The basement at the Ryan family home is full of hockey memorabilia and there is so much music that the stacks could fill a small record store. (Tim Wharnsby/CBCSports.ca)
ST. JOHN'S - All Terry Ryan and his son Terry Jr. need is an audience. And if that's the case, you're in for a treat.
They have stories. Man, do they have stories. On Sunday, out on a boat ride organized by former NHLer Greg Smyth, who now lives in St. John's, the wind howled on the Atlantic Ocean, not far from St. John's Harbour, and the elder Ryan was on his game.
He has quite a life to share. A 59-year-old retired school teacher, he left Grand Falls, N.L., at age 17 to play junior for the Hamilton Red Wings. He made a decision back then that he would have no regrets along his journey.
So when the Gordie Howe and the Detroit Red Wings arrived for an exhibition game against their junior counterparts in Hamilton, Ryan wasn't shy to ask his coach Eddie Bush for an autographed stick from Howe afterwards.
Ryan scored in the game and he scored again when Howe was more than willing to oblige his stick request. But the Howe stick is about the only keepsake from those days that is no longer in Ryan's possession.
"I gave it my girlfriend's brother at the time," Ryan said. "He used it to build a coat rack with two other sticks. I couldn't ask for it back."
If Ryan still had Howe's stick, it would no doubt be alongside the ones he has from Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Bobby Hull and Grant Fuhr, a goal stick that was autographed by the entire Stanley Cup-winning Edmonton Oilers team.
Meeting another legend
When Ryan played in the WHA for the 1972-73 Minnesota Fighting Saints, he and a teammate had the nerve to knock on the dressing room door of their opponents, the Winnipeg Jets, after the game.
"I just played against you guys, and we were wondering if we could get an autographed stick from Bobby Hull," Ryan told the Jets trainer who answered the door.
"Bobby, there are a couple people here to see you," the trainer said.
Ryan shook Hull's hand and made his request. Hull then snapped his fingers and ordered the trainer to grab two sticks for his new friends.
The basement at the Ryan family home is full of hockey memorabilia and well stocked with vinyl records, CDs, and DVDs. The stacks of music easily could fill a small record store. The Beatles are the Ryan's favourite, by the way.
Now that the son Terry, 34, has returned home from his pro hockey career, the place to be on Friday evenings is the Ryan basement again. There Senior, as Terry Jr.'s friends call his dad, regales the gathering in stories. They also take a look at videos from junior's playing career and there is plenty of music to listen to.
Montreal rock musician Sam Roberts has experienced a Friday at the Ryans (Terry Jr. knows him from his days with the Canadiens when Sam was a bartender), and Stanley Cup-winner Brad Richards has been there. Yes, he's left an autographed stick behind, too.
Like father, like son
Terry Jr. credits his father for his hockey prowess on the ice. Terry Jr. went west to play junior at age 14 and later was drafted eighth overall by the Canadiens in 1995. A concussion hindered his time with the Habs and it didn't help his cause that the Montreal general manager who had drafted him, Serge Savard, was fired a year later.
Still, the younger Ryan enjoyed minor pro stops in Fredericton, St. John's, Utah, Long Beach, Colorado, Idaho, Cincinnati and the Orlando Seals. He went out on top with the Seals winning the Presidents Cup of the Atlantic Coast Hockey League, but was forced to retire after a troublesome high ankle injury.
There are others from the Rock who credit Senior, too. In fact, when Daniel Cleary won the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008, one of the first calls he made was to Senior thanking him for his tutelage.
The favourite of all the stories from the Ryans, however, was about Terry Jr.'s life these days. He still plays senior hockey for the Mount Pearl Blades and still represents Canada in the summer at the world ball-hockey championship. He was one of the better players on the ice during the NHL alumni game in Conception Bay South on Saturday.
An author - he has written a book called Tales of a First round Nothing that he hopes to one day publish - he writes a blog for a friend's website, betonhockey.com and makes frequent appearances on Montreal sports radio station, the Team 990.
Terry lives in St. John's with his wife Danielle. She is the widow of Ryan's former Tri-City and Red Deer teammate, B.J. Young, a Detroit prospect who died in a car accident in November 2005. Danielle and Ryan met up when he was recruited to play senior hockey for the Bentley (Alberta) Generals in 2007.
Ryan's stepson Tyson, 11, now plays in the same Mount Pearl minor system that Ryan once did and the couple has a young daughter, Penny-Lane (yes, named after the Beatles song). He's also in his final year at Memorial University, where he studies English and folklore.
Pretty good story, indeed.
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