Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan will take on the New York Rangers in the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs starting Thursday night. While at least two games of the series will be played at Madison Square Garden, his life story may deserve a spot on Broadway.
On Thursday, Howie Kussoy of the New York Post recapped the double life Ryan was forced to live as a teenager because of a fugitive father who ran from police after a domestic violence situation involving the hockey player's mother, Melody, in 1997.
His father, Bob Stevenson, was charged with attempted murder and five other felonies, per Kussoy, after an incident in which Melody suffered a "fractured skull, a punctured lung, internal bleeding and four broken ribs."
Melody did not cooperate with authorities afterward, but after Stevenson was released on bail, he went on the run. Eventually, Melody forgave Stevenson and they reunited, continuing to run as a family. They settled in Southern California and changed their last name to Ryan.
A few years later, when he was 12 years old, Bobby Ryan awoke surrounded by police. They had finally tracked down his father, an incident he recounted during a conversation with Chris Simpson of Sportsnet in 2013.
"I think I knew this wasn't gonna last forever," Ryan said. "That was kind of the toughest time when [my dad was arrested]. I knew it was gonna be a long time before I saw him again."
The New York Post report noted Ryan's mother, who worked two jobs to support his budding hockey future, gave him the option to switch his name back to Stevenson. He declined but doesn't know why he didn't want to return to his first identity:
It's really weird that I didn't want to go back to my other name. I don't know if it was because I didn't want to be associated with everything that happened or I was getting recognition throughout the country for hockey or what it was ... but I liked it. I felt more comfortable with it at that point for some reason.
He admitted there were times after getting drafted second overall by the then-Anaheim Mighty Ducks in 2005 where he considered quitting hockey. He told Tim Baines of the Ottawa Sun in 2013 that sports psychologist Dana Sinclair kept him from walking away.
"She saved my career," Ryan said. "When I started seeing her, I was 18, it was post-draft. I wasn't really excited about the game for a while. I wanted to quit. I had a lot more going on than most 18-year-olds should ever have to deal with."
Now 30, the forward has scored 472 points (223 goals and 249 assists) in 669 career games with the Ducks and Senators. He also helped the United States secure a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Ryan enjoyed a strong start to the 2017 postseason with seven points in six games as the Senators knocked out the Boston Bruins in Round 1. Ottawa will need him to keep playing on that level as it faces off with the Rangers and superstar netminder Henrik Lundqvist.