(A Near Flawless Prognostication Through Slightly Orange-and-Blue Colored Glasses)
So, here we are, less than a week to go before this year’s free agent frenzy. We’ll start to find out who’s going where on Sunday, if not sooner. For the New York Islanders and their fans, it’s hard to start throwing any new names out there at this point, what with very little resolved on the Ryan Smyth front. Personally, I’m not even prepared to talk about Jason Blake or any others among the Islanders unrestricted bunch until Smyth is re-signed.
That’s right, folks, I said, “Until.”
I did not say, “If,” or, “If and when.”
I did not say, “Should Smyth be re-signed.”
I said, “Until,” because, quite frankly, it’s going to happen.
I know, I know … a certain mysterious hockey blogger has a source who swears Calgary will end up with Smyth. And, yes, a certain prominent Canadian writer (whose name may or may not rhyme with Farren Freger) reported that Isles GM Garth Snow was, “Exploring the possibility,” of dealing Smyth’s exclusive negotiating rights. To this, Islander VP of Media Relations Chris Botta quickly fired back, before even the Army of potential NYI Blog Boxers had a chance (just say the word, General …), strongly refuting this claim on behalf of Snow. Still, the rumors from those less-informed (with even less to report, apparently) persisted. But now, folks, the entry draft has come and gone, Smyth remains the exclusive property of the Isles (for now) and you can all breath a sigh of relief. Ryan Smyth will remain an Islander. How can I be so … ahem … sure? I just had to do a little thinking, that’s all. I’ll walk you through it, step-by-step:
1 – Alexei Yashin Has Left the Building
As I, and many others, have chronicled before, Yashin’s departure didn’t automatically mean that Smyth would be back, but it was certainly a prerequisite for Smyth’s return. Simply put: Yashin stays, Smyth was gone. Yashin goes, we’re still in the game. Score one (I’ll call it one and a half) for the good guys.
2 – This Canada Thing is Overblown
We’ve all heard it by now, for sure. This is actually the first argument you’ll get from anyone who doesn’t believe Smyth will return to Long Island. “He only wants to play in Canada,” they’ll say. I say, “Shenanigans!” If Smyth wouldn’t consider the Islanders based on their “South of the Border” status, they’d know it by now. (And so would we … more on that in a minute.)
3 – Wangbucks Talk, Bullspit Walks
Ryan Smyth is the definition of a Ted Nolan player. He’s exactly the guy that this team wants to mold itself around. The captain’s “C” is his for the taking. The guys want to play with him. The fans want to pay to see him. The organization wants to make him their selling point. Barring anything utterly ludicrous, the Isles will not be outbid. (Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I give you exhibit A: Rick DiPietro.)
4 – Silence Speaks Volumes
Now this one is just a hunch, but things have been eerily quiet, haven’t they? I’m going with the glass half-full outlook via instinct on this one. If he absolutely, positively, 100 % wasn’t coming back, we’d just know it, right? Doesn’t Ryan Smyth, Islander captain just make sense?
5 – We Made it Through the Weekend
See points 2 and 3. If Smyth really did only want to play in Canada, or if he and agent Don Meehan truly were asking for a ridiculous amount of money that even Charles Wang would scoff at, given the Philadelphia/Nashville precedent that was recently set, Smyth’s rights would have been moved during the draft. Why? Wouldn’t it make perfect sense for a team like the Islanders, with no first or second-round picks, to move him then when every team has an extra chip or two to play with? After all, Nashville got a first-rounder for Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell. Wouldn’t Smyth be worth at least that much?
6 – Calgary is the Front-Runner?
So, maybe Ryan was hurt being traded by the Oilers. (Okay, there’s no maybe there. The guy loved Edmonton.) Maybe he truly wouldn’t consider a return to his former club, bridges being burned and all. But he’s got to know just how ill the Oiler faithful would get seeing their “Smytty” donning the colors of the hated Calgary Flames. Smyth grew up an Oiler fan. He hates the Flames, right? He may be sore at the Oilers organization, but he wouldn’t stick it to the Oiler nation like that, would he? With, presumably, his choice of a multitude of teams, he couldn’t really pick Calgary, right? Of course not! (I mean, personally, I always said that if the Rangers ever offered me a job that I would steadfastly refuse, holding out for another lucky NHL franchise looking for an astute hockey mind. ***ATTENTION: NHL EXECS: Offers will be accepted through my hockeybuzz.com inbox. But, Glen Sather and friends, DON’T YOU EVEN BOTHER!!!***) Besides the really giving it to the Oilers thing, who in their right mind wants to play for Mike Keenan anyway?
So, there you have it: six relatively foolproof reasons why Ryan Smyth will remain an Islander for years to come. All it took was a little thought and even less reason. I rest my case and will await the announcement of the press conference that is sure to come any day now.