An Island of joy now

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

At the trade deadline, one city's heartbreak is often another city's joy.

So while Edmonton and the Oilers were mourning the loss of their best, longest-serving and most beloved player, fans and players on Long Island could hardly contain their glee.

It took 23 years, but they finally got back at Edmonton for ending the Isles dynasty in the 1984 Cup final.

"I mentioned to a couple guys that we got Ryan and the excitement on their faces, the smiles on their faces, they looked like six-year-old kids back in junior hockey,"said Islanders head coach Ted Nolan.

"You've got a superstar coming to your team. When we started talking about what we want to do here in Long Island, the type of player that we want is definitely a Ryan Smyth-type of player. This guy is definitely going to make our team better right now, but I think he's going to make the whole organization better."

BOMBSHELL

A day later the Smyth bombshell was still the biggest shocker in hockey, which is why the NHL arranged a conference call with his new coach.

"I have to give Garth Snow a lot of credit," said Nolan.

"He pursued it and went after it, and it came right down to the last hour. I left the rink, and Garth called me 45 minutes later and said it was done, and I didn't believe him. We couldn't ask for a better fit. Ryan Smyth exemplifies the type of player that I want."

They're still saying that about him in Edmonton. But it's hard to crash the net with tears in your eyes, and anyone who saw Smyth at the media conference yesterday knows he's a somewhat reluctant soldier.

Nolan understands that, and while he doesn't have a lot of time to immerse him slowly, he's confident it won't take long for the mulleted one to feel at home.

"Any time you're with one organization for as long as Ryan was, there's certainly going to be a little bit of sadness," said Nolan, who'd like to put Smyth on a line with Alexei Yashin and Jason Blake.

"Unfortunately in this business sometimes you're moved somewhere else. I personally went through a situation this past year.

"Coming down here I didn't know what to expect. But being here the last six months, I immediately fell in love with the place. The weather is nice, the people are great, and Long Island's probably one of the best-kept secrets.

"I mean, it's a beautiful place. I'm quite sure in time Ryan will appreciate this place as much as he appreciated Edmonton.

UP IN THE RAFTERS

"I mean, I look up in the rafters and I see Potvin, I see Bossy and Trottier and Gillies and the sweaters retired in the rafters; I see four Stanley Cup banners, and this is a great place to play. Hopefully we can make this Ryan's second home.

"To fly him overnight and put a New York Islanders' jersey on him, that's not going to make him an Islander right away. It's going to take some time to adjust."

The Islanders will help him as much as they can.

In turn, they hope Smyth can help them win a championship. They believe adding him and Richard Zednik without giving up a roster player, and getting Yashin back from a knee injury shortly, makes them contenders.


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