Ryan Smyth Leaves Lasting Legacy in Edmonton

In a season filled with disappointment and earmarked by losing, there is one thing to be celebrated at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season, and that is the career of Ryan Smyth.

On Saturday night, it was an otherwise meaningless finale between two teams far removed from playoff contention, but you wouldn’t have known that from the atmosphere.

Playing in what was his final game, it was an emotional yet jubilant farewell for one of Edmonton’s hockey heroes.

(Chris Austin-USA TODAY Sports)
(Chris Austin-USA TODAY Sports)

Among the Oilers All Time Greats

When talking about the all time great Oilers players, immediately one thinks of the dynasty years and names like Gretzky, Messier, Kurri and Coffey. However, despite the lack of team success and missing Stanley Cups, Ryan Smyth is one of the Oilers all time greats in his own right.

A hometown kid from Alberta drafted 6th overall in 1994 from the Moose Jaw Warriors, few could have predicted he would have this much of an impact on the franchise.

He ranks among the leaders in many Oilers statistical categories and amongst some of the previously mentioned Hall of Fame names.

  • 2nd in regular season games played (971)
  • 4th in goals (296)
  • 1st in power play goals (126)
  • 4th in game winning goals (45)

While he may never be a Hall of Famer, he will be forever remembered as one of the Edmonton Oilers all time best players and has the numbers to prove it.

His career as an Edmonton Oiler was more than just numbers. He was a heart and soul player and the pulse of the Oilers through his career with them.

Few NHL players, let alone Oilers player have played the game with more passion and determination than Smyth did. He was always a consummate professional and led the Oilers through some down years, never once letting up for a second. 

Smyth embodied what an NHL player should be and his attitude and work ethic is what all the young Oilers should look to emulate.

Captain Canada

Not only did Smyth earn the respect of Edmonton fans, but those across Canada. Smyth earned the nickname “Captain Canada” because of readiness to always represent his country when asked.

Smyth wore the maple leaf twelve different times and represented Canada at just about every international tournament there is. He finished his international career with five gold medals and one silver medal. The most memorable being his 2002 Olympic gold medal from Salt Lake City.

He finished with 85 games played for Canada on the world stage and was named captain for a record six times.

A Lasting Impression

Ironically, even with having the nickname “Captain Canada”, Smyth never wore the ‘C’ for the Oilers. Except for Saturday night that is.

For the season’s finale Smyth donned the orange and blue sweater for the final time displaying the oil drop that he had shed blood and tears on for over a thousand games. On that night his also prominently featured the captain’s ‘C’ in a fitting touch in his farewell game.

The spectacle that was Saturday night included many lasting memories, including both the Canucks and referees shaking Smyth’s hand in a sign of respect, and a classy move at that.

It will be remembered as a farewell and celebration of one of the city’s favourite players, but it may have left more of an impression on the current Oilers roster.

Most are young enough that they have only seen a losing culture while in Edmonton and are far removed from it’s glory days, or even it’s last Cup final in 2006.

Saturday night was an indication of how loud and supportive Rexall Place can be when the fans are behind you. Hopefully that will give the remaining Oilers a sense of inspiration of what life can be like in Edmonton.

Ryan Smyth Career Statistics: