The fans gave him a standing ovation and chanted his name, as Bobby Ryan fought back tears on the bench after scoring a hat trick in his first game back in Ottawa after missing three months in the NHL’s player assistance program.
Ryan entered the joint NHL/NHL Players Association assistance program on November 20th to help his battle with alcoholism.
Ryan’s first game back with the Senators was Tuesday, February 25th against the Nashville Predators. That same day marked 100 days of sobriety for Ryan, according to Sportnet’s Kyle Bukauskas. Ryan had not played since Nov. 16 when the Senators took on the Buffalo Sabres.
Prior to Thursday night’s game in Ottawa, Ryan fought back tears explaining how much it’d mean for him to score his first goal back at home, stating, “I hope it’s at home because my wife and kids will be here for that and they’ve earned this as much as I have.
Bobby Ryan's answer to the question about what the feeling would be like when he scores his next goal was outstanding. Such an honest guy and so easy to cheer for after all he's been through. pic.twitter.com/FhRGfLslkz
— 1. Ottawa (via San Jose) (@Sens_Army_) February 21, 2020
Well, you couldn’t have written it any better because the man had himself one hell of a game.
In his first game back on home ice in Ottawa in three months and with his family in attendance, Ryan scored a hat trick, was +3 and even dropped the mitts.
Fans, teammates, analysts and everyone in the hockey community were thrilled with Ryan’s triumphant return.
No better story in sports right now than Bobby Ryan getting a hat trick tonight. So happy for him.
— Mike Grinnell (@MikeGrinnell_) February 28, 2020
This is awesome. So happy for Bobby Ryan, who has always been one of the really nice guys in the NHL. Great for Sens’ fan to make it even more special for him. https://t.co/zxkVbzXx9h
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 28, 2020
Bobby Ryan may have just won the Bill Masterson award with that performance.
— Sid Seixeiro (@Sid_Seixeiro) February 28, 2020
I don’t know Bobby Ryan. I have never met him. But, man, am I proud of him.
— Gerry Dee (@gerrydee) February 28, 2020
Bobby Ryan. Are you kidding me?
He scored a HAT TRICK in his first home game back after missing 3 months to battle his alcohol addiction.
Make some room David Ayers. You’ve got company in the best-feel good story in the NHL this month.
— Ian Mendes (@ian_mendes) February 28, 2020
Ryan spoke to Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy after the emotional night in Ottawa noting, “It’s a family victory.”
"It's just a family victory."
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 28, 2020
Well done, big guy. The hockey community is rooting for you.