Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Did Ryder's Paper Plane's Fly Him To Boston?

I liked Michael Ryder alot, and with that, much of what he gave to the Habs in his four seasons with the club.

I loved that he was a longshot NHLer who scratched and clawed his way to the bigs, despite a number of deficiancies in his game.

When a player's path to the NHL starts in Bonavista, Newfoundland, and incurrs such sightseeing detours in remote hockey coldbed teams such as the Tallahasee Tiger Sharks and the Mississippi Sea Wolves, you just got to admire a player's dedication and conviction when he finally finds himself a member of the Montreal Canadiens!

In Montreal, Ryder scored big time goals in big games with flash and pomp. What's not to like about that?

In his fourth season with the team, we all watched as Ryder's game became a suffocated stiffle, as opponants learned how to nullify his scoring chances. A painful learning lesson it was, but with the Habs winning, Ryder went from key element to spare part in less than half a season.

The result being, he is today a Boston Bruin.

I have no qualms with this eventuality, one that I foresaw long ago.

Still, I gotta say I like the kid!

As there is an awful lot to appreciate about him.

I still believe he should have been the NHL Rookie of the Year in 2004. Like Andrew Raycoft, gimme a break! Calder trophies and abortions should be retroactive - just kidding!

Many Canadiens fans this summer, seem to be having trouble dealing with Ryder's loss. I can understand such a feeling, as I am still partial to Sheldon Souray's loss.

Much has been written, said, and speculated in regards to the treatment Ryder did or did not endure in his last Hab days. Just recently, Ryder was quoted in so many ways and words as to suggest that the Canadiens coaching staff did little to help him remedy his draughtful 2007-08 season.

Talk is always cheap, so take that for what it is in fact worth. Me, I like actions that speak volumes louder!

Fans of Ryder will of course feel slighted in that he may not have been given the same bad season benefit of doubt that players such Alex Kovalev, or Guillaume Latendresse have been given, when results fell below expectations.

The simple explanation for that is that contracts and youth for varying players present entirely different scenarios.

It has often been remarked how Michael Ryder was a good guy, while never complaining of his fate inside the team scheme of things. Prop points are often handed for such behavior by fans of a certain player.

In regards to a player accepting his benching fate quietly and in a sportsmanlike manner, that may not quite be the reaction a coach has sought when omitting a player from the lineup.

While it is commendable to accept things in a respectable way, the mental side of the game of hockey - an aggresive and sometimes even violent sport - perhaps requires an entirely different response.

Speaking from the POV of a former coach myself, I often involved players in subtle mind games as a way to gauge their character. If I simply sat a player during the third period of a game, and he did not balk, I immediately understood that he was not going to be a player I wanted on the ice at that crucial time of the game.

With that type of thinking in mind, if I were to have been an NHL coach, the reaction I would have hoped for from a player cast aside would have been absolute anger.

I would wish for that player to kick over trash cans, spout off, bitch, complain, and hence challenge the decision and prove it wrong.

Show some character, some defiance, and some pride.

If after the third or fourth benching, these traits have yet to be revealed, I would honestly begin to wonder if in fact the player cared at all.

As a coach, you want to elicit some form of resolve from the player. You want to see his frustration boil over into a passionate reaction that translates itself onto the ice.

If, in the end, all you get are the paper planes of indifference and nonchalance, you begin to understand that the player is not a keeper.


P-A said...

Hi Robert,
first, thanks to you to try and put something new about the Habs to chew on during this dull summer of hockey.

About Ryder, for my part, it's not that I don't liked the guy himself but I finded him too unidimensional and I really believe the team is better without him. There is an image that resume all too well what I think of Ryder:

A little bit more than a year ago, at the final game of the season, against the Leafs. After 81 games, the Habs hold a fragile grip on the last playoff spot, and Ryder has 27 goals. After that final game, Ryder has 30 goals but the team has lost it and is not in the playoffs anymore.

I know it was not his fault if the Habs did not make the series that year but I found it too ironic to forget. A hat trick and a 30-goal scorer or a place in the series. Which one has the most benefits to our team? Which one would we rather have?

As I said, it's not really that I don't like him, but I think he was not a right fit for the Canadiens (although I must admit I don't think he'll score a lot more elsewhere, because of the reasons you mentionned before).

We'll see soon enough anyway...

Keep up the good work! :-)

gmd said...

Hi Robert,

I agree with you in that Ryder should have been Rookie of the year over Raycroft.

I wonder what would have happened if Ryder had reacted the way you would have liked to see him act when being benched. I can imagine people saying "I can't believe he's bitching about being benched, he should shut up." Either way, by complaining or keeping quiet he couldn't win, Carbo had no plans for him coming back into the line up.

If the paper airplane story is true, it's amusing. The airplane, like the Habs took a nose dive once they came up against the Flyers.

Great Blog, keep up the good work.

DK said...

If Ryder would have "kick over trash cans, spout off, bitch, complain, and hence challenge the decision and prove it wrong" he would have been labeled a "big baby" and would been crucified by the Montreal media and Habs fans. True story! There is absolutely nothing wrong with Michael Ryder's character and pride because he didn't become a distraction to his winning team. I find it really hard to believe that any coach would instill those traits in their players and perhaps that is why you are a former coach. Boy you must really love Ray Emery to want Ryder to mimic his actions.

Robert L said...

I'm only suggesting those reactions, there could be any others that would show some other form of passion.

It should have nothing to do with the media. How the public feels about it, or whether they even hear about it at all is inconsequencial. It's not even about professionalism.

It is neither a value that a coach instills in a player, hardly.

When a player's game is slipping, or in this matter, his role on the team, I want to see an impassioned player fighting to keep his place.

As for my coaching, and use of this method, there was rarely, if ever, any need to call upon it. I never quite purposely angered a kid, but I would give them things to think about. There self esteem was way more important to me than winning a simple game. I did things in order to build that up.

I coached peewee, bantam and midgets, just so you will understand.

The reason I am a "former" coach is quite boring. After a decade in it, I finally had a team that went all the way. I had no sons on the team, I just coached for the sport of it. The big win coincided with the birth of our first child. I walked away.