Michael Ryder Looking to Bounce Back After Being ‘Under the Gun’ Last Season

Michael Ryder Looking to Bounce Back After Being 'Under the Gun' Last Season BOLTON, Mass. — The Bruins spent Monday trying to shave a few strokes off their golf game at the seventh annual Bruins Golf Tournament at The International in Bolton.

But sometime in the near future, the club will face the far more pressing need to shave a few million dollars off their payroll to remain compliant with the league's salary cap. The Bruins will be OK to start the season with Marco Sturm on long-term injured reserve as he rehabs from offseason knee surgery, but once he is fit to return, the club will have some hard decisions to make.

"We have some time to figure things out," said Bruins president Cam Neely. "It's the situation we're in and there's not much we can do about it. We all know what we have to do by the time Marco gets back, but it's not something that we have to look at what can we do tomorrow? I know that [general manager] Pete [Chiarelli]'s working and understands what the situation is and we're going to take it from there."

One player who could be in the crosshairs is Michael Ryder. He's coming off a disappointing 18-goal season and is entering the final year of a three-year contract. Eliminating Ryder's $4 million cap hit would make enough room for Sturm ($3.5 million), plus a little breathing room for call-ups.

Moving that contract won't be easy though. There's been no interest in Ryder on the trade market, and dumping that much salary in the minors could be a tough pill for ownership to shallow.

Through it all, Ryder appears blissfully unaware that his spot on the roster could be in question. Speaking publicly for the first time this offseason before the golf tournament, Ryder seemed surprised when asked if he felt his job was in jeopardy.

"No, I never thought about it," said Ryder. "I know I'm still part of this team. I've just to go out there and prove that I belong here."

Ryder also stated that the Bruins never gave him any indication to think otherwise, with no contact with the club during the summer.

"I just talked to [Chiarelli] at the end of the year," said Ryder. "I just expected to be back.

"They never told me anything different," added Ryder. "So I just have to make sure I show them I'm ready when camp starts."

That approach might not be exactly what management is seeking. Without singling out any particular players, Neely did admit that the club's cap situation should inspire players to put forth their best efforts to avoid risking becoming a cap casualty.

"I would think they're thinking about it for sure," said Neely. "When we're in the situation that we are in, you have to make something happen before Marco gets back. Again, if I'm a player, I'm thinking that knowing the situation the organization is in, it might give them some extra motivation. I'm not 100 percent sure if that's the case, but they know the situation that we're in."

Ryder does understand that he needs to improve upon last year's performance.

"There's definitely always pressure," said Ryder. "This year, I've got to make sure I have a better year than last year. It was disappointing overall. I just think I've got to come out strong and get off to a good start. For me personally, I know the things I have to better at from last year. I've got to try to shoot more and try to get the puck in the net."

Ryder has done that in the past, twice scoring 30 goals for Montreal and scoring 27 in his first season in Boston in 2008-09. But like many Bruins last season, Ryder failed to live up to expectations as Boston finished last in the league in scoring.

"The whole team had struggles last year," said Ryder. "We had a hard time putting the puck in the net in the regular season. When you're looked at to score goals and the team's not scoring, you're kind of one of the guys that's under the gun. I accept that and I've just got to try to find ways to make that happen."

Ryder's struggles last year made him a popular target for the fans' wrath, but he didn't appear too concerned with being run out of town. 

"That happens everywhere you go," said Ryder. "After the season there's always going to be people talking, saying you should go away or whatever, but you kind of forget about it and right now I'm just concentrating on starting off the season."

Ryder also denied taking any different approach this season because it is a contract year for him.

"It's the same as any other year," said Ryder. "I think you just have to go out and try to be the best that you can for the team you're with. It doesn't matter what contract it is or what year in your contract it is. You have to do the same thing you have to do every year."

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