No love lost for Smytty

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI

, Last Updated: 7:55 AM ET

DENVER -- The Edmonton Oilers are no longer smitten with Smytty - you can tell by the way they've been smacking him around.

Any lingering fondness Ryan Smyth's ex-teammates had for one of the most beloved players to ever wear copper and blue disappeared the minute Smyth's new team tried punting his old team out of the playoff race.

"I think the chord was cut between Roli (Dwayne Roloson)and Smytty (Ryan Smyth), very early in the game we played last week when Smytty ran into him and Roli snapped," said head coach Craig MacTavish. "Gave him a little leather."

Oilers defenceman Steve Staios, meanwhile, took every opportunity to lay the lumber on his old friend, throwing in a few face washes for good measure, in two recent head-to-head games with Colorado. Watching them battle for real estate in front of the net, they look like perfect strangers.

MUTUAL RESPECT

"I have a lot of respect for Ryan, he's a great competitor, but you have to (play him tough)," said Staios. "Off the ice Smytty and I are friends. We've had some great times together as teammates with the Oilers and some great times with Team Canada together. Those won't ever go away. But I would only be letting my teammates down in this locker room if I didn't have that attitude.

"There's nothing on my mind other than doing whatever it takes to win. After it's over you can sit down and talk about things and there will never be any hard feelings, but as far as the game, it's on."

Smyth, who bled Oilers colours for 11 seasons, feels the same way. "All the great memories and things that have gone on in the past, are in the past," he said. "When the puck drops, it's us versus them."

GARON SKATES

Goalie Mathieu Garon skated for the first time in nearly a week yesterday, testing his sprained ankle to see when it might be game ready. He was moving gingerly in the crease, and didn't fall into the butterfly, the position that causes him the most discomfort.


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