Sportsnet Mocks Ryan Smyth


Last night the Sportsnet panel took some time out of its busy schedule (not even during an Oiler game) to mock Ryan Smyth and his tearful goodbye to the city of Edmonton, the city that he adopted and whose citizens treated him like one of their own. It was a touching moment to remind you that Sportsnet doesn’t even have the decency to treat your emotions with a modicum of respect.

To many Oiler fans under the age of 30, Smyth’s departure is one of their saddest hockey memories. It signalled the death of hope. It was over money and pride and, in the end, everybody was worse off for it. This very website was born out of the frustration, sadness, and anger that Smyth was traded. For me personally, I remember that day vividly even still.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The exchange can be seen on the video below or, if you prefer, via the transcript below that I’ve provided.

Armstrong: He leaves and goes from Edmonton to the Islanders
the year before. I’m with Atlanta, now play him the next year. He’s in Colorado
and we’re all sitting on the bench and he lines up for the faceoff in front of
us and the whole bench at the same time: [whimpers]. SIXTEEN GUYS! We’re making
him [inaudible] and crying. Then one guy goes [Voice strained as if crying] “Bringin
the Cup back to Edmonton”

Marek: No! That’s relentless. This is the video that Colby
was referencing of Trade Deadline 2007. [Video of Smyth press conference plays]

Whitney: [Guffaws] Bring the Cup back to Edmonton? What did
he think, Dennis Potvin and Billy Smith were still there? The Islanders were
gonna win the Cup? [Mocking Smyth and Gretzky’s crying] I told Horcoff I wouldn’t
do this!

Look. I’m no choir boy when it comes to Hockey opinions. I have some strong ones. I’m loud about them, and I don’t typically feel bad about expressing them. However, this story and the insistence that it was in any way, shape, or form “funny” bothers me. This isn’t funny. This was one of the most singularly painful days in Oiler history over the last 25 years.

I understand that Colby Armstrong and Ryan Whitney lack the empathy, intelligence, and general human decency to recognize that for a great number of Edmontonians, Oiler fans, and ultimately Sportsnet viewers (because let’s face it, the goons at Corporate don’t give a squat about anything else), carry strong emotions about both that moment in their history and that player in particular. These guys have shown absolutely nothing in their professional careers as players or as broadcasters that would suggest that they have an ounce of class.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

I mean, if it wasn’t bad enough that Whitney’s unreliable feet caused me grief as I powered through the tail end of his forgettable NHL career, now I have to listen to him mock not just Ryan Smyth, but also in the same breath Wayne Gretzky’s farewell as well? At least his highlight reel isn’t all just being walked by an ancient Jaromir Jagr and standing there like a pylon, powerless to do anything about it. And if it was actually funny you can laugh and have a good time, but it wasn’t funny at all. It was just mocking an Oiler legend for the sake of being mean.

We can only assume that the mockery wasn’t born out of some intention to make a hilarious addition to Armstrong’s anecdote, but rather was an extension of his jealousy over Smyth’s eventual return and reception in Edmonton. I mean, Smyth returned to the Oilers in 2011-2012, that’s the year Whitney returned from his major injury and was never the same. Smyth was welcomed back with open arms while Whitney became increasingly useless. Smyth was the hero and Whitney was the goat. Yeah, it’s as petty as it is pathetic, but can there be another reading into this?

The two both finished their NHL careers in 2013-2014, but while Whitney’s career sadly whimpered out in Florida then the American Hockey League like the fake cries he used to mock Smyth, Edmonton’s favourite son played 72 NHL games and finally got to wear the C on his sweater that fans knew had always been on his heart.

As for Whitney’s display of classlessness, that wasn’t a joke gone awry. That’s just his trashy character peeking out from behind his ears. And Armstrong’s decision to take a mean-spirited run at an Oiler legend and a painful memory for one of Sportsnet’s least cared for markets just shows he has very little between his ears.

At least we know where we stand with Sportsnet. Your most painful memories serve as nothing but the punchline of jokes made by former players who are too unqualified to do anything else in their lives but relive the glory of openly mocking players who they could only have called their peers by reasons of technicality.  

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

***Gregor had Ryan Smyth on his show to discuss his thoughts on Armstrong and Whitney. Gregor also asked him about going into the Moose Jaw Warriors Hall of Fame with his brother Kevin this weekend.

  • dsanchez1973

    The Hall podcast with Whitney was really eye opening in terms of comments that both of them would make to people that could be seen as just guys busting each others balls, but in situations where it’s hard to believe you know the other guy well enough to do so, and it just comes off as insulting and rude. I’m hoping Smyth and Whitney are friends and this is just guys joking around, but I suspect not. Pretty weak sauce by Whitney if not.

    • Marshall Law

      Thought the Hall podcast was great. Both guys took some jabs, but nothing unfair. Nice to hear players comfortable enough to give honest commentary.

      However, the Armstrong/Whitney Sportsnet thing was quite the opposite of great. Just two immature adult children trying desperately to remain relevant and justify being put on TV.

  • Rock11

    Really not sure why Armstrong has job at Sportsnet. In the entire time I have watched him he has been stiff and wooden and has not added a single salient point to any conversation. Former Maple Leaf is the only reason I can come up with. Just a really terrible broadcaster and it would seem a world class a**hole as well.

  • Dobbler

    I’m probably going to take a lot of crap for this, but as much of a fan I am of watching professional hockey, growing up, guys who played competitive hockey were typically mean spirited d-bags, who took pleasure in hurting others. For this reason, I can’t say I’m surprised that these guys are any different. I hate it, but I can’t say I’m surprised.

  • Hemmercules

    I kind of thought Whitney would be a decent sportscaster because he’s kind of goofy but maybe he’s just a douche in disguise. He played in Russia for a bit and had some funny stories about it but he doesn’t seem like the greatest guy to have on a panel after watching that. I’m sure other teams fans got a real kick out if it.

    One of sportsnets strengths is the great women they have working there, they only use them for after game stuff though. Kick Remenda out and put Jackie Redmond in there haha.

  • LibrarianMike

    I love a good chirp, even a mean one. The thing is however, if you’re going to be mean you’d better make damn sure you’re funny.

    Anyway, thanks for expressing exactly how I felt about all that, Matt.

  • Ty Guy

    combined these guys played nearly 300 games less than Smyth with about 400 fewer points.

    half of Edmonton would give a kidney to Smyth if he needed it, truly YEG Royalty. Screw you SN…how about hiring some guys that arent tools? like a dozen more Jackie Redmonds?

    • fisherprice

      The reasons were a bit different though…

      Ryan Smyth was crying because of his deep devotion to a city and a team and his disappointment in being dealt away.

      Armstrong was crying because he wouldn’t have Sidney Crosby around anymore to carry his useless ass.

      • Austin in Costa Rica

        How do you know?

        Perhaps Armstrong loved the people and the city of Pittsburgh too?

        Get mad at Sportsnet for teasing a guy who left a city he loves soooo much for 100K, then bag on Armstrong? I don’t get it.

  • Van isl Oiler

    Has Whitney or Armstrong ever been a heart and soul fan favorite? NOPE!

    Were they known for their hard work, grit/toughness, shear determination, and team first attitude? NOPE!

    Would anyone even remember them if they weren’t on Sportsnet? NOPE!

    Does Smyth have an entire city of fans that will never forget him and would lay down in traffic for him? YEP!!

  • Cam Lewis

    This is why I tend to avoid former players as commentators. There are so many things that could have happened over their careers we’ll never know about that make them jaded and ultimately form strangely biased opinions. Like, what does anybody gain from listening to two below-average players brag about in-game chirps from a decade ago?

  • CaptainLander

    Not sure I remember this remember this correctly but did Ryan not shed a small tear when he won Olympic gold ion 2002 as well?..Not going to tease him about that one?

    How did things work out for Whitney on Vancouver?

    Sad that this was done on live TV…”Look at this loser, with all his giving a [email protected] and stuff.”

    Whatever we should not care what Ryan “Weak Ankles” Whitney says anyway.

  • Ty Guy

    maybe its just that nobody has ever been sad to be moved from the leafs…they would rather vilify and Lynch their players to justify….

    whatever….water on a duck.

  • Young Oil

    I could maybe, MAYBE be ok with Armstrong’s comments. Even though it’s classless to bring up something that happened 10 years ago as your best example of chirping, it was in context of the conversation, and something that did happen. He realized once Whitney started piling on that it was a mistake to tell the story on air.

    Whitney however, is a piece of human garbage. What he said was not in the context of a hockey game, but going out of his way to mock a former teammate on live television.

    Everyone reading this article should tweet at/write to Sportsnet saying that we are boycotting their channels until a public apology is issued, absolutely disgusting.

  • I wasn’t really offended by the aspect of them making fun of a painful memory for Oilers fans, I was more taken back of the disrespect shown to one of the greatest that put on the Oilers jersey. ESPECIALLY when he’s scored almost 200 more career goals than Whitney & Armstrong combined.

  • 99CupsofCoffey

    This is a Tweet from a Bruins Fan lol:

    @armdog @ryanwhitney6 You clowns haven’t earned the right to carry @RealSmytty94’s jock, let alone chirp #CaptainCanada. Shut your pieholes.

  • Burns14

    Wow. I can’t believe I’m 100% agreeing with Henderson. Two guys who wouldn’t warrant a video tribute in any city making fun of a guy who was heart and soul of a city. Pair of scrubs in my books.

  • BasementDweller

    Don’t worry, I’m sure Captain Canada can handle the chirps from one guy who’s legacy will be having a glass ankle and the other who’ll be remembered for constantly referencing cheese in his sports commentary.

    • Super Sweet

      Lol Wut? Norris winning defenseman, six seasons played, 434 career games, one of the most popular players ever, donated 10 million to the children’s hospital, one of the most philanthropic players ever, awarded with the Meritorious Service Cross due to his philanthropy.

      How is Colbys career in Pittsburgh similar to Subbans in Montreal?

  • Petrolero

    Let the dogs bark Henderson. It’s a sign that we are on track. ?

    I’m sure smitty couldn’t care less about these sportsnet clowns and their petty comments.

  • Austin in Costa Rica

    Whatever. Smyth left over 100K, then goes and cries about it. It’s business after all. He made the business decision to leave over 100K, and the Oilers did the same in letting him leave over 100K.

    They could have worded it better and it could have been funny, or not shown it at all, but the only reason there is a stink here is cause it’s an Oiler.

    If they showed a clip of someone else crying and teased him about it, do you get all hurt, Hendo?

  • 1manwolfpack

    I wonder if POS added his 2 cents too? I’ll love the day when the Oil shove it down the throats of d-bags like these with long annual playoff runs and hopefully an eventual Cup.

  • MessyEH!

    Smyth choose to leave Edmonton. Remember that people.He left over a difference of 100k

    He never lived up to that contract with Colorado. He wouldn’t have with the Oilers either. Loved him as a player in his prime. But I won’t forgive the way he allowed his agent to manipulate his and this cities emotions.

    Whitney is a real piece of Garbage. Now on the top of the list of people I want to fist fight.Smyth had a long and honored career. Loved by Edmonton and Canada

  • Aitch

    This is stupid! Hockey players raz each other ALL THE TIME! They will take any little indiscretion and play it up BIG TIME.

    I can’t believe all these people who are pissed off over a bunch of grown up millionaires making fun of each other.

  • T.J.F.M.

    why are we surprised. Both Armstrong and Whitney are players that are young enough to still be in the league, if they were even good enough.

    Neither was EVER in their career in a position to even hold the jockstrap of Smyth or Gretzky, so the r3eal humour in all of this is the fact that they would mock someone who is twice the player they ever dreamt of being, and a hundred times the person (in the dressing room and out).

    Armstrong and Whitney have made a (sad) career out of complaints and mockery. Neither have ever, nor will ever, be taken seriously.

    They are the collective Jeremy Roenick of Sportsnet, minus the fans and the talented NHL career.

    No team was EVER emotionally invested into either of them, as the Oilers were to Smyth and Gretzky. So why would they ever understand what it is like to be emotionally invested into their team? Their play speaks for themselves. And now their actions speak far louder.