OTTAWA, Ontario - Before he was traded from Anaheim to Ottawa in the summer, gifted right winger Bobby Ryan was aware of the rumblings that his hometown team, the Flyers, were showing interest. It made sense, because Ryan's father is close friends with some of the Flyers executives.
Yes, Ryan said, he would have been happy returning home.
But that doesn't mean he is disappointed that he was sent to the Senators for promising wingers Jakob Silfverberg and Stefan Noesen, along with a 2014 first-round draft choice.
Fact is, he loves being in Ottawa.
"It's been great," Ryan, whose real name was changed by his father several years ago because the elder "Ryan" was on the run from police, said before the Flyers defeated the Senators, 5-0, on Tuesday. "From an organizational standpoint and team standpoint, you can't ask for a better place."
Ryan, 26, a four-time 30-goal scorer who usually is a slow starter, has been dynamic. Playing on a line with Clarke MacArthur and Kyle Turris, he leads the Senators in goals (nine) and points (19).
Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said the hardworking, 6-foot-2, 207-pound Ryan has been a great influence on the younger players.
"We have a lot of guys who have played 800 to 1,000 games, and we have a lot of guys who have played under 200 games. We didn't have a lot of guys in the 400-range, and so what Bobby and Clarke MacArthur have brought to us is some experience in that range," MacLean said. "They've given us a bit of an in-between mentor."
Ryan has become a fan favorite in a city where, unlike Anaheim, hockey is the No. 1 sport.
There are the Angels, college sports, the beaches, the laid-back lifestyle in Anaheim.
"It's a little different here. It's nice to come every day and have to answer questions about why you're not performing or [why you're] riding the good wave," Ryan said. "It's really cool to watch fans engage with you outside the rink and tell you what they would be doing with the team."
Addressing the past
After he was acquired from Anaheim, Ryan politely rehashed his frightening background with the local media.
In 1997, his father, Bob Stevenson Sr., was charged with assaulting his wife, Melody. She had suffered a fractured skull and broken ribs. Stevenson was charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault. Two months later, Stevenson skipped out on the $75,000 bail and fled to El Segundo, Calif. His wife and son soon followed, establishing a new life and new identity.
Bobby Stevenson became Bobby Ryan. In 2000, his father was handcuffed and arrested - his son, then 12, watched in horror - and he eventually served prison time after pleading guilty to aggravated assault and bail jumping.
"I just wanted it to be over with and not have to answer questions day in and day out," Ryan said of explaining the situation to the Ottawa media. "I can just say there's a 30-minute documentary out on it. You guys can watch that if you have any questions."
He was referring to The Secret Life of Bobby Ryan, a special on the Canadian network Sportsnet that can be seen on YouTube. (The "Ryans" still live in Cherry Hill. Bob picked the name "Ryan" because he had just seen the movie Saving Private Ryan.)
Bobby Ryan, who is close with his parents, and his girlfriend live in Victor, Idaho, near Jackson Hole, Wyo., in the offseason because "I just wanted to be off the grid, to be honest with you," he said. "We wanted to find a place that had as little to do with hockey as possible. Just a place to clear my head."
As a way of relaxing, Ryan fishes and plays golf (he carries a 7 handicap) in the offseason. He is far removed from the days when his family was hiding its identity.
Ryan can become an unrestricted free agent after the 2014-15 season. If he hasn't re-signed by then, the Flyers rumor undoubtedly will resurface.
Maybe it even will happen.