Cruthers faces crossroads in career

Ryan Cruthers has 277 points in 300 regular season games in the ECHL. (Candice Monhollan)

Ryan Cruthers has 277 points in 300 regular season games in the ECHL. (Candice Monhollan)

READING, Pa. – There comes a time in every hockey player’s life when they face the tough decision of having to leave the game they love.

Orlando Solar Bears captain Ryan Cruthers knows the time is closing in on him.

“The thought of retirement always creeps into your mind as you go through a season,” Cruthers said. “I have been waiting for the right opportunity to come up and this could be it.”

Over the last couple of summers, Cruthers has worked at the Body Zone Sports and Wellness Complex in Wyomissing, Pa., coaching and instructing younger kids.

The Body Zone reached out to the 28 year old and offered him the position of Director of Ice Hockey and to be the head coach for the Berks Bruins teams.

“Last time I was here when we played, I had an interview that day and then they offered me the job,” Cruthers said.

The job, which he accepted, is right up his alley as wants to become a coach.

“This will help me do that as well as learn some of the business side of the hockey world,” Cruthers said “It’s something I’ve always looked at in the off-season, but I was waiting for the right opportunity and this seems to be it.”

Though he may be a native of Farmingdale, N.Y., Cruthers has always felt Reading is his home after spending three seasons with the Reading Royals before being traded to the Alaska Aces last year.

“This is a place me and my family call a home,” Cruthers said. “We love it here. We have a lot of friends here and I know all the kids that I’m coaching, for the most part.”

The job has placed Cruthers at a crossroads in his career. He wants to become a coach, but isn’t sure he is ready to hang up the skates.

He is open to the idea of continuing to play in the ECHL if a team is willing to have him on the roster, including his former team in Reading.

“I spoke with Larry [Courville] for a while about the new job when they were in Orlando a couple weeks ago,” Cruthers said. “We have a good relationship and if he needs something, I’m sure we will be in touch.”

His final decision will most likely come at the end of this season and if he does decide to retire, Cruthers is content with where his hockey career has led him.

“Hockey has always been my life and I can’t be happier with what I have accomplished throughout my career,” Cruthers said. “As a kid, I dreamed of one day being a professional and I was able to do that. I was able to use hockey to get a college degree and now get a job opportunity.”

Regardless of his final decision, Cruthers will continue to be a part of the hockey community for the foreseeable future.

“I will always be a hockey player,” Cruthers said. “I am lucky I have now been given an opportunity to give back to kids and stay in the game I love.”

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Categories: ECHL, Features, Ice Hockey, Sports

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