IN DEFENSE OF SMYTH

It shatters our mind that we have to write this article but some real sons of bitches out there are asking for it saying Ryan Smyth is finished and his healthy scratching last night was an excellent play.

Its just embarassing that we are the fans of the same team. Embarassing.

RYAN SMYTH IS A LEGEND

Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat:

Ryan Smyth is one of the best Oilers of all time. On and off the ice.

The NHL has long been riddled with self entitled millionaires who rent houses in the cities in which they play only to escape the mintue the season ends. These people add nothing to the community, could care less about the City or the fans and aren’t deserving of any special consideration beyond what they can contribute on the ice.

Ryan Smyth is the exact opposite of that. One of the few Oilers who lives here in the offseason, Smytty has gone to work with a smile on his face and a song in his saintly heart for the entire time he has been an Oiler. He works with charities. He has mortgaged a healthy retirement by playing injured and taking innumerable beatings in front of the net on Oilers teams that were headed nowhere in a hurry.

Remember how near death he looked during the 2006 Stanley Cup Run? Remember when he basically snapped his foot off in 2002 and was back in a matter of weeks so he could play in the Olympics? Think he will regret that when he is 51 and has a daily painful reminder of leaving it all out there for the Oilers?

Much was made about his tearful goodbye in 2007 when he was dealt to Isles at the deadline under some shady circumstances and a relatively small sum of money. Name another Oiler who cried on his way out of town? 99. That’s it. Full stop. In over 30 years those are the only two players who were moved to tears by being dealt from the coldest, most remote outpost in all of the NHL.

People said he wouldn’t live up to his enormous five year $31.2 million dollar contract that he pried out of Colorado in 2007. But live up to it he did and miracle of miracles he returned to Edmonton in 2011 and even gave us one more 19 goal season at the age of 104.

And now here we are 13 games into the season in the twilight of his career that comes with diminished expectations and a diminshed role and some Oilers fans are just raining down the hatred on 94.

Classic.

HATERS GONNA HATE

Now there are a million legitimate cases you could make that Coach Kreuger did the right thing by scratching Smyth last night against the Stars. He has an eye popping 26 PIMs already this season and has cost the team some goals against in the process. This underperforming team is in transition to a new regime and holding veterans accountable sends a signal to both the vets and the Super Youth alike.

We get all of that.

But the amount of tweets, blogs and calls into the shows that we have seen and heard in the past week or so saying that Smyth is finished? Unacceptable. The people saying he should be dealt or sat for the remainder of the year? Wrong.

CLASS

Name an Oilers legend that has retired in an Oilers jersey. There are none. Name a retirement game you have seen where a long time hero plays his final game in Oilers silks in front of a cheering hometown crowd saying goodbye to one of its favourite sons after a long and illustrious career. Zip.

Name Oilers players that a segment of fans have turned on and railroaded them out of town. There isn’t enough space available on the internet. These same fans that are the first in line to dogpile hate on the Oiler – no matter who he is – are the same ones that wring their hands and wonder why Free Agents don’t want to sign here. They blame the GM, they blame the Coach, they blame any player that they can for the ails on the ice. This classless crowd all too often speak on all of our behalf and its absurd.

Here we have Smyth – a player who is so quintessentially Edmonton that we might as well name a few hundred thousand pot holes after him – in the twilight of his career. Sure he may have lost a step. Its the aggregate of the injuries he has suffered as an Oiler starting to take their toll. Cut him some slack for heavens sakes.

It’s called respect.

We for one want Smyth to come back strong from his ill advised trip to the press box. We hope that our fellow fans recognize what a special player he is and that he doesn’t have too many games left in the tank before he will retire. And we hope that he is the first Oiler that we can recall who will be cheered off the ice at the end of a wonderful career instead of booed and cat called into the sunset for failing to live up to expectations in his final days.

  • Phixieus666

    He deserved to be out of the line up and it will probably happen again if not for his play then the simple fact that hes getting older and could use a night off every once in a while. There is nothing wrong with that. A lot of teams do it, people need to stop over reacting. I’m sure if Horcoff and Beleanger didn’t get hurt they would be taking the occasional night off as well. Smyth just needs to dial down those penalties.

    Whitney just needs to play better than the likes of Potter, Fistric, and Peckham. Not exactly a tall order considering hes played better than any of them his entire career until now.

  • bwar

    Your right, what good is accountability if you might hurt someones feelings! After all, making the veterans *not* accountable has worked fantastic for us in the last 5 years.

    Seriously though, Smyth can be pissed at being in the press box, in fact he had better be. However, if he honestly doesn’t think he *deserves* to be in the press box for a game or two then he is just being selfish.

    • The Fish

      The fact you read HB regularly illustrates why you didn’t have the intellect to understand the article.

      He didn’t say that Smyth should get a free pass and play at all costs. He said that fans shouldn’t line up to drive the bus over him as his career winds down.

      That is reality, not more fabricated rumours…Try to learn the difference.

  • BigE91

    Pretty tough to watch the game last night without 94 on the ice. The team played reasonably well despite the outcome.

    What I don’t see and no disrespect to Hall, Eberle, RNH, Hemsky or any other players is the Edmonton Oiler who bleeds the team colours. Ryan Smyth is and has been that guy since his draft day.

    Yes, he’s taken more penalties than normal and the offence hasn’t been there yet but he’s been playing with new linemates, taking draws and playing on 36 year old legs without the benefit of a proper training camp. The naysayers need to cut him some slack and let him find his legs. His performance to date wouldn’t be this magnified if the top 6 were performing to their potential.

  • Jaw17

    Smyth has always been my favourite player and a big reason for that is because he’s one of the few players that I can respect in the NHL. I agree he’s looked slow and looked like he can no longer contribute in the NHL, now that may be because of the short training camp and taking time to get the wheels going or it may be that his age has caught up to him and its time for him to hang them up, either way you do not trade him and you do not make him a constant healthy scratch, from time to time it’s alright but not constantly. If Smyth wants to retire or leave Edmonton it’s on his terms because of what he has done for the city and the team!

  • So not a Pouzar

    Name another Oiler who cried on his way out of town? 99. That’s it. Full stop. In over 30 years those are the only two players who were moved to tears by being dealt from the coldest, most remote outpost in all of the NHL.

    Janne Niinimaa, but that’s really neither here nor there.

    Great article Wanye, here’s to Smitty coming back with something new to prove.

  • bwar

    I hope Ryan Smyth retires as an Oiler but with that said he still needed to take a night in the press box. He has been taking way too many pointless penalties and I think I night off every once in a while might be good for Smyth to cool his head a bit.

  • paul wodehouse

    The Oilers need to also bench players for being soft on the puck and the constant loosing of puck battles.

    The Oilers problem is 3 fold,

    1.Soft on puck and loose puck battles
    2. Need to play some dump and chase against teams, because they are getting stopped at the blue.
    3. Shoot the puck and go hard to the net. Its how everyone plays against the Oilers, why don’t the Oilers try it.

    • Dallylamma

      Sorry I have to challenge your logic..if they arent doing #1 how do you expect them to do the last part of #3????

      In order to go hard to the net you have to:

      a) fight the battle to get there AND
      b) pay the price when you get there to be able to stay there.

  • Dallylamma

    “We for one want Smyth to come back strong from his ill advised trip to the press box. We hope that our fellow fans recognize what a special player he is and that he doesn’t have too many games left in the tank before he will retire. And we hope that he is the first Oiler that we can recall who will be cheered off the ice at the end of a wonderful career instead of booed and cat called into the sunset for failing to live up to expectations in his final days.”

    Here Ye Here Ye Lord Wanye.

    Hands up everyone who comes to work and performs at 100% EVERYDAY…(yeah nobody as I thought).

    RS is having a tough go of it right now and in true character he will bounce back with vengeance.

    That is if Ralph pulls him out of the Pressbox. I also believe the same strategy might be the one to use for the other struggling Ryan vet too. Whitney is also a class act who loves being here and wants to be here. His comment about “they are paying me a lot of money to sit in the pressbox” is right on and genuine. Let him play out of his funk.

  • Dallylamma

    So true. Oiler fans piss me off sometimes. And they wonder why no one wants to come here. And stop with all the silly trades this isn’t NHL 13.

    Last night was a great game were the bounces didn’t go our way. They deserved the win, but didn’t get it. If the oilers play every game like that I would be happy. Sure there were mistakes, how else are goals scored?

  • yawto

    My fist child shares the same bday as smytty, he will always have a place in my heart. That being said, I hear it from my boss when I am sucking at my job too. Just sayin.

    • Chaz

      Props to this.

      I have all the faith in the world that Smytty will bounce back from this and play the same type of hockey he did at the start of last year…and his legend will continue to grow.