Smyth braced for big test

ROBIN BROWNLEE, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

It took a lot more than Ryan Smyth's trademark grit to get him back on the ice from a broken right thumb when the Los Angeles Kings came calling on the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place last night.

To be precise, it's taken two casts and three different braces to support the thumb Smyth broke against the Columbus Blue Jackets Dec. 2.

Without the latest brace, which Smyth will be wearing for weeks to come, he'd still be on the shelf.

"It's very important," Smyth said after declaring himself good to go following the Oilers' morning skate. "The brace keeps the thumb from bending back. That motion could displace it, so it's important to keep it all intact."

Smyth, 30, has a fracture at the base of the thumb. After being fitted with two casts in the weeks following the injury, he's discarded them and gone to the braces, which are more flexible but still provide protection.

A local company made the braces -- two of which are designed to be used in game conditions, allowing him to hold his stick and have as much movement as possible in the wrist, while the third is for off-ice use.

"I can shoot, but I'm not recognized as a shooter," smiled Smyth. "The vibration on the stick and intensity of the players, that's where it'll really hamper (me) a bit, but it's a matter of dealing with it and fighting through it."

Smyth, medically cleared by Dr. David Reid Wednesday, made the decision to play after testing the brace during the morning skate.

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