St. Louis Blues forward Ryan O'Reilly found a new love and appreciation for hockey last season after helping the organization win its first Stanley Cup.
The 29-year-old joined the "Hockey Sense Podcast" with Andy Strickland to discuss the Blues' playoff run and his hockey career, among other things. O'Reilly told Strickland:
"I think it's completely revamped my entire hockey career. In the NHL, never really getting a good taste of winning and never winning a playoff series and then coming here (St. Louis) and you win the ultimate hockey goal. It completely changed that part of me to be now known as a winner."
Before being traded to the Blues ahead of the 2018-19 campaign, O'Reilly spent three seasons with the Sabres from 2015 to '18, and while he was successful individually during those years, Buffalo didn't qualify for the postseason and sat toward the bottom of the league standings. O'Reilly admitted he lost his love for the game before being traded to the Blues, but he has flourished since his days in Buffalo.
O'Reilly had a career year last season, tying his career high in goals (28), setting a new career high in assists (49, which he matched in 2020 before the season was paused due to the coronavirus) and also hit a career high in points (77). He won both the Selke Trophy and led St. Louis with 23 points in 26 playoff games, claiming the Conn Smythe Trophy as the postseason MVP.
Like many NHLers, O'Reilly also noted he's excited to return to the ice for the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign and the 24-team playoff format. St. Louis owned the top spot in the Western Conference before the league announced it will head straight for the playoffs amid the coronavirus pandemic, and will now compete for playoff seeding when hockey returns.
The Blues do have a high probability at repeating as Stanley Cup champions in 2020, but the Boston Bruins will be out for blood and the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights will put up a fight in the West. So it won't be easy.