Smyth insists he won't play

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

No surprises tonight.

Ryan Smyth is willing, but says his broken right thumb isn't ready for game action and insists he won't be making any kind of surprise return against the Colorado Avalanche tonight.

"It's a fracture right through the bone. You don't want to fool around with those kinds of injuries," said Smyth, surrounded by reporters in the dressing room yesterday.

"I'm lucky I didn't have to have a pin put in."

Out since Dec. 2 after hitting the end boards against Columbus, Smyth was on the ice for his second full practice at Rexall Place yesterday, but says the busted bone needs more time to heal.

"It hampers me a lot," said Smyth, who'll be fitted with a new cast to give him more mobility.

Smyth skated on a line with extras Patrick Thoresen and Alexei Mikhnov at practice yesterday.

"He's ready to go, but it's a case of you can't play with a cast on your hand," coach Craig MacTavish said.

"It's very unlikely that he'll be playing (tonight).

"You've got to have your hands and be able to handle the puck.

"You've got to put players in situations where they can have some success, too. Smytty, I'm sure if I asked him to play, he would, but he wouldn't be very effective."

Of course, after surprising everybody by returning early from a broken ankle during the 2001-02 season, Smyth couldn't resist stirring speculation he'll be back before the Christmas break.

"See you guys tomorrow, then?" Smyth winked as the media scrum broke up.


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