Much is being made of Ryan Smyth's first game back in Edmonton since being traded by the Oilers last season to the New York Islanders. Tonight his new team, the Avalanche, take on the Oilers at Rexall Place.
Smyth spent twelve years in an Oilers uniform and led the team to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2005-06, where they were beaten in seven games by the Carolina Hurricanes. Since being dumped onto Long Island by Kevin "Best General Manager EVER" Lowe near the end of last season, Smyth hasn't been back to play in his home province of Alberta. Tonight will be the first time he has ever laced up his skates in Rexall's visitors locker room.
Smyth cried openly during the press conference announcing his trade to the Islanders, and he's already telling reporters to expect more water works from him tonight.
In ESPN reporter Scott "Best Hockey Writer EVER" Burnside's post about The Return, Smyth warns fans to expect the ice to be a little soggier than usual:
"I'm sure I'll break down tomorrow," Smyth admitted.
Adrian "It's Not A Hat Trick, Stupid" Dater of the Denver Post has also written a piece about Ryan Smyth's triumphant return to Edmonton, but the most interesting part is about Joe Sakic, not about Smyth.
When asked to comment about what it must feel like for Smyth to return to a city that has so much professional meaning for him, Sakic had this to say:
"I can only imagine how hard it is to leave an organization you've been with so long," Sakic said. "They're part of your family. I'm pretty sure I'm never going to have to go through this."
Did you read that? "I'm pretty sure I'm never going to have to go through this." Sweet Hockey Jesus in heaven! Sakic's never going to leave Colorado! NEVER!
Good luck to Ryan Smyth on his Edmonton homecoming. Let's just hope he doesn't forget which team he plays for now, but I doubt that will be a problem. Nothing warms the heart of a high-priced free agent hockey player like helping your new team relentlessly crush your former team.