spots on the roster, along with Chicago's Brandon Saad, Winnipeg's Blake Wheeler and St. Louis' T.J. Oshie.  Oshie and Wheeler made the team while Ryan and Saad did not.

But the quotes from Team USA's selection committee in the ESPN.com article were downright brutal about the 26-year-old Ryan, who was a member of the 2010 squad that nearly won gold in Vancouver.

Here's a sampling of the airing of grievances that took place among Team USA brass, according to Burnside's article:

  • "I think he's sleepy. I think he skates sleepy," offers one member of the selection committee.
  • "He's a passive guy," Burke says.
  • "He is not intense. That word is not in his vocabulary," Burke says. "It's never going to be in his vocabulary. He can't spell intense."

Sure, Ryan tallied just two points in six games in the Vancouver Games, but this is a four-time 30-goal scorer in the NHL that we're talking about here.  American-born 30-goal scorers are hard to come by.

Ryan was basically hung out to dry by Team USA brass, if the quotes in the article are accurate. While one quote was anonymous, the others were attributed to Brian Burke, who drafted Ryan second overall in 2005 and won the Stanley Cup with him two years later in Anaheim. In the ESPN article, Burke is quoted as saying he didn't even want to draft Ryan at No. 2.

"I should have taken Jack," Burke was quoted as saying. He was referring to Jack Johnson, who plays defense for Columbus and was also left off the Team USA roster after playing in the 2010 Games.

All of this was quite a blow to Ryan's reputation on and off the ice. How does one respond to that?

First came a tweet to a Canadian journalist: 

 Then came a follow-up interview with reporters. The word "gutless" was involved: 

 

 

 More quotes can be found over at the National Post.

The crazy thing about all of this? There is a chance that Ryan still could be packing his bags for Sochi if there is an injury before the Games to a forward on the current Team USA roster. But after Burke's quotes and Ryan's response, can that even be a possibility now? Imagine the off-ice circus that would ensue in Sochi.

For now, Team USA has to hope for a healthy couple of months before the Games so the possibility doesn't come up. But if an injury happens, could we be in for another debate over who should go to Sochi -- Ryan or Saad?

Saad had better hope he's on Burke's good side, and if he isn't he should start working on that ASAP.

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