LAST CALL: RYAN SMYTH

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If TSN’s Bob McKenzie has the story straight – he always does — Ryan Smyth will make his retirement from the Edmonton Oilers and the NHL official as early as Friday afternoon.

I turns out Smyth, 38, won’t go out kicking and screaming and the Oilers equipment staff won’t have to hide his No. 94 jerseys or stash those old-school wooden-bladed sticks of his to get the message across that it might be time to hang them up.

Instead, McKenzie was first with word via Twitter this evening that Smyth would call it a career after 1,270 NHL games (971 of those with the Oilers) – my guess is that’s a decision that was made after a sit-down with GM Craig MacTavish about how the cards might be dealt this off-season.

That would make Saturday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks the swan song in Smyth’s career – a tenure that began Jan. 22, 1995 in a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings. One last time out of the tunnel and three more pucks for fans in the warm-up for a player who has worn the Oil Drop as proudly as anybody ever has.

ONE LAST TIME

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I had my doubts Smyth would make this call when I wrote about him just the other day (April 4). Stubborn is Smyth. Always has been and always will be – the career he’s fashioned being Exhibit A – but here we are, it seems, one game from the end.

If the announcement does come tomorrow, I fully expect Smyth to be a mess, just as he was back at the trade deadline in 2007 when he ended up being traded to the New York Islanders by GM Kevin Lowe after contract talks stalled. Heart on his sleeve then. Same now. Smyth loves this team. He loves this city. Never a doubt about that.

With yet another miserable season by the Oilers almost in the books, I’m convinced Oiler fans will mark the end of an era and a terrific career by giving Smyth a rousing send-off against the Canucks Saturday. A break from the drudgery, in the last game of the season no less, would be welcome, no?

A lot of fans were suggesting tonight they’d be up for seeing Andrew Ference give up the captain’s C so Smyth can wear it in his final game as an Oiler against the Canucks. Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun said he’s be on board with that. A nice gesture, if it happens, I suppose.

All I know is this: Smyth has spent most of his NHL career wearing an Edmonton jersey and being as proud as you can imagine that he’s had that opportunity. Saturday, fans get one last chance to show him the feeling is mutual. Last call.

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

  • Gret99zky

    Gonna miss 94. As someone who picked up hockey later in life and found himself behind the skill curve of the guys that grew up with it, I like to think I fashion my ‘game’ after old sea legs. Aside from hockey, the man is just an outstanding human being and kudos to him for giving so much back the Edmonton community.

    Having said that, does anyone want to talk about how terrible that game was last night? I am a pundit of the idea that Mac T only needs to grab a few key pieces for this team to be a contender. But after watching the effort on the ice last night, I don’t know. The team played like they were thinking about golfing. I did see Klefbomb break up the attack and cycle a few times, then make a great outlet pass. He really made it look simple. On the opposite side of the fence, taking and making passes for the rest of the team looked like a struggle.

    Every time the Oilers playa physical team, they play this game of hot pucktato that leads to so many errant passes and giveaways. The second period was better. But really the effort outside of Fasth, Klefbomb, Marincin, and Perron (again) was just non existent. Hopefully, tomorrow, for Smyth’s last game, they can get off their asses and actually play with some heart and ability. They’re NHL players for god’s sakes. TAKE AND MAKE A GOOD PASS!

  • Sevenseven

    Pretty much every single Oilers game ive been to in person had Ryan Smyth on the ice. From the time I spent selling programs as a teenager during the playoff runs of the late 90s to todays less successful teams. The guy is Edmonton. We will miss you. Enjoy retirement!

        • Gret99zky

          I actually feel bad for what you young guys consider the good old days. Most of ON has never had an actual decent team to cheer for. Sad.

          I considered watching Smyth’s final game, but Pacquiao vs Bradley is more important than the sad sack Oilers.

  • Eli Porter

    Despicable acts: murder, sex crimes etc, and apparently, using a No Movement Clause in your contract to dictate where you want to go. What an education.

    • These are the first tickets ive been able to sell all year…..thanks smitty….its not $57,000,000, but i doubled my money.

      I dont begrudge anyone for making that kind of money if thats what the market bears.

      He been good for the city and the charities he represents.

      Just cause I love the guy doesnt dismiss the fact that I was dreading having sit though another crappy game like last night

      Regards

      Disinterested Tier 1 fan

  • Serious Gord

    @Oiler AI

    YOU could have, if you put in the time, dedication, and effort into being a pro hockey player that Smyth and others like him have. Sadly, by the jealous undertones of your post, you didn’t have what it took. Maybe in your next lifetime.

    • Gret99zky

      Nah, my skating was worse than Smythys.

      I dont begrudge him the coin,just making a point that folks here comment how badly he was done by Oilers not giving him the 100 grand etc. trading him away and all that. Just saying he wasnt hard done by.

      Jealous is not part of my DNA, Iam happy in life.
      As for the next one, still wont be a good skater.

    • Serious Gord

      Probably not true. At the level of the nhl hard work, dedication alone won’t do it. Being genetically endowed with enough talent is a must.

      Smyth clearly had enough and in his prime years he abetted it with hard work. In later years I’m not convinced he was as dedicated to being the best he could be – certainly not in the league of Jagr and selanne.

  • TKB2677

    Only 3 players showed up to his presser. Hall, Eberle, Perron. I’ve heard several media guys over the years mention that the only people who were thrilled Smyth came back were the fans.

    Stauffer has never directly said his name but he has multiple times said “a certain extremely popular, fan favorite, long time Oiler is not liked in the room”. Who else could that be?

    He was a great Oiler but when 3 guys from your team show up, maybe it’s a good thing he is gone.

    Time to turn the page.

  • TKB2677

    @TKB2677

    You could jump to conclusions like that or you could also acknowledge that players have extremely limited personal lives during the season and likely had prior commitments this afternoon. The fact that news of this only leaked last afternoon/evening kind of lends to the theory that this was kept under wraps to an extremely select few so how do we know the players weren’t told about about his official decision last night either?

    I won’t be quick to jump on the other players for not being there for this very reason – especially since none of you know what they all could be doing this evening, where a more personal team only get-together could be happening instead.

  • Smyth was everything that was good about being an Oiler.

    As a Oiler fan you always knew Smyth was going to give you an honest effort, during these long hard seasons of struggle you could always take pride that Smyth was the one player that made you proud to be an Oiler fan.

  • GDP….Smitty get game winning poerplay goal and beats Andersons record…..Edmonton fans are ecstatic

    In the meantime…Florida loses

    Edmonton picks 3rd. Florida gets Ekblad who ends up being the second coming of Chris Pronger

    Its been that kind of decade for this franchise.

    Im stressed out just thinking about it

  • PlayDirty

    I remember him driving Guigere nuts … him picking up his chiclets after pronger hit him with that clearing shot …the broken ankle and the surprise early return … the battles in front of the net … garbage goals galore … Team Canada …the mullets …thanks Smytty.

  • PlayDirty

    This was handled the right way. Announce it before the final game so we can all say goodbye. It will be a tear jerker and a memorable moment to cap an otherwise forgettable season. Smyth has always been my favourite so best of luck to him in retirement!

  • Gret99zky

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion but I dont know whats with the Smyth bashing? All he did was tell anyone who would listen that Edmonton is where his heart will always be. He was a great ambassador for the game and for Edmonton. With all of the negatives about players wanting nothing to do with the city here comes Smyth to remind us that there is at least one guy who still loves the city. All of the accolades and international play not to mention an absolute beast in front of the net. The Alberta boy from Banff made good and made Edmonton his hometown and his team. Long Live Smytty!!!!

  • Oilergasm

    It will be a sad day, but hopefully the atmosphere will be playoff like, Hall, Eberle and RNH need a taste of what fuelled the team in ’06.

    As for the honorary captain “C”, initially I really liked the idea but seems a little hokey and I doubt Smyth would accept it. Just another example of the character that makes him what he is. He worked so hard to earn everything and never expected anything as a gift.