By Megan MacDonald
In the heartbreaking 25 minute Sportsnet special, Ottawa Senators’ forward Bobby Ryan shares the story of a childhood on the run. Born Robert Stevenson, Bobby Ryan grew up in Cherryhill, New Jersey. One night, after taking a then ten year old Bobby to a Flyers game, his father Bob went to the bar and upon returning home brutally beat his wife, Melody. Facing charges of attempted murder first degree, burglary, and terroristic threats Bob Stevenson skipped bail and found himself on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted List.
After several months on the run searching for a new home for his family, Bobby and his mother were reunited with Bob in Washington, D.C. and moved cross country to California, assuming new identities. Bob became Shane Ryan – inspired by the movie Saving Private Ryan – while Robert was now Bobby Ryan.
One careless mistake – the simple use of a Blockbuster card under a tracked alias – brought the FBI to their front door and sent Bob to prison leaving Melody a single mother working two jobs to keep her son in hockey.
Once released, the state of New Jersey issued a restraining order to keep Bob from contacting his wife. Despite her several attempts to have it lifted, the restraining order stayed in place and attending Bobby’s draft in 2005 violated the conditions of his parole, sending Bob into 18 months house arrest.
The entire ordeal lead to Bobby seeing a sports psychologist, Toronto’s Dana Sinclair, who Bobby says, “saved my career really, she’s been the best thing I’ve ever done.”
Melody and Bob are still married, living once again in Cherryhill, New Jersey. Melody goes by Stevenson again but Bob and Bobby chose to keep the Ryan last name, “[Bobby Ryan] that is me. 100 percent.”