Sportsnet Mocks Ryan Smyth

Smytty

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.

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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.

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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.  

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***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.


  • FISTO Siltanen

    Honeatly haven’t seen Henderson this fired up since someone told him Kris Russell was a good hockey player.

    Love the passion you bring here buds. This situation needed your fire and brimstone.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    It’s too bad that when Sportsnet ponied up billions of dollars for the NHL broadcast rights, they didn’t have any left over to actually improve the quality of their broadcast. I miss hockey on TSN.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    Classless.

    Smyth’s tears came from a genuine place. It’s nice to occasionally see that hockey players are humans too. They have families. They have friends. They live in communities. They get attached to their teams and the cities that they live in (or grew up in with Smyth’s case). They’re not immature Jockey Frat Bros all the time. Well, at least some of them aren’t.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Honestly these two morons are one step away from giggling, while lighting each other’s farts on fire during intermission.

    Poor Elliotte Friedman and Ron McLean are on an island with what Rogers’ is trying to pass off as “talent” on Sportsnet.

  • Bleeds Oil

    Those guys are the biggest losers ever ! Whitney is a complete joke , I never liked him he sucks and he’s an idiot ! SN is so so brutal … just look at the fact that remenda still has a job and that should tell you everything you need to know about these clowns . I wish someone would put these clowns where they belong , pumping gas at the corner gas station . So offensive it’s disgusting

  • 24_McClelland

    I know it’s men playing hockey, and that it’s in fun, but Armstrong and Whitney (who each had careers where fans really didn’t give a f— whether they came, went, were still in hockey or were out pumping gas), clearly assumed the douche roles.

    I don’t expect much from a guy who’s named after cheese, but to former Oiler Whitney (whatever your other name was, because I just don’t frigging remember during your brief moment whether it was Ray, Eli, or Houston)….it’s ok to be an idiot on a podcast or some obscure cable program, but grab a brain and a bit of class when you’re on a national sports program.

    I wasn’t and am still not a big fan of all the tears and carrying on, but they were real in Smyth’s case. I wish the twits providing commentary for a national broadcaster would have a bit more class, even though their real personas have demonstrated that it would be phony.

  • Southern Oil

    What a pair of punk losers. These two chumps weren’t half the player Ryan Smyth was put together! And they mock him because neither of them meant squat to any of the cities they played in.

    I was pretty excited when Sportsnet got the huge deal but I too am growing very weary of their commentators/reporters. Two thirds of the banana handles they have couldn’t call their way out of a wet paper bag.

  • OilersGM

    Hate me for this all you want but Smyth took money over Edmonton.
    When the contract that was offered to him was 5+ over 6 years and he didn’t wanna take 100k discount for the city he loved showed who he really is, especially with the ownership group we had in place at the time.

      • MessyEH!

        What a load of bull. Smyth choose 1.5% more on the open market He decided it was worth it to turn his back on this team, and this city for 1.5% more then what the Oilers had offered. Where was his loyalty. It turned out he didn’t even live up to what Colorado have him. Was sent here for broken scrap parts because he had negative value, except to the city and fans that still loved him. Edmonton. The City of Champions. The place that always loved him.

        He can never claim we gave up on him. The narrative only goes one way. Smyth gave up on us for 100k. And returned here when we were the only ones who wanted him.

        I loved Smytty. But I haven’t worn his jersey since he departed. He made the decision to leave. Just like Pronger.. Spitz..

  • btrain

    I think the story got brought up for the Wings Avalanche outdoor heritage game last year. You can find it here: http://www.thehockeynews.com/news/article/previously-untold-sean-averyjoe-sakic-story-shows-how-nhl-veterans-enforce-on-ice-respect

    Its about a young Sean Avery playing for the Wings around the time they had a huge rivalry with Colorado. Sakic had lined up near the wings bench and he started to go off towards Sakic. Brett Hull grabs Avery pulls him back and tells him “you don’t get to talk to Mr. Sakic”.

    That’s the level of respect a guy like Ryan Smyth deserves and a level of respect that he would demand from his teammates. Obviously class and respect is somehow lost on these two clowns and the joke of a franchise/team Armstrong played for in Atlanta!

  • I don’t mind Armstrong’s anecdote on chirping, it was a pretty good example of how low chirps can go. Personally, as an on-ice affair I don’t think it was out of line either. Juvenile, but that goes with the territory.

    My problem is with how Whitney gave it any credence. Marek AND Armstrong were looking a bit sheepish about it because it was juvenile, but Whitney was going back to the original press conference. Laughing about it all over again.

    Marek and Armstrong probably felt sheepish because you have to respect a guy like Smyth, but Whitney obviously didn’t feel that same level of respect.

  • Jehu23

    Matt, I’m a big fan of your writing and have thought a lot of undue backlash on your opinions has occurred far too often on these pages. However, I think you are wrong in this instance.

    You are taking this far too seriously. Even Gretzky makes fun of himself for the “I told Mess I wouldn’t do this” remark. Every red blooded Oilers fan has dropped that line among friends at some point.

    I think you are reading waaaayyyyyy too much into those comments, and are being offended on someone else’s behalf for no reason. Further, you go on to attack these elite athletes for their (your words) unmemorable careers. If the worst that Whitney and Armstrong do as humans is tease an opponent for a fleeting moment of public embarrassment, then they are living a fairly good life.

    This website might not exist if not for the raw emotion that Smyth displayed that day, but that does not make commenting on the moment above reproach for someone else.

    Now, let’s get back to analysing why the Oilers shouldn’t lock up a top-4 D spot on Russell…

    • Rob...

      I’m guessing you didn’t tune into Gregor’s show this afternoon when he asked Smyth about the ridicule. It was obvious he wasn’t happy about it, but was trying to move on.

      • Jehu23

        you’re right Rob, I didn’t listen because i happen live in Vancouver. Smyth stood in front of Chris Pronger’s slapshot for a living, he literally spit out teeth for the team. I’m fairly certain he doesn’t give a hoot about a little chirping. Sports talk radio (even when done well, as I’m sure Gregor’s show is) does make mountains out of molehills all of the time to retain listenership. I doubt Smyth slept uneasily last night.

        • It’s available on Sound Cloud, and it has to be noted that Gregor thinks we’re making too big a deal about this and he makes a sound argument. So at least on his part, wasn’t overplaying what happened.

          The more i think about it, the more I’m inclined to agree with Gregor.

          I think we’re mistaking Whitney’s care free demeanor as disrespect. At the same time, those sorts of attitudes grate people the wrong way.

          So I’m not gonna tell people to not be offended, but I’m not going to ask SN to fire either guy.

  • SALAKAN

    I’m against cyber bullying. but fans need to voice their opinions just like he did on national TV. ryan you are an idiot and you look like a mushroom. I hope a bird takes a dump on you.

  • I don’t think it’s bothering Smyth too much. Basically add both those guys points and double them, and it is barely more than smyth’s career totals.

    After listening to spittin chiclets, it’s pretty clear what type of loser Ryan Whitney is…at times no better than Aaron Ward.

    Armstrong is still living in the past, cant come to terms with not being in the NHL anymore because of his skill…let him have this one.

  • Finnish Oiler fan in Edmonton89

    You guys need to chill. Acting like tumblr girls. Come on.

    Banter is funny and I watched it live and thought Armstrong and Whitney were hilarious

    Remember when Steve Gleason got ALS And those sports radio dj’s acted out skit making fun of him

    https://youtu.be/ng6jh4U37Dw

    That was messed up. ALS is the worst thing to happen to anybody and these guys made a joke about it

    The smyth thing? Just comedic entertainment

  • eeagain

    So there is a spot about “chirping” and Armstrong brings up what he thinks is the most memorable he can recall. Okay fair enough. What I found the most infantile was him almost peeing himself laughing at it. Like the guy who laughs at his own jokes.

    Whitney’s comments shifts from a perhaps memorable chirp to a bizarre personal attack on Smyth, with a drive by shooting of the Islanders and Avs of the day as well.

    Armstrong was a bit annoying, but Whitney was something else again.

    But maybe this tells us something about the outlook of NHL players. Their brotherhood values mercenary outlooks and things like emotional attachment to a city or loyalty to a team are laughable. And that is why Armstrong thinks this whole thing is so funny. Gives us a good insight into the attitude of the typical NHL player. Confirms my attitude, cheer for the team, not the players.

  • Stormflurry

    One drop of Ryan Smyth’s tears has more class than those two combined. I wouldn’t worry though as there won’t be any tears from anyone when they both get canned from Sportsnet.

  • AdambomB

    I suspect I’ve been jaded by working in a workforce that thrives on ball busting. Here is an example where when asked to give an example of some “harsh chirps”, Armstrong obliged. Did he break a code of sharing what goes on within the game? Maybe. Regardless it was just that, an example of what hockey players do. Whether it’s mens league, or NHL, this is part of the culture, and I’m great with that. I enjoy hearing stories of what goes on within the game.

    Don’t let your feelings get hurt over a little chirping, it just makes yourself a bigger target.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    So Smyth going to a new team hell bent on winning a Cup no matter the odds is funny to Whitney?

    I guess we know why this team (and the Ducks before) were never more than the sum of their parts with Whitney playing for them.

  • camdog

    I go to the espn nhl internet site for my nhl stats and always watch the non sportsnet feed for my hockey. I still watch Saturday night CBC. 5 years ago I would have been in disbelief that I would be watching the Oilers on the American feeds more nights than not.

  • Lazarus

    Seriously there are people out there saying they were too mean? This is hockey. Maybe a lot of you haven’t played the game.
    I laughed. That’s a hilarious chirp. This is hockey. Not croquet. If you’re going to make a scene like Smytty did you’re going to get greased by the boys.

  • Twindubs

    Funny Colby is laughing about this. Back in 2011 during the all-star weekend I was vacationing at the Atlantis resort in Bahamas and a bunch of NHLers who weren’t in the game were there. I was playing blackjack and Armstrong and Phanuef sat down. I had some drinks with them and all were having a good time. Colby was so drunk by the end his wife came over and pissed him off somehow and he shoved her so hard she fell to the ground. Guy is a loser.