Number nine for the Anaheim Ducks is a 6'2" forward who the press guide calls Bobby Ryan.
His birth certificate shows that he was born in Cherry Hill, New Jersey on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1987.
Drafted second overall in the National Hockey League (NHL) draft in 2005, Bobby Ryan had an impressive 2008-2009 rookie season, scoring 31 goals and 26 assists in just 64 games.
Like all hockey rookies, their parents are thought of as behind-the-scenes moms and dads, exemplary citizens, exhausted by so many practises, games and expenses.
But Bobby Ryan is not Bobby Ryan.
He is Robert Shane Stevenson.
His father, Bob Stevenson Sr. (New Jersey Department of Corrections picture, below) was an amateur boxer and a successful New Jersey insurance broker.
On October 29, 1997, Stevenson Sr. decided to confront Bobby's mother, Melody Stevenson, about her alleged drug consumption.
Unfortunately, he steeled himself for the confrontation with alcohol.
ESPN picks up the story:
"On that night, father and son sat in their second-row seats at the Core-States Arena, Flyers vs. Blues.
"After the game, the Stevenson men came home. With his son heading to bed, Bob met up with some pals for a couple of beers. He came home around 11:30. Bobby, 10, was fast asleep.
"The Stevensons did have a good life, as good a life as you can have when Dad has a wicked temper - he'd had charges from a bar fight dismissed earlier that year - and when he suspects Mom of having a substance abuse problem. Bob was certain Melody Stevenson was using drugs (she denies it). That's why he'd rigged a tape recorder to the home phone.
"When he came back from the bar, Bob checked the tape. There was one call--innocent, Melody says. Didn't matter. It set Bob off like the bell ringing. He went after Melody. Lefts and rights. Choking. What started in the bedroom spilled into the street, then to a neighbor's house, where Bob, burning like a four alarm fire, ripped a door off its hinges.
"The cops were called, and Bob was arrested. Bobby didn't wake up. Or at least that's what he told Melody when she picked him up at a neighbor's house after she'd spent four days in the hospital being treated for a fractured skull and internal injuries."
Those internal injuries included four broken ribs and a punctured lung.
His father's attack was so vicious that the ex-boxer feared aggravated assault and attempted murder charges.
It is unlikely that the then-10 year old child slept through the violent assault, which spilled out into the front street.
He posted $75,000 bond and just ran, choosing to be a fugitive, absconding to Los Angeles, California, and went undercover, changing his identity to Shane or Bob Ryan.
Soon, he made contact with Melody who forgave him and she, too, slipped away, with their son, to live with Bob in Los Angeles.
The child was made to buy into the lie and to deny his truthful name of Bobby Stevenson. Instead, he was ordered to profess that his name was Bobby Ryan. The Bobby Stevenson who had burned through the Cherry Hill youth hockey leagues disappeared.
A new hockey star was born, Bobby Ryan Jr, who quickly became a star with local roller hockey teams and, later, a junior team known as the LA Junior Wings.
But the FBI was hunting Stevenson and was tracking Melody.
Soon, they became aware that some teenager called Bobby Ryan was tearing up the youth hockey leagues in California, just like the Stevenson kid of Cherry Hill. L.A. players swore he was a dead ringer for Bobby Stevenson from that New Jersey team they had faced-off against the year before.
The family tried to further hide themselves by home-schooling their son.
But it was too late. They had been located. US Marshalls swat team stormed the family home at 4 AM in February of 2000 and arrested Bob Stevenson, charged him with serious felonies: attempted murder and being a fugitive.
More trauma for the child: in the commotion, the 12-year old child woke up and witnessed his father's arrest.
Stevenson Sr. was flown back to New Jersey as a common felon where he plea bargained and plead guilty to the lesser charge of aggravated assault.
On August 18, 2000, Robert S. Stevenson, inmate #000299900C was sentenced to four years and three months term to be served in New Jersey's Camsden prison. He was released on May 10, 2004.
Meanwhile, Junior was left with his father's criminal garbage: he had to choose whether to revert to Stevenson or make a go of it as Bobby Ryan.
Melody moved to Florida and Bobby Ryan, to the Ontario Hockey League where he lit up the Owen Sound Attack with 102 points in his final season (2006-2007).
The sequelae of the crime continued to the day Ryan was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks of the National Hockey League. Bob Sr. was released on parole but on condition he not associate with Melody. Like an unrepentant felon, he defied the terms of his parole and attended the draft sitting next to his wife, which brought him a further punishment of 3-months house arrest.
But his son was selected 2nd in the draft, right after Pittsburgh's choice of Sidney Crosby.
After a brief sojourn in them minor leagues, Bobby Ryan is now on a $850,000 NHL player contract with an tremendous professional upside. He is a finalist for 2009 rookie of the year.
Meanwhile, sports and hockey writers, professionals and NHL brown-nosers have become perverse apologists for this "hockey dad".
For example, the American ESPN Sports network writes of the moment that Bobby Ryan was drafted:
"Didn't matter that Ryan wasn't the name on his birth certificate, not to anyone at all."
But every time the public address announcer of the Anaheim Ducks announces a goal scored by "Number 9, Bobby Ryan", it will ring rotten and disconcerting to those conversant with family law and child psychology.
Beating his wife to within a whisker of death was a deadly felony.
Then, so many well-meaning hockey volunteers were systematically lied to and deceived as the child's hockey career progressed, with the child made a full partner to the conspiracy of dishonesty.
Bob Sr. pushed his young son through a spectrum of deception may yet be the longest lasting of Bob Senior's crimes; the effects on his son, he seems to be oblivious.
It does matter.
- Ambrogio, T., Bobby Ryan's Amazing Story, March 2, 2005, published at www.thescore.ca
- Faber, M., No Looking Back, Sports Illustrated, 9 FEB 2009
- Joyce, G., Alias, published at www.espn.com, article retrieved on May 16, 2009
- New Jersey Department of Corrections