Marking the end of an era in Edmonton Oilers’ hockey, the beloved Ryan Smyth has announced he will be retiring at the end of the season. At a press conference held today, Smyth revealed his decision to end his time as an active part of the Oilers roster.
Joking that he had been signed for six years by Mactavish, he went on to express his deep thanks to the team and those who led him along the way–and especially to the fans. It was another tearful goodbye for Oilers fans, but this time, he is gone for sure. Saying his return was meant to herald a new period of playoff hockey in Edmonton, it is clear Smyth laments the ultimate fate of the Oilers over the last few years. This is likely even more pronounced as the Los Angeles Kings won the cup the year after he left them to go back to Edmonton.
Today’s presser was a genuine goodbye, and proved once again why fans love this guy. Speaking about his wife, he got lost in tears as he realized how lucky he has been both on and off the ice. Even Oilers GM Craig Mactavish got close to tears as the gritty winger made his exit from the Oilers’ silks. He named the many within the Oilers organization from Daryl Katz to Joey Moss who had helped shape him as a player and a man. Smyth also thanked the New York Islanders, Colorado Avalanche and the Kings, a classy move for a man who bleeds copper and blue.
Mactavish called Smyth “the most passionate player” to ever wear an Oilers jersey, making it clear he meant every player, including Wayne Gretzky. Those are strong and meaningful words and there will be many said about the man.
His last game is Saturday night against the Vancouver Canucks and it should be an emotional night at Rexall Place. Smyth is the last player to leave from the teams that led the Oilers to the 2006 Cup Final. In only two short years, Rexall Place will no longer be home to the Edmonton Oilers, so today’s retirement announcement comes as a true mark to the end of a time in the organizations history. Next year’s team is going to be led by Sam Gagner, if he stays, as the longest serving Oiler.
Here’s hoping that Smyth can score a power play goal Saturday. He needs but one to become the leading power play goal scorer, surpassing Glenn Anderson. Smyth said it would be fitting to get it in the last game. Hopefully, the young crew he leaves behind can craft a great game to send one of the most cherished and gifted men the Oilers will ever employ into retirement.