THANKS SMYTTY

Wanye
April 14 2014 11:05AM

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I attended Ryan Smyth’s NHL debut back in 1995. I was 14 at the time and I can clearly remember the game like it was yesterday. He had been playing most of the year in Moose Jaw and popped in for a few unremarkable starts before making a splash the following year. I was more hyped on Jason Bonsignore at the time but clearly recall "the other Ryan" from the 1994 draft suiting up and taking to the ice at Rexall Place. 

20 years later I was at his retirement game. No longer in junior high, no longer needing rides from my mom to the game and back. I’m a completely different person. Ryan Smyth however is exactly the same person he was so many years ago. Still reppin the same ageless mullet and happy grin. Still grinding it out along the boards and standing in the line of fire in front of the net. Still happy to be an Oiler above anything else.

The world has changed a lot in those years but Captain Canada remained a constant the entire time. 

WE OWE YOU

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As Oilers fans we owe Smytty a great deal. He is undoubtedly the best Oiler of the modern age – his career goals, assists, points and aggregate ass kickings received speak to that.

A few winters from now when nobody on earth is thinking one bit about the 2002 Olympics, Smytty will still wake up to a sore ankle on cold mornings. When nary a soul is remembering the fierce battles of the Oilers and the Stars from the late 90s and early 00’s, Smytty will still feel a tweak in his back if he lifts something heavy too quickly. He has paid the price to be one of the best Oilers who ever did it, and on Saturday night the outpouring of emotion we saw at Rexall Place spoke volumes about how dear ol' Smytty is to Oilers fans around the world.

As Oilers fans we have been prevented from saying goodbye to our heroes in Oilers silks. They have been universally lured away to warmer, richer climates in the peak of their careers and we are left with watching their final matches in enemy jerseys. Weight, Cujo, all the 80s Oilers, Ryan O'Marra. Virtually to a man they have left and we haven’t been able to say goodbye properly at the end of their careers. For a City that loves its Oilers like their own sons this has been heartbreaking.

But we got to cheer Smytty off the ice and into the pantheon of Oilers legend - a small mercy in an era of unending misery for Oilers fans. As 94 skated off into history we all know in a secret part of our hearts that is usually filled with dread that there isn’t a single one of his remaining teammates that will fill the void he will leave behind.

Think any of the Oilers are even remotely considering flipping pucks into the crowd after warmup as Smytty did every single home game of his career? Think they are plotting plans to be out in the community on the regular or living here in the offseason? Think they would give up a chance at a cup in LA to return home to Satan’s Icebox?

We will leave the answer unsaid.

THE OILERS OWE YOU

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In an era of millionaire athletes following the dollar and preaching platitudes about “giving it 100% and getting pucks deep” Smytty was a throwback to better times. He is the only Oiler I can recall that truly wanted to be here above any other team and found a way to get himself back into Edmonton for the end of his career.

He left the Kings and the warm beaches of LA to come back to Edmonton only to find his old squad winning the Cup a year after his departure and the Oilers in a familiar basement spot in the league. Nice guys often finish last and Smytty took yet another one for the team without a single unkind word in return. The man was born to be an Oiler.

We had to laugh when Smytty mentioned “playing for the front of the crest” on HNIC after his final match. The man has a unique way with words over the years and I suppose that Smyttyism best describes his approach to the game. You can’t teach heart and Ryan Alexander Gordon Smyth had it from shift one in the NHL to his final game on Saturday. He repped “the front of the crest” from start to finish and the Oilers Hockey Club owe him a great deal for his single minded efforts all these years.

I OWE YOU

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On a personal note I owe Ryan Smyth a great deal too. His tear stained press conference at the Edmonton Airport after being dealt to the Isles enraged a young Wanye to such an extent that we started up a Ryan Smyth protest site – demanding his return and the head of the GM on a silver platter.

That site was well enough received that we had a mild-moderate brain wave and elected to spin it into OilersNation. Without Smytty capturing the hearts and minds of Oilers fans for nearly a generation there is zero chance we would have gotten around to starting the site. 7 years later it's doing 40 million visitors a year and has let me have great fun playing businessman and Oilers fan at the same time. As with so many great things, OilersNation was started due to rage, jealousy and a desire for revenge. 

And when Smytty came back in 2011 we felt the wave of bad juju wash away. Even though the team has been a hot mess of a tire fire for the better part of a decade now, having 94 back was one positive light we could count on in an era of blackness.

Thanks for being such a great Oiler Smytty. Thanks for all the nights you could have mailed it in, on teams of little note, when you still manned up and put in a great game. You are truly one of the best and we shall never ever forget you.

Ever.

09049f03ecb006ab29372206f2a88f75
Blog so hard motherf**ckers try and find me. Email me at wanyegretz@gmail.com or tweet me @wanyegretz provided it is about Jordan Eberle or babes.
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#2 rubbertrout
April 14 2014, 11:14AM
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*pours one out for Smytty

*sobs uncontrollably

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#3 Lowetide
April 14 2014, 11:16AM
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This is perfect. Well done, Wanye. I tried writing something three times this weekend, couldn't find the words.

Thanks for this.

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#4 rubbertrout
April 14 2014, 11:18AM
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Remember when he showed up to that woman's 100th birthday so she could touch his hair? This guy should have won the King Clancy award every year of his career.

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#7 backup bob
April 14 2014, 11:24AM
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Classy - WG

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#8 The Towel Boy
April 14 2014, 11:26AM
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BRAVO!! BRAVO!!!

Well done, Mr. Von Gretz. Well done.

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#9 Simpsonite
April 14 2014, 11:27AM
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Oh geez. I have a meeting in 7 mins and now I have this wet stuff in my eyes. What the heck Wanye...WHAT THE HECK!!?? Don't you know I HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO WORK!?!?!

DON'T LOOK AT ME!!!!!

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#10 baggedmilk
April 14 2014, 11:29AM
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I love that man and it kills me that we're never going to see him stand in front of the net again. He was everything to this team and to the community.

Ryan Smyth is a legend.

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#11 Posti
April 14 2014, 11:31AM
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Typical Smytty. He jumps on the grenade that is this season and turns the last game into a feel good thing that all the fans can go away from the season with. Everyone forgets how terrible the season was and will come away remembering the last game and his face. He retired and made it all about him to shut the damn fans up. It had to kill a guy like him to see the fans so mad for so long now. Go Smytty !

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#12 Shredder
April 14 2014, 11:32AM
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'Ryan O'Marra' - Nice...

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#13 Travis Dakin
April 14 2014, 11:33AM
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You son of a..... I was starting to pull myself together. Honest to goodness, I cried in the middle of a Boston pizza on Saturday night as hard as I did on June 19, 2006.

There are moments in a fan's life that will be etched in the mind forever. Saturday night's send off was magical.

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#15 1manwolfpack
April 14 2014, 11:36AM
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Wanye articles like this are worth the wait.A few man tears may be shed.

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#16 Ambassador humantorch
April 14 2014, 11:40AM
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I wish this entire article had a Prop button because I would Prop this Motherf**ker so hard it'd poop rainbows.

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#17 1manwolfpack
April 14 2014, 11:41AM
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Ambassador humantorch wrote:

I wish this entire article had a Prop button because I would Prop this Motherf**ker so hard it'd poop rainbows.

DOUBLE rainbows at that!

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#18 Travis Dakin
April 14 2014, 11:41AM
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@Wanye

Worst part is that it was when the Canucks came back out for him that I lost it. Haha oh man legit leakage.

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#19 BigE91
April 14 2014, 11:43AM
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Wanye wrote:

SMYTTY I LOVE YOU

*runs away crying and ripping things off walls*

Very well written.

As I left the game on Saturday night I found myself wondering if there was any other player in the Oilers current line-up that would even have a chance of galvanizing the fan base the way Smyth has.

I don't see one. Maybe someone will surprise us but I'm not holding my breath right now.

Thanks again Ryan.

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#20 borisnikov
April 14 2014, 11:46AM
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40 million visitors a year

Wholly river of Smytty tears Wanye. That should officially be classified as a sh*tload. Wow!

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#21 LibrarianMike
April 14 2014, 11:47AM
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Beautiful article, Wanye. Doug Weight was always my favorite, and even though it came at our team's expense, I was glad he got to win a cup. It still breaks my heart though that Smyth never got to lift it because I can't think of anyone who would have been more deserving.

Well, at least in the aftermath of Smyth being dealt to the Islanders we managed to get rid of that lousy GM we had back then...

*cries*

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#22 David S
April 14 2014, 11:52AM
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Ambassador humantorch wrote:

I wish this entire article had a Prop button because I would Prop this Motherf**ker so hard it'd poop rainbows.

I'd suggest an animated "slow clap" icon for aticles like this. This one is certainly "slow clappable".

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#23 Rival
April 14 2014, 11:53AM
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Wow that was absolutely top shelf. Best Smytty article yet. I feel the tears coming back too. It just feels like all the character that team had left is gone. Hopefully he rubbed off on enough guys going forward. Its sure going to be strange not seeing him out there next year.

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#24 vetinari
April 14 2014, 11:57AM
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I had to tune in on Saturday night from start to finish to say that I saw Ryan Smyth's last game, ever. When the game was over, and he was shaking hands with everyone from the officials to the Canucks to his teammates, I bawled. Great article Wanye, and great GDB 82 from baggedmilk.

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#25 Mason Storm
April 14 2014, 12:07PM
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Wanye wrote:

SMYTTY I LOVE YOU

*runs away crying and ripping things off walls*

Someone trashed this comment? Why do people just want to see the world burn?

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#26 Dallylamma
April 14 2014, 12:09PM
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Commemorative bottles* of Wanye's tears from Saturday night will be available in the Nationgear shop later this week.

*Limit of one per household.

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#27 mesa
April 14 2014, 12:14PM
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Mason Storm wrote:

Someone trashed this comment? Why do people just want to see the world burn?

maybe his mom after trashing THINGS OFF WALLS.good job wayne.

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#28 1manwolfpack
April 14 2014, 12:17PM
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Dallylamma wrote:

Commemorative bottles* of Wanye's tears from Saturday night will be available in the Nationgear shop later this week.

*Limit of one per household.

This reminds me of when they sold vials of melted "Coliseum ice" back in the 80's. I'm not sure which would be worth more?!

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#29 Lochenzo
April 14 2014, 12:19PM
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Gotta admit that I welled up Saturday night. As a lifelong Oilers' fan, this is one of those moments that you just couldn't miss.

Watching the officials and the Canucks both congratulate you on that night was amazing to watch and I dare say that the legacy of that night and your career will impact a young player or fan in a great way.

Thank you Ryan.

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#30 Jay87
April 14 2014, 12:25PM
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Man, Wanye, this was so eloquent and genuine.

I'm really going to miss 94. What a guy, what a freakin' guy.

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#31 Oiler4life
April 14 2014, 01:10PM
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rubbertrout wrote:

*pours one out for Smytty

*sobs uncontrollably

As a grown man I have only cried 5 times uncontrollably. Re watching the end of that game sober was one of them. Ryan Smyth. Dam what a guy.

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#32 The Towel Boy
April 14 2014, 01:29PM
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Dallylamma wrote:

Commemorative bottles* of Wanye's tears from Saturday night will be available in the Nationgear shop later this week.

*Limit of one per household.

This is where Nation Beer comes from.

True story.

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#33 Dog Train
April 14 2014, 02:00PM
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Ryan Smyth was genuine. A fan who got to live his dream. Thanks for the memories and best of luck in retirement Smytty!

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#34 trevor
April 14 2014, 02:18PM
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@BigE91

thats what i think is the issue with this team there is no young (NEW)RYANS who bleed cooper n blue

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#35 hamzinoilcntry
April 14 2014, 02:19PM
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God Bless you Ryan Smyth.

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#36 VK63
April 14 2014, 02:46PM
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well done wanye!!

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#37 Tikkanese
April 14 2014, 03:33PM
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Ryan Smyth would be welcome in my Wolf Pack anytime.

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#38 TDSM31
April 14 2014, 04:22PM
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Damn you Wanye, I had just stopped my uncontrolled blubbering late last night...

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#39 TDSM31
April 14 2014, 04:34PM
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Meg-uQVUTag

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#40 2015Playoffs?Nope!
April 14 2014, 04:59PM
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Absolute class act giving him the C to wear, the way the coach gave him every effort and chance to break the PP goals record, and even the way the Canucks came on the ice to pay respect. An unbelieveable event, a night i will remember and one heck of a going away party. I also read that Schultz had an opportunity, with one more goal, to get a very lucrative bonus. One more goal. But instead spent every moment trying to set up Smyth for a goal, PP or not. Maybe this "team" is starting to get it, and it took the retirement of Smyth to bring it out in some of the players. Even Eberle scrapped Kesler. Eberle.

Eberle.

I hope that somewhere at the right time, Smyth comes back in the organization if only to coach heart.

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#41 treblecharger
April 14 2014, 11:57PM
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Wanye, this is PERFECT. Thank you.

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#42 Anton CP
April 15 2014, 12:18AM
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Mullet forever.

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#43 I tried it at home
April 15 2014, 08:49AM
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Wanye, best article ever. Props and slow claps for you, sir.

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#44 LoweBlow
April 15 2014, 02:36PM
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Watched the game at the Black Frog in Vancouver, the Oilers bar. Every second person in the bar had Oiler's silks on. There was cheering far after the 3rd period ended.

That's the most hockey soul the city of Vancouver has ever felt.

As for the PP goal record, too bad. Ebs should've known better. If he was aiming straight for Smitty's face, that may have worked. Classy that Smyth shed just a little more blood for our team after that high stick. I wanted that last goal so much.

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#45 Zarny
April 23 2014, 01:47PM
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Thanks for the memories Smytty

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#46 mig14
April 25 2014, 11:45AM
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I decided that if I ever need to cry, I'll just read it again instead of watching Rod Brind'Amour hoist the Cup.

You have a way with words, that's for sure.

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