It was guaranteed to be a 'Great One' as soon as I saw Wayne Gretzky was at Thursday night's game between the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Islanders. The game also turned into a 'Great One'.
Alright, it wasn't very great for Edmonton through two periods of play but that all changed in the third period and overtime. It's not often the tying goal, by Philip Larsen, and the winning goal, in overtime by Taylor Hall, get overshadowed by the opening goal of the game.
Of course, it takes quite the goal to surpass Wayne Gretzky and tie Glenn Anderson for the most power play goals in an Oilers uniform.
However, that's what happened at the 8:28 mark of period number three. The Isles Travis Hamonic was off for interference. 33 seconds into the penalty is when history was made, or at least added to, by Ryan Smyth.
With assists to Jordan Eberle and Sam Gagner, Smyth scored his 5th power play goal of the season and the 126th of his Edmonton career. It is one more than Gretzky and the same number as Anderson.
In an ironic twist, Smyth actually saw the puck go into the net. It didn't happen in his customary front of the crease positioning with opponents sticks being wrapped around his head and arms being wrapped around his body. There were no goalies slashing him in the back of the legs and no redirection or tip. It wasn't your normal Ryan Smyth power play goal.
Instant jubilation. The goal put Edmonton on the board and Smyth at the top of the leader board for man advantage goals by an Oiler. This isn't the first time that Ryan has been mentioned in the same breath as Oiler greats. Ryan and Wayne were already tied for Edmonton's record of most power play goals in a season. Gretzky in 1983-84 and Smyth in 1996-97, both had potted 20 goals each with the man advantage.
In fact, Smyth has either been the team leader or been tied for the team lead in power play goals in six different seasons. The man really knows how to put the other team at a disadvantage when, Edmonton has the advantage.
What made this evening special wasn't just that it came in a victory or that Wayne Gretzky was there to witness someone actually surpass him in any kind of record. It was made special by the fact that Ryan Smyth could have been wearing a different uniform on Thursday night.
It would take two broken legs, or a suggestion from management, for Smyth not to practice, which was the case on Wednesday morning. All signs pointed to a Stanley Cup contender swap that would see the 38 year old get a chance at the Cup.
With time ticking on his career and the trade deadline upon him, it looked like ‘the mullet’ was on the move. However, 1 p.m. turned into 1:15 and then 1:30 and then it was 2:00 p.m. General Manager Craig MacTavish was done dealing and Ryan Smyth was still an Oiler.
As a result, he was given a chance to play game number 953 with Edmonton and score power play goal number 126 as an Oiler. He grew up idolizing the Oiler greats and now Ryan Smyth is one of them.