Daniel Ryder’s minor-league teammates knew the Flames prospect had issues to deal with.
Still, nobody could envision the situation Ryder is facing now — in police custody facing a psychiatric assessment and facing charges related to an armed robbery.
“The year I played with him, he went home after a couple of weeks (into the season),” said forward Brandon Prust, who skated alongside Ryder for six games during the 2007-08 campaign. “I know he was having a tough time doing the whole pro hockey thing, but I don’t think anyone saw that coming.”
Ryder, 22, turned himself into police in Bonavista, Nfld., Thursday after police issued a release asking for the public’s help to identify a suspect who allegedly committed an armed robbery at a convenience store, in which about 40 packs of cigarettes were taken.
Ryder is facing charges of robbery, using a disguise, using a firearm and theft under $5,000. His next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 14.
A handful of current Flames were teammates of Ryder’s with their AHL affiliate and floored by the news.
“It’s a sad situation,” said David Moss. “I speak for a lot of guys when I say we wish him the best and hopefully everything turns out alright for him.”
Ryder, a third-round draft choice in 2005, played the first six games of 2007-08 before leaving the team and returning home for the duration of the season. He returned to the fold in the summer of 2008 by attending the prospects camp and reported to training camp that fall.
After 19 games with the AHL’s Quad City Flames, he was assigned to ECHL Las Vegas, but suspended by the team after four games with the Wranglers for “violation of team rules and conduct detrimental to the best interests of the team.”
He had a 20-game stint with the Providence Bruins, affiliate of the Boston Bruins — for whom his older brother, Michael, plays — to end the season, but hasn’t played this season.
Flames defenceman Adam Pardy, who also hails from Bonavista and once dated Ryder’s older sister, said yesterday he didn’t want to talk about his friend’s fortunes.
Flames assistant coach Ryan McGill, who was the Quad City bench boss, didn’t want to comment.
Others were trying to grasp what had happened to shy, yet extremely talented, Ryder.
“I don’t know enough about it to even talk about it,” said Eric Nystrom. “I liked the kid. It’s unfortunate.”
Ryder became one of the team’s top prospects when he helped both the Peterborough Petes and Plymouth Whalers win Ontario Hockey League titles in successive seasons.
He was named playoff MVP in 2006 when he compiled 31 points in 19 games for Peterborough. However, signs of problems began to show soon after his second trip to the Memorial Cup in 2007.
Ryder didn’t attend the 2007 summer prospects camp due to “personal reasons,” and then begged off the rookie and main training camps in Calgary before reporting to the AHL squad. He recorded five points in his first six games, but left the team.
“He was a good kid,” Prust said. “Everybody has their problems and hopefully he can get better and recover from this.”