Wednesday, September 02, 2009
News that Jason Smith has retired today.
Smith is one of my alltime favourite Oilers. He personified those young clubs that had a ton of heart and grit. He was a banger and a shot blocker and yet in seven plus years with Edmonton he missed a total of forty four games, never more than fourteen in a season. He was beyond tough.
Plus he had an awesome nickname.
So respected was he that when he went to the Flyers they named him their captain immediately. That spring he reportedly played through two separated shoulders in the playoffs.
Last year I watched an Ottawa game and when Kaleta, a Sabres pest, took a run at Alfredsson, Smith immediately moved in. The kid turned his back at the last minute and Smith showed his respect for the game by slowing up and actually cradling his opponent to the ice slowly rather than driving him into the boards dangerously.
Then he beat the shit out of him.
I saw a YouTube video of Smith a couple of years back and at one point an opponent was yapping and Smith said nothing but with a look that was full of cold malice:
try me. try me.
His offer was declined.
Smith won a gold as a World Junior and captained Albany to the Calder Cup. As a junior he was on the all rookie team, was named a first team allstar and won the Bill Hunter award as the top defenceman in the WHL.
He wasn't the swiftest skater. He didn't have a big shot. He was a guy who banged it off the glass and out more often than not but its not a coincidence that since he was traded that this club has gone from having a reputation as a tough club to play against to being a bunch of softies.
He almost accepted the Stanley Cup for the Edmonton Oilers after that brilliant 2006 run where he and Pronger did it all against the opposition's best.
Remember the brilliant goal he scored against San Jose pictured above?
He was the longest serving captain in Oiler history. Here's hoping that they find a way to honour a guy who left it all out on the ice every night, who was a glorious example of an old time hockey player, who deserved better in 2006. Here's hoping for a retirement spent with few nagging aches and pains and much red wine, cold beer and good steak, happy times with family and plenty of awesome sex with his wife.
Thanks for the memories Gator.
Posted by Black Dog at 11:41 AM