No cryin' Ryan

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

Ryan Smyth was one question away from getting away without an itty, bitty tear letting him down.

His return-to-town press conference was concluding when some big meanie of a sportswriter tried to make him cry.

To that point, we hadn't seen any tears or any real emotion from him.

We hadn't seen anything resembling what we watched at his sobbing trade deadline departure at the airport where tears streamed down his face and where he was so choked up about leaving he could hardly speak.

But when he was asked about his sitting up there, working so hard to keep his emotions in control through all of it yesterday, Smyth finally had to take the big gulp.

The tears didn't flow down his face, but his eyes became moist.

"I'm sure I'll break down tomorrow," he said before stopping to take a breath to keep his composure again.

"I have a lot of great memories," he struggled. "It was tough leaving and obviously it's going to be tough tomorrow."

Tomorrow is now today. And you wonder what it will be like.

It's been predictable with most of the others. You knew the fans wouldn't have it in their hearts to spew venom all over Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr, Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson and Kevin Lowe for their returns. And you knew they'd boo Jason Arnott, Tom Poti, Mike Comrie, Chris Pronger and many more every time they touched the puck for years and years to come.

You knew Edmonton fans wouldn't make it tough on Jason Smith when he came back.

Smyth said he watched the return of captain Smith with the video tribute the Oilers produced for him before the game.

"The Oilers are very classy," he said. "Jason was a warrior with nothing but class behind him. He deserved it."

What makes Smyth different than all the others who departed is that he was the one Oiler the fans decided they wanted to watch spend his entire career here.

Smith had no say in his departure.

However, Smyth, the 31-year-old native of Banff, who signed a five-year $31-million deal with the Colorado Avalanche as a free agent, did. Instead of the $27-million deal Edmonton Oilers GM Kevin Lowe had offered - which came up $100,000 a season short of what he was asking - Smyth turned it down.

Lowe has already said that if he knew what the salary cap and his budget would be this year, he probably would have given No. 94 the hundred grand. He even went so far as to admit he made a mistake.

But Smyth wasn't going to go there and admit anything on his part.

"I've moved on. I've played eight games already," he said.

"I don't want to rehash all the scenarios that went on. Hindsight is 20-20. Kevin had to do what he had to do for the organization and it didn't suit me at the time. We went our separate ways. They were going younger and they've got a good young team."

Smyth said he played a game of golf with coach Craig MacTavish and Lowe this summer in B.C.

"MacT did a lot for me on and off the ice. He's a great coach. Kevin joined us for the back nine. It was mostly small talk. Nothing about hockey."

Smyth had clearly rehearsed most of his answers at yesterday's event at the Lux Steakhouse.

"It's going to be a little different going to the visiting dressing room. But I'm excited and eager and looking forward to it. It's a great city and a great building. I'm very excited to get on the ice," he said.

Smyth comes here with his normal set of stats for eight games into a season - three goals and three assists and even in the plus-minus department.

He will not face either Robert Nilsson, Ryan O'Marra or draft choice Alex Plante, the players he was traded for in the deadline deal with the New York Islanders.

He said the Avs' record of 14-2-2 down the stretch (while the Oilers won two of their last 20) had a lot to do with him signing there in the summer.

He said repeated calls from Joe Sakic did have an influence on him. He also admitted he got a call from Calgary.

"Darryl Sutter did make a pitch," he said.

If Ryan Smyth had gone to Calgary, that would have made tonight easy, wouldn't it?


Videos

Photos