Bruins ready to welcome Michael Ryder back to Boston-Montreal rivalry
|02.27.13 at 2:23 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — If Bruins fans were hoping Michael Ryder would return to his old stomping grounds, they should have been more specific.
The Canadiens swung a deal with the Stars Tuesday night to bring back the former Hab and Bruin, sending Erik Cole to Dallas for Ryder and a third-round pick. The 32-year-old has six goals and eight assists for 14 points this season after scoring a career-high 35 goals a season ago.
Ryder, who was in the final year of the two-year deal he signed with the Stars after the Bruins’ Stanley Cup championship, would have been a logical fit for the B’s at the trade deadline. In addition to getting some payroll off the books (Cole has a $4.5 million cap hit through 2014-15), the Canadiens managed to cross one target off Boston’s list entering trade season.
Given that the roster has gone largely unchanged since Ryder and the B’s won the Cup in 2011, it will be strange for some Bruins players to see Ryder as a division rival rather than a teammate. Tyler Seguin still remembers how much Ryder’s presence helped him in his rookie year, from his Hail Mary pass on Seguin’s first career goal to their explosive work together in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Lightning.
“[He helped me] a lot. He was on my first NHL goal, he made that pass to me,” Seguin said Wednesday. “He wasn’t as loud as some of the other guys, but when he did talk to me, he was a guy you’d look up to. He could definitely snipe the puck, and it was a treat playing with him.”
The Canadiens weren’t expected to be a team that would be wheeling and dealing to improve their roster for this season, as few expected them to seriously contend after a miserable 2011-12 campaign in which they went 31-25-16 and were sellers when it came to trading. Led by coach Michel Therrien, the Habs have turned their fortune around with a with a 12-4-3 start, leading the Northeast Division with 27 points (though they’ve played three more games than the B’s).
While many are surprised by the fact that the Habs have been for real this season, the Bruins aren’t.
“I think Montreal, as bad as their record was last year, I think they’re a way better team than what it showed last year,” Rich Peverley said. “‘¦ Nothing’s set in stone, and they are a good team with obviously one of the best goalies in the league.”
The Bruins will face Ryder and the Habs Sunday night at TD Garden, and while his former teammates haven’t forgotten what he meant to the B’s, they’re hoping his first game back in Boston since departing isn’t too pleasant.
“We obviously have a lot of good memories together, going to the Cup there, but every guy on this team has buddies on other teams that we play against night in and night out,” Brad Marchand said. “When you’re on the ice, you hate the guy just as much as the other guy beside him.”