Time slowly healing wounds

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

Wearing civvies and standing in the middle of the visitors dressing room at Scotiabank Place yesterday morning, Jason Blake turned from the cameras and questions to acknowledge the arrival of his linemate, who was just getting off the ice.

"Comb your hair," Blake told Ryan Smyth.

"At least I have some," Smyth shot back.

A couple of minutes later, when the media had shifted and gathered three deep around Smyth's stall, it was Captain Canada's turn to interrupt his interviewers.

"Hang on," Smyth said, cracking up as he noticed Blake had picked up a mike and was sneaking into the scrum. "We've got another guy in here."

Yes, time has started to heal the wounds for Smyth, who said a tearful farewell to Edmonton when the Oilers dealt him after a 12-year relationship to the Islanders at the trade deadline.

Asked why he was so upset to leave when he could have stayed by accepting a lucrative contract that didn't quite -- but reportedly came close to meeting his request -- Smyth deked the issue and moved along.

"I'd rather not talk about that kind of stuff," he said. "We're in a playoff race. I want to leave my contract stuff aside.

"The guys here have been great. They've made me feel welcome. Obviously, to have the welcome I have had here with the Islanders, right from the top down, makes my job a lot easier."

Smyth, who had two goals and four assists in his first six games with the Islanders, was playing on a newly created line with Blake and Alexei Yashin against the Senators. The team was 2-2-2 since his arrival, which wasn't great but much better than the record his former team has in the wake of his departure.

Entering last night's game against Minnesota, the Oilers had lost eight straight.

"Obviously you feel for the guys," said Smyth. "I'd been there for such a long time ... you go through the trenches with these guys, and to see what they're going through is tough. I hope all the best for them. Obviously we've got a tough task here ourselves, but my thoughts are with those guys. I started my career there and there are still feelings there."

Much is expected of Smyth, as the Islanders gave up a good chunk to land him for what could only be another month.

"You thrive on pressure as a player, but you don't want to put too much on yourself outside the game," said Smyth. "Just go out and play, bring your assets to the table, and hopefully things can pan out."


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