Scratching Our Heads

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michael ryder bust

A recently familiar note will appear next to Michael Ryder’s name in the box score for tonight’s game at TD Garden versus the Chicago Blackhawks.

Healthy scratch.

It would seem that Claude Julien and the Bruins have been listening to Mike Milbury of late and that the once seemingly infinite number of chances Ryder has had to prove himself worthy of a spot at forward in the line-up for the team has finally found a limit. Milbury, in a recent NESN broadcast, flew into a mini-rant about the floundering winger and labelled him a “bust” and suggested the team cut bait on the winger at last. Not really a revelation to anyone, of course, except to those whom Ryder’s teasing one-game-in-ten flashes of effort and offensive skill gave hope that he might find a way to finally become a more productive player on the team.

Not the case, however.

The infuriating winger will likely be benched once again tonight in favor of Daniel Paille, himself a healthy scratch for much of the season unless injuries or the youthful indiscretions of Tyler Seguin forced Julien to play him. That, in itself, speaks volumes. A winger being paid $4 Million dollars to score goals sitting on the sidelines in favor of a truly marginal, defensive minded player whom the Buffalo Sabres decided was a “bust” last season. Welcome to true ignominy, Michael. Welcome to total irrelevance.

No one’s wasting any time feeling bad for him, however. He’s had ample opportunity to show he was worth his paycheck. Chance after endless chance to at least show the effort and the desire to compete that we get glances of from time to time. The skill that once potted him 30 goals in the NHL. He’ll probably see some ice at some point before the season ends but it will only be to rest others in preparation for the upcoming playoffs in which, hopefully, he will remain in the press box. Put it this way; If the Bruins are dressing him it will be a sign things have gone horribly wrong.

Even with a bit of garbage time to close things out, however, his totals for 2010-11 will hover somewhere close to the underwhelmning 17 goals, 21 assists and a minus -5 he’s sitting on now (pun intended). Many of those points came in short bursts of surprising productivity which would, just as quickly, dry up and blow away. Pathetic numbers, really, when you consider how much ice time Claude Julien would give him at times earlier in the year, including a good deal of power play time. Pathetic for anyone considered an offensive player in any professional league.

So it certainly appears the curtain will close now (his contract is up after this season) on the Michael Ryder era in Boston without anyone, fans or players or management, understanding the mystery of why the guy could never pull it together. Why there were so many no-shows. Perhaps they knew the truth up in Montreal when they let him go prior to him signing with the Bruins. That he was a bust and always would be.

Hey, even a blind nut finds a squirrel once in a while, right?

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