When USA Hockey announced the Olympic team for the 2014 Games next month in Sochi just minutes after the Winter Classic, a lot of people were surprised at the absence of one name in particular: Bobby Ryan.
The Senators forward has been a consistent 30-goal guy over the last four years and was part of the 2010 team in Vancouver that nearly won gold over the Canadians. He is one of the more natural goal scorers that the USA has at its disposal and popular thinking is you can never have enough scoring.
But USA Hockey didn't see it the same way and when they realized Ryan wasn't going to make a top-six role , the didn't see him fitting a bottom six role very well. In the in-depth story by Scott Burnside of ESPN.com that followed the USA selection process from start to finish, the man who drafted Ryan with the Anaheim Ducks, Brian Burke, wasn't very complimentary. All in all, the story wasn't flattering of Ryan and his overall game. They kept coming back to this: everything but his goal scoring leaves something to be desired.
The words were pretty harsh and the snub, as people have termed it, hit Ryan pretty hard as well, something he discussed after Senators practice on Thursday. Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun had the quotes.
"They were direct quotes and it's unfortunate they feel that way," said Ryan. "That's their opinions and they've got to form a team. I guess to a certain degree you have to respect it.
"You don't have to agree with it, right? But you could have just cut me. You didn't have to ... Actually I almost feel degraded when it comes out like that. It is what it is. That's their decision. That's how they feel about it. I will remember it and use it as motivation."
Ryan said he will spend the second half trying to show he should have been invited.
"It makes you want to prove them wrong," said Ryan. "I spent the first half trying to prove them wrong. I felt I was the odd man out, even in the summer in my conversations."
Burke was the toughest at all, remarking about the lack of intensity that Ryan has among the other issues. Ryan said Burke called him on Wednesday but Ryan didn't return the phone call. It might take a bit before he's willing to have that conversation, if he wants to have it at all.
It was a tough decision, one USA Hockey didn't make lightly. And unfortunately, in situations like picking a team, a player's negatives often get accentuated as you look for a reason to not pick a player instead of the other way around. There is certainly some merit to what the decision-makers were thinking with Ryan, he's not the fastest nor is he the most defensively responsible. But he sure can score.
Time will tell if the USA comes to regret leaving Ryan behind but in the meantime he has motivation to score a little more than he already has with 18 goals midway through the season to lead Ottawa.