Colorado's Ryan O'Reilly during the warmup period of the Edmonton Oilers NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche at Rexall Place in Edmonton on Feb. 17, 2012. (CODIE MCLACHLAN/QMI AGENCY)
Don’t accuse Colorado Avalanche centre Ryan O’Reilly of lacking character.
According to O’Reilly’s father, Brian, his son’s overflowing with it – which he told the Denver Post in a bizarre email Tuesday.
"Ryan is not a superstar based on skill but character. I know this for a fact … he will continue to grow learn and thrive,” he wrote. “The world values it less and less, yet everyone is looking for those players that eat, sleep and drink the game and are unselfish plus compete because they are intrinsically motivated for excellence.
"If my son was getting 95 in math we wouldn’t ask him to get 65 so the rest of the students in the classroom could feel better about themselves. Many parents have stories about their kids excelling in certain areas but they are asked to tone it down because you’re making the other kids not look as good or feels good about themselves."
If father O’Reilly’s rather lengthy rant is to be taken seriously, the Avs are asking the 22-year-old to take a cut in pay as a matter of “character”.
“So we ask the person who has a tremendous amount of character to take less money for his character yet it is the essential building block,” he wrote in a note later published by the Post.
He continued: “This is not about money and never has been. As you know you don’t build a team based on dollars. If you did then the people with the most expensive players would be our champion. You build a team on its character.
Brian O'Reilly is a life coach, and has his own blog discussing mental illness. He also tweets from the account @coachbri1, and some of his tweets have come under scrutiny.
The elder O’Reilly is not the first pro-hockey parent to cause a raucous. Eric Lindros’ parents were notorious for their shenanigans while he was playing in the Ontario Hockey League. Carl Lindros had words with a USA Today reporter back in 1999 after he took umbrage with his article.
As for Ryan O’Reilly, he remains unsigned after spending most of the lockout with the KHL’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
He has since returned to North America after sustaining a minor ankle injury in Russia.