By Rob Joncas
Tonight we are taking a look at Simcoe, Ontario native - Ryan VandenBussche.
Position: RW ▪ Shoots: Right
Height: 6-0 (183 cm)
Weight: 200 lbs. (91 kg)
Born: February 28, 1973 (Age 43.068) in Simcoe, Ontario
Draft: Toronto, 8th round (173rd overall), 1992 NHL Entry
Amateur Teams: Cornwall Royals, Guelph Storm, Newmarket Royals
For complete stats visit: www.hockey-reference.com/players/v/vandery01.html
Pre Penguins Career:
Ryan was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs 173rd overall in the 1992 Entry draft. He spent his first few seasons toiling on several OHL and AHL teams.
Ryan made his NHL debut during the 1996-1997 season playing in 11 games for the New York Rangers.
During the 1997-1998 campaign, Ryan spent time on 4 different teams in 3 different leagues (NHL, AHL, IHL)
During that same season, he was traded to Chicago Blackhawks where he would remain until he signed with the Penguins on July 12th, 2004.
Ryan signed a 2-year contract with the Penguins (he spent the lockout playing for the WBS Penguins in the AHL).
Ryan was brought into play the "enforcer" role for the team, protecting the emerging young guns and frail veterans that were in filling out the line-up.
During the 2005-2006 season, Ryan skated on the fourth line with Rico Fata and Penguins “legend” Max Talbot.
Ryan only appeared in 20 games for the Pens, putting up a goal and 42 PIM before undergoing season-ending cervical spine surgery.
At the beginning of July of 2006, Ryan was involved in what I would consider the biggest fight he was ever involved in, off ice.
Just before closing time a brawl started inside the establishment and spilled onto the street. During the ensuing melee. Ryan fought with three police officers (breaking one’s jaw, and threatening to kill another) that were trying to apprehend Ryan's cousin’s.
Ryan ended up being tasered, pepper-sprayed and given a court date for his trouble.
Interestingly, at one point The police had to retreat across the street once the crowd of 30 or so patrons turned on them (hurling insults and objects). The security guards were tasked with restoring order.
Ryan was a free agent at the time and the altercation for all intents and purposes ended his NHL career, as no Franchise was willing to take on such a huge risk (player-facing jail time).
Around a year later, Ryan had all of the charges against him dropped, which I can only imagine was a great relief for him.
Check out this The Hockey News article to learn a little more about the case:
Post Penguins Career:
In, 2006-2007 Ryan signed a tryout contract with Jokerit of SM-liiga which, which was terminated on November 5th. Not long after Ryan signed as a player-coach with the New Mexico Scorpions of the CHL, retiring after only 9 games citing health reasons as the primary reason.
Currently, Ryan can be found selling real estate in the Simcoe, Ontario area with his family.
Ryan is widely considered to be one of the toughest enforcers ever to lace up a pair of skates, appearing in 310 NHL games.
He also has the dubious distinction of ending the career of fellow tough guy Nick Kypreos during an exhibition game in 1997.
Thanks for reading.