March 08 2009 11:48AM
"I did not have sex with that woman." What else did you expect Bill Clinton to say after he got caught with his pants around his ankles and Monica Lewinsky under his desk in the Oval Office several years ago? "She was polishing my shoes?"
And, what else do you expect Edmonton Oilers defenceman Ladislav Smid to say now that it's come to light he requested a trade -- or at the very least suggested the possibility -- on at least two occasions, and perhaps as many as four times, since last season?
Well, to hear Joanne Ireland of The Journal tell it, neither I nor broadsheet colleague David Staples at the Cult Of Hockey know what we're talking about. Ireland chimed in with an item atop her Oilspills notebook today after I broke the news of Smid's trade request last week and Staples confirmed it Saturday.
After I made multiple mentions of Smid's trade request on this site. Staples reported: "At Oilers Nation, reporter Robin Brownlee has hinted that Ladislav Smid has asked to be traded twice this year. A reliable source has confirmed this for me, and said the actual number is four."
Two? Four? None?
The D&D Ploy
Under the subhead "Trade Talk Surprise," Ireland's take is...
"If Ladislav Smid's camp has made a recent trade request, it's news to the defenceman -- and to the Oilers. "Some guy is just writing some (crap) on the Internet about me asking to be traded," he said after Saturday's morning skate. "You know Edmonton. There's lots of rumours. I don't even pay attention to it, but my girlfriend called me yesterday to tell me I wanted to be traded. Smid had said in the off-season that, if he wasn't going to fit into their plans, management could consider moving him. It has not been ceaseless "begging," as one blogger suggested."
I guess Ireland could make an argument on two fronts. One is the definition of "recent." The other is the term "begging." I'm not sure what blogger wrote about ceaseless "begging," but it wasn't me.
Either way, it's splitting hairs and a classic case of "downplay and deny" when you're writing the beat and somebody gets the jump on you when it comes to something you're supposed to know first.
I was guilty of that more than once during my time as the beat man at the Journal and the Sun. The worst case of that was the time I got waxed on the Oilers interest in having Bill Ranford return for a second tour. Clearly beaten on the story by Mario Annicchiarico while I was at the Journal, I not only downplayed it, I wrote several items suggesting there was NO WAY it would happen. I took the big time egg facial on that one.
Look, it's never been suggested that Smid and agent Ritch Winter were in GM Steve Tambellini's ear right up to the trade deadline demanding a trade. That's not the case.
Likewise, Smid doesn't deserve to be lumped in with Chris Pronger, who took a big stack of money from the Oilers and then bailed a year into his contract because his wife didn't want to be here.
That would be grossly unfair to Smid and, given how raw Oilers fans are already at being shunned by some players, would put him in a bad light, to say the least. Smid doesn't deserve that, especially with him contributing to the playoff effort in the stretch drive.
I can see how Smid would look at Sheldon Souray, Lubomir Visnovsky, Tom Gilbert and Denis Grebeshkov ahead of him on the depth chart and wonder if he's ever going to get a shot at being more than a third-pairing guy here. I mean, when he was being scratched or played up on the wing earlier this season, that's a reasonable question.
What Smid wants is an opportunity to grow into a bigger role, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with. In fact, there'd be something wrong if he DIDN'T want that opportunity.
I'd suggest that if Smid continues to develop, keeps playing as he has in the stretch drive and some other cards fall as they might this summer, he'll get the opportunity he seeks.
For what it's worth, I'd like nothing more than to see the situation unfold that way because I think Smid can be a top-four guy. I hope the feelings he has expressed in the past -- that it might be better to move on -- aren't written in stone.
That doesn't, however, change the fact that he and his agent did raise the possibility of a trade with Oilers management -- no matter how anybody spins it now.
-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.