First of all, the reason the word request is in quotes is because the way the TSN article is worded, they never say he requested a trade. He simply stated that he “preferred” to end his career as an Oiler. However, in hockey or in marriage, you don’t get away with saying you want to be with someone else and salvage the relationship. If I were a betting man, I’d be willing to wager that Ryan Smyth has numbered his days as a Los Angeles King.
I have a few reactions to this news. First, bwahahahahahahaha! Don’t get me wrong, Edmonton is on the right track, but most people will tell you that by the time they are ready to compete for a Cup again Smyth will be retired.
Second, f*ck you, Mr. Smyth. The Kings took on your ridiculous contract and incorporated you as an integral part of their offense and you decide you’d rather play for a bottom-of-the-league team instead? What does that say about you? You would rather end your career in the comforts of home without a chance at a Cup than stay with a legit contender?
Third, good for Ryan. Obviously this is in stark contrast to the previous statement, but it’s for good reason. Remember Ryan Smyth’s tearful goodbye to Edmonton when he was shipped off the Island a few seasons ago? The man obviously has a lot of emotion and nostalgia toward Edmonton, which is crazy because all I hear is about how no one would want to live there. So, good for Edmonton and good for Ryan. The two have obviously made an impression on each other and why would anyone want to stand in the way of that? The man should have his number retired in Edmonton simply for feeling this way. I’m not trying to be a smart-ass, I really mean that. How many people show such genuine affinity for a place they would choose this kind of career direction?
In all honesty, I bear no ill will toward Ryan Smyth. He played some good hockey in Los Angeles and was a good mentor to a lot of the young guys. If this is the end of his days as a King, I won’t hate on the guy for it.
All mushy stuff aside, this has serious implications for the Kings.
First of all, it creates a void on the left wing, a place where the Kings have already struggled to find scoring. Penner was brought in and he was a disappointment, but it remains to be seen how he’ll play next season and even the Penner-haters have him penciled in (lightly) as the 1st line left wing. Parse seems to have the chops for a top-6 spot on the left side, but he needs to stay healthy in order to do so. Outside of that, the Kings don’t have a lot of options on the left. Maybe this opens up space for both Loktionov and Schenn to join the team next season with one of them moving to the wing.
Second, this frees up cap space. It could relax the tension in the Drew Doughty contract talks and open up space on the roster and in the budget for GM Lombardi to work with. It also would free up cap space for the Kings to go after a free agent. (I hear Brad Richards is available.) As the Kings learned in the swap for Marco Sturm with Boston, cap space can be so valuable a team will give up a player for free. Hey, it worked for Boston, why not the Kings? How valuable is it to Lombardi simply to get that hefty Smyth contract off the books?
This is obviously all speculation because the ink on this Ryan Smyth story hasn’t even dried yet. We don’t know if he’s departing at all, or if he is, what the Kings will get in return, or if that would have any affect on Lombardi’s signings, etc.
However, I simply can’t see Ryan Smyth returning as a King. Farewell, Mullet.
UPDATE (5:15pm PT) – The Edmonton Journal is reporting Ryan Smyth denies Bob McKenzie’s report on TSN that he wants to leave. McKenzie stated via twitter that he stands behind his report 100%.
UPDATE (5:55pm PT) – Helene Elliot of the LA Times tweets that Lombardi confirms he had talks with Smyth, but declines any further comment.
About the Author
Written by Eric Cooney
Eric Cooney was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina, and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He shares his thoughts on the NHL as one man who is a northerner, southerner, east coaster, and west coaster. Follow him on Twitter @EricCooney