Ryan Smyth has four dates to circle on his calendar.
He won't know which four they are until the NHL releases its schedule, but the newest member of the Colorado Avalanche is already counting down the days until he returns to Edmonton.
As a divisional rival, he'll play the Oilers eight times, four of them at Rexall Place. It was one of the first subjects that came up in his Welcome to Denver media conference yesterday.
"Well, I have a lot of friends and family back in that area," said Smyth, who'll wear 94 for the Avs. "I'll be excited to go back there and play. Obviously, yes, (leaving) was very emotional. Eleven years on one team you find an attachment, not only in the hockey community and the organization but also in the community itself. We were involved in a lot of charities, my wife and I. We hung our hat there like it was home. So it was tough leaving there.
"The environment here, it's a hockey environment," he continued. "I came from Edmonton; obviously the environment there was electrifying. We've had our battles over the years (Oilers vs. Avalanche). I'm just blessed to be a part of this organization. We're really thrilled to strive for another level and that's winning the Stanley Cup."
The Avs made a major push to get Smyth, financially and politically. Everyone from the coach and GM to Joe Sakic himself rang him up to sell him on the team and the city.
"He just said, 'hey, we'd love to have you. I know the team and the organization is thinking about you.' He really expressed the fact that we (Colorado) were really close last year and if we got in you never know what can happen."
As for the Isles, who gave up a huge part of their future to rent him for a few months, Smyth wishes them the best.
"They were right there to the bitter end. We were back-and-forth with a few different teams and obviously Colorado. I hope nothing but the best for them. They have a bright future of young players in their organization."