Ryder returns as rival

BOSTON -- The last time Michael Ryder skated on TD Garden ice, it was Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals in June 2011.

The crafty winger is back in Boston tonight and will face his former team as a newly acquired member of the Montreal Canadiens. On Tuesday, Ryder was traded from the Dallas Stars to the Canadiens in exchange for forward Erik Cole and a 2013 third-round draft pick.

He’s played two games for the Habs since the trade and has not registered a point. He began his NHL career with the Canadiens before signing with the Bruins prior to the 2008-09 season. He scored 63 goals and added 64 assists for 127 points in 235 games in Boston.

During the 2011 Cup run, Ryder recorded eight goals and nine assists for 17 points in 25 playoff games.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli decided not to re-sign Ryder, and he eventually inked a two-year deal worth $7 million with the Stars. Prior to Sunday’s game, Ryder said he knew he wouldn’t be back in a Bruins sweater after they won the Cup.

“I kind of knew what was going to happen anyway, so I wasn’t surprised at all,” Ryder said. “I kind of knew which way it was going to go, so I wasn’t that surprised.”

He admitted, however, it was disappointing.

“It was a bit, just after winning the Cup,” he said. “But we did win the Cup so it was on a high note anyway.”

With the Canadiens playing so well this season, Ryder said he was surprised by the trade.

“Everything’s happened pretty fast the last three or four days for me,” Ryder said. “It’s pretty interesting. It’s the first time getting traded for me and back to Montreal, then going to Toronto and playing at home and now back in Boston again. It’s different to be back on the other side this time. It is what it is and I’m excited to be with Montreal. It’s going to be a big game tonight for first place. I’m excited.”

Ryder played four seasons for the Canadiens from 2003 to 2008 and his first stint in Montreal ended on a sour note.

“I’m back to where I started my career,” he said, adding he never thought he would wear a Canadiens sweater again.

There was some thought that the Bruins would attempt to reacquire Ryder prior to this season’s trade deadline, but that ended when Montreal pulled off the deal. In fact, Ryder said he never thought about returning to Boston.

“No, never thought about it at all,” he said. “If they wanted to keep me, they probably would have signed me that year. Sometimes that happens, it’s part of the game and you’ve got to move on. I like it in Dallas and had a good year last year, and this year got traded. It’s part of the business and I’m excited to be back in Montreal and helping this team.”

He has stayed in touch with few of his Bruins teammates and says he doesn’t wear his Stanley Cup ring very often.

“I just have it stored away right now and just bring it out to show people here and there,” he said.

When asked what he thought about the play of Tuukka Rask this season as the No. 1 goalie in Boston, Ryder said, “He’s a great goalie and he did well for Boston when I was here. Just shooting on him you could tell he was ready for that job, for that role and he’s been doing well.”

Ryder said he wasn’t shocked by the exit former Bruins netminder Tim Thomas made after last season.

“It was surprising, but it’s Timmy and you don’t know what to expect from him,” Ryder said. “It was kind of a surprise but kind of not. He does his own thing and it’s just what he does.”