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SMYTH SPEAKS

by Staff Writer / New York Islanders

Ryan addresses the prospect of becoming an unrestricted free agent


At Breakup Day this afternoon -- where the Islanders packed their sticks, said farewell for the summer and had their final meetings with the coaching staff and general manager -- veteran forward Ryan Smyth spoke to the media on a number of topics. But, of course, what was foremost on everyone's mind was his potential unrestricted free agency. Here are some of Smyth's comments.


On his first impression of the Islanders:
"From the moment we got here, the organization treated me and my family really well. I got the lay of the land and got used to everybody in the organization. Obviously, it was short. We would like to have played a little longer and made a run for the Stanley Cup."

On the potential of becoming a free agent:
"We just got over losing out, so that's still fresh in my mind. It's discouraging because last year, being so close, yet so far. We'll reassess the situation and go from there. It's been a long year. I want to win just like any other NHL player out there. Unrestricted free agency comes only once in a lifetime. I want to make sure I sit down with my family and my agent and assess everything."

On the Islanders' season:
"We didn't quit and we had that drive to reach the postseason. But just to make it isn't good enough. There was a lot of positive in the fact that a lot of people counted us out and eliminated us from the playoff picture. Some take it as momentum or that we burned out. That's what an 82-game schedule is all about.  You have to make the most of your opportunities throughout the year.

On whether he will wait until at least July 1 -- the first day of free agency -- to decide what to do:
"I'm sure they're (Islanders management) not going to make it easy. I want to explore the next couple of weeks with my family and my agent."

On the Islanders tradition:
"I came from a place where I loved to play in Edmonton and came to another historical team that sees and knows about the Cup. Even the ex-players are still around, so it's nice to see them still pulling for the team. It's pretty special having talked to some of the guys like Bossy and Trottier. I came from the West side of the rivalry, knowing all those Oilers. Now I'm getting to meet the other side, which has been great. I still remember when Gretz wrote in his book about when he walked down this hall and the Islanders were wearing ice bags and they weren't even celebrating when they beat the Oilers. They knew how hard it was to win and what it took. That's the reflection you get when you see the other side of it. Seeing how these guys are and how they deal with everyday life. It's been a great opportunity to get to know them all."

On Rick DiPietro and whether he has tried to convince him to stay on Long Island:
"There's been some talk, but that stays between us. Rick's obviously going to be around here for a while and you can understand why the franchise would want that. Ricky's work ethic is awesome. There's no doubt in my mind you can build a championship team around him."

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