Two blunders will probably follow Ryan O’Byrne for the rest of his career.
The first (and worst) one happened in 2008 when O’Byrne snatched a woman’s purse at a Tampa Bay nightclub. Charges were dropped after he apologized and did some community service, but the hockey world still holds onto that incident as an amusing punchline.
That wasn’t the only punchline-earning moment for the young defenseman, however. He joined the embarrassed ranks of defensemen who scored a goal on their own net when he was a member of the Montreal Canadiens during a 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Islanders in November 2008. Like many of his ashamed counterparts, O’Byrne was the victim of bad luck and unfortunate timing because he sent the puck toward his own net without realizing that Carey Price vacated the team’s net because a penalty had been called on the Islanders. As you can guess, these types of moments are hard to live down.
The Colorado Avalanche managed to look beyond those two muffled moments and saw a big (6-feet-5, 234 lbs.) defenseman who is starting to live up to his potential at 26 years old. The team gave him a nice raise today, handing him a two-year, $3.6 million deal. That $1.8 million per year salary almost doubles his 2010-11 allotment of $941K.
Who knows if such a payday will silence all the jokes about purse snatching and own goals, but it’s possible that O’Byrne will have the last laugh.