Bobby Ryan celebrates a goal with his Ottawa Senators teammates during… (Jana Chytilova/Freestyle…)
Bobby Ryan didn't put on a mask, any sort of disguise or implement a clever way to hide his identity.
He roamed the streets of Ottawa in September and interviewed fans about ... Bobby Ryan.
Surely, the deeply knowledgeable fans in that Canadian hotbed of hockey would recognize the newly minted Senators forward.
After all, this was not some journeyman fourth-liner. Ryan happened to be a high-scoring forward who had four 30-goal seasons when he played for the Ducks. He was traded to Ottawa in July in exchange for forwards Jakob Silfverberg and Stefan Noesen and a first-round pick in next year's draft.
What was a lark became must-see video, at times hilarious and at times cringe worthy, and the clever Letterman-like spot went viral on the Internet.
Ryan's self-effacing manner combined with the funny reactions from the fans, most of whom had absolutely no idea it was Ryan asking about Ryan, made it all the rage.
"It was really fun. I know how all those people pretty much wrote me on Twitter afterward, saying how dumb they felt that they couldn't figure it out," Ryan said, smiling.
Ryan said the idea was sparked by a video produced by New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey, who hit the streets of New York for "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon."
"It was one of those things that I wasn't sure how it would get taken or how it would turn out and the video editing was good," Ryan said. "I felt pretty comfortable. … It's tough to do, interviewing people."
Now they know who he is. Fans have been driving by his house and honking their horns, unsettling his girlfriend who was home alone when Ryan was on a trip. Help surfaced in the form of his neighbors.
"They've told people to go away," Ryan said. "Twitter patrol in Anaheim and neighborhood watch in Ottawa."
Ryan was chatting with reporters at Staples Center on Wednesday morning, a few hours before the Senators were to play the Kings. Up next is a Saturday game in San Jose before Ryan returns to Honda Center to play his former team on Sunday.
"You know, I don't know what kind of reaction I'll get," he said.
To that end, Ryan has not spent a great deal of time thinking about how he will be treated when he comes back. He is happy in Ottawa and made a point in an interview of thanking Ducks General Manager Bob Murray for sending him to a team where he could be a "good part of the core."
Senators Coach Paul MacLean said they were going after a certain type of player when Ryan became available.
"We needed this type of player that can score 30 goals and be a threat to score," MacLean said. "As it turned out, he ended up being the guy that became available and they were able to work something out. We didn't specifically target him, but we wanted a guy just like him."
Ryan, 26, was moved to right wing, where he said he had not played consistently in six years. He had been playing on a line with Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza, who is out because of a sore groin and did not play against the Kings.
Ryan was hit — well, perhaps singed — with his first bit of media/social media heat when he did not score in Ottawa's first two games, although he recorded an assist. His teammates warned him about the potential of such early scrutiny but Ryan still was surprised. Failing to score in two games hardly sparked the masses at South Coast Plaza in Orange County.
"Some of the questions you are going to get, you're just going to have to roll your eyes and bear with it," he said.
Given Ryan's history, the goals will come. At least now he is free from having to listen to trade rumors, as had been the case the last few years in Anaheim.
"I've been really excited about that," he said. "It's been really nice coming to the rink and not having to deal with the pressures that come with it. It's just the annoying questions that come with it, the ones you get every day.
"For a while there it didn't feel like there was any sense of security. It's tough to play every day with that looming, I guess, in the back of your mind."