Former NHL Defenceman Ryan O’Byrne is chasing a career in business after hanging up the skates this past summer. Tyler Bennett reports.
After a decade in the National Hockey League and spending the last 3 seasons overseas, Victoria product Ryan O’Byrne decided to retire from hockey this past off-season.
“You know I was fortunate to know that I was done, I think a lot of guys they keep playing they keep playing and they kinda have to get kicked out the door, but for me it was, it became quite obvious, I went to Sweden for my final year and, my heart wasn’t in it, and I wasn’t giving 100% and I knew if I was going to play like that, that’s not who I was, and it wasn’t fair to my teammates to continue that on, had another year on my contract in Sweden, walked away from that and haven’t regretted the decision, I’m content with that decision but I definitely do miss the game.”
The hard hitting defenceman finds himself in unfamiliar territory, as he is not on the ice for what would be the home stretch of the NHL regular season.
“[It] feels weird, especially in January, February when it’s kinda the dog days for the hockey season, there’s nothing else going on and everyone’s playing hockey and it’s definitely been a transition phase. I’ll give you the cliche, which is I don’t miss playing the game that much but I miss the locker room and the comradery, that’s what you miss the most.”
O’Byrne began his playing career right here in Victoria with the Salsa before finishing his junior career with the Nanaimo Clippers and going the college route at Cornell University, a path he is proud of.
“Great memories, gosh, I had a lot of great memories, I remember that comradery we had and the fun we had, and playing in junior with a bunch of local guys, it was a lot of fun, it was um… Was kinda this place where I began to figure out like, oh my gosh, I might have a chance to play in the NHL, before that you’re like okay I’m playing minor hockey, but then when I went to Junior A and I went to the Salsa I was like, I might have a chance at this and that’s kinda where it all started, so, really fond memories.”
After life as a professional hockey player – O’Byrne returned to Cornell to graduate in business.
“I was fortunate enough to go to Cornell, I do not know if I would’ve gotten into Cornell if it wasn’t for hockey, my SAT’s were not that great, so, I kinda always looked at it like, what a great institution it was, what a great opportunity I had, and um… You know I’ve been talking about breakouts and forechecks for ten years and then the teacher is like ‘Ryan, what do you think about the mission statement of this company?’ so it’s definitely a little bit of a transition phase but, I did well and…. straight A’s.”
While we may have seen the last of his hard hits – the future is bright for O’Byrne off the ice.