As time goes by, the things we cherished in our youth fade. We have the memories, and those are most dear. It’s important then that we spend some time this 11-12 season with ol ’94 and hold him in our minds-eye as he is: determined, gritty, fierce and devoted to being an Oiler playing this beautiful game. Ryan Smyth is an all-time Oiler great. Full stop.

There may have been more skilled left wingers along the way, but none approached the game with the combination of skill, grit, heart and desire displayed by Ryan Smyth. His Oiler career is approaching the "coda" stage but it’s hard to tell based on the effort level each night. His birth certificate and his place among Oiler greats on the all-time lists gives us the best indication of just how strong he’s been for such a long, long time.

Career Games Played as an Oiler

  1. Kevin Lowe (1037)
  2. Mark Messier (851)
  3. Glenn Anderson (845)
  4. Ryan Smyth (803)
  5. Kelly Buchberger (795)
  6. Jari Kurri (754)
  7. Shawn Horcoff (717)
  8. Craig MacTavish (701)
  9. Wayne Gretzky (696)
  10. Charlie Huddy (694)


  1. Wayne Gretzky (583)
  2. Jari Kurri (474)
  3. Glenn Anderson (417)
  4. Mark Messier (392)
  5. Ryan Smyth (277)
  6. Paul Coffey (209)
  7. Craig Simpson (185)
  8. Esa Tikkanen (178)
  9. Doug Weight (157)
  10. Craig MacTavish (155)


  1. Wayne Gretzky (1086)
  2. Mark Messier (642)
  3. Jari Kurri (569)
  4. Glenn Anderson (489)
  5. Paul Coffey (460)
  6. Doug Weight (420)
  7. Kevin Lowe (310)
  8. Ryan Smyth (299)
  9. Ales Hemsky (289)
  10. Charlie Huddy (287)


  1. Wayne Gretzky (1669)
  2. Jari Jurri (1043)
  3. Mark Messier (1034)
  4. Glenn Anderson (906)
  5. Paul Coffey (669)
  6. Doug Weight (577)
  7. Ryan Smyth (576)
  8. Esa Tikkanen (436)
  9. Shawn Horcoff (421)
  10. Ales Hemsky (406)

In a very real way, Smyth’s climb up these lists represents a dream come true, a storybook ending for a kid who bled copper and blue (and orange). It is possible that he could climb even higher on all of these lists, save the goal scoring. We’ll blame the era for that one.

The Smyth memories are almost endless. He was on that late 90s team that shocked Dallas and Colorado, plus he was a huge part of the Stanley ’06 Oilers. For me, Smyth was a breath of fresh air because he approached the game’s history with respect and wasn’t full of himself. An example of his humility and enthusiam is reflected in this October 1996 article:

I know it’s been a long time since he arrived, hell Ryan Smyth was drafted a few months after my son was born and that guy is approaching 6 feet now. However, I think it’s important that we pay close attention to that veteran left winger several times this season–the season of the kids–and do our absolute best to hold those memories for as long as we can.



When my kids were small, I scored tickets right down by the glass. The kids spent the night being fascinated by Smyth’s ability to pursue the puck along the wall, tell the ref to "get out of the way" and still find time to pass the puck to a linemate. Someday, your grandkids might ask what it was like to see Ryan Smyth play. If I’m blessed and have grandchildren, I’ll tell them he scored a few alright goals.

And then a bunch more after that.

  • RPG

    If Smytty wants to win a cup he better find an elixir that will give him back his mojo. Come to think of it he should recommend the training staff put some in the teams Gatorade.

    Otherwise the only cup he’ll have is the one hanging in his stall between games.

  • RPG

    i was unwaware of the numbers he has and select company he is in on the all-time oilers list.

    as rule i believe in the system the Oilers have for raising jersey’s to the roof. i find most organizations are more apt to raise less selectively because they have never had the talent that we have. lucky us.

    in Smytty’s instance i tend to look a the intangibles he brings to the game and what it has meant to not only the team but the organization. pre-trade days i would have sent him for a bag of pucks to whomever because i felt that points mattered, that they mattered most. well, they do matter but the grit and heart and guts matter as well (he has the points as well). i have seen that now and appreciate it so much more. on those merits i feel strongly that he deserves very careful consideration for a jersey raising whether or not the HHOF looks his way. PUT #94 UP.

  • Hard to say if 94 gets his jersey raised… he may. I would hazard that the organization will do something significant for Joey Moss when he decides to shut er down. On smyth im not so sure, if its just hockey I would say its tenuous, if you factor in his community efforts…… slam dunk.

  • geoilersgist

    I was born when the Oilers were just starting to win cups so I wasn’t old enough to realize how awesome they were. Ryan Smyth is the Edmonton Oilers to me and most people who aren’t over 30. Regardless of whether or not he makes it to the HHOF he deserves to have his number put up in the rafters. The organization might have to rethink the rules on banner raising.

  • Carl FTWinslow

    A 0.71 points per game does not put your number in the rafters. The rafters are reserved for hall of fame players not hard workers and it should stay that way.

  • stevezie

    I think it should go to the rafters, myself. What other Oiler traded himself back here? Who meant more to the community? Who defined his era more, Smyth or Anderson? The rafters mean more than just numbers, for almost two decades Smyth was the Oilers- even when he wasn’t playing here we were defined by his absence.

    Of course, even in spite of some uh, “interesting” post-06 management I’d still put Lowe up there. In my books you don’t need to be a HOFer to get a retirement, it’s more about what you meant to the team and the city. Look up Wendel Clark’s career numbers sometime and ask yourself why no one in Toronto wears #17 anymore.

    • The rafters mean more than just numbers…it’s more about what you meant to the team and the city

      Jersey retirement is a way to honor and remember players for their contributions. I appreciate not wanting to give this honor to everybody, but I don’t agree with a minimum statistical achievement concept like some are suggesting.

    • BigE91

      I agree, add to that his National team resume and while he won’t be in the Hall of Fame he could certainly have his jersey raised by his team.

      This idea that an Oiler needs to be in the Hall to have his jersey retired is a bit archaic particularly when one might wonder when the next member of the Orange and Blue will have a career with those kind of credentials let alone a Stanley cup ring.

  • D

    I am going to enjoy Ryan’s play for as long as we have him (and even if he decides to skate with another team before retiring). That being said, I agree with those who feel that 94’s sweater should not be raised. Maybe I am showing my age, but Gretz and the gang set the bar for what it takes to have the jersey retired.

    • BigE91

      I don’t know if your age has a lot to do with it? The fans that were a part of that era were spoiled and the bar you speak of was set uncharacteristically high, there are very few teams in the league that can boast of a generation of players which were the calibre of Gretzky and Co. Perhaps the Richard era Habs, or the early 90’s Penguins.

      I hope the likes of Hall, Eberle and Hopkins are in Oiler colours long enough to breathe some of that rare air and with any luck 94 is still hanging onto the coattails and providing leadership.

  • Oilerbill

    We all love Smyth for who he is as a member of the Oilers both on and off the ice. However, lowering standards for sentitimental reasons is not the way to go. If he wants his number raised he needs to score another 133 goals and make the HHOF.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    On the HHOF and Jersey Retirement. I think some of you are discounting how routinely the HHOF honors a whole swath of non-on-ice contributions, so-called “builders”:


    which lists the following attributes:

    Coaching, managerial or executive ability, where applicable, or any other significant off-ice skill or role, sportsmanship, character and their contribution to their organizations and to the game of hockey in general.

    I think we all assume Smyth will retire straight into management (at some level) or scouting, or broadcasting or something… point is: he will have a long life of contribution to hockey both in the NHL and internationally

    I suspect that the preponderance of Smyth’s goodwill toward Hockey will in the long run get him to the HHOF and the Oiler rafters…

    it’s a whole package with Smyth, AKA Captain Canada

  • Milli

    LT you are a beauty! I love these walks down memory lane. My dad lived in Etown during the Glory, I was always there, at the U of A watching them win games and hoist cups with no idea how lucky I was to see it….but to young to cherish it. Smyth is my alltime Fav Oiler, I may even have cried when he came back!!!! Ya, he’s done okay!!