Ryan O'Byrne

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Ryan O'Byrne
Ryan O'Byrne 2011.jpg
Born (1984-07-19) July 19, 1984 (age 33)
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Height 6 ft 5 in (196 cm)
Weight 234 lb (106 kg; 16 st 10 lb)
Position Defence
Shot Right
Played for Montreal Canadiens
Colorado Avalanche
Toronto Maple Leafs
HC Lev Praha
HC Ambrì-Piotta
NHL Draft 79th overall, 2003
Montreal Canadiens
Playing career 2006–2016

Ryan David O'Byrne (born July 19, 1984) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player who played in the National Hockey League (NHL) with the Montreal Canadiens, Colorado Avalanche and the Toronto Maple Leafs. During the 2012–13 NHL lockout, O'Byrne served as an assistant coach for the Victoria Grizzlies in the BCHL.[1]

Playing career[edit]


O'Byrne attended the private St. Michaels University School in British Columbia and played two seasons of junior in the BCHL with the Victoria Salsa and Nanaimo Clippers. Instead of continuing a CHL career, O'Byrne opted to play U.S. collegiate hockey and committed to Cornell University of New York. Prior to playing his freshman year with Cornell, Ryan was drafted in the third round, 79th-overall, by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.[2] Selected due to his large physical frame and potential as a shut-down defenceman, he played in 31 games with the Big Red contributing only two assists.[3] Improving offensively with three goals and 10 points in his sophomore season of 2004–05, O'Byrne helped Cornell regain the ECAC Championship with a 3-1 win over Harvard before losing in the West Regional Final to the University of Minnesota.[4]

In his junior year, O'Byrne entrenched himself as a top defender within Cornell's ECAC leading defence corps to be selected as a First Team All-Ivy player.[5] Despite missing nearly a month to injury, O'Byrne led all Big Red defenceman with 7 goals and 13 points in 28 games and was named in the ECAC Third-Team before losing in a rematch to Harvard in the ECAC Championship.[6] O'Byrne was selected by Cornell Coach Mike Schäfer as an alternate captain, but decided to forgo his senior year to begin his professional career signing a two-year entry level contract with the Montreal Canadiens on August 9, 2006.[7]


After attending his first Montreal training camp, he was assigned to American Hockey League affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs, for the 2006–07 season. As a stay-at-home defensive-defenceman, Ryan produced just 12 assists in 80 games with the Bulldogs, waiting until the playoffs to score his first professional goals. In scoring his first goal, an opening series clinching goal over the Rochester Americans, he helped the Bulldogs advance to the Conference Semi-finals. In the Championship Final, he then produced his second game-winning goal a game three win over the Hershey Bears en route to claiming the Calder Cup.[8]

In the following 2007–08 season, O'Byrne resumed playing with Hamilton before he was later recalled to the Canadiens and made his NHL debut, recording two assists, in a 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins on December 6, 2007.[9] Ryan missed a month of the season after suffering a broken thumb, before returning to health and scoring his first NHL goal in a 6-4 defeat to the San Jose Sharks on March 4, 2008.[10] He finished the season, while splitting time between Hamilton and Montreal, to finish with 33 games.

Ryan O'Byrne.jpg

O'Byrne was then re-signed to a three-year contract with the Canadiens on July 16, 2008.[11] He made the Canadiens opening night roster for the 2008–09 season, and was used as a reserve defenceman. With two stints in the AHL, O'Byrne appeared in 37 games for five assists, however his season was highlighted and gained the most attention on November 24, 2008, when he unintentionally tied the score with an own goal in the last minutes of a game against the New York Islanders, in which the Canadiens would go on to lose 4-3 in overtime.[12] In his second game of the 2009–10 campaign with the Canadiens, Ryan suffered a knee injury causing him to miss the next 20 games. Upon his return, O'Byrne established himself as a regular within the defence corps. On December 4, 2009, he changed his jersey number to 20 due to retiring of the number 3 in honour of Emile Bouchard for the Canadiens Centennial celebrations. Similar to Ray Bourque's homage to Phil Esposito in Boston, Ryan wore the number 20 jersey underneath his number 3 jersey and as a surprise, unveiled his new number during the banner hanging and presented Bouchard his jersey as a token of being the last to wear the number 3 for the Canadiens.[13] O'Byrne finished his first full NHL season, appearing in a career high 55 games and 13 post-season games as the Canadiens reached the Eastern Conference finals.

To begin the 2010–11 season, O'Byrne was relegated as a depth defenceman on the team's blueline. In the final year of his contract and unable to establish a position he was traded by the Canadiens to the Colorado Avalanche for forward prospect Michael Bournival on November 11, 2010.[14] In his first game with the Avalanche, Ryan recorded a career high in ice time in a 5-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on November 12, 2010.[15]

During the 2012–13 NHL lockout, O'Byrne joined the Victoria Grizzlies of the BCHL as a coach, but left the position to join the Florida Everblades of the ECHL in order to get some ice time and at the same time effectively work in his position as the NHLPA's representative for the Avalanche.[1] He rejoined the Avalanche at the conclusion of the lockout.

In the midst of the 2012–13 season and in the final year of his contract at the trade deadline, O'Byrne was dealt by the Avalanche to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft on April 3, 2013.[16] On April 8, 2013, O'Byrne scored his first goal as a Maple Leaf.

After experiencing a first round defeat to the Boston Bruins with the Leafs, O'Byrne was not offered a new contract and was released to free agency. With limited NHL interest, O'Byrne agreed to his first contract abroad, signing a two-year contract with Czech-based HC Lev Praha of the Kontinental Hockey League on September 2, 2013.[17] In the 2013–14 season, O'Byrne enjoyed a largely successful season in Prague as a mainstay stay-at-home defenseman. In 43 games he contributed with 2 goals and 9 points before helping Lev Praha advance to the Gagarin Cup finals in the playoffs.

O'Byrne's intention to fulfil the second year of his contract was terminated as Lev Praha declared bankruptcy and folded immediately in the off-season. On July 7, 2014, he opted to remain in Europe but moved to Switzerland in signing a one-year contract with HC Ambrì-Piotta of the National League A.[18] After one season with Ambri, O'Byrne moved as a free agent to the Swedish Hockey League, signing a two-year deal with HV71 on July 30, 2015.[19]

On July 21, 2016, O'Byrne announced his retirement from professional hockey.[20]

Personal life[edit]

On February 11, 2008, O'Byrne and teammate Tom Kostopoulos were arrested with force outside a Tampa Bay, Florida nightclub following the team's rookie dinner for a purse-snatching incident.[21] He was charged that night with grand theft after police found him with a woman's purse in one hand making a call with her cellphone in the other. Kostopoulos was charged with resisting the officers after he was told to back off while they were dealing with O'Byrne. Both were eventually released on bail—O'Byrne's was $2,000, Kostopoulos' was $500.[22] The charges against Kostopoulos were dropped a few weeks later, while those against O'Byrne were dropped in July 2008, after he apologized to the victim and conceded to do community service in Canada.[23] The incident was caused by the woman in question taking pictures of players on O'Byrne's team. In an attempt to delete the pictures at the nightclub, O'Byrne's tried to take the woman's cell phone which devolved into the future arrest.

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2001–02 Victoria Salsa BCHL 52 2 9 11 91
2002–03 Victoria Salsa BCHL 32 3 6 9 94
2002–03 Nanaimo Clippers BCHL 9 2 4 6 24
2003–04 Cornell University ECAC 31 0 2 2 71
2004–05 Cornell University ECAC 33 3 7 10 68
2005–06 Cornell University ECAC 28 7 6 13 69
2006–07 Hamilton Bulldogs AHL 80 0 12 12 129 22 2 5 7 32
2007–08 Hamilton Bulldogs AHL 20 2 6 8 49
2007–08 Montreal Canadiens NHL 33 1 6 7 45 4 0 0 0 0
2008–09 Montreal Canadiens NHL 37 0 5 5 38 2 0 0 0 2
2008–09 Hamilton Bulldogs AHL 18 1 5 6 35
2009–10 Montreal Canadiens NHL 55 1 3 4 74 13 0 0 0 10
2010–11 Montreal Canadiens NHL 3 0 0 0 4
2010–11 Colorado Avalanche NHL 64 0 10 10 71
2011–12 Colorado Avalanche NHL 74 1 6 7 57
2012–13 Florida Everblades ECHL 16 2 9 11 10
2012–13 Colorado Avalanche NHL 34 1 3 4 54
2012–13 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 8 1 1 2 6 6 0 0 0 4
2013–14 HC Lev Praha KHL 43 2 7 9 51 22 2 4 6 60
2014–15 HC Ambrì-Piotta NLA 13 0 2 2 16
2015–16 HV71 SHL 28 2 3 5 78 3 0 0 0 0
NHL totals 308 5 34 39 369 25 0 0 0 16

Awards and honours[edit]

Award Year
All-ECAC Hockey Third Team 2005–06
ECAC Hockey All-Tournament Team 2006 [24]


  1. ^ a b Dheensaw, Cleve (November 30, 2012). "O'Byrne heads to ECHL for play time". Times Colonist. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Five Cornell players selected in NHL draft". CornellBigRed.com. June 22, 2003. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Ryan O'Byrne player card". CornellHockeyDB.com. May 6, 2008. Retrieved September 9, 2008. 
  4. ^ "Cornell wins 11th ECACHL Championship with 3-1 win over Harvard". CornellBigRed.com. March 19, 2005. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Moulson, O'Byrne named in First-Team All-Ivy". CornellBigRed.com. March 1, 2006. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Moulson, O'Byrne capture All-ECACHL honours". CornellBigRed.com. March 16, 2006. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Canadiens sign O'Byrne to two-year deal". Montreal Canadiens. August 9, 2006. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Super-size Me". Montreal Canadiens. May 6, 2007. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Canadiens beat Bruins seventh consecutive time, stops three-game slide". CBS Sports. December 6, 2007. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Thornton, Campbell score big goals in Sharks' 6-4 win over Montreal". Yahoo! Sports. March 4, 2008. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  11. ^ "O'Byrne inks three year deal". Montreal Canadiens. July 16, 2008. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  12. ^ "O'Byrne's own goal costs Habs as they lose 4-3 in shootout to streaking Isles". National Hockey League. November 24, 2008. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  13. ^ "O'Byrne Happy To Give Up The Famous 3". Times Colonist. Archived from the original on December 13, 2009. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  14. ^ Dater, Adrian (November 12, 2010). "Avs defenseman O'Byrne brings size, hunger to improve". Denver Post. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Jones leads Avalanche past Blue Jackets 5-1". Yahoo! Sports. November 12, 2010. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Maple Leafs acquire O'Byrne from Avalanche for pick". The Sports Network. April 3, 2013. Retrieved April 3, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Former Leaf, Canadien O'Byrne signs with Praha in KHL". The Sports Network. September 2, 2013. Retrieved September 2, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Maxim Noreau off to Colorado, Ambrì-Piotta signs another Canadian". swisshockeynews.ch. 2014-07-07. Retrieved 2014-07-07. 
  19. ^ "Ryan O'Byrnes to boost the defense" (in Swedish). HV71. 2015-07-30. Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  20. ^ Ryan O'Byrne (2016-07-21). "Retirement announcement". Twitter. Retrieved 2016-07-21. 
  21. ^ Poltilove, Josh (February 11, 2008). "Two hockey pros, One Former NBA player arrested at Tampa Bar". TBO.com. Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  22. ^ "O'Byrne arrested". Canada.com. February 11, 2008. Retrieved February 13, 2008. 
  23. ^ "Theft charges dropped against Habs' O'Byrne in Tampa nightclub affair". The Canadian Press. July 16, 2008. Retrieved July 16, 2008. [dead link]
  24. ^ "All-Tournament Honors" (PDF). ECAC Hockey. Retrieved 2014-05-12. 

External links[edit]