SMYTTY: OLD SCHOOL

Robin Brownlee
April 04 2014 05:29PM

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I've always had a soft spot in my hard, old heart for Ryan Smyth, so I smiled today when the Edmonton Oilers announced he was the team's nominee for the 2014 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

While the Masterton certainly isn’t one of the major pieces of silverware handed out at the end of each NHL season, it's an award that fits the mulleted Banff boy with the Oil Drop tattooed on his backside like a glove.

The award, voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, is presented annually to the NHL player "who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."

Describes No. 94 perfectly.

THE MEASURE

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Perseverence? Like overcoming a badly broken ankle to will himself into the 2002 Olympics with Team Canada when nobody thought the screws and plates would mend him soon enough to give him any chance to play in Salt Lake? Mercy, he worked his backside off to make it to Utah.

Like spitting out teeth and blood in Edmonton's remarkable run to the 2006 Stanley Cup final after taking a wayward puck in the yap at Rexall Place and barely missing a shift? In that post-season, Smyth produced seven goals and nine assists in 24 games.

Dedication? Like playing 1,265 regular season games and 93 more in playoffs because he's been willing to work harder than the next guy and take a beating to play the game he has to play to be successful? How'd he score 386 regular season goals and 28 more in playoffs with that shot? "I ain't moving. You can't make me." That's how. And those 126 power-play goals, tying him with Glenn Anderson for the franchise lead?

Sportsmanship? Smyth has never asked for an inch or given one out on the ice. The punishment he's taken over the years is mind-boggling. Never, in all the years I covered the team on a daily basis, from the time he walked in as a rookie in 1994-95 until he left in 2007, did I hear Smyth speak with anything but the utmost respect for his opponents – many of whom went out of their way to beat him senseless. Not just on the record, but off.

The lost teeth and the spilled blood and the broken bones have always just been part of the game. No big deal. The price you pay. Give the other guy hell with everything you've got, expect the same back and let the cards fall where they will. Old school.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

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Smyth, now 38, faces the Phoenix Coyotes with 10-13-23 in 67 games this season. He's clearly lost a step he couldn’t afford to lose and most of the talk about him now is that he's at the end of the line and that it's time for him to hang up his blades and call it a career. I suggested the very same thing a year ago, April 17. Fat chance.

The only way that'll happen is if the Oilers tear the jersey off his back and refuse to give him another contract at the end of this season. Of course Smyth believes he's got more left to give, that he can play another year. You'd expect anything else? He's the same rink rat he was 20 years ago.

Smyth doesn’t need the game – he has made more than $55 million playing in the NHL, invested wisely and has all the money he, his children and his grandchildren to come can ever spend. He loves the game.

Whether Smyth should stay or go is a debate for another day. You can certainly make a case the time has come. Of course, Smyth cares as much what you and I think about that as he did about Derian Hatcher mugging him in front of the net all those years. Bupkis.

"Perseverence, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey." Whether Smyth wins the 2014 Masterton or not, today's nomination made me pause and smile. He is the epitome of all those qualities.

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 Spoils
April 04 2014, 05:34PM
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big heart

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#2 lackofsmyth
April 04 2014, 05:38PM
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The only thing I will miss from smyth is his consistency of offensive zone penalties...oh and his physical presence. And maybe his constant falling every time he is touched... Would of had the upmost respect for him if he retired after his 2011-2012 season. He was actually effective then. He is just way too slow now.

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#3 mr_nihilism
April 04 2014, 05:42PM
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Best mullet the league has to offer.

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#4 Craig1981
April 04 2014, 05:43PM
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Props on this read Brownlee. I take offense when anyone here posts any hate on him because of the team struggles. He bleeds for his team and his fans, always giving everything he has. I wish 100% of fans respected this, but I will take the 95+% that do!

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#5 waynethetrain
April 04 2014, 05:46PM
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Smytty only has 27 blocked shots this season. The amount of time he plays on the PK you think he would have more. And I cant stand the amount of time he plays on the powerplay chasing some insignificant record. The commentators say how he's one of the few who's willing to go in front of the net. that's a load of trash, he cant even deflect the puck anymore and his 175 pounds isn't exactly a big frame screening in front. Id much rather have someone who is big but can still be an option for a pass. His just too many steps behind now.

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#6 J.R.
April 04 2014, 05:49PM
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I agree with every word in your article R.B.

I know many will disagree but I have seen a pretty solid game from him anytime he wasn't forced to play center.

I also think HHOF or no HHOF he should have his jersey raised to the rafters.

I'd also sign him to play one more year.

I'm totally biased but saw him good more often than not this year.

Ryan Jones out Ryan Smyth in.

One more time.

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#7 Rama Lama
April 04 2014, 05:54PM
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Still better than most of the players on this team.........I hope that he joins the coaching ranks.

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#8 Oiler Al
April 04 2014, 05:58PM
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Waynethetrain..... took the words right out of my mouth.!

Smythy, time to hang em up. Let some up and commers get some experience on this home stretch.

No one recalled Anderson's records, and certainly would not yours. PS.. how can you score a deflection when theres no one blasting at the net.

Glad to see the Masterton nom.. grab the trophy if you can and call it a day.

You should not be part of a rebuild moving to next year.

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#9 jonny94
April 04 2014, 06:13PM
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Love this guy. He's lost a step but he hasn't lost any heart. Wish he could win a cup as an Oiler.... Damn you Carolina.

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#10 Bucknuck
April 04 2014, 06:14PM
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Best Article I have read in ages.

Smytty has always been my favourite Oiler... even when he wasn't on the team. I hope he makes the HHOF so his jersey can be lifted to the rafters one day.

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#11 Craig1981
April 04 2014, 06:18PM
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lackofsmyth wrote:

The only thing I will miss from smyth is his consistency of offensive zone penalties...oh and his physical presence. And maybe his constant falling every time he is touched... Would of had the upmost respect for him if he retired after his 2011-2012 season. He was actually effective then. He is just way too slow now.

I knew an old farmer once. He had this amazing loyal border collie that would fetch and herd cattle. When she turned 6 he got a new pup trained it and shot the old dog cause "she was past her prime".....didn't even bury her, just left her for the coyotes. Did the same to the next dog. Don't know why by your comments on an article commemorating everything a person has done for his team reminded me of this.

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#12 oil4life
April 04 2014, 06:21PM
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Love Smyth, and for a 4th line guy to get 23 points.... pure awesome. plus he has more compete than most of the guys on this team it seems. hoe they sign him for next year.

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#13 Taylor Gang
April 04 2014, 06:41PM
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I will be playing the Ryan Smyth wraparound drinking game tonight. TGIF

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#14 JSR
April 04 2014, 07:07PM
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jonny94 wrote:

Love this guy. He's lost a step but he hasn't lost any heart. Wish he could win a cup as an Oiler.... Damn you Carolina.

Not, "damn you Carolina", but damn you MAB! He was the one who took out Rollie...

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#16 Al Low
April 04 2014, 07:24PM
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For all of his heart and his history with the Oilers, it doesn't seem like he really imparted much wisdom to the young core which from what I remember was supposed to be one of the selling features of bringing him back. Outside of that, I don't mind him coming back as a 4th line winger for the right price.

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#17 mlcselli
April 04 2014, 07:25PM
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What an Honor for Smytty. Being nominated is great, winning is deserved. Thanks for a job well done. Whether of not he earns another contract, Ryan Smyth will always be my favourite Oiler. Long live # 94.

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#18 Rick Stroppel
April 04 2014, 07:29PM
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WHY DOES SMYTH HAVE AS MANY POINTS AS YAKUPOV?

Smyth has played four more games than Yakupov. Yakupov has ONE more point and ONE more goal than Smyth. Smyth is minus 15 and Yakupov is minus 33. I have a funny feeling that when the coaches tell Smyth to do something, HE ACTUALLY DOES IT.

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#19 Goon80
April 04 2014, 07:50PM
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I grew up in Banff and watched Ryan develop into his game in practice and in games. Back then he was known as a dangler instead of the human slash/cross checking absorber he is today.

Even when he was a kid he's always shown a passion for the game and the Oilers. He was always been the first one on last one off during practice type of guy.

We are all proud of everything he has and continues to do and can't wait to cheer for him to earn his "insignificant record" as some have put it.

If half the team played with as much heart as Smyth does the Oiler's position in the standings would look a whole lot different.

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#20 Sevenseven
April 04 2014, 07:52PM
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Smyth may not be a young guy amymore. He never was a finesse guy. He got ugly goals sometimes, but the guy got them in the back of the net. One of the few nhl players who actually wants to play in Edmonton. This guy earned his spot on the team and in the league. The guy is a great Oilers Soldier. I hope he breaks the record, wins that award, and bows out of the team on a high note. Take down lowes banner and put Smyttys up there.

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#21 Al Low
April 04 2014, 07:53PM
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Rick Stroppel wrote:

WHY DOES SMYTH HAVE AS MANY POINTS AS YAKUPOV?

Smyth has played four more games than Yakupov. Yakupov has ONE more point and ONE more goal than Smyth. Smyth is minus 15 and Yakupov is minus 33. I have a funny feeling that when the coaches tell Smyth to do something, HE ACTUALLY DOES IT.

You say it like Smyth's -15 is something to brag about. Not trying to knock you but other than Perron, Scrivens and to some extent Hall, all of the Oilers have underachieved and taken a massive step back this year. We all know Yakupov has a ways to go defensively but he's also been completely misused by the Oilers' strength and conditioning coach/nutrition advisor/head coach Dallas Eakins.

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#22 D
April 04 2014, 08:00PM
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I'll miss him when he's gone.

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#23 bulldog12
April 04 2014, 08:11PM
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Al Low wrote:

For all of his heart and his history with the Oilers, it doesn't seem like he really imparted much wisdom to the young core which from what I remember was supposed to be one of the selling features of bringing him back. Outside of that, I don't mind him coming back as a 4th line winger for the right price.

Makes you wonder what or if these kids wanted to learn from the likes of Smytty or Horcoff. Typical kids, you have to tell them, explain it, show them again and again and again. At the end of the day they have to want to get better and I'm not sure there prepared to put in the work. Anyone who trashes Smytty today after all he's done for the Oilers should be taken out for a visit with the old farmer.

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#24 Total Points
April 04 2014, 08:13PM
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When 6 rings traded Smyth he ripped the heart out of the team.

I think they only won 2 of the last 25 games or something like that for the rest after he was traded.

Then every year after that they are at or close to the bottom

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#25 J.R.
April 04 2014, 08:18PM
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Al Low wrote:

You say it like Smyth's -15 is something to brag about. Not trying to knock you but other than Perron, Scrivens and to some extent Hall, all of the Oilers have underachieved and taken a massive step back this year. We all know Yakupov has a ways to go defensively but he's also been completely misused by the Oilers' strength and conditioning coach/nutrition advisor/head coach Dallas Eakins.

Lowe's jersey is not in the rafters for his coaching, general managing or hockey operations work.

He was a great Oiler and deserves to have his jersey up there.

Get real man. Don't let your hate make you blind to the past. Edit- Sorry Al. I trash my own post. It was a response to Sevenseven above you. My bad. I was typing on my mobile and can't fix it.

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#26 TikkTalk
April 04 2014, 08:43PM
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waynethetrain wrote:

Smytty only has 27 blocked shots this season. The amount of time he plays on the PK you think he would have more. And I cant stand the amount of time he plays on the powerplay chasing some insignificant record. The commentators say how he's one of the few who's willing to go in front of the net. that's a load of trash, he cant even deflect the puck anymore and his 175 pounds isn't exactly a big frame screening in front. Id much rather have someone who is big but can still be an option for a pass. His just too many steps behind now.

You sir are either just fishing for comments or you are a damn fool. Smytty has never shied away from getting in front of the puck, this year or any other, whether it be to block it or deflect it. He has taken more punishment over the years for his style of play than the rest of the team combined. Smyth has never been a big player, but has excelled against much larger competition due to the characteristics outlined in Brownlee's article. As far as your comment about the insignificant powerplay record, shame on you. The amount of punishment and sacrifice he has gone through for this team, and the years of hard work and dedication he has given the Oilers, a bit of powerplay time to try and break a record is not only well deserved, it is owed to him. It's one of the few reasons left to watch this year, beyond the first line of late and goaltending (I for one refuse to watch just to see if they get a better draft pick). Anyway, go Smytty, hope you get it tonight!

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#27 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
April 04 2014, 08:51PM
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If you're an Oilers fan and you were around for his career, you love the guy. If you are an Oilers fan and you're just looking at the last 3 years and looking to the future then he's not that special. That's understandable.

"Captain Canada" played 85 games with the Maple Leaf on his chest....and had 20 goals and 24 assists.

For most of his career he was a game changer....he was the guy who scored the goal when the team needed a lift. Not the empty netter or the 8-1 goal but the 2-1 goal or the game tying or game winning goal.

Tied with Glenn Anderson for most power-play goals as an Oiler is no small feat. Anderson played the PP with Messier, Gretzky and Coffee. Smyth potted as many PP goals playing with Horcoff and Hemsky.

He has more than 800 career NHL points.

No Cups so he may not get his banner raised....but the guy definitely deserves a bronze statue in the lobby of the new barn! I can only hope I'm at the game where they honour him for his career achievements...I'd be thrilled to take part in a 10 minute standing O!

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#28 Craig1981
April 04 2014, 09:00PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

If you're an Oilers fan and you were around for his career, you love the guy. If you are an Oilers fan and you're just looking at the last 3 years and looking to the future then he's not that special. That's understandable.

"Captain Canada" played 85 games with the Maple Leaf on his chest....and had 20 goals and 24 assists.

For most of his career he was a game changer....he was the guy who scored the goal when the team needed a lift. Not the empty netter or the 8-1 goal but the 2-1 goal or the game tying or game winning goal.

Tied with Glenn Anderson for most power-play goals as an Oiler is no small feat. Anderson played the PP with Messier, Gretzky and Coffee. Smyth potted as many PP goals playing with Horcoff and Hemsky.

He has more than 800 career NHL points.

No Cups so he may not get his banner raised....but the guy definitely deserves a bronze statue in the lobby of the new barn! I can only hope I'm at the game where they honour him for his career achievements...I'd be thrilled to take part in a 10 minute standing O!

I typically disagree with you on almost everything, but this comment would have 100+ likes if it was posted in the top 3. Well said

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#29 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
April 04 2014, 09:04PM
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Thanks Craig.

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#30 The Last Big Bear
April 04 2014, 09:16PM
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Smyth is like the Michelangelo of the garbage goal.

The league will have lost something special when he's no longer getting cross-checked out of the crease.

Hopefully he can spend more time with his family soon, getting hit in the face by his kids' shots.

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#31 Zarny
April 04 2014, 09:23PM
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When they talk about the Oilers top 6 F not having the right mix Ryan Smyth circa '99-'06 is what they are talking about. Smyth-Weight-Guerin baby. That's the right mix.

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#32 Casey
April 04 2014, 09:31PM
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Now this is the type of former player you should bring back as management. Doesn't matter if you a good player for the team's past success you need to have heart and passion for the fans. Smyth cares about the fans more than personal achievement. Daryl Katz and company could learn a thing or two

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#33 Casey
April 04 2014, 09:39PM
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I'll never forget those loose poke-in dirty goals Smyth scored in the playoffs. I want to see Smyth score another one of those for his PP record. God those goals made me soo happy. Thinking bout' em brings great memories. I'm proud to own a Smytty jersey

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#34 The Last Big Bear
April 04 2014, 10:09PM
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Just thought I'd point out that with the Flames' win in Florida tonight, the Oilers have clinched last place in the conference.

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#35 Ivan Drago
April 04 2014, 10:46PM
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Im fine with Smyth as a fourth line LW next yr. But that's it.

He has been a great Oiler, that's not up for debate. After next year though, he should prob call it quits.

Hopefully the Oil could make the playoffs next year.........lol ok ok well a playoff season might be nice, guess he will have to get traded at the deadline.

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#36 Joe
April 04 2014, 11:14PM
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11 days we find out.

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#37 DieHard
April 05 2014, 09:02AM
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He is still an effective player. He takes his man. I believe he's got at least another year in him. One year at a time. 4th line, thirteen forward, HS, can move up the line-up, PP, PK. All that experience and dedication. What's not to like.

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#38 nunyour
April 05 2014, 10:42AM
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Huge Smyth fan,on the ice and off,he goes out of his way to please people and brighten their day,great work at the U of A.hospital.As far as on the ice he is still better than Jones,Joensuu,Lander.

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#39 coco crisp
April 05 2014, 02:03PM
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I certainly would offer smytty a contract next year. Does he hurt this team? Not at all. Having a fourth liner who can spot in your power play? Playing 10 minutes a night, why not? One last show for the mullet

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#40 Pouzar99
April 05 2014, 05:23PM
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No player has ever worn the jersey with more pride. He does not have HOF numbers, but his jersey HAS to be the next one raised to the rafters. He probably deserves a final year if only to keep demonstrating to the young players what it means to be a pro.

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#41 Mjolnir
April 05 2014, 05:59PM
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He got pouty and left.

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#42 Casey
April 05 2014, 08:27PM
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Just cause Smyth dosent have HOF numbers dosent mean he shouldnt be in the rafters. Its not every Decade(or even every 2 decade!) you get a player with soo much heart, passion, and commitment to your franchise and city. I say retire his number because 94 will always remind Oilers fans of Smyth(no matter who wears #94)

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#43 Robin Brownlee
April 07 2014, 07:21PM
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Mjolnir wrote:

He got pouty and left.

This is your contribution?

Smyth's agent and Lowe could not agree on money. Lowe wasn't willing to pay the price Smyth wanted -- Smyth got MORE than he was asking here in his next deal if you're interested in what actually happened (which I doubt) -- so he traded him.

But we appreciate the drive-by.

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