RYAN SMYTH: ALL HAIL THE MULLET

Robin Brownlee
December 06 2011 08:31PM

Ryan Smyth is about to claim his place among the greatest players ever to wear the silks of the Edmonton Oilers, which is saying something, and you might see it unfold at Rexall Place as early as Wednesday or Friday.

Going into Wednesday's game against the Carolina Hurricanes, Smyth has amassed 575 points as a member of the Oilers. With three more points, he will pass former Oiler captain Doug Weight, who has 577, and move into sixth place in career franchise scoring.

The only players to have put up better numbers than that have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and have their jersey numbers hanging in the rafters at Rexall Place – Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson and Paul Coffey.

As beloved as Smyth is by the fans he's been tossing pucks to here and around the NHL for 17 seasons, as respected as he is for the ties that have always bound him to Edmonton, Smyth, statistically speaking, is about to become the greatest-ever Oiler not a member of the Stanley Cup-toting fivesome of Gretzky, Kurri, Messier, Anderson and Coffey. Think about that for a minute.

If that's not rarified air, I don't know what is.

SELECT COMPANY

Smyth, 35, who orchestrated a trade back to Edmonton after two seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, has never won a Stanley Cup. He's never scored 50 goals or even 40 in a season – although he camped his skinny, stubborn backside in front of goaltenders for a career-high 39 goals in 1996-97 and he has pretty much refused to move out of the blue paint since then.

Smyth isn't the fastest skater. He isn't the biggest or the strongest player ever to look an opposing defenseman in the eye and so much as say, "Try to move me out of here." They've tried.

Smyth's shot can barely break a pane of glass, and if you added up every one of the 277 goals he's scored with the Oilers in terms of distance, you'd barely get from one end of the rink to the other and back again.

And it goes without saying that Smyth, who showed up showed up for his first three NHL games during the 1994-95 season and decided he'd stick around until somebody told him to leave – which GM Kevin Lowe did when he traded him to the New York Islanders – never had the teammates to play with the Boys On The Bus did.

Yet here he is, three points from overtaking Weight and bumping up against the best to ever have donned the Oil Drop, the greatest players to ever play anywhere at any time. That tidbit drew a sloppy grin from Smyth when I mentioned it to him at the rink today as he headed out to the ice for practice.

FANCY NEIGHBOURHOOD

I'm not suggesting for a moment Smyth belongs in the same category, statistically or otherwise, as players like The Great One, who had 1,669 regular season points with the Oilers before being sold to Los Angeles, Kurri (1,043), Messier (1,034), Anderson (906) or Coffey (669). But he's damn sure hacked and whacked his way to a place just down the block in the same neighbourhood by standing his ground in front of that net.

Smyth isn't going to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and, as team convention dictates, he won't see his linen raised to the rafters alongside the only players ahead of him in franchise career scoring (and the jerseys of Al Hamilton and Grant Fuhr).

That said, Smyth, by almost any measure, is the greatest Oiler who hasn't won a Stanley Cup or been fitted for a HHOF jacket to ever grace the doorway of the home dressing room on Gretzky Drive. Not too bad for a skinny rink rat who grew up in Banff idolizing every one of those names in the rafters.

And unless Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle find a way to stay a good long while in this town, Smyth, with three more points, will likely be as close anybody ever gets to them.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
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 Soft Hands McSteeley - FIST Movement
December 06 2011, 05:59PM
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Ohhhh........ Hello Reuben

I stopped cutting the back of my head the day Smytty was traded home. And I still have nothin on his legendary mully.

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#2 Quicksilver ballet
December 06 2011, 06:04PM
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The rumors of the Smyth girls running amok on twitter have been greatly exaggerated.

I think Ryan got his girls out of Los Angeles just in time.

The Oilers are only 5 points ahead of where they were last season and 4 points ahead of where they were 2 yrs ago when they finished last both seasons. Somehow, with Smytty back, it makes it much more bearable to be an Oiler supporter.

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#3 David S
December 06 2011, 06:05PM
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Great read Robin. I had no idea Smyth was getting into that realm of greatness. Thanks!

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#4 Tyler
December 06 2011, 06:05PM
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Just as awesome: he's 4 PPG behind Gretz and 5 behind Anderson on the all-time list of team leaders. Anderson won't be number one for long.

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#5 They're $hittie
December 06 2011, 06:20PM
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Hey just throwing this out there, but it is not the NHL Hall of Fame. How far does his international heroics and play take him. And if he can manage the 1000 pts and possibly (big possibly 500 goals) could it spark some debate about the hall of fame.

When Americans that dont follow hockey picture a hockey player, his image is what they see in there heads.

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#6 Harlie
December 06 2011, 06:24PM
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how can't you love this guy.

Smyth for GM!

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#7 The Farmer
December 06 2011, 06:24PM
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I'm sure the oilers will honor smyth in some way when he retires. Be it a wall or ring of honor thing or something. What he has represented for Edmonton fans, is the most important thing the latest generation of oiler fans have had to cling to yet. Wanting to come here when everyone else wants to leave, and working his tail off the whole time, has cemented his status as one of the greatest oilers of all time.

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#8 dougtheslug
December 06 2011, 06:26PM
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Team conventions be damned. Nothing would make this Oiler fan happier than to see in a few years, 94 raised to the rafters and watch that quiver in Smitty's lower lip while the tears trickle down his grizzled cheeks. (sighs as his eyes moisten)

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#9 @NateInVegas
December 06 2011, 06:54PM
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Nuge will have over 600 points by the time he reaches UFA status.. (If he runs at this clip)

Will Smyth sign year to year contracts with the Oilers?

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#10 spence
December 06 2011, 06:55PM
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why not raise his jersey , if smyth was a dog he would be pure breed oiler the guy demanded a trade back . if i had my vote 94 would be up in the rafters

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#11 4Cups
December 06 2011, 06:59PM
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@spence

I second that.

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#12 Mitch
December 06 2011, 07:09PM
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Nice read Robin, the thing that I like about #94 the most is the consistancy every game. When I think of the Oilers its about them guys up in the rafters, Smyth and now the young guys to lead us into the future. Pretty good players to mention when you say Edmonton Oilers, something fans need to be proud of.

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#13 DrDave
December 06 2011, 07:13PM
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I still haven't forgiven Kevin Lowe. That was one of the worst days of my life! LONG LIVE SMYTTY!! GREATEST OILER OF MY LIFETIME!

*note, I was 6 when the Oilers won their last cup in '90 so I don't really remember watching the HHOF Oilers play...

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#14 Rob...
December 06 2011, 07:48PM
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If Smyth has a shot at the Hockey Hall of Fame it's for being Captain Canada on top of his NHL career.

Even if he doesn't ever make it though he's likely going to end up with something named after him in this city within the next decade.

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#15 Milli
December 06 2011, 07:51PM
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It really is just amazing how great it is to have Smyth back in the Oil drop! When he was traded I was devestated, when I heard he was traded to Calgary, I wanted to kill someone! Watching him light it up in Etown again, that's the way it is supposed to be!!!!!!!

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#17 Glenn
December 06 2011, 09:08PM
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When Smyth first came back to town, he came to the dealership I work at. I let Robin know he was comming and that we get to meet him. My whole family came into town just for that, we were all very nervous but Robin said he's like meeting a guy on the street you would never know he's made millions playing hockey and Robin was right. He didn't know us from Adam but came right over took all our stuff signed them then told my wife to get the camera stayed and took pictures with us all. This is why the fans love the guy because he's just one of us.

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#19 Oil for All & All for Oil
December 06 2011, 09:59PM
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I grew up watching The Boys on the Bus, now maybe some great ones coming down the pipeline and everyone in between.

There has never been another Oiler who handled himself with more class, worked harder or has loved to wear the jersey more in this town than Smyth. They don't often ask to come back home.

Great idea if they had a Ring of Honor or ? for players like him, Weight and few others. Smyth likely never makes the HHOF but he is about to join an elite crowd. Good for him!

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#20 homerer
December 06 2011, 10:51PM
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They should honor him by putting 94 on the ice half in the crease... and leave it there. Smyth's office if you will.

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#21 #94 sized hole where my heart used to be...
December 07 2011, 12:17AM
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This Oiler fan wasnt alive during the dynasty days so Ryan Smyth to my generation is one special hockey player.. to me Smytty is the Oilers and the Oilers are Smytty.. He deserves to be in the rafters some day.. If the devils can retire Ken Daneyko's number (i know he has the franchise record for reg season games played and won cups w/ them but i still think its a valid comparison), whos a warrior in his own right that will never make it to the HHOF, the Oilers sure as hell can raise up the ole number 94, Smytty truly has Oil in his veins, plus he is and always will be the heart and soul of the Oilers, Smytty's number won't be raised because of the HHOF, it'll be raised for the fans, especially ones of my generation.. Smytty deserves to be up there someday and you'll never convince me otherwise

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#22 @Oilanderp
December 07 2011, 01:30AM
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Oil fans don't need a jersey hanging in the rafters to tell them who Ryan Smyth is. I like the existing policy. It won't change a thing: Smyth IS Oilers.

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#23 Spaghetti - Team Facalto
December 07 2011, 05:55AM
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As elite as the Oilers have made having a number retired with having to be in the HHOF, which is a good policy and all, not retiring 94 when Smyth finally decides to hang'em up would be like a slap in the face. The fans may not own the team or have a say in how it is run, but it is our team, and all the crap we put up with over the years, this one time we should have a voice and should be heard.

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#24 The Beaker
December 07 2011, 06:49AM
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Would someone come here and seriously wear 94 after he retires? Highly doubtful. Just put the jersey in the rafters, it's going to be retired whether it's up there or not. Might as well honor the guy.

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#25 stevezie
December 07 2011, 07:34AM
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I thought that if he had either won the cup or stayed in Edmonton his number would have been retired. Now that he's back, I'm not sure that'll be required. Wendel Clark didn't have amazing numbers, but the fans absolutely loved him and now no Leaf wears 17. Smth traded himself back to the Oil, and if he retires here I don't think it's hard to imagine he's our last 94. You don't often see a player connect to a team or a fanbase quite like this.

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#27 Romulus' Apotheosis
December 07 2011, 09:03AM
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@Robin Brownlee

What exactly are the dictates of "team convention" regarding retiring numbers? I imagine there is a kind of unspoken litmus test?

Also, I can see a backdoor to both HHOF and the retired number... although as others have mentioned I think his International status not to mention his national adoration - c'mon who gets the appellation 'Captain Canada' without huge adoration!? - will help a lot...

what might really put him over the edge is his potential career off the ice. If he ends up coaching, scouting, managing or something and stays tied to either the NHL or the Oilers I could see one or both of those organizations honoring him for service to the league and/or Oilers on top of his playing career.

And... I imagine none of us see him walking away from hockey when he retires... he stays tied to the NHL in some way and more than likely directly to the Oil.

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#28 Quicksilver ballet
December 07 2011, 09:10AM
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Anyone know the reason behind Ryan choosing 94 as his number. Was it simply the year he was drafted?

HHOF, if not on the first opportunity, should be there no later than on his second effort.

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#29 Romulus' Apotheosis
December 07 2011, 09:12AM
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@Robin Brownlee

Something is effed with my computer or the site... my original post didn't show up for ages... I'll fix the double post with something new

anyway... born in 79. 89-90 were my first real Oiler experience. the early-mid 80s boys were just a vague impression of greatness to me. The 89-90 Messier team is my first real Oiler team. second wave was the Weight/Smyth years; and now this new generation... all have their own flavor but each is distinctly oily!

I hope the new kids stay long enough to break some records... but those days of a player identifying above all else with one team sure seem the like days gone by. Smyth is a dying breed. I remember when stevey Y and then Joe Sakic retired it seemed like an era came to an end.

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#30 Shane
December 07 2011, 09:23AM
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I think its quite pretentious of the organization to allow only HHOFers in the rafters, these players don't just fall in your lap as they did for the Oilers of old. I just feel like its the 'old boys club' way of thinking that we've been needing to get away from the last couple years. I am from the younger generation of Oil fans who barely remembers the last Stanley and I can't see the jersey of the greatest Oiler I ever seen play, in the rafters? Hogwash! It's okay though once Smytty passes Coffey on the list and has two Stanley rings on his fingers when he retires they won't be able to say no.

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#31 Puritania
December 07 2011, 09:37AM
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The Oilers should make a very special exception when Smytty retires. 94 should be hanging from the rafters, HOF be damned.

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#32 dougtheslug
December 07 2011, 10:26AM
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As far as I'm concerned no praise for The Mullet is high enough, but hold on a second boys. He's not retired yet! In fact he's having a career year - let's enjoy that spectacular fact, and plan his retirement party at (hopefully) a time in the distant future.

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#33 Homie
December 07 2011, 10:54AM
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It would be nice to see a Wall of Honour or something similar for the "next tier" of great Oilers when they build the new rink. It'd be nice to see guys like Smyth, Weight, Lowe, etc. get honoured in some way and preserve some team history.

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#34 Tanya C
December 07 2011, 10:55AM
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I remember right after the trade some intrepid fans made a makeshift jersey and attached some helium balloons and let her fly in Rexall. I was there that night and I loved that moment.

Think of the team records he would have had if he hadn't been traded. Would he have moved into the lead for games played?

Rare company indeed.

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#35 vetinari
December 07 2011, 11:02AM
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You could argue that Smytty's accomplishment is more impressive than some of the big names given that he played the majority of his career for the Oilers at a time when: 1. the Canadian dollar sucked; 2. the supporting cast of players on the team were nothing compared to the Boys from the Dynasty Days; 3. the Dynasty Boys played in a league with fewer teams (resulting in an almost automatic pass into the playoffs to pad their playoff stats and a chance at the Cup); and, 4. the Dynasty Boys played under a different rules system resulting in more offensive chances.

No player has done more for this team since the Boys from the Dynasty Days and Smytty deserves some special recognition when he someday retires... damn the HHOF requirements and a lack of a Cup on his resume and hang his jersey in the rafters! Can you honesty say that it would look out-of-place with Hamilton's, Messier's or Gretzky's jerseys?

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#36 Team Hall
December 07 2011, 11:17AM
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This article goes further to supporting my "Wall of Honor" at the new arena. Very good players who didnt get their jersey retired but who deserve recognition. Smyth, Lowe, Huddy, Moog, Weight, Ranford should be on that wall of honor. They get no recognition anywhere else.

Anyone with me?

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#37 Romulus' Apotheosis
December 07 2011, 11:31AM
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@Team Hall

Agreed! I'd add Tikkanen, MacT, and maybe Simpson.

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#38 Mike Krushelnyski
December 07 2011, 11:31AM
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Homie wrote:

It would be nice to see a Wall of Honour or something similar for the "next tier" of great Oilers when they build the new rink. It'd be nice to see guys like Smyth, Weight, Lowe, etc. get honoured in some way and preserve some team history.

Can we sneak Hamilton and Rowdy Rod Phillips in there you think? No disrespect, but they look out of place in the rafters.

But yeah, great idea. A little wall of history for us 80's-born fans to honour our lunchpail superstars and explain what these glory years were all about!

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#40 smyttysucks
December 07 2011, 12:22PM
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unbelievable. how is it that someone who has tried hard but never really accomplished anything shall have his name amongst the greatest ever. smyth is one of the most overrated nhl players in recordable history and now we want to display him with the greatest. why? i will give him some credit though, he has achieved above average numbers with marginal talent. he rode the coattails of millionaires to an olympic gold, achived average numbers in the cup run, and chose to leave, thats right, CHOSE to leave edmonton for about 100000 grand a year. he is slow, old, a poor stickhandler and basically an average hockey player, but for some reason every loser in this town wants to bang him and greasy hair and would probably take an 18 year old smyth over an 18 year old RNH or Hall. F U smyth. F U.

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#41 smyttysucks
December 07 2011, 12:22PM
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unbelievable. how is it that someone who has tried hard but never really accomplished anything shall have his name amongst the greatest ever. smyth is one of the most overrated nhl players in recordable history and now we want to display him with the greatest. why? i will give him some credit though, he has achieved above average numbers with marginal talent. he rode the coattails of millionaires to an olympic gold, achived average numbers in the cup run, and chose to leave, thats right, CHOSE to leave edmonton for about 100000 grand a year. he is slow, old, a poor stickhandler and basically an average hockey player, but for some reason every loser in this town wants to bang him and greasy hair and would probably take an 18 year old smyth over an 18 year old RNH or Hall. F U smyth. F U.

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#42 Spaghetti - Team Facalto
December 07 2011, 12:26PM
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smyttysucks wrote:

unbelievable. how is it that someone who has tried hard but never really accomplished anything shall have his name amongst the greatest ever. smyth is one of the most overrated nhl players in recordable history and now we want to display him with the greatest. why? i will give him some credit though, he has achieved above average numbers with marginal talent. he rode the coattails of millionaires to an olympic gold, achived average numbers in the cup run, and chose to leave, thats right, CHOSE to leave edmonton for about 100000 grand a year. he is slow, old, a poor stickhandler and basically an average hockey player, but for some reason every loser in this town wants to bang him and greasy hair and would probably take an 18 year old smyth over an 18 year old RNH or Hall. F U smyth. F U.

Bitter much or just jealous? Smyth has done more for this city and team that someone like you could ever understand. Why don`t you go play in rush hour traffic.

P.S. I noticed that you didn`t specify a star in your profile, maybe fill that in as Pronger dill hole

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#43 THE HOCKEY GODS
December 07 2011, 12:32PM
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WE COMMAND YOU TO HONOUR THE MULLETED ONE UPON HIS RETIREMENT. WE HAVE SPOKEN.

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#44 smyttysucks
December 07 2011, 01:15PM
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@Spaghetti - Team Facalto

rush hour traffic is usually pretty slow jackass. perhaps if smytty was able to fix the flow of traffic in this city i would be able to love and adore him like the rest of you idiots. what has he done for this city?? made millions of dollars and paid taxes?? and before you go spouting off about the stollery and other charities remeber that 99% of these guys do the same thing. and hell ya i like pronger. him and pisani are the reason we actually had the stanley cup in edmonton for three home games. i would take skill over "heart and soul" anyday. hes overrated

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#45 Romulus' Apotheosis
December 07 2011, 01:18PM
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@Spaghetti - Team Facalto

You'll also notice this person created an account just to say this... what an introduction?!

Seems like someone just wants attention.

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#46 Spaghetti - Team Facalto
December 07 2011, 01:22PM
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@smyttysucks

Figured you're the type of person who would cheer for a guy like Pronger who almost single handedly destroyed this team instead of a guy who would do anything to come back here. While you're at it cheer Souray. It's your right to have an opinion even though you're wrong.

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#47 HORDY hears a who
December 07 2011, 01:23PM
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smyttysucks wrote:

rush hour traffic is usually pretty slow jackass. perhaps if smytty was able to fix the flow of traffic in this city i would be able to love and adore him like the rest of you idiots. what has he done for this city?? made millions of dollars and paid taxes?? and before you go spouting off about the stollery and other charities remeber that 99% of these guys do the same thing. and hell ya i like pronger. him and pisani are the reason we actually had the stanley cup in edmonton for three home games. i would take skill over "heart and soul" anyday. hes overrated

WOAHHHH BENJAMIN!! Weren't you suppose to post that comment on Sens nation? Oh wait, there's not Sens nation. You know why? Cos they suck and no one cares about them just like you you pickle. (I really hate pickles especially on my burgers).

To quote Floyd mayweather jr

"haters are just confused fans"

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#48 Greg MC
December 07 2011, 01:24PM
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I believe Ryan Smyth should be seriously considered for the HHOF when he retires but he would probably have to score 400+ goals, be close to 1000 points, and win a cup to have a realistic chance at being inducted.

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#49 Spaghetti - Team Facalto
December 07 2011, 01:25PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

You'll also notice this person created an account just to say this... what an introduction?!

Seems like someone just wants attention.

I noticed that but didn't want to call a Troll a Troll, but there it is.

On second thoughts he may just be a hater, and we all know as Hordy put it that haters are just confused fans, so buy hating on Smyth like this it just really means he is cheering him on the inside.

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