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Why Bobby Ryan Was Not Selected To Team USA

Yesterday I posted a piece from Scott Burnside of ESPN and this conversation about Bobby Ryan has raised some eyebrows,

"I think we have to know what we're taking with Bobby," says Burke, who had him in Anaheim when the Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007.

"He's a passive guy," Burke says. And over 82 games, yes, Saad and or Pacioretty might be more attractive than Ryan. But Ryan's a game-breaker.

"He is not intense. That word is not in his vocabulary," Burke says. "It's never going to be in his vocabulary. He can't spell intense."

If he's not going to be put in a role in which he can score an important goal, use his skills as a sniper, he shouldn't go, Burke says.

"Is everybody really happy with our speed up front," Poile asks.

There is a pause.

"I don't think it's a fast team," Tallon notes.

Ryan doesn't add to the speed quotient, so do these last two spots need to be filled with speed guys? And if there are injuries, which of these guys are more compatible, more able to move up the roster to fill in more demanding roles?

Read Bruce Garrioch's recent Twitter timeline for quotes from Bobby Ryan.

added 12:22pm, from Ken Warren of Senators Extra,

Being cut is one thing. Being publicly degrated, as Ryan pointed out, is a different issue altogether.

“That’s pretty gutless, almost, to say about a player, but that’s Bruke’s opinion,” Ryan said after the Senators morning skate before Thursday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets. “We’ve always had a good relationship. I haven’t talked to him and I’m probably not going to reach out to him or send him a Christmas card.

“It is what it is, it is how he feels.”

more

added 2:29pm, via Sportsnet, video of Ryan talking with media today.

 

Filed in: NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: bobby+ryan, team+usa

Comments

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PuckStopsHere's avatar

Mistakes are made when a committee overthinks things.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/02/14 at 12:37 PM ET

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Burke is such a tool.  It’s one thing to leave a guy off, but to slag him like that?  Why?  What purpose does that serve?  Besides, is Paul Stasny ‘intense’?  Overall the team is ok, but don’t see a medal.  Leaving off Ryan wasn’t the only odd choice.

Posted by cantskate on 01/02/14 at 12:49 PM ET

SK77's avatar

Mistakes are made when a committee overthinks things.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/02/14 at 11:37 AM ET

Yes, when nine hockey executives who get paid to do this for a living and have combined hundreds of years of experience make decisions that don’t mirror yours, then obviously mistakes were made.

Posted by SK77 on 01/02/14 at 12:58 PM ET

shazam88's avatar

Burke is such a tool.  It’s one thing to leave a guy off, but to slag him like that?  Why?

No kidding. And assuming that there are one or two injuries to roster players before Sochi begins, are Burke and Co. going to re-consider Ryan? Not that he won’t give it his all, but jeez, that’s just not a solid long-term management style being set forth.

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 01/02/14 at 01:00 PM ET

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Smart or not the committee clearly was sending a message to Ryan and Yandle. This approach will either motivate or alienate. As for Burkes comments they agreed to let Burnside observe their private comments. Bad idea….

Posted by timbits on 01/02/14 at 01:07 PM ET

awould's avatar

In this article, Burke comes off as just kind of a petulant a-hole most of the time. He definitely seems to get his feelings hurt when he doesn’t get his way, which is when he starts trashing players in an effort to prove his point. This is consistent with how he comes off most other times.

It’s hard to be unhappy with the Team USA roster though, they’re all pretty solid players. Anyone can quibble over a couple of the choices and there will be plenty of armchair GMs pointing fingers when the team doesn’t win Gold and especially if they fail to get to the medal round. But gimme a break, it will never come down to one player making or breaking anything, it’s a team game. The only player I really wish they’d kept in is Yandle.

Posted by awould on 01/02/14 at 01:09 PM ET

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It’s classless on Burk’s part. You want to leave a player off the team, fine, that’s your prerogative. But trashing the guy like that in public for no reason, I don’t know, he comes off as a tool.
If that’s how you feel about a player, call him and tell him why, don’t let it go to press.

Posted by George0211 on 01/02/14 at 01:21 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

It’s nice to see that Team Canada isn’t the only dumb organization when it comes to over-thinking it’s roster.
Remember when Mantha was on the bubble to make this years Jr team?
Yeah, he’s only the leading scorer for Team Canada.
Remember when Cory Perry wasn’t expected to make the 2005 team? He ended up on the top line and scored some huge goals.
Remember when Canada picked Rob Zamuner for the 1998 Olympic team? Yeah, that worked out really well when we had problems scoring.

Bobby Ryan isn’t intense and he’s not the fastest player on the ice. But it’s not like he’s slow of foot or doesn’t work hard on the ice to make things happen.
And like this article mentions, he’s a game-changer. I’ve watched quite a few Sens games this season and he’s incredibly talented.
In fact, the only American player who has more goals than Ryan over the past 5.5 season is Phil Kessel. That includes Patrick Kane.

Posted by Hank1974 on 01/02/14 at 01:22 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

BTW, I wouldn’t trust Burke to manage my hockey pool.
He has one Cup and that team was built by Bryan Murray.

Posted by Hank1974 on 01/02/14 at 01:22 PM ET

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Re Shaz:  Good point.

Posted by cantskate on 01/02/14 at 01:23 PM ET

Paul's avatar

Added Ken Warren’s story on this topic to the post.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 01/02/14 at 01:24 PM ET

henrymalredo's avatar

I still would’ve picked Ryan, but I understand their reasoning.  If they don’t plan on having Ryan as one of their primary wingers, he’s probably not much use on some of the lower lines.  Though Burke’s statements on Ryan are a bit over the top, especially the comment that he wished he had picked Jack Johnson instead (nobody in their right mind, with hindsight, would pick Johnson over Ryan).  I still think Yandle should have been on the team.  Those are the are the only two real complaints.

Posted by henrymalredo from Lansing on 01/02/14 at 01:25 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Yes, when nine hockey executives who get paid to do this for a living and have combined hundreds of years of experience make decisions that don’t mirror yours, then obviously mistakes were made.

It happens.  In 2010 a group of highly paid hockey executives who get paid to do this for a living decided that Steve Stamkos and Martin St Louis were not good enough for the Olympic Team.  In 2006 a group of highly paid hockey executives who get paid to do this for a living decided Sidney Crosby was not good enough for the Olympic Team.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/02/14 at 01:25 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

It’s not that Ryan (Crosby, St. Louis) weren’t good enough, it’s that they don’t fit what they want or have negative factors that make them a poor choice for the team they’re building. 

I’m not saying it’s not a mistake, but it’s disingenuous to say they were left off because they weren’t good enough when the actual reason was something different.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 01/02/14 at 02:35 PM ET

awould's avatar

To be fair, the discussions between these guys while putting together this roster should never have been made public. The mistake was allowing a reporter access to the meetings and agreeing to let him write about their internal debates.

Burke comes off as an a-hole because that’s who he is. But it would be dumb to expect him to hold back if he feels strongly that a player isn’t up to snuff; you force these guys to sugarcoat everything and maybe the point is lost. I’m sure worse things are said routinely between GMs and coaches about players on their own roster and others.

It is unfortunate and Ryan is handling it with class.

Posted by awould on 01/02/14 at 02:35 PM ET

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Wings brass had made the same assessment of him.

Posted by brians neck on 01/02/14 at 02:40 PM ET

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The way executives described Yandl was the way Brian Rafalski played.  Seemed like he was the best d-man for the Americans last time around, and that wasn’t on the big ice where puck-moving and skating will be at any even bigger premium.  Poile said the coaches didn’t want to play Yandl, well, the head coach has only seen him live, what, once in the last 3 years? 

It was also the coaches (and Burke) who were obsessed by left-right D.  It’s the GM’s job to overrule based on his experience of putting the best players out there.  It’s also his job to let the blowhard Burke stay home.  He had WAY too much influence.

I thought the Doughty-Yandl comparison in the article was spot on.  A questionable decision at the time, yet Doughty was arguably the best d-man on the best team.

Posted by jkm2011 on 01/02/14 at 02:40 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

It’s not that Ryan (Crosby, St. Louis) weren’t good enough, it’s that they don’t fit what they want or have negative factors that make them a poor choice for the team they’re building.

This is a cover for overthinking things.  In order to get the best possible team, you want to get as many potentially gamebreaking players as possible.  That is how you build as good a team as possible.

In the NHL, typically you have role players because there are not enough gamebreakers to go around.  This isn’t true in the Olympics.  There is more than enough talent available.

You do not even believe your claim I quoted.  If you do, tell me the negative factors Sidney Crosby brings to a team, that would make sense in omitting him.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/02/14 at 02:46 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

I agree with the general sentiment here. Making the choice to leave Ryan off is one thing, but calling out his intensity and foot speed publicly in the middle of an NHL season, and in the run-up to the Olympics, is just a completely shitty thing to do.

I say, kudos to Bobby Ryan for responding with a level head and going about his life. Then again, maybe if he had reacted harshly and sniped back at Burke, Burke would’ve seen that as Ryan being “intense” and changed his mind about leaving him off the team… :p

Oh, and also, this decision is stupid from a hockey perspective. I get wanting to build a team in a certain image, but there aren’t many players with Bobby Ryan’s skill set in the world, let alone eligible for the US men’s team. And I’d certainly hope that the leadership/intensity of guys like Parise, Backes, Brown, and Miller is plenty.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 01/02/14 at 02:50 PM ET

awould's avatar

In order to get the best possible team, you want to get as many potentially gamebreaking players as possible.  That is how you build as good a team as possible.

Even though you state that like it’s a fact, it is still just your opinion. And it differs from the opinion of the men who were building the team. Which in your view, of course, makes them stupid and wrong.

Posted by awould on 01/02/14 at 03:24 PM ET

Paul's avatar

Added to the post- Video of Ryan talking with media today.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 01/02/14 at 03:41 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

AWould

I will tell you a very simple thing you can learn by watching hockey.  In almost every game that I watch (this makes this a strong rule of thumb - there are no laws that hold 100% of the time in hockey), the team with the player who plays the best wins the game.  If you want, you can work out how often the first star in a game comes from the winning team - it is a slightly ambiguous question because at times two different groups have picked the three stars in the same game.

The trick is to have as many of those players as possible.  Players who might be good enough to have that gamebreaking performance.  That is how you win.

Now you will be stubborn and say this is just your opinion and try to dismiss it.  That is your argument so far.  The proof comes from watching hockey games.  That is the analysis I ask you to do in order to make sense of what happens in a hockey game.

Overlooking a potentially game breaking player because he doesn’t fit your idea of what a fourth line role player should look like is a mistake.  It is the gamebreakers who win the games.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/02/14 at 03:42 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

You do not even believe your claim I quoted.  If you do, tell me the negative factors Sidney Crosby brings to a team, that would make sense in omitting him.

In 2006 Crosby was a 19 year old with sublime talent but he lacked maturity.  He wasn’t the clear best player in the world that he is now (though after that NHL season he certainly was in the discussion).  He was seen as a petulant guy who dove and whined a lot.  Those aren’t very good traits for a team from a country that prides itself on being the biggest, baddest kid on the block.  Flimsy argument?  Of course!  It’s virtually impossible to justify that choice which is why you picked it over the other two. 

A far easier one to explain is Martin St. Louis.  It’s not hard to see a GM saying he’s too small, his game will suffer on the bigger ice, he doesn’t play the tempo we want to set.  I’m still not saying it’s right, but it’s an example of “good enough but not good for what we want”.  If the concept is that hard to understand I’ll use a non-Olympic example.  The Penguins currently have an abysmal bottom six.  They used to have Matt Cooke and they let him go.  Could he make their bottom six better?  Absolutely.  Could they have resigned him?  Absolutely.  But what he brings to the table (mostly in the “bad hit away from a 20-gamer” category) made them decide that he wasn’t good for their team despite being good enough to represent an improvement over several pieces of it. 

Yandle is the same way.  He’s clearly a better defenseman than some of those they took but he doesn’t fit the style of hockey they want to play so he’s not on the team.  And honestly, I think he’s a bigger surprise than Ryan if they’re saying the team is too slow.  There’s not a whole lot of defenseman out there that skate as well as Yandle.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 01/02/14 at 03:51 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Flimsy argument?  Of course!  It’s virtually impossible to justify that choice which is why you picked it over the other two

The argument being presented earlier in these comments is that a committee of professional hockey players made roster choices (in this case Bobby Ryan’s omission) and who am I (or other comments) to call them wrong. 

I presented several roster choices that do show them wrong (and ones I disagreed with at the time).  Hank1974 has done another good job of listing poor roster choices made by committees of hockey people as well.  The fact that you have to make a flimsy argument to support their past choices further supports the fact that they make mistakes and have made them in the past and that we are more than capable of seeing them.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/02/14 at 04:17 PM ET

awould's avatar

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/02/14 at 03:17 PM ET

The article spelled out the painstaking process they went through in selecting the final roster. I can only imagine the details that didn’t make it into the article and wonder how nuanced it really got inside those meetings. But now you’ve enlightened me and I think, how stupid of them to waste so much time when they should’ve just picked the American players who got the most Star of the Game mentions throughout the season, since they’re the Gamebreakers (tm).

So really, thank you for teaching me that lesson on how to understand the game of hockey. It in no way addressed the point I made, but it was exactly as helpful as your posts usually are. I just wish it had more Corsi.

Posted by awould on 01/02/14 at 05:03 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

I’ve never said they made a correct decision.  You seem to have quoted me to argue someone else’s point.  My argument was that you are speaking falsely when you say they decided these players weren’t good enough.  Good enough does not always equal right fit for the team.  This truly is not as difficult a concept as you seem determined to make it.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 01/02/14 at 05:06 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

The article shows that despite a painstaking process, it is possible to overthink your choices and make mistakes.  I have no doubt that the discussion was nuanced.  It also produced a result which is worse than it could have.

The takeaway point is that committees can overthink things and make mistakes.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/02/14 at 05:14 PM ET

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The good news is for the first time the US has enough talent to actually have this debate. That is a sign of progress.

Posted by timbits on 01/02/14 at 05:22 PM ET

awould's avatar

Good enough does not always equal right fit for the team.

Understanding how team chemistry plays into building a team requires an ability to apply an emotion to the process. All I can say is, good thing Herb Brooks didn’t use Corsi numbers to build his team.

Posted by awould on 01/02/14 at 05:28 PM ET

awould's avatar

Posted by timbits on 01/02/14 at 04:22 PM ET

Indeed. Arguing over which All-Star to have on the roster is a good thing.

Posted by awould on 01/02/14 at 05:28 PM ET

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they should’ve just picked the American players who got the most Star of the Game mentions throughout the season

Really?  How about best offensive numbers?

Bobby Ryan is #3 in goals and #5 in points among US born players and #6 in +/- among American forwards.

TPSH is wrong a lot (believe me, I’ve had scores of comments about how wrong he is that he deleted from his comments sections) but in this case how can you even think to argue against his point?

Brian Burke, the guy who is being lauded for taking five years to build a Leafs team that could squeak into the playoffs and who values truculence above talent, thinks Bobby Ryan isn’t intense enough?  If I were Bobby Ryan I’d wear that as a badge of honour.

Wings brass had made the same assessment of him.

Yeah, sure they did.  If Holland had the chance, as Burke had with Team USA, to have Bobby Ryan on his roster FOR FREE, you think he wouldn’t take it? If you do, then you’re out of your mind.

Posted by Garth on 01/02/14 at 08:13 PM ET

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The US looks a bit thin at center.  The guys chosen are all solid players, but i don’t see the elite pivots that Canada has.  This could be a weakness for the US team.  Of course Ryan and Pominville wouldn’t help in that regard.

Posted by cantskate on 01/02/14 at 08:51 PM ET

awould's avatar

Bobby Ryan is #3 in goals and #5 in points among US born players and #6 in +/- among American forwards.

The other players on the bubble that beat him out are Oshie and Wheeler, who are literally right behind him statistically for the season. There are others that aren’t as high up for sure, but they bring other qualities that matter. The question wasn’t was Ryan a top scorer, it was does he fit into the roster as they envision it. If Ryan wasn’t a top 6 player on this roster, which they determined he wasn’t, then his value as a low-minute guy on a 3rd line was deemed to be wrecked, partially because they apparently think he lacks intensity - Burke said it but it doesn’t sound like there was a lot of guys in the room defending Ryan. They decided what he brings is more than off-set by what he lacks.

My problem with TPSH’s argument is he’s saying they chose the wrong players based on his criteria for selecting a winning team. Based on his criteria, he’s probably right. But that’s not the criteria that was used. Team chemistry mattered a lot, it seems, as well as each player’s disposition/character. I’m not surprised that TPSH would discount team chemistry because the dude seems to live in a bubble of statistics.

So to say Ryan absolutely should have made the team and acting like that is a point that can’t be argued is stupid - for not thing, he didn’t make the team and the reasons why seem reasonable enough to me and others. So there.

Posted by awould on 01/02/14 at 09:09 PM ET

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Yeah, sure they did.  If Holland had the chance, as Burke had with Team USA, to have Bobby Ryan on his roster FOR FREE, you think he wouldn’t take it? If you do, then you’re out of your mind.

I’m talking about the accusations that he lacks intensity and is a floater. The Wings were interested in him, VERY, until his lackadaisical play against us in the playoffs. That was pretty widly reported (i think even on here) that the wings weren’t interested after that.

Posted by brians neck on 01/02/14 at 09:49 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Team chemistry mattered a lot

For the most part team chemistry is a wild ass guess.  How will players who have little or no experience do when they play with one another?  Nobody can know for sure.  Not you.  Not me.  Not Brian Burke.  Not anyone else who is a hockey professional who was involved in the decision-making process.  It is overthinking things based on wild guesses.

We have no way to know if Bobby Ryan will fit in on a hypothetical Olympic Team or not.  Based on what anyone has seen of his play, he seems as good a guess as any other player for fitting in with this team as any other player does and he is a better hockey player than several they actually selected.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/02/14 at 09:51 PM ET

awould's avatar

For the most part team chemistry is a wild ass guess.

It’s also a pretty huge part of a GMs job, and the primary subject of that article. Of course it isn’t cut & dry, but it is what they were working toward. What you call a wild guess, most other people would call an educated guess based on a ton of experience and personal knowledge of the players they’re talking about. Like I said, good thing Herb Brooks didn’t rely on Corsi numbers because that team was very largely put together based on team chemistry.

Posted by awould on 01/02/14 at 11:02 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

PSH:For the most part team chemistry is a wild ass guess.

AWould:It’s also a pretty huge part of a GMs job, and the primary subject of that article.

PSH:  This is a myth.  Chemistry is not park of a GMs job in any meaningful way.  It is the GM’s job to find as many good players as he can.  it is the coach’s job to put them together as a team and see who works well as linemates.  This is a process of trial and error as much as it is skill.

Bobby Ryan way work well as a linemate with any number of players he has little experience playing with.  Many of those players may be on this US Olympic team.  we will never know for sure.  Nobody knows.  Anybody who says they do and make decisions based on that alleged knowledge is a charletan.  Should that be my takeaway?  NHL GMs make decisions based on things they cannot know.  They are willing to throw out what they know about *hockey* in favor of that which they don’t know about *player psychology and how they will fit with other players they have barely met*.

The knock on Ryan as far as I can tell from reading this is he is not a leader and he is an introvert.  Brian Burke likes type A personalities with a lot of swagger.  Bobby Ryan isn’t one.  Hence he didn’t make the Olympic team despite being a better hockey player than many who did.  He threw out what he knows about hockey in favor of what he doesn’t know about.  That is classic overthinking.  That is what happened here.  That is why you are digging yourself deeper and deeper into a hole the further you support this argument.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/03/14 at 12:17 AM ET

awould's avatar

In the real world where people aren’t robots, using judgement grounded in experience to select players or workers based on factors tangible and intangible is done every day in all walks of life. To say GMs just select the best players the way you do implies they look only at stats and not at a players character or disposition. That is completely untrue.

And again, the basic topic of the article was how these hockey professionals with years of experience in the game discussed a players role on the team as a major component along with their particular skillset. You disagree with them. Again, not surprising since you base all of your conclusions on statistics. I disagree with you. Life goes on and Bobby Ryan will see the Olympics on TV just like me because the top hockey minds in the USA also think you’re wrong.

Posted by awould on 01/03/14 at 02:31 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

I don’t base all my decisions on statistics.  That is your strawman and its beneath you.

What I don’t do is abandon a clear hockey decision for some vague ideas about how a player’s personality type may fit with a team.  I cannot accurately project how all the player’s personalities will fit together and neither can you and neither can Brian Burke.  Basing a hockey decision on that personality projection instead of hockey is a mistake.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/03/14 at 02:54 AM ET

awould's avatar

And the circular argument continues…. You’re right because you think they’re wrong based solely on your own opinion.  For better or worse, vague ideas about how a players personality may fit with a team go into these decisions nearly every time. I assume that happens because it matters and has worked over the past forever.

But you’re right because.

Posted by awould on 01/03/14 at 11:31 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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