ENCORE FOR GATOR?

Robin Brownlee
July 08 2008 12:01PM

 smith1.bmp

Will Jason Smith be the latest former Edmonton Oilers captain to come home?

It's happened before -- GM Kevin Lowe, head coach Craig MacTavish and assistant coach Kelly Buchberger wore the "C" here, went elsewhere and then returned -- and it could happen with Smith, who was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers with Joffrey Lupul last summer in the deal that brought Joni Pitkanen and Geoff Sanderson to the City of Champions.

I can tell you this much -- the Oilers have made inquiries about Smith and have talked on more than one occasion to Calgary-based agent Art Breeze about the mean-as-hell-and-tough-as-nails former captain, who is an unrestricted free agent. "There have been some preliminary discussions with the Oilers, along with a substantial number of other teams," Breeze said today.

OIL ON SHORT LIST

Smith, 34, has had interest from "about a dozen teams," according to Breeze, who indicated the Oilers are on his client's short-list of teams being considered. "The phones started ringing two minutes after 10 a.m. on July 1. Teams started calling on Jason," Breeze said. "His presence in virtually any locker room with any club is a monster plus."

Smith struggled with injuries this past season -- it was revealed after the season he played with two dislocated shoulders -- and tallied 1-9-10 with 86 penalty minutes in 77 games as captain of the Flyers. While there's definitely some miles on his odometer after 945 NHL games and so many battles, a healthy Smith might be just the type of player the Oilers could use, given how the make-up of their line-up has changed.

Having traded away Matt Greene and Raffi Torres this summer, the Oilers line-up isn't exactly rife with robust bangers. In fact, critics say the roster, as it stands now, is soft. There's nothing soft about Smith, who has been kicking ass and taking names since the New Jersey Devils drafted him from the Regina Pats of the WHL in 1992. Right now, he's in Los Angeles rehabbing his shoulders and working out.

Questions about Smith's foot speed and how much he has left in the tank at this point in his career are legitimate, but there's no question he could be a fit in young line-up laden with kids like Ladislav Smid, Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano. Breeze said today he expects Smith won't take much longer to make a decision on where he'll play this coming season. "I think we're going to make a decision imminently," Breeze said. "That's all I can say. It will be very quickly."

Stay tuned.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 5 p.m. on Total Sports with Bob Stauffer on Team 1260.

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A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 Milli
July 08 2008, 01:08PM
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Damn, I love Gator, he is just one off so few players that bring it every game, every shift. Playing with 2 dislocated shoulders, WOW!!! I know the argument will be too old too slow, but forget that, on a young club that needs toughness and leadership, HELL YA!!!! You know he will come in knowing he is probably a 5 -6 dman, you know he will do whatever it takes. I'd love it, let him finish by winning the CUP in Etown!

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#2 jdrevenge
July 08 2008, 01:09PM
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Two busted shoulders and two rounds of the playoffs. He's a second coming of Ully.

That aside would Smith be ok at playing a portion of the games? Or does he step into a regulars role?

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#3 RabidPitbull
July 08 2008, 01:19PM
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Bring Gator back.

I got an extra jersey with his name, number and the "C" in my closet id he need it.

I was more distressed about his leaving than Smytty's.

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#4 Rick
July 08 2008, 01:23PM
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I wouldn't be disappointed with that.

However I can't imagine Smith would be looking for a 1 or 2 year contract and from the teams perspective anything more than that doesn't really make sense. It would be a shitty move to re-sign the guy only to trade him a year or two down the road.

That said as a bottom pairing guy with experience, he would be a very nice fit.

Robin; Do you know what kind of rehab he is doing for his shoulders? And is he expected to be ready for the start of the season?

Did he have surgery or was it just rest, cause it would suck to sign the guy only to have a repeat of Souray's situation from last year.

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#5 Cole
July 08 2008, 01:24PM
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I have to admit I thought he was over the hill a few weeks back, but when I hear that he played with two dislocated shoulders I have to give him his props. If he is healthy he has an impact because Edmonton needs that tough as nails, run you through the boards kind of d-man. Sign him and a forward thats a fighter and the Oilers will be looking good going into the season.

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#6 Cam
July 08 2008, 01:25PM
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Gator is all class; you need quality guys like that.

I hope the Oilers sign him. We can use his experience and grit... not to mention his size.

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#7 snipes67
July 08 2008, 01:59PM
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Too bad, reports are that Gator has signed in Ottawa...I was hopeful to see him back here.

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#8 Hoos
July 08 2008, 02:02PM
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This would be a page of out Detroit's book who use aging players to teach character and professionalism to their younger players. Not that I'm necessarily a "paying the price" kind of guy ... but being around Gator would be kind of like the nerds in "Weird Science"; younger guys would (Pouliot, O'Marra, Nilsson, Gags, Cogs) might benefit from seeing how tough and professional some guys have to play and rise to the occasion even more, just like the nerds in "Weird Science" gained confidence by being around a hot chick so they could get hot, real girls. This experiment has proven itself with Zetterburg and Datsyuk.

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#9 RobinB
July 08 2008, 02:14PM
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UPDATE: When Breeze told me this morning at 11 a.m. a decision was imminent, he wasn't kidding -- it's being announced Smith has signed a two-year deal with the Ottawa Senators. I'm guessing the Oilers couldn't or wouldn't match the two-year term or the money involved, but that's just a hunch. Breeze indicated Smith was giving a return to the Oilers a long look.

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#10 Chaz
July 08 2008, 03:00PM
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Too bad. I would have loved to see Gator back in town. While I won't miss his breakout passes (which usually were about 3 feet off the surface of the ice) I will miss him blocking shots with his face at every opportunity. That guys has heart to spare.

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