It was a big shock. I was going for dinner and Craig MacTavish gave me a call and he gave me the news that I’d been traded and obviously at first it was a shock. - Ladislav Smid
CALGARY, AB -- For this entire National Hockey League career, Ladislav Smid has had a vested interest in the Battle of Alberta.
And despite being traded away from the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, that hasn’t changed.
Smid was acquired by the Calgary Flames alongside goaltender Olivier Roy in exchange for Roman Horak and Laurent Brossoit, a move that brings the 27-year-old to the other side of hockey’s fiercest rivalry.
“Everybody’s talking about the Battle of Alberta and obviously it’s going to be a little bit strange (for me),” Smid told Sportsnet 960 The Fan from Philadelphia. “Now I’m part of the Calgary Flames so I’ve got to switch the mindset and I’m going to do whatever it takes to help this team.”
With the Oilers struggling under heightened expectations to start the 2013-14 campaign, Smid knew trade winds were blowing in Edmonton.
The 6-foot-3, 209-pound rearguard didn’t expect he’d be the one packing his bags, though.
“I was shocked,” Smid said. “I obviously knew that Edmonton is going to probably do something, there were going to be some trades. There was some trouble early in the season but I didn’t really expect I would be part of the trades. I guess that’s part of the hockey business.”
The deal to bring Smid to Calgary didn’t happen overnight.
General manager Jay Feaster exchanged conversations with Oilers GM Craig MacTavish about the seven-year NHL veteran in October and, while a deal wasn’t immediately reached, eventually it came to fruition.
“It kind of fell off the rails a little bit from a timing perspective,” Feaster said. “Edmonton wasn’t ready to do it. What we said at that time was that we’d stay in touch and if the circumstances are still such that they wanted to do a deal and we were still in a situation we wanted to we would.
“I got a message yesterday from Craig that he wanted to talk today and we talked this morning and we were able to get something done late this afternoon.”
The two rivals did manage to consummate the deal; swapping players for just the second time ever, much to Smid’s surprise.
Sitting down to dinner with Ales Hemsky and Jakub Voracek -- a potential trio of Olympians for the Czech Republic come February -- in advance of Edmonton’s matinee against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, Smid’s phone rang.
On the other end was the Oilers’ general manager.
“It was a big shock,” Smid said. “I was going for dinner and Craig MacTavish gave me a call and he gave me the news that I’d been traded and obviously at first it was a shock.”
That surprise likely comes from the fact Smid signed a four-year, $14 million extension with the Oilers on April 1st. He'll now find himself playing out the duration of that contract just three hours south of Edmonton.
That suits Feaster’s long-term vision just fine. Smid is the type of player that fits well for his Flames.
“What’s important to us is that whoever we bring in has to fit into the new culture we’re trying to create,” Feaster said. “I really like this group that we have. I’m impressed by the character and I’m impressed by the culture Bob and the coaches are creating and the way the guys have bought in. That whole idea of accountability, personal accountability and holding each other accountable, it is important.
“Everybody that we talked to, and we did a lot of homework on this player, guys who have played with him in the past have all talked about the fact that he is a character player.”
Smid’s more than just character, though.
While he has just two points this season, the former first round pick joins the Flames after leading the Oilers in both hits (52) and blocked shots (34) on the year.
The two stats adequately summarize what Smid feels he brings.
“I just keep the game pretty simple,” he said. “I just try to work as hard as I can on and off the ice, during the practices and especially during the games. I’m a really defensive-minded guy. I try to keep it simple and focus on the penalty kill and play disciplined.
“I’m just going to work hard and try to do my best to make this team better.”
Better in both in the Battle of Alberta and beyond.