Button Up: Steady defenseman looking at AHL return

This article can be found published on Something’s Bruin.
Ryan Button has become an important part of the Reading Royals defense. (Mike Ashmore)

Ryan Button has become an important part of the Reading Royals defense. (Mike Ashmore)

A smile spread across his face as he recalled the biggest day of his life.

Reading Royals defenseman Ryan Button had two words to say about the 2009 NHL Entry Draft: “Pretty unbelievable.”

“We had a bunch of family members over just watching the TV [and] watching the laptops, and then finally the phone rings; a moment I’ll never forget,” he said.

The Boston Bruins selected the Edmonton native in the third round (86th overall) in 2009 while he was with the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL. He continued with the team for part of another season before being traded to the Seattle Thunderbirds.

He admits that he may have secretly hoped the Edmonton Oilers would have selected him because it’s his hometown team, but it all worked out with the Bruins.

“It was crazy because my dad’s favorite team is Boston,” Button said. “His whole family’s favorite team is Boston. And it’s a team growing up that we kind of had a second, third favorite team just because the Oilers were obviously number one, but they were kind of number two, number three. When I got the call, we all couldn’t believe it.”

Alongside of the excitement over one of his favorite teams selecting him, Button is full of compliments for the recent Stanley Cup champions.

“Ever since day one when I got drafted, I have nothing but tremendous things to say about the Boston Bruins organization,” he said. “It’s no surprise they won a Stanley Cup. Obviously they put a fantastic product on the ice, but off the ice, the way they handle their players, the way they communicate, everything is just done at a professional level. I’ve got nothing but amazing things to say about the organization.”

Button received his first taste at the pro level in 2010-11 when he played in seven games with the Bruins’ AHL team, the Providence Bruins.

He has participated in the prospect and rookie camps with the Bruins and has come to realize the difficulty of turning pro after years of juniors.

“As a 20 year old, you go into camp and you think, ‘Oh yeah, I think I can play this level,’” Button said. “But once you start playing at the American Hockey League level, it’s quite a jump from juniors.”

He has had a rough time transitioning to the pro life, but is learning lessons along the way.

“It has been a big change for me, not only on the ice, but off the ice as well,” Button said. “You go from a billet family where you don’t have to do a lot to being on your own, making meals, making sure your disciplining yourself to make sure you’re going to bed on time, managing money [and] all that stuff. At the end of the day, it’s been a ton of fun.”

Royals head coach Larry Courville sees the value the young defenseman brings to his team.

“He’s known for his skill,” Courville said. “He’s known as a guy who can score goals, move the puck and skate pretty well.”

As the 2010-11 season came to a close, Button played in seven games with the P-Bruins, where he registered his first pro point with an assist on April 9, 2011 in a 3-2 win against the Springfield Falcons.

He started the 2011-12 season with the P-Bruins, but suffered an injury after the first two games. He missed the next 10 games there as he recovered and also got three games in with the Royals at the end of October before returning to the lineup with the P-Bruins on November 5.

“[I] came back, and then was kind of in and out,” he said. “But [I] was playing probably 10 or 15 minutes a game and playing solid minutes when I was out there, and then got sick again.”

Button missed more games with the P-Bruins following the setback, and that’s when Don Sweeney, assistant general manager with the Bruins, sent him back down to the Royals.

“That’s when Donny gave me the call,” Button said. “He said, ‘Just go down to the east coast [and] play some games,’ and I’ve been in every game since I’ve been down here.”

Button joined the Royals on December 30 and has played in every game since amassing a goal and five assists over that time.

He has enjoyed his time in the ECHL with the Royals and knows it has been a important part of his development.

“I’ve benefited a lot from down here and playing a ton,” Button said. “We’ve got great coaches in there, a good group of guys. I have nothing against this league. It’s been a great tool for me, a great league for me. For all the people that say it’s not a very good league, I really beg to differ. I think there are a lot of guys in here who have a lot of skill, a lot of big bodies and it’s a really good developmental league to get used to that pro game because guys are so much bigger and faster than it is in juniors.”

Courville sees the skill in Button and where it can potentially take him in the future.

“We’ve used him on our power play a number of times and he’s been successful,” he said. “He’s going to be a guy that we look for to create offense. He’s also plays on our penalty kill in a limited role.

“His first step right now is he wants to get to the American Hockey League and be there consistently and then earn himself an NHL contract at some point.”

The 6-foot defenseman said he is taking it day-by-day with the Royals, but hopes to make the jump back to the AHL, if not this season, then definitely at the start of next year.

“This summer coming up is going to be huge for me,” Button said. “I know what I have to work on and I’m going to do my best to work on that. There’s a lot of things you’ve got to take into consideration and age is a big factor of that and I know who is ahead of me, who’s got this contract, who’s got what, but at the end of the day, I know what I have to do to get to that next level.”

What about the Bruins?

“That would be a dream come true to be in Boston,” he said. “You never know what can happen.”

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Categories: ECHL, Features, Ice Hockey, Sports

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