“A deal certainly isn’t imminent and won’t be an easy transaction for either the Los Angeles Kings or Oilers to close, but sources tell TSN the 35-year-old left winger has indicated to the Kings his preference would be to play next season in Edmonton if a trade could be worked out,” reported McKenzie about three hours before his annual draft show on the network in which he projected Nugent-Hopkins No. 1 to the Oilers.
Smyth, according to one report, has denied he’s asked to be traded to Edmonton.
So it’s the work of his agent, then?
There’s even the thought that crosses one’s mind that Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi might be conjuring up some sort of way to make up for Steve Tambellini unloading that worthless piece of unmotivated Dustin Penner on him for the 19th pick in Friday’s NHL Entry Draft.
(“Dustin is at the crossroads of his career … he can either become a dominant power forward … or be a dominant number four hitter for the El Cid Lounge in a men’s softball league.” — Lombardi.)
Smyth has one year left on his contract with L.A. at $4.5 milion, although his cap hit is $6.25.
After the departure of the last member of the glory gang from the Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr, Glenn Anderson era, if there was one hockey player Edmonton fans wanted to play his entire career here, it was Ryan Smyth.
And the idea of the man with the mullet returning seemed to completely captivate most fans Monday.
Despite left wing being just about the only position on the hockey team with any depth, Oiler fans were willing to conjure up moving Taylor Hall to centre or Magnus Paajarvi and Linus Omark to right wing.
The hockey reality is that Smyth, who has taken 16 seasons’ worth of punishment in front of the net, may be close to being done.
And throw the tantalizing, titillating idea out on Twitter for response and the the return tweets are instant.
@JaMack99: “Hell ya. Can’t think of a better guy to teach a bunch of kids how to bleed blue.”
@dmhrehir: “If they bring him back it would instantly be the most popular jersey in the stands.”
@Northernshark: “He is as good as anything as the Oilers have. The guy scores goals, plain and simple. Plays the game the right way.”
@Collincapne: “Smyth still has hit 20 goals last three years and his work ethic and desire would be good inspiration for the youngsters.”
@AndrewBerkshire: “How does anyone think Smyth is done after scoring 22-plus goals seven of the last eight years?”
@humantorch: “Let’s put it this way: If J.F. Jacques is part of he team in October and Smyth isn’t, Vancouver riots will look like kindergarten nap time.”
@Bev_Burrell: “Oiler fans would love Ryan Smyth back. He should never have been forced to leave. Kevin Lowe owes it to him.”
Indeed, if there was one symbolic Oilers turning point to Kevin Lowe allowing this hockey club to begin the free-fall toward the basement, it was the day he sent Smyth to the airport, crying and sobbing in front of a dozen TV cameras, having to leave over a contract-negotiation difference of $100,000. Captain Canada clearly was devastated to leave Edmonton and at a post-Chris Pronger time when the wind was blowing the other way.
After having signed for a hometown discount in a previous contract, Smyth allowed agent Don Meehan to play chicken with Lowe on the same night Mark Messier was having his banner raised.
Lowe later admitted he made a major mistake. So maybe his hand is in there somewhere to make it all good in the end.
Who knows. All I know is Bob McKenzie doesn’t invent stuff (“For the record, I stand by my story 100 per cent. Totally accurate in every regard. Not much else I can say beyond that. Speaks for itself.”) and this is one delicious, delightful, delectable, scrumptious story.
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