Ducks Radio Analyst
NASHVILLE – Bobby Ryan
came away from a Saturday afternoon disciplinary hearing with NHL officials believing he might escape a suspension for having stepped on the foot of Nashville defenseman Jonathon Blum late in Friday night’s 5-3 Ducks triumph over the Predators that evened the clubs’ opening-round Stanley Cup playoff series at one victory apiece.
No such luck.
The Ducks’ top-line left wing, who scored two goals in the Friday game at Honda Center, received a two-game suspension from Colin Campbell, the NHL’s senior vice president of hockey operations. Campbell called Ryan’s actions “both reckless and dangerous.”
Ryan will miss the next two games of the series, Sunday and Wednesday night in Nashville, before being eligible to return for Game 5 Friday night in Anaheim.
“I don’t agree with it,” Ryan said after the Ducks completed practice Saturday. “There’s not much to say. I obviously came down right on top of his foot. I saw it 10, 15 times today and watched it before the meeting. I don’t see a two-game suspension, but it is what it is. It’s his call. I’ll be a good teammate and move forward.”
Ryan, a key member of the Ducks’ offensive attack who most often skates alongside center Ryan Getzlaf
and right wing Corey Perry
on the club’s top line, took exception to Campbell’s characterization of the incident.
“I’ll try and be a little reserved in what I say, but definitely – most people here can attest to the player I’ve been throughout my career,” Ryan said. “I’ve never had any kind of intent or reckless behavior on the ice, so I think that’s a very loose vocabulary to use.”
Blum, a rookie who grew up in Rancho Santa Margarita and was the first California-born and –trained player ever selected in the first round of an NHL entry draft, in 2007, and Ryan were engaged in a lengthy puck battle behind the Nashville net with about three and a half minutes remaining in the third period. There was no penalty assessed on the play, and Ryan went on to score an empty-net goal in the final minute to seal the Ducks’ victory.
“I had tried four or five times in the pileup there to kick the puck loose,” Ryan said. “The last time, I raised my foot a little higher. I just turned my foot at the wrong time. I came down right on top of him. The intent was good. The result was bad. Basically that’s the best way to put it.”
Campbell saw things differently.
“While it was fortunate there was no injury to Blum on the play, the act of using your skate in this manner is unacceptable,” Campbell said.
Blum on Saturday expressed “shock” at what happened, and Predators coach Barry Trotz called Ryan’s action “a cardinal sin.”
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle acknowledged surprise at the length of the suspension, among other things.
“I don’t think there’s really, from anybody’s standpoint, much of a defense,” Carlyle said. “He committed the act. If that’s the price that that action warrants, and the league obviously felt that way, you have to live with their decision.
“That’s not Bobby Ryan
’s style. This is a first-time offense, if anything. I didn’t even see it until after the game. I was surprised to see what happened. There’s no place in the game for that. These are tough situations, and it puts the league in a tough situation, so you have to respect their decision and move forward.”
The most likely candidates to replace Ryan on the top line are Matt Beleskey
and Brad Winchester, with veteran Jarko Ruutu and youngster Dan Sexton
among the possibilities to step into the lineup in Ryan’s stead. Ruutu played in Game 1, a 4-1 Nashville victory on Wednesday, before being scratched in Game 2 in favor of rookie center Nick Bonino
“What you do is try to share the responsibility,” Carlyle said. “No one guy is going to replace Bobby Ryan
. Collectively, some people are going to have to step up and play to a higher level than they have probably all year. That’s really what we’re asking of the guys.
“Nobody likes to lose those level of players for any period of time, but that’s the hand we’re dealt. We’ll deal with it and move forward. We have capable players that have played in the league, and we have some young guys that have stepped to the forefront here in the last game.”
Beleskey, Bonino and rookie Brandon McMillan
formed a new-look third line that had a strong game Friday, but Carlyle suggested that unit might have changed anyway because of the challenges of playing on the road.
Ryan finished second among Ducks goal-scorers with 34 and fourth with 71 points during the regular season. For the next two games, though, he will be merely a spectator.
“I’ve never gone through anything like this, and it still hasn’t sunk in,” Ryan said. “When I’m watching guys leave for the rink and I’m sitting around not being able to participate and watching from the press box, it’s going to be tough. At this time of year, you need your guys to be in the lineup. It’s going to be tough to swallow for the next couple of days here.”