Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Fan On Smytty


As further info leaks out on Ryan Smyth I think that the Oilers are kind of stuck here. The story is undoubtedly true and the desired return for Lombardi apparently is minimal, a mid round pick. Based on the chatter there seems little doubt that the idea of Smyth returning has excited the fanbase, a fanbase that has had little to cheer about since he departed.

There really no arguments against bringing him back. The cost is minimal. He will plug into the top nine. Its up to the coaching staff to get Hall and Paajarvi their minutes and that should be no problem. It means Jones may get less icetime, big whoop. He can still play and he provides that veteran leadership that this club sorely needs. His cap hit brings them above the floor and his actually salary is less than that hit although considering this team spent a ton of money to bury Souray in the minors last year I think its pretty clear this should not even be a consideration.

Frequent commenter Matthew Watt contacted me yesterday asking if I would be willing to post something he has written on the possibility of Smyth returning. Here is what Matt has to say on it. I have left it unedited except where he libels the entirely deserving Patrick LaForge by calling him a *^#&#%*&#(#^&@ &*#*@**@.

I think that Matt's point speaks to why the Oilers are in a tough place. They may want this to go away but they are going to take another PR hit if they do so, especially if Smyth posts another year where he would have led the Oilers in points while the local club shits their collective bed for the sixth year running.

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September Seventeen
For a girl I know, it's Mother's Day
Her son has gone alee
And that's where he will stay
Wind on the weathervane
Tearing blue eyes sailor-mean
As Falstaff sings a sorrowful refrain
For a boy in Fiddler's Green


Invoking, stirring, inciting emotions in one’s body is the goal of many an artist. Artists hope to move their audience, get those seeing and listening lost in whatever art is being presented, take them to another land that seems foreign to where they are. Many attempt to do this, try to ignite these feelings in others, but end up missing the target one way or another. Reason is simple; achieving this objective is far from an easy thing to do. Very few can.

This is why not everyone is an artist. It is also why those that can do it, can do it oh so very well.

Mr. Mclean has mentioned on this site here previously that The Tragically Hip know how to lay some kick-ass tracks. I agree whole-heartedly. As a youngster I was raised up to what many would consider “good music”: Stones, Beatles, The Who, The Guess Who, Bob Dylan, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Patsy Cline, etc. My parents loved them all and I did too. One should love these acts; it could be said that all listed above are seen today as “artists.” Then, like so many before and after me, the sound in my world changed when my brothers started listening to music outside of my parents’ spectrum: Green Day, Hootie and the Blowfish, Snoop Dogg, really anything other kids were listening to. Not all of it was good, that goes without saying, but some of it was, and to sound cliché, I was opened up to a whole new world of sound.

Leading the charge of these tunes outside my norm? The Tragically Hip. At the time I did not know of their relationship to Canada, the cultural institution they are revered as (their reach goes far beyond being just icons) or how enduring their sound is. I just knew they kicked ass, and all I had to do to reaffirm this belief was listen to the intro for “Blow at High Dough” 10 times in a row. A pure, beautiful, driven sound that makes me want to head down to the pub, grab a Molson and shoot pool on a table with questionable cushions. Canadiana at its finest. Powerful stuff, considering I don’t really like Molson either. I will drink the shit, but you could feed me bath water with alcohol in it and I will still take swigs, just doesn’t mean it is my favorite.

Like with any great band though, where many of their songs stand out, I started to find that one really struck me whenever, wherever I heard it. Now in my brief twirl around the Al Gore, the fable of “Fiddler’s Green” goes back some time, as a mythical land where many a good sailor goes to rest when their time is done; or that is at least what Wikipedia told me. And in the lyrics of The Hip song you get the sense that this is the land they speak of, the place where the lost soul in the song lies. But like many a good tune, there so much more; a mother’s grief, maritime imagery, sorrow and anguish, heartbreak, and a life which has been taken far too soon from this world. I have heard the song numerous times, and yet still do not understand it fully. Just that whatever it is the The Hip are trying to convey in “Fiddlers Green”, I can feel it, which is the aim of any good artist.
The Tragically Hip. To quote hockey-speak, “just a couple of beauties.”

Bob McKenzie has mentioned today that Ryan Smyth asked for a return to Edmonton. Now I would not believe it if it came from anywhere else, but since it is McKenzie I think we can all agree that some credence must be given. Man is anti-Ekhlund, or should I say anti-shit spewing. Now the article is not without its funny moments, specifically this gem:
“Adding $4.5 million to the payroll, with a $6.25 million cap hit, for a 35-year-old forward, even one with the local marquee value of Smyth, isn't a slam dunk unless the Oilers can offload some salary.”

Off-load salary? To quote Airplane!, “Surely you can’t be serious?!” Then again, this is Oiler management we speak of so they will likely reply with “I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.” Smyth is a free-agent at the end of next season, after his current $6.25 million hit runs off in a year were the Oilers will a ton of cap space. Why is cap-space so valuable for the club next season when the current roster has little chance of succeeding? Since he also stated he wanted a return to the city, do you not think there is a chance he will sign a favorable contract moving forward? There is also the fact that Oilers management is “luke-warm” to his return. Why? Because this team has way too many NHLers to speak of already? That this team is trying to do all they can do for another 30th place finish? As noted in the McKenzie article, Smyth still produces points (47 this past year) and is third on the team for forward ice-time. I have not checked advanced stats on this one, so please correct me if I turn out to be wrong, but I doubt that his underlying number are bad. The man can still play at an NHL level, and likely will for three to four years, so how can this be a bad thing?

As noted on this blog and others, Oilers have had a horrendous history of late, comical really, of trading away NHLers for non-NHLers. It shows when seeing the product on the ice. Things are turning for the better, but there is a long way to go to get out of this basement. The bottom six has been a joke and will continue to be unless something changes. The easiest of fixes for this is by placing those that can play hockey into these slots. Getting Smyth means the Oilers have more hockey players, meaning those in the bottom six are likely to hold their head above water, meaning the Oilers will resemble more NHL and less AHL. And for those who have said that this will take away time from the youngsters, please reconsider your point. Show me the study that states the only thing youngsters need to be NHL players is time. Yes, time helps, but so does protecting them in the line-up, putting them in positions to succeed and surrounding them with players that can actually play the game. Time most of the young Oilers are logging, also known as “lambs-playing-against-bulls-time”, is not the type of time so many of these young players need.
Then there is the ownership. As Lowetide mentioned today, ever since Smyth left the fans relationship with those in charge has never been the same. Yes we still come to the games, but Katz and Co. are doing a hell of a good job at trying to stop us. From a botched arena development that involved trying to strong arm the fans and the city that supports the club, to icing a product that is questionable at best, to employing the man who puts the “ass” in “class” in Mr. Patrick Laforge, everyone in Oilers operations should be ashamed. Oilers are no longer a club who name invokes whispers of greatness; instead it instills mediocrity. Now this view won’t change overnight, and with the management group currently involved it may never. But trying to get Smyth would be a start. Listen, the fans will understand if the Kings ask for far too much. Yet if you can show that you at least tried, that you at least care about how we feel about this club, it would allow us to instill some faith in you, no matter how small it may be. To not do it shows us that you likely never cared about the fan, nor never will. This is not the imagery you want to have prevailing amongst us.

So please, try to go out and get Ryan Smyth. As you can see from the recent media reaction, the mere mention of his return get all those who follow this team going. He brings out something in us that very few can, which is why we love him.
To quote hockey-speak, “the guy is a beauty.”

7 comments:

Lowetide said...

Excellent item top to bottom. Well done, gents.

Anonymous said...

That means a lot coming from you Lowetide. I will always say the same about what you do, keep up the excellent. work.

Also, what Vic wrote yesterday in the comments was pure gold. One of my favorite reads in awhile.

Again, thanks Pat for posting it.

- Matt Watt -

Krafty said...

Well done Mr. Watt. I agree whole-heartedly that we need to make this deal happen. Not only is he an inspiration to the fans, he can be to the young upcoming players as well, someone for them to look upon and emulate.

And if the rumours are to be believed (thats a big IF) then the price is a second rounder in this years draft. Do It. No question. The chance of said pick in becoming the player Smyth is, is slim to none, a small price to pay. Even if we have to throw in a stalled youngster such as Brule or Chorney, I would have no problem.

And a small point about the salary issue; currently we are under the floor. Unless ST goes chasing after a big name (which we all believe he will not) then we need to add some salary to get over the floor. Smyths $6M+ accomplishes that.

Anonymous said...

Kelly:
If the Oilers don't get Smyth they don't get him. The Kings are a far better team and as such I think he floated the idea out there, did not insist on it. All I care is that the Oilers try, least make it seem like they gave a strong effort. Sometime appearances mean a lot.

As for the salary situation, that is why I found it so funny. They are just barely above the floor, yet making it seem like no more contracts can be taken on. Why? Tambo better have it allocated for something good or this perpetual cycle of suck makes little sense.

- Matt Watt -

Anonymous said...

Also, I have been on a real double-negative roll today. Please ignore my illiteracy.

- Matt Watt -

Anonymous said...

Good read! I have two questions. First, why trade assets off your roster when you can sign him at the end of the season at a reduced rate? The Oilers won't be competitive this year or next. He wants to retire an Oiler and we all know he will sign July 1, 2012 on the dotted line.

Second, if Oiler management does pursue the deal and it doesn't happen, what scenario needs to unfold to instill a belief that the organization is committed to winning and its loyal fanbase? I think regardless of what happens, if the deal doesn't happen Oiler nation will be pushed even closer to the edge of the cliff and resign themselves to the fact that 2006 might as well of been 1919, the start of the Great Oiler Depression.

-Verno's Inferno

Black Dog said...

Verno - I think if they pursue it then it will happen, apparently LA wants a fourth rounder? Not a biggie.

I agree, you don't want to trade anything of value for him but I don't think they need to. He still has value and would help the club this season. Any player they want to bring in who is not UFA is going to cost something. If its a fourth (and I am just going by the rumour here) then you may as well do it.