Wishing he could do it all over again

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:27 AM ET

One look at the face of the former face of the franchise and you knew. He's leaving as a broken-hearted former heart and soul of the Edmonton Oilers.

Because, the Sun has learned, Kevin Lowe and Don Meehan couldn't bridge a gap of $100,000 - the difference between the Oilers' offer of $5.4 million US and Meehan's refusal to budge from $5.5?

A dozen cameramen, walking backwards led a crying, sobbing Ryan Smyth through the airport, his contorted, distorted face framed by that famed mullet. It said so much before a word was spoken.

SAYING GOODBYE

Tears flowed and Smyth broke down as he made his way to the international flight area, looking for all the world like he wished he could do it over again and didn't have to catch the plane to New York to become an Islander.

Reaching a cordoned-off area where a microphone-covered podium had been placed, Smyth had to take time to compose himself and wipe his tears away before stepping forward to say goodbye to Edmonton and the Oilers.

Because of $100,000?

"I just want to say thanks to everybody," Smyth began, only to falter after reading those first few words.

"This is not what my family and I had in store," he said of this day when he'd be an Oiler no more, traded because his agent Don Meehan and Oilers GM Kevin Lowe couldn't bridge a gap of $100,000.

"I never thought I'd come to this day," Smyth said, clearly struggling with the idea he'd be playing for the Islanders tonight against St. Louis, a rental player going to a playoff-positioned team from one that's nine points out of the playoffs.

"It's time to turn the page and go there and give my best to make the playoffs, win the Cup and bring it back here to Edmonton. That's where my heart is."

It was there he broke down more than at any other point of the proceedings.

Because of $100,000?

He composed himself again and began to take questions from the media as dozens of fans, holding message cards and many wearing Oiler sweaters with his jersey number, looked on.

Smyth looked like so many of his fans felt the day before, when the news of his trade rocked and shocked the hockey world.

He said he found out when and how everybody else did.

"It was 1:25 p.m. when I saw it on TV. I thought the trade deadline was over. I didn't think it would end up like this," he sobbed.

"It's real tough. I'm going through a lot of emotions. If Wayne Gretzky can get traded, anybody can get traded. But I didn't think it would happen," added the 31-year-old with 31 goals so far this season who went to Rexall Place early to get his gear and say goodbye.

Smyth, who was the one Oiler player to attend the Mark Messier gala ceremonies the night before at the Winspear Centre, said he watched the banner raising ceremonies at home.

"I shed a few tears at home. It was real tough for me. Seeing us in those old retro jerseys ... that hit home a lot."

Smyth admitted he thought about being the one Oiler to do what all those greats with their banners in the rafters weren't able to do - play his entire career in Edmonton.

"Seeing guys like Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic have their whole careers with one team .... obviously that's not going to happen for me."

Because of $100,000?

You couldn't stand there and watch Smyth and not feel his hurt. It was certainly shared by a city - his city.

"We'll still have our home here. We call it our home. I love Edmonton. I loved playing for the Oilers. As a kid I dreamed of putting on that jersey."

TIME TO THINK

With his emotions of having to go away and the outrage of Edmonton fans forced to watch him do it, Smyth goes to live in a hotel in New York and think about it. Kevin Lowe is left here to hear about it.

One hundred thousand dollars.

For $100,000 surely Smyth and the Oilers can be brought back together when No. 94 becomes a free agent July 1.

One hundred thousand dollars can't be that important to Ryan Smyth, Don Meehan, Kevin Lowe or the Edmonton Oilers.


Videos

Photos