Re-Posted: The Tragedy of Daniel Ryder

Daniel Ryder at a prospect camp several years ago. Photo taken by commenter Resolute.

In light of Rick Rypien's struggle with depression, I thought I'd re-post my story on former Flames prospect Dan Ryder, who is struggling with mental issues himself. Originally posted at the 4th Line Blog.

Daniel Ryder. The player who filled Flames fans with so much hope and now fills them with so much disappointment. Daniel Ryder was a 3rd round pick in 2005, the winner of the OHL's Wayne Gretzky 99 Award in the 05-06 OHL playoffs, and basically a stud player who just crashed and burned.

After finishing 4 years of junior with the Peterborough Petes and Plymouth Whalers (including two 82 point seasons and one 92 point season in his final year), Daniel Ryder felt reluctant about following a career in hockey. Or so he said at the time. For "personal reasons" he skipped both the prospect camp and part of the training camp that year, though he finally did make it to the Quad City Flames to start the season. And he had a pretty good start too- in six games he put up 1 goal and 4 assists, which as a rookie in the AHL, isn't terrible.  Here's where the story gets sad though.

After six games, Ryder decided he wasn't looking for a life of playing hockey, and up and left the team- leading him to be suspended by the Flames. Darryl Sutter met with the Ryder family (though I'm assuming older brother Michael, of the Bruins, wasn't there) and decided that Daniel would remain suspended for the remainder of the season.  The following season, Daniel Ryder was allowed to attend training camp, and then played 14 games with the QC Flames putting up 3-6-9, before being reassigned the to Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL. There, he seemingly hit rock bottom- managing zero points and 15 PIMS.  He did receive a 25 game tryout at the end of the season with the P-Bruins, who declined to keep him around after the 08-09 season ended.

This is where it goes from sad to tragic.  On January 6th, 2010, Daniel Ryder turned himself in for holding up a convenience store in Bonavista, Newfoundland. He had entered the store with his face covered by a hood and informed the clerk that he had a gun. Ryder fled the scene, and the police put out a bulletin for him, which turned out to be entirely unnecessary, as Daniel turned himself in.

Daniel Ryder has yet to stand trial. After appearing in court, the judge ordered him to undergo psych evaluation, at which point it was determined he was unfit to stand trial. Ryder is currently staying at Waterford Psychiatric Hospital in St. Johns, Newfoundland, and doctors have stated that he had a severe psychotic break at the age of 19, right when so much of this started. He likely suffered from depression for years before, which would explain a lack of drive at times (medications for depression limit emotional highs and lows, and generally cause apathy) as well as the "personal reasons" for missing various prospect camps and training camps.

What made me write this today though? I was reading through some old Flames interviews and found this:Q&A with Daniel Ryder by Kevin Forbes.  The line that caught me so off guard was the opening one.

"Daniel Ryder will never be described as high-strung."

No, he will not. Instead he will be described as a tragedy, and a warning that just because someone isn't asking for help, doesn't mean they don't need it.

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