Saturday January 30, 2016
Undoubtedly one of the all-time franchise greats in Windsor Spitfires history, Ryan Ellis arrived on the scene in 2007 and took the OHL by storm throughout the next four seasons.
Ellis would eventually become one of three defencemen in OHL history to record over 300 career regular season points (along with Rick Corriveau and Denis Potvin) while also earning CHL Player and Defenceman of the Year honours, a World Junior gold medal, two OHL championships and two MasterCard Memorial Cup titles before embarking on an NHL career.
The Windsor Spitfires honoured Ellis’ achievements prior to puckdrop on Saturday night as his number 6 joined the likes of Ernie Godden (15), Mickey Renaud (18) and several other franchise greats at the highest reaches of the WFCU Centre.
“The four years I spent here were some of the most unforgettable years of my life,” said Ellis in front of a capacity crowd on Saturday. “I grew from a young teen leaving home into a young man ready to conquer my dreams. Everyone here tonight has guided me to where I am today.”
WATCH: The Windsor Spitfires retire Ryan Ellis’ number 6
Ellis joined the Spitfires as a 16-year-old after being the club’s second round pick in the 2007 OHL Priority Selection. His presence was immediately felt as he finished his rookie season recording a point-per-game (63 GP, 15-48–63) to be named to both CHL and OHL all-rookie teams while also earning OHL Scholastic Player of the Year honours.
The Freelton, ON, native was the OHL’s Defenceman of the Year as a sophomore in 2008-09, finishing the season with 89 points (22-67–89) in 57 games before putting up 31 points (8-23–31) in 20 playoff contests to lead the Spits to their first OHL crown since 1988. Ellis proceeded to score three goals in the 2009 MasterCard Memorial Cup in Rimouski as the Spitfires achieved Canadian Hockey League supremacy for the first time in franchise history. Ellis also won gold with Canada at the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championship.
After being the 11th overall pick of the 2009 NHL Draft by Nashville, Ellis and the Spitfires continued their dominance in 2009-10, recording their second straight 50+ win season. Come playoff time, the Spits became the third team in OHL history to rebound from a 3-0 series deficit, defeating Kitchener in a seven-game Western Conference final to advance to the OHL Championship. Windsor swept Barrie and won four more games at the 2010 MasterCard Memorial Cup in Brandon to hoist the Memorial Cup for the second year in a row as Ellis remained a centrepiece of the club’s success.
Ellis capped off his OHL career with an unforgettable 100-point (24-76–100) campaign in 2010-11 to earn CHL Player and CHL Defenceman of the Year honours. The smooth-skating rearguard also won the OHL’s Red Tilson Trophy, awarded to the league’s most outstanding player and became just the third defenceman in OHL history to win two Max Kaminsky Trophies as OHL Defenceman of the Year. (Denis Potvin, Ottawa 1972, 1973), (Bryan Berard, Detroit 1995, 1996).
“I’m honoured to be standing in front of you tonight as part of the Windsor Spitfires family once again,” Ellis continued. “I have many people to thank for my success throughout my career. I’d like to thank the Spitfires for the special night. To all my coaches, Bob Boughner, DJ Smith, Bob Jones, David Matsos and our GM Warren Rychel who taught me the meaning of the game both on and off the ice and what it means to be a true pro.”
Currently in his fifth NHL season, Ellis has recorded 26 goals, 66 assists and 92 points over 251 career regular season games all spent with Nashville.
He concluded with a heartfelt thank you to the Windsor fans.
“To the fans of Windsor and to the entire Spitfires organization, it was an honour and privilege to have represented your city and your team wearing the number six.”
He remains the Spitfires all-time scoring leader among defencemen with 73 goals, 240 assists and 313 points over 226 regular season OHL contests.
With his jersey retirement on Saturday, Ellis joins other franchise standouts in Ed Jovanovski, Adam Henrique and Steve Ott (14) to have his number retired within the past year.