Former Los Angeles Jr. King Bobby Ryan was named the recipient of this year’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is presented annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
A member of the Ottawa Senators, Ryan took an extended leave of absence in November to enter the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program, citing issues with alcohol abuse.
The forward returned against the Nashville Predators on Feb. 25 and, two days later, recorded a hat trick in his first home game back - a 5-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks.
Ryan played in Ottawa's final eight games before the season was paused on March 12 due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, scoring four goals while averaging 16:03 of ice time.
“I'm glad I did it because I kind of had thought about it for a week leading up to that and thought I needed to do it,” Ryan said of entering the program. “I didn't think it would be this rewarding for it to have been public and now I'm grateful that I've done that because it’s not only helped me, but it’s also helped me pay that forward and not to teach but instead point people in the right direction for their own recovery.”
Ryan was a member of the Jr. Kings squad that celebrated the Pee Wee AAA title at the 2000 USA Hockey National Championships - the first-ever Tier I title won by a California team.
Masterton played for the Minnesota North Stars in 1967-68. He's the only player in NHL history to die as a direct result of injuries suffered during a game, the result of massive head injuries suffered following a hit during a Jan. 13, 1968, contest against the Oakland Seals.
The Masterton Trophy is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.