Oilers’ Ryan Smyth to retire at end of season
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Smyth is retiring at the end of the season.
The 38-year-old Smyth said Friday that the Oilers’ home game Saturday night against Vancouver will be his last. He has 386 goals and 456 assists in 1,269 regular-season games in 18 NHL seasons with Edmonton, the New York Islanders, Colorado and Los Angeles.
”There comes a time in my life where you have to turn the page and today I’m doing that,” Smyth said. ”As hard as it is to say goodbye to the game of hockey, I’m blessed that God has given me the ability and the passion for this great game and to have had the opportunity to play for as long as I have.”
Called ”Captain Canada” for his loyalty to the national team, Smyth helped Canada win the 2002 Olympic title and played in the world championships seven straight times in his prime.
Smyth mixed grit with a scoring touch and became the face of the post-Wayne Gretzky Oilers, leading the team to a Stanley Cup final appearance in 2006.
”There are many players that have worn the Edmonton Oilers jersey, but there are no players who wore the jersey that had more passion than Ryan Smyth,” Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish said.
Oilers winger David Perron said he grew up idolizing Smyth.
”He was always around the net being greasy and scoring goals that everyone was like, `How did that go in? Oh, Ryan Smyth scored again.’ At the end of the year he’d have 30-40 goals,” Perron said.
Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens said Smyth’s trademark goals come from a mix of skill and courage.
”He’s always in position but never stops the puck, and it makes it really difficult to see pucks because no matter which way you look it seems like he’s there,” Scrivens said. ”It’s a talent he acquired through hard work and just sacrificing his body. Many people knock goalies for standing in front of slap shots, but at least we have the gear to protect ourselves.”