“You can do anything if you try hard enough.” While that’s certainly an ethic to aspire to and something we’d like to believe is true, it’s not. It’s a damn lie. If trying hard was enough, if passion about a purpose was enough, Ryan Smyth would have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup today as a member of the Edmonton Oilers, but he doesn’t.
Nobody tried harder than Smyth. Nobody was more willing to pay the price in effort and pain and dedication to the cause than Smyth. Nobody loved everything about the pursuit of that trophy more than Smyth – right up until the Oilers tore the jersey off his back and changed the locks on the rink doors to tell the lifelong rink rat enough was enough. Smyth’s relentless mission, and the countless moments and memories it produced along the way, is why No. 94 holds a special place in the hearts of Oiler fans.
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Ryan Smyth

Left Wing — shoots L
Born Feb 21 1976 — Banff, ALTA
Height 6.02 — Weight 192 [188 cm/87 kg]
Drafted by Edmonton Oilers
Round 1 #6 overall 1994 NHL Entry Draft

BY THE NUMBERS

Season
Age
Tm
GP
G
A
PTS
+/-
PIM
S
S%
TOI
ATOI
1994-95
18
3
0
0
0
-1
0
2
0.0
1995-96
19
48
2
9
11
-10
28
65
3.1
1996-97
20
82
39
22
61
-7
76
265
14.7
1997-98
21
65
20
13
33
-24
44
205
9.8
1998-99
22
71
13
18
31
0
62
161
8.1
1025
14:26
1999-00
23
82
28
26
54
-2
58
238
11.8
1574
19:12
2000-01
24
82
31
39
70
10
58
245
12.7
1637
19:58
2001-02
25
61
15
35
50
7
48
150
10.0
1187
19:27
2002-03
26
66
27
34
61
5
67
199
13.6
1277
19:21
2003-04
27
82
23
36
59
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11
70
245
9.4
1612
19:39
2005-06
29
75
36
30
66
-5
58
230
15.7
1516
20:13
2006-07
30
TOT
71
36
32
68
2
52
210
17.1
1472
20:44
2006-07
30
53
31
22
53
2
38
161
19.3
1068
20:09
2006-07
30
18
5
10
15
0
14
49
10.2
404
22:26
2007-08
31
55
14
23
37
-4
50
168
8.3
1079
19:37
2008-09
32
77
26
33
59
-15
62
257
10.1
1562
20:17
2009-10
33
67
22
31
53
8
42
206
10.7
1319
19:41
2010-11
34
82
23
24
47
-1
35
195
11.8
1479
18:02
2011-12
35
82
19
27
46
-5
82
194
9.8
1565
19:05
2012-13
36
47
2
11
13
-5
40
69
2.9
722
15:22
2013-14
37
72
10
13
23
-18
44
129
7.8
1111
15:25
15 yrs
EDM
971
296
335
631
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-42
773
2558
11.6
14293
18:29
2 yrs
COL
132
40
56
96
-19
112
425
9.4
2641
20:00
2 yrs
LAK
149
45
55
100
7
77
401
11.2
2798
18:47
1 yr
NYI
18
5
10
15
0
14
49
10.2
404
22:26
Career
1270
386
456
842
-54
976
3433
11.2
20135
18:47
PLAYOFFS
Season
Age
Tm
GP
G
A
PTS
+/-
PIM
S
S%
TOI
ATOI
1996-97
20
12
5
5
10
-4
12
48
10.4
1997-98
21
12
1
3
4
-2
16
24
4.2
1998-99
22
3
3
0
3
-1
0
7
42.9
74
24:35
1999-00
23
5
1
0
1
-2
6
13
7.7
97
19:18
2000-01
24
6
3
4
7
0
4
22
13.6
149
24:46
2002-03
26
6
2
0
2
-1
16
12
16.7
106
17:39
2005-06
29
24
7
9
16
-2
22
60
11.7
515
21:27
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2006-07
30
5
1
3
4
1
4
9
11.1
114
22:42
2007-08
31
8
2
3
5
-1
2
22
9.1
140
17:29
2009-10
33
6
1
1
2
0
6
11
9.1
112
18:39
2010-11
34
6
2
3
5
3
0
14
14.3
110
18:21
Career
93
28
31
59
-9
88
242
11.6
1415
20:30

NOTABLE

I don’t know about you, but for me the measure of Smyth’s career with the Oilers isn’t told by games or goals or statistics. It’s told in the many moments his passion for the game produced and the dogged determination with which he played. I think of the beatings he took while staking out his ground in front of the net and the WTF looks on the faces of opponents – Derian Hatcher comes to mind – when he’d take all the abuse they could muster, bounce back to his feet looking out the earhole of his helmet and tip a puck into the net. Not surprising really, when you consider Smyth didn’t let being backed over by Glenn Anderson’s car in Banff when he was just 11 slow him down.
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I think of Smyth hobbling around the dressing room while rehabbing a surgically repaired ankle broken so badly in November 2001 that he had no business even thinking of being ready for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake. I remember watching Smyth pull his skate boot over still-fresh sutures and heading out to the ice. It hurt just to watch. Of course he played for Team Canada. As shows of grit go, many fans remember the night during the 2006 playoffs that Smyth took a puck in the mouth from Chris Pronger, left the ice trailing teeth and blood and came back a few shifts later minus three teeth, stitched up and ready to go. That ankle, and all those early mornings with Dr. Dave Magee trumped that 10-fold.
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Of course, we all remember the day Smyth was traded to the New York Islanders at the deadline, when he said goodbye at the airport with his emotions on his sleeve as always and tears running down his face. Fans fist-pumped when Smyth orchestrated a return to the Oilers years later. Then, we saw Smyth off one final time when he played his last game at Rexall Place wearing the captain’s C on his jersey with his parents, Jim and Dixie, standing and applauding as an entire arena full of fans embraced him during a tearful farewell lap. Unforgettable. That was Smyth.

THE STORY

The other thing I’ll remember is how Smyth would gather up three pucks during the warm-up before every home and away game and toss them into the crowd to waiting children before heading into the dressing room. That’s a lot of pucks over the span of 1,363 regular season and playoff games. That’s a lot of happy children and, more than likely, a gesture that fostered the kind of love for the game in some of those kids that made Smyth the player he became growing up and hanging around the rink in Banff.
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On the ice, Smyth certainly left his mark in Edmonton’s record books. The fifth hat-trick of Smyth’s career, scored in a span of 2:01 in a 6-4 win over the San Joe Sharks in October of 2006, stands as the fastest three goals in franchise history. Smyth is tied with Anderson for most power-play goals (126), he sits second in games played (971), fourth in game-winning goals (45), fifth in goals (296), sixth in points (631) and tied for seventh in assists (335). So, it’s not like all the effort was fruitless, except he never did get his hands on that damn Cup.
In the end, I can’t think of anybody who isn’t willing to look the other way on Smyth’s missed date with the engraver. Smyth did everything he could and gave everything he had to take the sweet sip that never came – he’d probably have managed to knock out a tooth or two taking a swig, anyway. I’ve never met a player who epitomized love of the game of hockey with a greater passion than Smyth did or a player I admire more because of it.
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This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up.

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