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Ottawa Senators’ Right Wing Bobby Ryan has a lot to celebrate: he scored a hat trick in a game against the Vancouver Canucks late last month. Making the win even sweeter, Ryan’s score came in his second game back after attending treatment for his alcohol addiction.
Last fall, Ryan made headlines after the league announced he would be entering the NHL/NHL Players’ Association assistance program to address his addiction. He entered treatment in November.
At the time, the General Manager of the Senators released a statement, saying, “Bobby is an important member of the Ottawa Senators family and he has our full support as he tends to this matter.”
At 32 years old, Ryan has been a hockey player since childhood, competing on minor ice hockey teams and eventually playing for the minor ice hockey team of the Los Angeles Junior Kings.
He was born Robert Shane Stevenson, to his parents Melody and Bob Stevenson. The family lived in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, where Ryan grew up and attended elementary school.
In a traumatic incident in 1997, Ryan’s father beat his mother in a drunken rage, leaving her with severe injuries that included broken ribs, a skull fracture, and a punctured lung. In a profile piece for ESPN, it was revealed that Ryan’s father suspected that his mother was doing drugs, which led to the violent attack.
Bob Stevenson skipped bail and the family eventually fled to El Segundo, California, where they assumed new identities. They continued on as the “Ryans,” before their secret was revealed in 2000, sending Bob Stevenson to jail.
In the midst of family chaos, Bobby Ryan’s talent for hockey grew even stronger, and he had made a name for himself in the junior hockey scene in California. After his father was sent to prison, he elected to keep the name “Bobby Ryan.”
In 2005, Ryan was drafted by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. During this time, he became the first rookie in Ducks history to score a hat trick. He remained with the Ducks until 2013, when he was traded to the Ottawa Senators.
With the Senators, Ryan was a key player, who helped the team secure a spot in the NHL playoffs in 2017. Ryan contributed four goals over six games, though the team eventually fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who went on to win the Stanley Cup that year.
As Ryan’s success with the Senators continued, he became a fan favorite. The Ottawa community, who had cheered him on since 2013, were the first to cheer him on as he bravely entered treatment for alcohol abuse.
After scoring the hat trick in the February 27 game, Ryan remarked on the support, stating that, “I never doubted that they would be behind me and they never let me down, so it was nice that we all got to enjoy this night as a group.”
Fans held signs in the arena that welcomed Ryan back, and social media was ablaze with well-wishes from spectators and fellow NHL players alike, who noted Ryan’s courage and told others struggling with addiction that there is hope in Ryan’s story.
Although even with the support of his fans, and the NHL, Ryan was quick to pay tribute to the support of his wife, Danielle, whom he married in 2015.
In an emotional post-game interview with Sportsnet, Ryan stated, “For my wife to stand by me and let me go get help and take on a lot and for me to come back and contribute in that sense, it’s just a family victory.”
Ryan, who was seen in tears on the bench after his goal, has a million reasons to celebrate, and with the world behind him, his dark past becomes more than his struggle—it becomes the foundation for a brighter future.
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