Mike Van Ryn was born on May 14, 1979 in London, Ontario. Van Ryn was a highly touted prospect who opted to play collegiate hockey at the University of Michigan. Van Ryn went on to play two years at Michigan between 1997 and 1999, capturing an NCAA Championship in 1998. He was also a two-time member of Canada's World Junior team in 1998 and 1999, before opting to join the Ontario Hockey League'sSarnia Sting for the 1999-00 season.
Van Ryn was drafted in the 1st round, 26th overall by the New Jersey Devils in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. Van Ryn played one season with the Sting, registering 41 points before signing as a free agent with the St. Louis Blues in the summer of 2000 after New Jersey was unable to sign him. In his first season with the Blues organization, Van Ryn spent the majority of the year with the team's AHL affiliate in Worcester while playing in one game with the parent club.
Over the next two seasons, Van Ryn would see increased ice-time with the Blues, yet continued to see action with Worcester before being dealt to the Florida Panthers in the latter stages of the 2002-03 season. Upon his arrival with the Panthers organization, Van Ryn was assigned to the AHL's San Antonio Rampage, where he would finish the season.
In 2003-04, the former Michigan Wolverine played his first full season in the NHL, and went on to register 37 points with a career high of 13 goals. After a year off in 2004-05 due to the NHL lockout, he matched his previous point total in 2005-06. Over the next two seasons, Van Ryn was hampered by various wrist injuries and surgeries, and in 2007-08 after 20 games he opted to have his wrist surgically repaired.
The Panthers failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the seventh straight season that year, and General Manager Jacques Martin vowed to upgrade the defensive core. As a result, Van Ryn found himself on the move to Toronto after Martin dealt the blueliner in exchange for Bryan McCabe and a fourth round draft pick.
In 2008-09, Van Ryn's first season with the Maple Leafs, Van Ryn suffered his most significant injury of his career. In a November 9, 2008 game against the Montreal Canadiens, Van Ryn was hit into the end boards by Canadiens forward Tom Kostopoulos after Van Ryn went to retrieve the puck in his own zone. The hit left Van Ryn with a concussion, broken nose, and broken bone in his hand. The injury forced Van Ryn to miss over a month of the season, and resulted in a three game suspension for Kostopoulos.