Bobby Ryan was named the winner of the 2020 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy on Monday. The award is given to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.” Stephen Johns of the Dallas Stars and Oskar Lindblom of the Philadelphia Flyers were the other finalists.
Ryan became an inspiration during the 2019-20 season after leaving the Ottawa Senators on November 20, 2019, to seek help for alcoholism.
After getting treatment in an NHL/NHLPA player assistance program, Ryan returned on February 27, 2020, and had one of the most memorable and emotional games of the season.
In his first game back, Ryan scored a hat trick against the Canucks. He could be seen fighting back tears on the bench.
“I’ve dreaded this day for a better part of three months,” Ryan said upon facing the media for the first time, “but if you’re going to stand here and take time to heal yourself, you’re going to have to face the music.”
Months later, after learning he was a finalist for the Masterton Trophy, Ryan told reporters during a Zoom interview with reporters that he wasn’t sure he’d ever play in the NHL ever again.
“Probably right when I left was the hardest time,” Ryan said according to the Ottawa Sun. “I knew leaving, with the contract there’s that, but I left knowing I might have played my last game in the NHL. That was the hardest thing to swallow and get over.”
Monday night, Ryan accepted the award and offered advice to others going through similar struggles.
“If anybody out there is need of answers or in need of a conversation, find a way to reach out to somebody who’s close to you that can give you that guidance and that conversation to get you started,” Ryan said. “Because every day gets a little bit better and a little bit easier to live.
“I took a detour, but I’m back, and I’m trying to get better every day.”
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Senators’ Bobby Ryan Awarded Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
EDMONTON (Sept. 7, 2020) – Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan is the 2019-20 recipient of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.” The award was presented by the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) to honor the late Bill Masterton, a player for the Minnesota North Stars who exhibited those qualities. Masterton died on Jan. 15, 1968, as a result of an on-ice injury.
Ryan, 33, left the Senators to enter the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program on Nov. 20, 2019. He returned to practice with the team in early February and pledged to share his story publicly in an effort to help and inspire others facing similar challenges. In his first home game after returning to the lineup Ryan tallied a hat trick, was named the game’s First Star and received multiple standing ovations in a 5-2 win over Vancouver on Feb. 27. “Because I’ve been open and candid about that, I think people have looked at me and said, ‘There’s a very relatable person,’” Ryan told the Ottawa Sun. “Through my family stuff and now with alcohol issues, I’ve never hid from it and I’ve always said, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to have to do it in the public eye and I’m going to have to be candid with it.”
A $2,500 grant from the PHWA is awarded annually to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund, based in Bloomington, Minn., in the name of the Masterton Trophy winner.
Other finalists for this year’s honor were Stephen Johns of the Dallas Stars and Oskar Lindblom of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Headline photo courtesy of NHL PR
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