RYAN SMYTH

The Hockey News - - Buzz -

THERE AREN’T MANY bet­ter hockey sto­ries than the beloved star player who re­turns home. If the player is the one who makes it hap­pen, all the bet­ter. And if the story in­volves mend­ing a re­la­tion­ship, well, who wouldn’t want to see that? So it’s hard to get too neg­a­tive over the 2011 summer trade that saw Smyth go from the Kings to the Oil­ers.

He’d made a stunning de­par­ture from Ed­mon­ton at the 2007 trade dead­line af­ter he ap­peared to be on the verge of sign­ing an ex­ten­sion with the only NHL team he’d ever known. A few months on Long Is­land were fol­lowed by two years in Colorado and two more in Los An­ge­les. Now, the 35-year-old wanted to come home. And so, on June 26, 2011, the Kings agreed to Smyth’s re­quest for a trade back to Ed­mon­ton. Smyth was greeted with open arms by Oil­ers fans. He played for three more sea­sons, show­ing oc­ca­sional flashes of the skill and grit that had made him one of the most pop­u­lar play­ers in fran­chise his­tory. It was all just about perfect.

Well, al­most. There was that one nag­ging de­tail: the Oil­ers were ter­ri­ble. This was right in the mid­dle of that aw­ful era in which Ed­mon­ton couldn’t win any­thing other than draft lot­ter­ies, and it missed the play­offs in each year of Smyth’s se­cond stint. Mean­while, the Kings went on to win the Cup twice in that time, in­clud­ing the very next sea­son af­ter Smyth asked to be dealt away.

Would the long­time Oiler want a doover? Maybe not – there are big­ger things in life than win­ning a Cup, af­ter all – but purely in terms of cham­pi­onship odds, mov­ing from the 2011-12 Kings to the Oil­ers was prob­a­bly as bad as it gets.

RYAN SMYTH

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