LOS ANGELES – When the NHL schedule came out in July, Bobby Ryan saw that he would return to Anaheim soon, within in the first two weeks.
Then he took a closer look and saw that it would come Sunday, after a game in San Jose. No off-day buildup. No game-day morning skate to talk about it.
"I realized we weren't even going to be there long enough to think about it," Ryan said in an interview with Los Angeles reporters earlier this week.
In other words, a clean break, which is what Ryan and the Anaheim Ducks have had since Anaheim fulfilled years of rumors when it traded Ryan to the Ottawa Senators in July for Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen and a 2014 draft pick. What will it be like when he steps on the ice at Honda Center?
"I don't know what kind of reaction I'll get," he said.
SOG: 12 | +/-: 0
"I don't think everybody knows the whole story of what happened with him, anyway," Getzlaf said. "I'm sure our fans will be welcoming to him. He's an Orange County kid. I'm sure they'll welcome him back and give him his due."
Ryan was part of a dynamic line with Getzlaf and Perry for the better part of the last four NHL seasons, all of them 30-goal campaigns. It was an enviable trio, but the franchise long ago declared Getzlaf and Perry the cornerstones, so Ryan was always the movable piece in the salary cap era, especially after Getzlaf and Perry signed eight-year extensions in March.
Ryan's uncertainty is likely related to comments he made to a New Jersey newspaper on the day of the 2012 NHL Draft that he essentially wanted out of Anaheim. As much as Ryan and longtime girlfriend Danielle liked the Southern California lifestyle -- he enjoyed a residence in sunny Newport Beach -- Ryan admits it's enjoyable not to have that chatter about potential trades weighing on him.
"It's been really nice coming to the rink and not having to deal with the [questions]," Ryan said. "For a while, it just didn't feel like there was any security. It's tough to play every day with that in the back of your mind. I'm really glad [Anaheim general manager] Bob [Murray] …. gave me the opportunity to go somewhere that was in transition and getting better every year that I could become part of the core, like we had done a little bit here with [Getzlaf], [Perry], myself and Cam [Fowler]. It's just nice to play again and not worry about it."
Ryan could easily walk around Orange County and not be recognized. That remained the case when Ryan, upon his arrival in Ottawa, filmed a funny video in which he interviewed Senators fans who didn't recognize their newest player, a la New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey's piece for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
But that's changed. Part of why Ryan hasn't been able to think much about returning to Anaheim is that his life has been a whirlwind since he moved to a Canadian market. He got the occasional hello from fans in Southern California but…
"Not quite like this is," Ryan said. "It's funny. Now you just get the stare and the whispers when you walk by people. Danielle's like, 'It's eerily quiet in a very busy place when you're walking around.' It's a much different feeling, that's for sure."
The media spotlight is just as intense. When Ryan played his first two games without a goal, that media microscope zoomed in, and Ryan wasn't quite ready.
"It did surprise me, but it shouldn't have because people told me about it," he said. "The players told me about it beforehand and they said that some of the questions that you're going to get … you're going to have to roll your eyes and bear with it. I've done that a few times. It is what it is. It's a hockey market and they want answers and production right away, and I understand that."
"I don't think everybody knows the whole story of what happened with him, anyway. I'm sure our fans will be welcoming to him. He's an Orange County kid. I'm sure they'll welcome him back and give him his due."
-- Ducks F Ryan Getzlaf on Bobby Ryan
Affable and known as one of the more articulate and candid players in the League, Ryan looked quite comfortable in the aforementioned video as the man on the street. He said that some of them later wrote to him on Twitter to say they felt dumb not recognizing him.
Ottawa captain Jason Spezza hasn't known Ryan long, but said that Ryan should adjust well to his new environment.
"It's a different atmosphere playing for a Canadian team, but I think he's got a great personality for it," Spezza said.
Getzlaf and Perry plan on saying hello to Ryan after the game Sunday. Good friend Luca Sbisa, whom Ryan took in when Sbisa came to Anaheim, will have dinner with him afterward. Sbisa still double-takes when he sees Ryan on television.
"Ever since I've known Bobby he's been my teammate," Sbisa said. "It's weird just watching highlights sometimes. You're like, 'What's he doing on that team and why is he not with us?' It's something you get used to after a couple of games."
Perry said "he was here for a while and we became close friends with him. It's different. But you see it happen all the time with different players" who get traded. Perry did see Ryan's first goal with the Senators, a snap shot against the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday.
"That's vintage Bobby right there," Perry said. "He gets that shot away pretty quick."
That's what Ryan wants Sunday -- a quick shot in and out of his former home. He mostly has other things on his mind in his first season with Ottawa.
"It's a work in progress," he said. "Not only one or two faces on the line, I've got 20 of them. I'm still figuring guys out, and I switched back to the right wing, which I haven't played in six years. I feel good. I'm excited about where I can go."