I Love Moose Jaw… and Smytty

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If you follow me/the Nation/Jeanshorts on Twitter, you’ll likely know that we were in Moose Jaw over the past weekend, to cover Ryan Smyth’s jersey retirement with the Warriors.  Did we get to meet Ryan Smyth?  Yes, we did (he even signed my Nation hoodie).  But that’s not what I want to talk about today (JS and I have already covered Smytty anyways), I want to talk about my new found love for Moose Jaw. 

Before I even get started, I’m going to give you all fair warning that there will be very few words of hatred thrown at Kevin Lowe in this article so if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll be sorely disappointed.  As much as Kevin Lowe may annoy all of you, he has nothing to do with my new love for Moose Jaw and I will not have him sullying my new home away from home.  I WON’T HAVE IT!

Anyway…

What started off as a weekend where my main goal was to meet Ryan Smyth without crying ended up as one of the best times I’ve had in a while.  Yes, some of the fun is attributed to the Nation team that braved the blizzard to make it out to Moose Jaw, but a lot of it had to do with the city itself.  If you haven’t been to Moose Jaw, it’s a place that has everything you need but also the friendliness of a small town.


Smytty aside, the best part of the trip could have been just cruising through downtown Jaw and looking at all the old buildings that are being restored.  You have to respect that they’re honouring the past despite getting younger as a population. Sound like some other organization we know? Anyway… for a city with only 35,000 residents it sure felt like there was a lot more going on than that, and they’re working to keep getting better.

Even as we were leaving I couldn’t help but wish we had some more time there.  The people were friendly, the women were beautiful, and we had a great time all around!  To make matters worse, when we got home the Oilers got absolutely levelled by the Leafs which certainly didn’t help my Saskatchewan yearning. At some point, I’m sure we’ll be back but to this point the Jaw made a great first impression.

From Mac the Moose to Mosiac Place and everything in between, Moose Jaw is a cool place to be. Another big thank you has to go to Tourism Saskatchewan for hooking us up throughout the weekend – you guys put on a good show.  

MOAR SMYTTY!

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Even though I knew that I might get a chance to meet Ryan Smyth, I didn’t really expect to be able to talk to him.  Amazingly, after Jason Gregor was nice enough to introduce us to him Smytty was willing to stick around for a few minutes to chat with us.  I knew that I wanted to ask him a question, but I was on the spot so I could only ask about the Gretzky video he watched as a kid (his billets mentioned that in their speech). 

He said that he didn’t remember much from what was on that VHS tape, but it was good enough for me. Ryan Smyth had actually acknowledged that he heard the words coming out of my mouth, and that was all I needed.  Frankly, he could have said “shut up asshole” and I would have been happy.  But as you would have expected, Ryan Smyth is one of the friendliest human beings to ever stand on two legs.

A little bit later in the night, there was a break in the game and I went to see if Smytty would sign my hoodie (he also signed JS’). As he was signing, I decided to ask him in another question.  This time I asked what it was like during the 2006 playoff run to play in a rink that was so loud that you couldn’t even hear yourself think.  I wanted to know if there was any time to soak in what was happening during a game like that?

“Which game were you at?” he asked.

“Game 6 against the Detroit.” I answered.*

“Ah, you should have heard Game 6 against Carolina.” 

My heart stopped. What a hero.  It wasn’t like he gave some profound answer or anything, but he spoke to us as if we weren’t idiots that blog about his life’s work.  Throughout the night, he was accomodating to absolutely anyone that stopped him to ask for a picture.  He signed countless items, and shook even more hands.  For a guy that has made $60+ million in his career, Ryan Smyth was one of the most grounded people you could ever hope to meet.  There was no ego, there was just a guy that loved the game.  

At the end of the day, Ryan Smyth said about 20 words to me in total when he really didn’t have to.  He didn’t have to come back to Moose Jaw for a jersey retirement, and he didn’t have to play shinny with a men’s league team the morning before the ceremony either, but Ryan Smyth is a guy that knows what hockey means to people and what he means to people. He probably met two hundred new people that day, and I bet he treated every one of them with the same courtesy.  

If only some of that could rub off on the crew we have roaming the halls at Rexall these days. Smytty, you’re a legend and my favourite Oiler of all time.

*I had been to a bunch of other games during that playoff run, but I couldn’t remember all of them and I was already trying my best not to stammer and cry.

  • vetinari

    Nice write up and memories.

    I hate the Canucks, but they showed class when they lined up in Smitty’s last game and shook his hand like it was the playoffs. Players don’t do that for very many guys but if you play the game right- no quarter asked and none given– and you play it with respect (no dives, go into the hard areas of the ice, you represent your team and country whenever you are asked), you tend to earn the respect of those around you.

    And as a Saskatchewanian, did you check out the spa in MJ? Or the underground tunnels from the bootleggers era?

  • Anton CP

    Thanks for coming to Moose Jaw. I was at the game and was quite surprised to see a nation bunny hug (you were in Saskatchewan remember) on ice level during the ceremony. Ryan Smyth is a legend in Moose Jaw. We have adopted him as our own. Everyone is so proud that Moose Jaw has a small part in his story.

  • Prongers Promises

    Every single day the 06 run gets brought up on this site AND I LOVE IT. *shivers*

    I yearn for a Whyte Ave beer that actually means something in May. No more watered down tear beers for this guy!

  • vetinari

    Back in my younger on the road Salesman days, I happened to stay in MJ for a night or two.

    I started off my evening at the local BP’s lounge and quickly made friends with the younger crowd (I was younger then) that was at the bar. It was all Country music and 70’s Rock that was playing on the Jukebox. I rolled up on it and found the Bulworth soundtrack and started bumping the 90’s rap/hip hop.

    The one black guy in the place started head nodding and then 3 chicks surrounded me and boom we was a party’in!

    I ended up at the apartment of the three girls and taking a cab back to my hotel at 9am the next morning. I also have a soft spot for Moose Jaw!

    Tunnels FTW!

  • GlennH

    Game 6 against Carolina was easily the most amazing hockey experience of my life. I remember watching the Oilers during their glory years in the 80’s but nothing during that era compared to the atmosphere in the building during game 6 against the Hurricanes. My ears were buzzing for hours afterwards, much like if I had been at a rock concert. A truly amazing experience that I will never forget….

    Here’s hoping that we get to see playoff hockey again, during my lifetime (and I’m not exactly old yet….)

    #CraigsOnIt #laughable

  • offshoreoil

    Never saw him play live until Boxing Day in YVR a few years back. Never knew he made a habit of tossing a few pucks over the glass for the kids at the end of warm up. What a class act.

  • WHY CAN SMITTY CAUSE SO MANY GROWN MEN TO CRY (I CRIED LIKE A SCHOOL GIRL HIS LAST GAME, AND THE LAST OIL CHANGE AND EVERY INTERVIEW I HAVE LOOKED AT OR HEARD SINCE) HES A TRUE BEAUTY WITH A WORK ETHIC THAT I CAN ONLY HOPE MY KIDS HAVE

  • shanetrain

    Gretzky may have been the great one, but he was heard to say he never wanted to come back to Edmonton. Smytty was THE one, he wanted to come back, did come back, and here he remains. We should have kept him on another season, just because, and shame on Eakins for giving wonder man the “C” instead of Smytty. I really hope the organization has a spot for him next season, he is what an Oiler should be, proud, humble and a heart of blue and orange.