Thursday, June 21, 2012

One Bobby is enough in this town

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

So you want Bobby Ryan as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, eh?

You want that durable 30-goal, 60-point presence, those matinee-idol looks, and that local pedigree to fuel an inevitable Stanley Cup success story?

Ask yourself one question, while you're filing away the million infallible reasons of cap space and chemistry to bring about another roster gutting to acquire his services inside the windmills of your mind.

Why would Bobby Ryan want to come to Philadelphia?

Let's not forget that while the 25-year-old's path initially seemed destined for one of those hometown-boy-does-good Mitch Albom-type narratives, this whole mess between his parents happened. 

Ryan, born Robert Shane Stevenson (coincidentally on the day the 1986-87 Flyers clinched the Patrick Division title with a win over the Rangers), has settled down to a successful professional life with the Anaheim Ducks 3,000 miles away from where all the trouble began.

So what if Ryan's father, now rehabilitated, worked in the Cherry Hill-based gym run by Flyers senior vice president Bob Clarke?

Anyone who has either been in a situation between one's parents that involved divorce because of sexual or violent action or knows someone who has, can recognize that Clarke (and by extension the Flyers organization) may be able to act like the caring uncle, but it only reaches so far, the nuturing distraction of the game itself impermanent.

No matter how long the time between that madness and now, eventually existing in the physical location where it all occurred will trigger something in his consciousness. Never underestimate the psychic scars left on children, whose minds are like sponges, and on the imprint events like these leave later in life. It's not a fair burden, even if publicly Ryan might say he's come to terms with it.

Compound that with the fact that the certain media acts as it does, and certain segments of this fan base react to extremes made infamous by British tabloids such as the defunct News of the World, how can a scenario emerge where Ryan's growth isn't stunted?

In our grandparents' time, the pride of Crescentville, Phillies star Del Ennis, bore the brunt of the Philadelphia attitude that pretty damn good just wasn't good enough. Ennis took that to heart, and carried the bitterness over treatment by the vocal cords of his own people to his grave.

How can you convince yourselves you won't be hard on the boy when the chips are down? Forgetting that Ennis' troubles happened in the 50's, how about the public stocks figuratively erected upon the Twitter mention that James van Riemsdyk (from Monmouth County, NJ -- not Flyers country) was holding up surgery to avoid a trade, or that he would accept a deal to Columbus if one was presented?

Y'all can't have it both ways. Can't wish the front office keeps all the bright young forwards but then turn around and start playing armchair GM and triage specialist the second the possibility someone like Ryan is on the market.

Some athletes thrive in the competitive, pressure-packed environments of Northeast cities, some don't. Bobby Ryan gets a pass, and for good reason as far as Philly is concerned.

He's doing just fine where he is and you should wish him well in the environment which has fostered his talent and soothed his soul so far.
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