Daniel Ryder will never be described as high-strung. A product of Bonavista, Newfoundland, the 19-year-old center’s easygoing nature has served him well so far in his hockey career. A third round selection in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by the Calgary Flames, Ryder has been one of the top scorers for the Petes since he joined the club as a 16-year-old. He led the team in scoring this season with 38 goals and 82 points in 65 games, good enough for 20th in the Ontario Hockey League. During the OHL playoffs, he won the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award as the league’s playoff MVP with 15 goals and 31 points in 19 games. In three games of competition at the MasterCard Memorial Cup, Ryder has a single goal, tallied in the 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Giants on Tuesday night.
Dick Todd, the head coach of the Petes has said that the team needs Ryder to come through more often if Peterborough hopes to be successful in the tournament. Todd calls him one of the Petes key players and notes that not only does he contribute even strength and on the power play, but is also the team’s top penalty killing forward. He was surprised that Ryder fell so low in the Draft, saying Ryder should have been at worst an early second round pick, but is quick to point out that nothing seems to ever faze the 5’10 forward, something Todd credits to Ryder’s Newfoundland upbringing.
Hockey’s Future caught up with Ryder as he and Peterborough compete for the MasterCard Memorial Cup in Moncton.
HF: First, how would you describe yourself as a player?
DR: I think just a hard working player, plays both ends of the ice. Tries to create things offensively, playmaking probably. I try to make plays and offensive production.
HF: You were drafted by Calgary. Were you drafted right around where you thought you would be?
DR: I had no idea where I was going to go. I was just happy to get drafted.
HF: Was Calgary a team that had been talking to you a lot prior to the draft?
DR: Actually, I had no idea where I was going to play. I knew Calgary had interest in me but I didn’t know they were going to draft me. I was really happy because it was a Canadian team and just a great organization.
HF: Have they been keeping in touch with you throughout the season?
DR: Yeah, just seeing how I am doing and stuff. Nothing really, quite happy to see how I’m doing and keep the work up.
HF: Did you go to training camp?
DR: Yeah, the rookie camp. It was a good experience, got to get my feet wet. Get in there and see what it was all about. It was a pretty good experience, hopefully it keeps getting better.
HF: Can you talk about the effect that Dick Todd has had on your hockey career?
DR: He’s a really knowledgeable guy, he knows a lot about hockey so he’s passed a lot onto us. Just a great coach and tells us a little about his past and gives us some feedback and what to expect in things like this (the Memorial Cup). Just a great coach.
HF: You’re from Newfoundland. What made you decide to play in the OHL?
DR: Well I chose the O because my old coach in Triple A Midget used to play in the OHL, so he kind of swayed me towards the OHL. I was thinking OHL before, I just thought it was a better league for me and the style of play was different. So I think Peterborough was interested at the beginning, so I chose the OHL with no expectations really, just come in and see what I can do and that really worked out for the best.
HF: Do you think the changes to the rules both in the OHL and also up in the NHL help you as a player?
DR: Yeah, I like a lot of the changes, like no hooking and stuff. More room to do what you want and a lot of the skill players, I think, are benefiting from the new rules.
HF: I was doing a little research and I found that back in Newfoundland, you had the nickname ‘Danger’. Can you explain why you got the nickname?
DR: (laughing) I still have the nickname actually. The teammates up here call me ‘Danger’ now and it seems to be passing on from Newfoundland. It started in Newfoundland, when I was young. Just from a young age, things used to happen to me for some reason and I got stuck with the nickname. One of my best buddies put it on me and it stuck with me ever since.
HF: Your brother’s in the NHL (Montreal’s Michael Ryder). Do you two have any sort of sibling rivalry, when it comes to the game?
DR: No, not really. We don’t really talk about hockey that much actually, just try to do whatever, do the things that brothers do, just regular stuff and talk about everyday life.
HF: Who do you think is the better player?
DR: (grinning) Ah, I don’t know, he is at this point in time, I guess.
HF: Did you ever play against one another?
DR: No, he’s a few years older. Just played with each other a few times, just playing around. Nothing serious.
Ryder and the Petes will face the Vancouver Giants once again on Thursday in the tiebreaker game, vying for a spot in the semifinal at the 2006 MasterCard Memorial Cup.
Glen Jackson contributed to this article. Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.