Ryan used the natural beauty of the rugged terrain around his summer home near Jackson Hole, Wyo., to work on his cardio base. He was shown the way by Bobby Holik, the former NHL player who won a pair of Stanley Cups with the New Jersey Devils during an 18-year career.
Holik, who retired in 2009, settled in the area after his playing days. According to Ryan, Holik reached out to him -- through Twitter -- with the idea of doing some offseason training.
Ryan agreed and signed on for some dry-land training like none he had ever experienced before.
"I trained with him a couple of days a week this summer," Ryan told NHL.com. "We did a lot of high-altitude hikes and all that."
According to Ryan, the high-altitude work is designed to provide an excellent cardio base as the body learns to function in the "thin air." It is a training technique employed by countless endurance athletes.
"It's endurance; it's the cardio base that you build," said Ryan, taking part this week in the 2013 U.S. Men's National Team Camp at Kettler Arena. "You have much shorter breath up there. The air got pretty thin a few times when we were up there hiking or running and things. To do that and push through those things was his biggest thing. He kind of preached that, and I embraced it and did a lot more of it when we broke off."
Holik also helped with some on-ice workouts, which took a much more traditional turn
"On the ice, it's the same kind of drills," he said. "I think you have a feel for what you need to do and you just go from there. It's been nice to have him. To try to do it by yourself with a non-traditional hockey coach is tough.
"So, to have a guy that has been in the League for so long, had success and is able to give you pointers and help you out means a lot. He's been pushing me hard."
Ryan believes it will all pay off when he reports to Ottawa early next month for his first camp with the Senators, the team he was traded to in July.