RALEIGH -- Alberta boy Ryan Smyth appreciates as much as anybody the rich history the Edmonton Oilers have spun since joining the NHL.
If it's just the same, though, Smyth, an Oilers fan for all five Stanley Cup parades in Edmonton before he donned the silks of his favourite team for the first time as a rookie during the 1994-95 season, would just as soon make some history of his own.
Smyth and the rest of this edition of the Oilers will get their chance in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final against the Carolina Hurricanes tonight.
"It brings chills to my spine right now," Smyth said yesterday when asked about tonight's game.
"Just to be in the whole situation that we're in is a great experience and something we hope will last forever. The opportunity to win a Cup with those old Oilers and the new guys is special."
It's been 16 years since the Oilers won their last Stanley Cup, beating the Boston Bruins in five games to sip champagne back in 1990.
Smyth, the longest-serving Oiler on the roster, was playing bantam hockey in Banff then. With no championship banners to drape in Rexall Place alongside those claimed by Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Kevin Lowe, Grant Fuhr and so many other great players, Smyth, like other long-serving Oilers, has lived in the shadows of the past.
"It's like writing a new chapter in a book," Smyth said. "There's no question we want to make our mark and make it a memorable one that we'll never forget."
A mural outside Rexall Place shows the Oilers' first five Cup rings along with a caption, "Now, for the other hand." That other hand has gone wanting for a long time. That can change tonight.
"That's a good conversation to have Tuesday, I hope," coach Craig MacTavish said of this edition of the team creating some folklore of its own. "It would mean a lot to me to see those players win the Cup here."