St. Louis Blues Bench Bolstered by Knowledge of Ex-Execs Ott, Van Ryn

Whether or not the St. Louis Blues shut the curtain on 2020-21 by hoisting the Stanley Cup, or by abruptly clearing out their lockers in shocked silence, three of the workforce’s MVP candidates ought to be medical coach Ray Barile, assistant coaches Steve Ott and Mike Van Ryn.

Barile has put collectively the NHL’s model of an Iron Man streak. He has tended the workforce medication cupboard for two,000 consecutive video games. He’s the primary responder on the ice when a participant goes down with an damage – and the workforce has seen a number of the coach this bizarre season. He’s hockey’s model of a battlefield medic, rendering simply sufficient first support to maneuver the participant off the ice for repairs.

Whereas it has been Barile in command of the bandages, the 2 former veteran gamers are the band-aids which have helped hold the Blues’ locker room collectively. As assistants, their largest duty is guaranteeing gamers are game-ready, particularly ones getting back from accidents. These gamers must battle the pesky Ott and Van Ryn on the ice throughout practices simply to get authorised for promotion by head coach Craig Berube to the lively roster.

St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube and common supervisor Doug Armstrong (Colter Peterson/St. Louis Put up-Dispatch by way of AP)

The Blues teaching workers consists of NHL veteran and former Dallas Stars head coach Jim Montgomery, video coach Sean Ferrell, and goaltending coach David Alexander, as properly. Every brings a novel perspective and imaginative and prescient to Berube’s workers in his personal manner. However so far as big-game gamers go, it’s laborious to seek out two extra who’ve proven up on an even bigger stage than Van Ryn and Ott.

Roads Not Taken

For Ott, all of it occurred fairly shortly, in accordance with a story about gamers who have been transitioning to the teaching field. In simply three weeks, he made the ascent as an growing older participant on the point of retiring, to being employed as an assistant to assist Berube chase a Stanley Cup. He traded his sweat-soaked gamepads for crisp enterprise fits and blue ties.

“On April 22, Ott logged 8:42 of ice time for the Canadiens in Sport 6 of the primary spherical, a 3–1 loss to the Rangers at Madison Sq. Backyard that eradicated Montreal from the playoffs,” reported. “Lower than three weeks later, he was getting ready for the interview in St. Louis by itemizing the professionals and cons of himself as a candidate.”

“If I used to be [then-head coach] Mike Yeo or Doug Armstrong, what would I ask him?” Ott stated within the article. “What would my issues be? I’ve been considered as a special participant, antagonistic to followers in sure situations … It’s laborious, as a result of as a hockey participant you hate speaking about your self. To place your self in that state of affairs, there’s nothing worse.”

“Otter” Wreaks Havoc However Cup Title Eludes Him

In early March, Berube’s two assistants made the paper usually as information of gamers’ attainable return dates began to seep out of St. Louis.

Ott, a fiery ahead who earned a fame as being a loyal teammate, was tasked with serving to rehab star Vladimir Tarasenko throughout particular person and workforce exercises. It was the younger coach who spent hours pulling on the star’s surgically repaired shoulder, checking him laborious into the boards and inflicting common mayhem. Tarasenko handed Ott’s take a look at and was inserted into the lineup on March 6. All of the prep work needed to be carried out to make sure the shoulder – and the participant – have been able to face the day-to-day, shift-to-shift rigors of the Honda West Division.

Steve Ott, St. Louis Blues, NHL
Ott was the second piece the Sabres despatched to the Blues within the Miller deal. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Rigor is an applicable phrase to describes Ott’s profession. He was a fixture within the lineup for 14 years whereas enjoying for the Dallas Stars, the Buffalo Sabres, the Blues, the Detroit Purple Wings, and the Montreal Canadiens. He appeared in 848 video games, scoring 109 targets and including 179 assists for 288 factors. He was minus-6. He amassed 1,555 profession penalty minutes. In 2012-13, he led the NHL in video games performed with 48 video games within the shortened season.

He appeared in 107 video games for the Buffalo Sabres, and 127 video games for the Blues. In Buffalo, he had 18 targets and 26 assists in his two years there. He made an impression on that group, which not too long ago fired embattled coach Ralph Krueger after the workforce had the worst begin within the league this season. Ott’s title was talked about by The Athletic’s John Vogl as a attainable candidate for the job (‘Head coach Steve Ott? Who stays and goes? The place are the analytics? Sabres mailbag,’ The Athletic, March 12, 2021).

A local of the Canadian city of Summerside in Prince Edward Island, he was the Stars’ first-round draft choose in 2000, going twenty fifth total. A Stars’ fan web site named him the fifteenth greatest prospect ever scouted by the group. He served as Buffalo’s captain in the course of the 2013-14 season earlier than being acquired by the Blues on February 28, 2014. Ott was acquired by the Canadiens on the 2017 commerce deadline from the Purple Wings, the place he performed in 2016. He was reacquired by the Blues in Could 2017 however retired on Could 25, 2017.

(Photo: Andy Martin Jr)
Steve Ott (Andy Martin Jr.)

“I’m very pleased with my enjoying profession and can dedicate the identical work ethic to my teaching profession,” Ott instructed Canada’s in 2017. “The Blues group may be very particular to me and my household and I’m excited to take the subsequent step in my hockey profession with this franchise.”

Throughout video games, Ott might be noticed throughout play stoppages with a whiteboard in hand, drawing out performs for the huddle. For a lot of followers, it’s nonetheless awkward to see Ott in a go well with and tie that the assistants put on. For 9 years, he terrorized the Blues franchise as a member of the Dallas Stars, the place he appeared in 34 of his profession 61 Stanley Cup Playoff video games.

In 2008, Bleacher referred to as Ott “a food regimen model of Sean Avery.

St. Louis Blues assistant coach Steve Ott
St. Louis Blues assistant coach Steve Ott (Scott Rovak/NHLI by way of Getty Photographs)

“No matter his small measurement for an enforcer, Ott will tackle anybody, anytime, any day, no matter their daunting problem,” penned Ken Armer (‘The Most Annoying Man in Dallas, And For Good Cause,’ Bleacher Report, June 8, 2008.)

Mike Van Ryn, Younger Phenom

Van Ryn’s position is to function eyes and ears for Berube, who was additionally an completed NHL powerful man for 17 years.

For his half, Van Ryn is an X’s and O’s sort coach who’s described by many as a hockey “lifer.” He was some of the sought prospects in North America when he entered the draft in 1998. He was drafted twenty sixth total by the New Jersey Devils, however after some authorized wrangling over his contract, he by no means signed there.

He performed in 353 video games in his profession with the Blues, the Florida Panthers, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. He scored 30 targets with 99 assists for 129 factors.

He signed to play with the Blues in June 2000, in accordance with THW. He performed his first NHL recreation with St. Louis within the 2000-01 season, whereas he was additionally spending time within the minors in Massachusetts with the American Hockey League’s Worcester IceCats that 12 months. He missed the vast majority of the 2000-01 season as a result of a shoulder damage he suffered in a recreation in opposition to the Phoenix Coyotes. In March 2003, he was despatched to Florida for Valeri Bure and the Panthers’ fifth-round draft selection in 2004. He performed the vast majority of his profession for the Panthers. In 4 seasons, he performed in 257 video games for Florida. He was traded to Toronto in September 2008 for Bryan McCabe and the Leafs’ fourth-round draft choose within the 2010 draft.

On July 26, 2010, Van Ryn introduced his retirement. His enjoying days have been over, however he seemed ahead to getting a shot as a coach. He would take a job as an assistant coach with the OHL’s Niagara Ice Canine.

Mike Van Ryn St. Louis Blues
Mike Van Ryn, Assistant Coach, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“My physique simply doesn’t actually have it anymore,” Van Ryn stated in a 2010 interview with the Toronto Star. “It was time to maneuver on. This simply appeared like a terrific match.” (‘Leafs Defenceman Mike Van Ryn Retires,’ Toronto Star, July 26, 2010)

“Once I knew I wasn’t going to be returning to the NHL, I began wanting into teaching jobs and my agent knew there was an alternative right here with Marty (Williamson, IceDogs’ common supervisor/head coach),” he instructed THW. “I met with Marty and the Burkes (IceDogs homeowners) and knew that it might be a terrific match.”

“I had a enjoyable time in Michigan, however with so few video games in that season, it’s a lot more durable to develop,” Van Ryn instructed THW. “My solely remorse was that I didn’t come to the OHL sooner; with an expert ambiance and over 60 video games, it’s undoubtedly a terrific place for a younger participant to start to additional his hockey profession.”

Van Ryn moved on to teach the Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL. Upon his hiring, Common Supervisor Steve Sullivan gushed concerning the former participant and the management he was anticipated to deliver to the workforce.

Former Maple Leafs’ defenseman Mike Van Ryn (left) on the bench beside fellow assistant coach Billy Burke of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs. Van Ryn is now an assistant for Craig Berube’s St. Louis Blues. Photograph Courtesy Joel Smith Pictures

“Enthusiasm, and he brings an out-of-the-box mind-set,” Sullivan instructed the Tucson media. “He’s at all times making an attempt to raised himself; discover other ways how this recreation might be performed and perfected. And a number of the explanation he’s there has to do with abilities improvement, participant improvement and constructing sturdy relationships. That’s actually a energy of his.”

Amber Van Ryn’s Most cancers Journey

As a participant and now as a coach, Van Ryn has earned respect from everybody round him. Final 12 months, he was requested to step up and be an assistant coach within the largest recreation of his life – his spouse Amber’s most cancers journey.

Joey Vitale is a former professional participant who hung out with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Arizona Coyotes. He now covers the workforce as a part of the Blues broadcast crew at FoxSports Midwest. In late February, he produced a bit for the pregame present concerning the Van Ryns. The phase confirmed how the couple handled not solely most cancers however elevating younger youngsters and training within the league on the similar time. It was a uncommon perception into the emotional impression most cancers has had on the each day lifetime of this former high draft choose.

“Mike was teaching throughout the nation whereas Amber was coping with her chemo,”” Vitale stated. “On his off days, (which got here hardly ever if you find yourself a head coach) Mike would fly again residence to get her to remedy, and take care of his household. It was really outstanding. The energy, braveness, and resilient nature of Mike is proven in his actions. Looking for the steadiness between hockey and household is at all times powerful, and throw in one in every of your loved ones members getting recognized with most cancers. Wow.”

“As terrible because the pandemic has been, we’ve spent a number of time with our youngsters,” Van Ryn instructed Vitale. “You notice going by way of this, it may have been the 4 of us, not the 5 of us.

Vitale and others within the group have been impressed by their story. When the Blues received the Stanley Cup in 2019, Van Ryn took the Cup to Florida, the place he and Amber raised cash for breast most cancers analysis and consciousness. They charged followers a nominal payment to have their photograph taken with it. They donated the proceeds to Pink Up the Tempo, a breast most cancers analysis charity in St. Augustine, Fla.

Craig Berube
St. Louis Blues interim head coach Craig Berube (AP Photograph/Jeff Roberson)

“By about 1 p.m., near 400 individuals have been ready in line to see it. The road stretched from the ballroom, out the aspect doorways going through Cordova Road and to a car parking zone behind an adjoining restaurant, the St. Augustine File reported.

Amber Van Ryn, Mike’s spouse, stated they hadn’t anticipated a crowd that enormous.

“It’s mind-blowing to see the turnout,” she instructed the paper..

Van Ryn earned his place in NHL fan lore, in a relatively inauspicious manner. In a 2010 recreation between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, Milan Lucic checked Van Ryn into the boards. As his helmet hit the plexiglass, it shattered, sending 1,000,000 shards of plastic glass all over the place. A video clip of the hit was loaded to YouTube, the place it has gained greater than 126,000 clicks. Van Ryn walked away from the incident unscathed.

Simply what’s subsequent for these two coaches stays to be seen. A lot of their future depends on how the Blues are capable of change their fires this 12 months. if they can rally just like the workforce because it did in its Cup-winning season of 2019, absolutely Ott and Van Ryn will probably be given severe consideration for head teaching jobs within the NHL.

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