This morning the Senators announced that Bobby Ryan has undergone a surgical procedure to repair a sports hernia injury that occurred in November and was re-aggravated during Saturday’s awkward fall into the boards in Dallas.
I guess Ryan wasn’t as “fine” as he described himself to be to coaches following Saturday’s game.
General manager Bryan Murray spoke to the media this morning in Ottawa to brief them on the news.
Via the Senators’ website:
“He got hurt early on and tried to play through it. He felt it handicapped him a little as far as shooting the puck in particular was concerned. Then he had a couple of incidents where things cropped up. Going into the boards the way he did in Dallas was a time we had to decide with him that it was best to stop playing for a bit and get it repaired and give him a chance. I think if we were still in a real serious, serious position here we could maybe get another game or two out of him but it doesn't make a lot of sense at this point in time to continue playing when you're hurt.
In other words, we desperately needed points in the standings, so Bobby Ryan stayed on the ice. Without knowing the severity of the injury when it initially was a problem or being present in the decision-making process for ruling out surgery at the time, it’s tough to really shit on the organization for their handling of the injury without all of the factors and considerations at hand. However, it’s probably safe to say that the Senators’ early season woes really impacted the decision-making from a player personnel standpoint. This after all the team that had Erik Karlsson, Jared Cowen and Jason Spezza all return from major injuries last season, in a lost season, so that they could play in the playoffs.
Murray addressed the timeframe that Ryan will be absent for.
“All indications are it's not a surgery that's going to require a lot of time. In five to six weeks he'll be working out fairly substantially and be ready to — almost at the end of the season — get a clean bill of health and go home. If we have to keep him around a little bit longer for the rehab process we certainly will and Bobby and I have talked about that. It doesn't seem like it's one of those injuries that will last month after month, it's a lot less time than that.”
On the other hand, if this isn’t an Olympic year, there’s probably a greater likelihood that Ryan shuts himself down in November so that he can get healthy and join the team for their playoff push. Instead, he continues to play because of his gut feeling that he’s a bubble candidate going into the season – which makes Brian Burke’s candid criticisms of his game – intensity (!) – ring hollow. It’s no wonder Ryan was so upset about USA Hockey’s evaluation process and the comments that came out via the media.
Suspicions that Ryan was playing through some sort of injury have been kicked around for some time now, but following the Olympic break, the rumours picked up more steam. The injury certainly adds a layer of context to Ryan’s performance and production, so it will be intriguing to see how management evaluates Ryan since they will likely have to negotiate an extension with him this summer or move him for controllable assets that can augment this team’s young core.
The good news is that despite the injury, Ryan fared well playing on a line with Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur. Even though offseason projections optimistically cast him as a potentially 40+ goal scorer who could develop some chemistry with an elite playmaker like Jason Spezza, Ryan still produced at rates similar to his career norms.
Per Behindthenet.ca’s numbers, Ryan’s 1.01 goals/60 rate was the third lowest of his career (ahead of last season’s numbers and his 54 game rookie campaign) but his 2.43 points/60 rate was the third highest of his career as well – a testament to how cohesive and productive his line was this season.
Bryan Murray did give a brief synopsis of Ryan’s season though.
“Well he certainly started very, very well. He shoots the puck awfully well, he scored some goals, his line obviously carried the team early on. He was a big part of that. I think after the hernia started to get aggravated a little bit he seemed to shoot the puck a bit less. Overall very happy and satisfied with his overall play and we know he'll be a real contributor going forward.”
The biggest concern from a Senators perspective will be Ryan’s motivation to re-sign when he’s coming off a season in which he was injured. If he thinks that he can put together a more productive season or simply wants to test the open the market following a season when the new national broadcasting rights deal will kick into the HRR and escalate the cap, why would he want to forego free agency for the guaranteed security he could get by signing an extension this summer?
Murray even touched upon how Ryan felt he couldn’t contribute as much as he felt he could.
“I know there were some times in games that he felt like he couldn't contribute very much but he stayed on the ice as required by the coaching staff and tried very hard to be a big factor for our team. I think he was and obviously we like that kind of person and want to treat him right in return.”
For those reasons alone, it’s probably a little optimistic to believe that a hometown discount is coming for Ryan.