Senators News: July 10th

-The Sens re-signed Mark Borowiecki to a two-year deal; the first is two-way, the second one-way.  This smoothly allows him to patrol Binghamton’s blueline in the coming season, but means he’ll have a spot on Ottawa’s blueline the next.  The signing caused a rare slip from Nichols (hopefully fixed soon) where he writes as if Borowiecki‘s deal is one-way both years.

-Ottawa also re-signed David Dziurzynski to a one-year, two-way deal, although the official announcement from the team hasn’t come out yet.

-Development camp has ended and assessments from the organisation are out.  Given praise were Tobias Lindberg, Curtis Lazar, Chris Leblanc, Michael Sdao, Ryan Dzingel, Max McCormick, Buddy Robinson, Cole Schneider, Shane Prince, Chris WidemanCody Ceci, and all the goaltenders.  The player who won the award for the camp was Fredrik Claesson, and for those who’ve paid attention to what’s been said about the Swedish defensemen it’s not a big surprise.  Pierre Dorion said:

He’s just all character. Where he started last year to where he finished in the playoffs, he went from being a guy that was just in the lineup to an important guy in the lineup. I think it says a lot about him.

Gare Joyce wrote about Bobby Ryan‘s background:

DOB on Bobby Ryan’s birth certificate: March 17, 1987. St Patrick’s Day. Fitting for a kid with a name as Irish as Ryan. Except the name Ryan isn’t on it. It’s Robert Shane Stevenson. Bobby Stevenson grew up in Cherry Hill, N.J., just outside Philly. His father, Bob, was a tough guy, built like a bank vault. He owned an insurance company and, truth be told, when people looked at him–he boxed back in his day–they thought they might need some. Which brings us to the events of Oct. 29, 1997. They come hard and fast. On that night, father and son sat in their second-row seats at the CoreStates Arena, Flyers vs. Blues. Dad was rooting for the home team because he knew he’d be seeing his friend, Bob Clarke, the Flyers GM, at Clarke’s gym the next day. The son was also rooting for the Flyers, even if the Blues’ Brett Hull was his favorite player. It should have been a good time for Bobby–the Blues won–and, like so much of his life after that, it was, for as long as Bobby was at the arena. After the game, the Stevenson men came home. With his son heading to bed, Bob met up with some pals for a couple of beers. He came home around 11:30. Bobby, 10, was fast asleep. “We had a good life,” Bob says. “Homes, security. Right up until that night.”

And the Stevensons did have a good life, as good a life as you can have when Dad has a wicked temper–he’d had charges from a bar fight dismissed earlier that year–and when he suspects Mom of having a substance-abuse problem. Bob was certain Melody Stevenson (née Ryan) was using drugs (she denies it). That’s why he’d rigged a tape recorder to the home phone. When he came back from the bar, Bob checked the tape. There was one call–innocent, Melody says. Didn’t matter. It set Bob off like the bell ringing. He went after Melody. Lefts and rights. Choking. What started in the bedroom spilled into the street, then to a neighbor’s house, where Bob, burning like a four-alarm fire, ripped a door off its hinges. The cops were called, and Bob was arrested. Bobby didn’t wake up. Or at least that’s what he told Melody when she picked him up at a neighbor’s house after she’d spent four days in the hospital being treated for a fractured skull and internal injuries. He still says that today. Bobby knew his parents’ marriage was troubled, even as he knew they loved each other. Says Mark Ellis, Bobby’s roller hockey coach: “It’s not that Bob didn’t care. You get the sense he cared too much.” But Bob wasn’t charged with caring too much. He was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and criminal restraint. Didn’t matter that Melody wouldn’t cooperate with prosecutors, who still figured that the physical evidence and the eyewitness accounts would net a conviction. Didn’t matter that she stayed by her husband, that she thought Bobby needed his dad.

Bob was released on $75,000 bail, which he skipped in December. He fled to El Segundo, Calif. Later, the wife he’d beaten and their only child drove across the country to be with him. Not just for a new life, but for a new identity. Bob Stevenson, insurance executive, became Shane Ryan, professional gambler. And Bobby Stevenson, young hockey star in New Jersey, became Bobby Ryan, hockey prodigy and new kid in town. Bobby played along with the charade. “My parents made it clear,” he says. “They were serious, so I only had to be told once. You’re Bobby Ryan to anybody who asks, no exceptions.” Did Bob jump bail to save his own hide? No, says anyone who knows him. This wasn’t a guy who was afraid of prison. This was a guy afraid of not being there for his kid. “My son is the only thing I ever got right,” Bob told friends at the time. And Melody says that the plan was always for Bob to turn himself in “when he thought the time was right, when Bobby got 15 or 16.” Talk to Bobby now and you get no sense of hardship or crisis during the family’s undercover days. Didn’t matter, he says, that his father was away a lot of the time, gambling in the casino at Hollywood Park. Didn’t matter that the family lived in a tiny apartment. Bobby loved looking out the window and watching the waves break on Redondo Beach. He loved being able to find a roller hockey game every day, just a couple blocks from his home. “Those were good times, because we were together,” Bobby says. “At first, I had to think when I was asked about my name or where I came from or my parents. But after a while, it was like I was an actor. I stayed in character.”

But nobody is that good an actor. Bobby Stevenson was already a force in national roller hockey circles back in Cherry Hill. Now, as Bobby Ryan, he was skating for California teams that he’d played against in tourneys. Bob could hide as Shane Ryan, but Bobby’s talent gave him away. “There were rumors, this secret that everyone knew,” Ellis says. “But no one asked. No one wanted to hurt Bobby.” The secret lasted until 2000. Maybe Bob got too comfortable. At Blockbuster one day, he used a credit card with an older, different alias. That night, U.S. marshalls broke down the door of the Ryan home. This time Bobby woke up from his deep sleep. The life of Shane Ryan was over. Bob Stevenson was cuffed and taken from the house while his 12-yearold watched. “That was the hardest time,” Bobby says. “I felt broken. I was down. I didn’t know if I wanted to keep playing hockey anymore.” With Bob extradited to New Jersey and serving time at Riverfront State Prison in Camden after pleading guilty to aggravated assault and bail jumping, Melody worked two jobs–as a rink manager during the day, taking Bobby along with her, and at an airport at night, with Bobby at the apartment doing homework (he was homeschooled by his mom). “At the arena, Bobby could get free ice time, and at the airlines, I could get him discount airfare to tournaments,” Melody says. Hockey’s not cheap, and Melody was strapped for cash, so teammates’ parents helped out with gear and tourney fees. That motivated Bobby to give ice hockey his all. “I decided that we came this far and I had to go for it,” he says.

Joyce carries the story through the OHL and then into the NHL.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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