Some of Ryan Smyth’s teammates and Head Coach Dallas Eakins took the time to reflect on 94’s career and presence in the dressing room, today after practice.
“Ryan has been excellent,” the Oilers head coach said. “He’s a pro, he’s somebody that you wish you could extract some of his DNA and inject it into every one of them. I can’t say enough about him as a player but more importantly, as a person.”
“I think it’s just his love of the game,” Hall said of what stuck out the most about Smyth. “He’s a guy that really loved coming to the rink everyday. That may not be a skill by any means but to have that kind of engrained in you, it’s special and it was fun to watch for the last three years.”
Hall says Smyth spoke with the team this morning and dropped some wisdom on the younger players around him.
“He’s brought a lot to our young group. Just him talking to our group this morning, really emphasizing the fact that it’s a privilege to play this game and he just reiterated that it is a lot of fun to play this game and to be a part of the group of guys that we have and day-after-day coming into the rink is truly something you should be grateful for. There’s a lot of things you can take from Smytty, a lot of things he did on the ice so well and in the room as well. He’s just a cheerful guy and a pleasure to be around.”
Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens hasn’t had as much time playing with Smyth as some others on the roster but the Spruce Grove, AB native knows all about the veteran from when he watched him growing up.
“Obviously, he’s a hard-nosed guy,” Scrivens said. “He’s a guy that maybe didn’t have the skill level that some of the other All Stars in the league had and some of the other guys who have played a thousand-plus games. I don’t know how many guys he’s going to toe-drag but he’s scored a heck of a lot more goals than a lot of guys with better skill than him and that’s a compliment to him, that’s not a knock on him.
“I think he embodies what the Edmonton fans like in a hockey player. He’s a never say, ‘quit’, right to the last minute, go to the tough areas, score a goal with your face if you have to type of player and I think that resonates with the people around here. I know for myself personally, when I was growing up with my family, he was a player that we watched as a catalyst. You almost liked watching him get the absolute crap get kicked out of him in front of the net and then watch him get rewarded by it by putting one home.”
Sam Gagner, much like Hall, spoke about Smyth’s passion for the game.
“Having a chance to play a few years with Smytty, you hear so much about him coming into the league and have an amazing amount of respect for him,” the Oilers centre said. “The way he’s kind of treated me as a young guy and taught me how to be a pro and you see the passion he has for the game even now after however many games he’s played. He’s always on the ice first, off last and working to get better and it’s something you can learn from as a teammate. You share in that passion that he has for the game and it’s really infections. He’s had an unbelievable career, he’s got a lot to be proud of an I think one of the biggest ones is the impact he’s had on his teammates and we’re obviously all very proud of him.”
Edmontonoilers.com will carry a press conference live beginning at 2:00 p.m.