SUN Hockey Pool

Winger done Ryan

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:11 AM ET

Had the Colorado Avalanche faced the Flames one or two nights after playing in Edmonton on Tuesday, it would have made a shorter road trip.

However, for Ryan Smyth, having a couple of days between was a blessing.

It was a chance for him to rejuvenate and recover from the emotional wringer that took place during his return to Edmonton -- the place he'd called home for nearly a dozen seasons.

And it was a glorious chance to relish what really was an exceptional night.

"It was nice to have a couple of days in between and take it all in," Smyth said after yesterday's morning skate at the Saddledome before facing the Flames last night.

"It was very special. For a team to do what they did, as far as a little tribute and acknowledge the fact I played there for 11-and-a-half years, I have the utmost respect for the organization and the city.

"The fans were fabulous and gave me a nice warm welcome."

Oh sure, there were smatterings of boos when Smyth touched the puck, it's kinda like a tradition in Edmonton when a former Oiler returns, but the love that overwhelmed him to the point of tears made that easy to forget.

"It went well. It went really well," said Smyth, who left the Oilers at the trade deadline last season in a trade to the New York Islanders. "I didn't expect as much as they did.

"It was something I'll never forget."

Last night, though, was more familiar surroundings.

There he was again, in the visitors room at the Saddledome -- somewhere Smyth has been so often he could have a quarter-share in the place -- and there he was on the ice, donning No. 94 and parking in front of Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff.

So similar for the left winger who was chased by the Flames in the off-season, even being called by Jarome Iginla in a recruitment move, but signed a five-year, US$31.2 million contract with the Avs.

Yet, a little different.

"You try to approach every game as just another game, but this is a divisional game and these guys are very hungry," Smyth said. "I know how much the Battle of Alberta and all that means, but I know this rivalry between Calgary and Colorado has been magnified quite a bit. Not quite the Battle of Alberta, but it's in there."

Certainly, he did his part in the first meeting. Smyth was the offensive catalyst when the Avalanche erased a four-goal deficit to win a 5-4 shootout contest.

Not only did he register a goal and an assist, but he fired the shootout winner. He also fired 11 shots on goal.

With his first trip back to Edmonton, Smyth -- with three goals and three assists in nine games prior to last night's clash -- can now turn the page.

The Avalanche logo does feel comfortable.

"The team, the organization, in Colorado has welcomed me," he said. "They've treated me well.

"I'm an Avalanche now, and I'm excited."


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