Ducks are mad about Ryan |

Ducks are mad about Ryan

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Five years and one pingpong ball later, Sidney Crosby and Bobby Ryan play hockey in opposite ends of the country but remain forever linked by the 2005 NHL draft lottery.

Crosby’s star has been detectable since Day 1. While Ryan doesn’t figure to ever reach Crosby’s status, his emergence as a top-tier NHL player is undeniable.

The top two picks of the 2005 draft met Friday night at Honda Center, and the duo has a clear admiration for each other — even if neither spends time pondering what might have been.

“Not really anymore,” Ryan said. “I thought about it maybe three, four years ago, but not now.”

Ryan’s career has taken off in the past three seasons. He scored 31 goals in only 64 games during the 2008-09 season and followed that with 35 goals last year. Ryan played a key role for the U.S. team during the Olympics, when he shared the ice with Crosby, who scored the gold medal-winning goal for Canada.

“It’s neat to see where guys end up and how they do,” Crosby said.

Crosby was long projected as the No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft, which occurred after the NHL lost a season because of the lockout. Ryan was considered a no-brainer as the second pick, and he has proved effective on arguably hockey’s top line. Ryan, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf often overwhelm teams with their size and talent.

For Ryan, though, life with the Ducks hasn’t always been easy. He was held out of the league for the better part of two seasons primarily because Anaheim was having salary-cap issues. And he often seems to find himself in coach Randy Carlyle’s doghouse.

Living in Anaheim, it turns out, has been perfect for Ryan. When his frustration mounts, he can escape to the tropical paradise of Southern California.

“It’s a beautiful place to play,” he said. “And it’s nice to leave the rink and not have to think about hockey all the time. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Crosby’s accomplishments have dwarfed Ryan’s, but the left wing is a more accomplished actor. Getzlaf, who played with Crosby on Team Canada, and Ryan filmed a skit for the NHL awards show in June; Ryan played the role of tough-luck second-place finisher, a role he knows intimately.

“I read the script and knew it would go well,” he said. “It took all day but was well worth it.”

The script of Ryan’s career is still in production, but so far, he hasn’t been a bad consolation prize for a fan base that just barely lost the Sidney Crosby sweepstakes. Among the league’s most gifted snipers, Ryan, 23, appears to have only scraped the surface of his talent.

“Everyone follows a different path,” Crosby said. “He’s having a great career.”

Additional Information:

By the numbers

Sidney Crosby’s career stats

• Games: 384

• Goals: 189

• Assists: 332

• Points: 521

Bobby Ryan’s career stats

• Games: 181

• Goals: 75

• Assists: 66

• Points: 141

Note: Stats entering Friday night’s game

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