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Smyth disappointed, gracious over Canadian decision

Wednesday, 12.30.2009 / 4:52 PM / All-Access Vancouver

By Todd Kimberley - NHL.com Correspondent

"Am I disappointed? Yes, I'm disappointed. I would love to play for my country. It brings chills to my spine as I say it. I have a great deal of pride in putting on the Canadian jersey, and I hope to for many more years."
-- Ryan Smyth

CALGARY -- The man who wears his heart on his sleeve won't be wearing the Maple Leaf on his chest come February.
 
Los Angeles Kings left winger Ryan Smyth, known as "Captain Canada" for his extensive international resume, was left off the 23-man Canadian roster for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games Wednesday.
 
Smyth had gone on a scoring tear to begin the 2009-10 NHL season, with 9 goals among 23 points in his first 22 games with Los Angeles -- sparking hope that he would play in his third Olympics despite his age (33) and Hockey Canada's clear intentions to get younger in 2010.
 
But a rib injury incurred Nov. 16 at Florida kept Smyth out of action for nearly six weeks -- he returned to action Dec. 26 at Phoenix -- and all but KO'ed his hopes.
 
Smyth must have been crushed by the news, but was extremely gracious talking to reporters Wednesday morning in Calgary.
 
"Getting off to the start I had, it might have given me a chance, but there's so many great players," he said. "It was even an honor to be one of 46 here in Calgary here at the Olympic orientation camp (in August).
 
"Being a part of it in '02 and '06, I've had a tremendous experience in the past, and I've enjoyed every moment of it."
 
In addition to his two Olympic experiences, including 2002 gold in Utah, Smyth heeded Canada's call at six straight World Championships from 2000 through '05, winning two global titles and sporting the "C" in five of those tournaments.
 
Smyth has played more career international games for Canada (78) than any other player from the Great White North.
 
"Am I disappointed? Yes, I'm disappointed. I would love to play for my country," Smyth told reporters. "It brings chills to my spine as I say it. I have a great deal of pride in putting on the Canadian jersey, and I hope to for many more years."
 
Said Kings coach Terry Murray on Wednesday morning: "I'm sure he's very disappointed. He was looking forward to playing one more time with the Canadian Olympic team, especially in Vancouver where he spends his summers now. He was the first player here with the television on and listening very closely to the announcement. It's been a tough morning for him.
 
"And there's no question that the injury he went through must have had some kind of an impact on the decision. There're a lot of players in the game, and whenever you're not visible for that length of time, you can fall out of sight very quickly."
 
The former Oiler, Islander and Av knows there's a possibility that the Canadian roster may change over the next six weeks due to injury. But the veteran of 1,025 NHL regular-season and playoff games wasn't about to wish that on anyone -- and seemed to be at peace with his fate.
 
"I believe they picked the 23 guys for a reason, and I know there's a lot of hockey between now and then, but you've just got to go out and play and carry forth," Smyth said. "If an accident happens, it happens, but you can't think about that.
 
"These guys are going to represent our country with pride, and I'll be their No. 1 fan."