Detroit Red Wings: Bobby Ryan is the clear feel-good story of 2020-21 so far

Detroit Red Wings right wing Bobby Ryan (54). Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Red Wings right wing Bobby Ryan (54). Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

Bobby Ryan continues to be a heartwarming feel-good story in the NHL.

The inspirational forward is off to a hot start for the Detroit Red Wings days into the 2020-21 NHL regular-season, and it is the kind of goodness we need right now with everything else going on in the world.

After signing a one-year, $1 million contract in Detroit in the wake of his Buyout from the Ottawa Senators, Ryan has come flying out of the gates this season with four points (3 G, 1 A) in three assists, including goals in consecutive games.

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Red Wings General Manager Steve Yzerman brought the forward to HockeyTown to add some veteran presence to a young team undergoing a mass rebuilding process, but to also provide a scoring punch to a roster hoping to be more competitive in 2020-21 than they were last year.

And, so far, it is working out perfectly. Ryan has looked incredibly impressive in Detroit’s three games so far, burying a lethal one-timer in his Red Wings debut on Saturday as they beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2, while he had two goals in today’s loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Ryan’s second goal in that iconic, beautiful Red Wings jersey came straight off the faceoff circle with the winger firing an unstoppable snapshot past Joonas Korpisalo, and his second of the afternoon came after getting the final touch on a Anthony Mantha bullet from the point.

Bobby Ryan is the NHL’s Feel-Good Story

Four points in just two games is impressive by anyone’s standards and Ryan is already proving to be a valuable part of this offense, making key contributions already and allowing the Red Wings to be competitive despite their 1-2-0 record to start the year.

He’s one of the smartest hockey players in the NHL if you watch his movement with and without the puck, while he does the small things well that allow for plays to happen in all three zones. Ryan is incredibly dangerous with the puck on his stick and, while a small sample size, he’s already proving that he can be a big-time contributor for this team.

And, I mean, why can’t he score 30 goals again as he did in four consecutive seasons from 2008-12? He is playing at an incredibly high level right now and looks to be at the peak of his powers, so it isn’t out of the realms of possibility that Ryan carves out a monster year in what is a contract year for the forward too.

Ryan is a pure goalscorer and the Red Wings have missed that in recent years, so this does appear to be a match made in heaven. But Ryan’s early success is also a continuation of a real feel-good story that began last year after the 33-year-old spent three months in rehab for alcohol addiction.

Having endured a difficult upbringing, Ryan has had a long battle with alcohol abuse and, after enlisting the help of the joint NHL / NHLPA Assistance Program on Nov. 20, 2019, he returned to the Ottawa Senators after three months of treatment. And, in his first home game since retuning, Ryan recorded a hat trick in a 5-2 Ottawa win over the Vancouver Canucks, leading to a standing ovation and an emotional reaction from Bobby Ryan.

It was the true feel-good story of the 2019-20 season, one of hope, bravery and resilience and Ryan’s story and incredible comeback can be one that inspires and helps so many others who have faced similar battles in their own lives.

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So, not only is Bobby Ryan’s hot start to the 2020-21 NHL Season very good news for the Detroit Red Wings, but it is also good news for hockey fans with one of the game’s good guys truly flourishing in his new home and that is something we can all get behind.