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.

  • TheresAlwaysNextYear

    About Ryan Smyth. If he is indeed retiring, he leaves as my favourite Oiler player of all time. One of my favourite Smytty moments occurred in the ’06 season (I found it on youtube). Smyth driving Giguere of the Ducks absolutely insane with his play in front of the net. Classic Smyth.

  • TheresAlwaysNextYear

    The end of an era is soon upon us. An inspiration to many, and undoubtedly a player that exemplifies a great love of the game, Ryan Smyth has earned the love respect and support of the city, fans, sports analysts, reporters and the league. Ryan Smyth won’t be the only one that’s going to be a mess when tribute gets paid to him on Saturday. I think most of us will be needing kleenex. The honour was ours. Long live the memories and favourite moments he leaves with us. Thank you # 94 for everything.

  • tomger

    this man has lost more teeth in blue and orange than we have had #1 draft picks i am truly sad to see him go he has been the hart and soul of this team. a true representation of the team city and what it should mean to be an oiler if the rest of the team played with the heart and soul that he does there would not be enough shelf’s at rexal too hold all the trophies

  • TheresAlwaysNextYear

    im going to miss his patented slap shot and missing the net after skating down the boards.. that was a classic and he laughs after he does it too,

  • Anton CP

    Smyth is one of the last true throw backs to old school hockey.
    He had always been the consummate pro on and off the ice.

    His work ethic and heart helped him carve out a highly respectable NHL career.

    Hopefully the young guys learned this from him and they will be able to send Smtty of with the PPP record.

    Despite many wishing he had retired sooner, I’m sure many will miss seeing him bleeding copper and blue on a nightly basis.

  • I hope he wears the C.. I will be at the game with my Smytty jersey on. And when the standing “O” happens.. And we all know it will… I will Shead a year, even though he played for other teams, he will always be an Oiler! Thank You SMYTTY

  • The fans will send Smyth off the right way. He should have played his whole career here. I still recall the shock, sadness and uproar from the Oilers stunningly bad trade of Smyth at the 2007 deadline. I recall 6Rings not taking part and hiding like a coward during the Messier jersey retirement ceremony that night and pretty much ruining Mess’ big moment after he nickel and dimed Smyth. One more dumb move by 6Rings for the fans to reminisce about.

    When I hear ‘Once an Oiler, always an Oiler,’ this is the only guy I really think of. Cheers, Ryan. You have done us proud, man. My favorite Smyth moment had to be the Game 5 OT winner against Dallas in 1997.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      Kevin is a coward in every aspect since joining managment. He is the last to realize it. What’s that mental term when you have delusions of granduer?
      Most people would have thrown themselves off the roof by now.. he seems to hold on thinking he is going to have some kind of chance at redemption. It’s getting pretty weird at this point.

      • Serious Gord

        Bizarre logic.

        By that logic, if I wanted to tap Christina Hendricks I’d be tapping her right now.

        There are lots of reasons why the oilers aren’t a winning team – and a lot of them lead to mr. KAtz’ ownership, but none of them have anything to do with him wanting a winning team – he absolutely does.

        • Slapshot

          The logic is sound. If you wanted to be tapping her right now, you can. Wether you go to jail after or not is the only variable.

          Katz could be doing something to make this a winning team, but he’s happy just rolling in the cash.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        I’m not entirely convinced Katz really wants a winning team. He seems content with collecting “Boys on the Bus”. All he needs is Anderson, Coffey, Kurri, Fuhr, and Gretzky and he’ll have the full set.

        If Katz truly wanted a winning team, there would not have been a single member of the upper management team left to start the year (pick a year in the Katz era). Said management would be free to fire/keep the GM. The GM would be allowed to keep/fire the coach. And the coach would be allowed to hire his own bloody staff. The ‘Once an Oiler, always an Oiler’ mantra is a great PR slogan, connects with history, etc. It should not be the hiring policy for an NHL team.

        • Wohin gehst du?

          its not that katz doesnt want to win….thats ridiculous. the problem is he has no clue how to win or what it takes. thats why hes totally reliant on the guys he watched win while growing up. katz is a good buisiness man. one doesnt become a millionaire if they’re not good buisiness people. clueless when it comes to hockey though. i know i know people are gonna say that hockey is a buisiness and it is but,two parts to that. Theres the buisness itself and then theres the hockey”buisness” part and oilers are in for a longer haul to success than most teams unless mac can manufacture what this team needs cause at the end of the day….katz needs to be convinced that the “boyz on the bus” cant do the job. he believed they can before he was even the owner!