by Lisa McRitchie on 07/01/12 at 01:15 AM ET
Ryan Smyth just wanted to come home. He wanted to play where his heart was, and maybe finish his career back where it all started. The first year back with the Oilers went well, aside from him being played too many minutes to start the year, and thus being burnt out by the latter part of the season. But can you really fault Smyth for that? Of course not.
The first reports on what the Oilers were looking for, and what Smyth wanted had the two parties worlds apart. If Smyth was looking for a three year deal at north of $4M and the Oilers were looking for a deal more like what he signed today the concerns that the two wouldn’t make a deal were legitimate.
But a two year $2,250,000 deal signed by a player who is over 35 seems like a good term and for good money. Smyth still brings more than his gritty on ice play, his front of the net power play goals and of course his leadership. Smyth brings what so many of the young Oilers’ players need, experience in being the face of the franchise in the Edmonton fish bowl. In terms of his hockey career, Smyth grew up in Edmonton and knows first hand what responsibilities that brings. He also knows what it’s like to go out and test the free agency waters, and he knows what it’s like to come back.
Being a family man, Smyth has been bringing some of the young prospects into his home for some home cooked meals and perhaps a reminder of what is most important in life, your relationships with others. Hockey is a NHLers life, but they have to remember that they can’t play forever and that they have to live their lives such that they have enough money when the contracts stop coming, and that they have people to enjoy their lives with.
Next season Smyth will want to play top line minutes and every game, but with the talented youth that the team has brought in, and unfortunately Smyth is going to have to come to terms with this. It will not be easy for Smyth, but because he signed this deal with the Oilers, you have to think that he is there, or at least more willing to accept it. These things just take time.
I would still like to see Smyth work specifically with Magnus Paajarvi, a player with good size who could play a little of Smyth’s game but no one expects Paajarvi to be the next Smyth. Of course this would need to mean that Paajarvi plays with the Oilers and not with the Barons this season, so this remains to be seen.
Ultimately, this is a great signing by the Oilers to keep a veteran in the lineup that is otherwise overrun with rookies and very young players. And theses young players can’t get by with their raw skill alone, they need to have veterans in place in for intangibles as well as for the training on ice.
Next up, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ales Hemsky or Sam Gagner were in play today. Both are talented players, but GM Steve Tambellini knows that he has holes in his roster, specifically on the back end and now is the time to make those improvements.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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