Every hockey web site, message board, forum, or mailing list at this point in the off-season has one Ryan Smyth rumor or another almost daily, so placing faith in any one rumor at this point is just about as sure-footed a strategy as throwing darts at a map of NHL cities. Personally, I've remained optimistic about the Islanders chances of bringing Smytty back, despite much of what I read lately. Why would they have made the deal if they weren't going to make every effort to keep a player like Smyth long term? It's not as though they could have possibly thought they were a bona fide Cup contender this season. Again, I've remained optimistic ... or at least I did ...
This morning's Newsday brought my optimism to a sudden hault. The headline: "Snow Backs Yashin". The gist of the article: expect Yashin and his ridiculous contract, lax play, uninspiring attitude, and subpar numbers to return next year. The unwritten, yet easily inferred sub-plot: expect Smyth to sign elsewhere.
As I've chronicled in earlier blogs, Alexei Yashin and Ryan Smyth are polar opposites. Yashin wears the "C", but is nowhere near captain material. Smyth oozes captain and leader from every pore. Yashin tweaks a knee and misses a month - minimum. Smyth takes a puck to the teeth, watches chicklets get swept off the ice, gets cleaned up a bit, and returns to the ice. Yashin avoids the corners like the plague. Smyth OWNS the corners. Teammates steer clear of Yashin. They flock to Smyth. Yashin frustrates fans. Smyth invigorates them.
To bring back Alexei Yashin, captain or not, is essentially saying goodbye to Ryan Smyth. Who, in their right mind, would ever choose Captain Cancer over Captain Canada?
This morning's Newsday article was a slap in the face. General Manager Garth Snow was quoted as calling Yashin, "A vital part of the organization." How, Garth? Please! I've given Snow tons of credit for a superb rookie year as GM, but quotes like this SCREAM company lackey! Let's be honest here. Alexei Yashin is LETHAL, not VITAL, to the organization.
Smyth, on the other hand, spoke with honesty after the Islanders were eliminated by Buffalo in the first round of this year's playoffs.
"I don't want to say it's embarrassing ... but a lot of guys didn't leave whatever they had out there until the end," he said.
"A lot of guys" obviously means more than one person. But Smyth's quote just as obviously included a goalless, pointless, WORTHLESS Yashin.
At this point, I'm dumbfounded. I'm so dumbfounded and disturbed that my thoughts are not connecting properly. This is nowhere near my best writing, but it definitely emits my frustrations.
This franchise has been through a lot, but the ability to buy a player out affords a team the luxury of something it hadn't had in the past. The ability to correct a mistake. There was no re-do when apathetic and fraudulent ownership limited the team's resources. There was no second chance when Mike Milbury traded away the likes of Olli Jokinen, Roberto Luongo, Bryan McCabe, Todd Bertuzzi, Eric Brewer and on and on and on and on and on. Charles Wang and Garth Snow right now have the opportunity to make up for the gargantuan goof that is Yashin's contract. The only thing worse than signing that thing in the first place would be to neglect the chance to rid the team of its burden, HIS burden, forever.
Yashin needs to go. No ifs ands or buts. Whether Smyth returns or not, Yashin needs to go.
Somewhere down the line, Islander fans are finally going to have had enough. I'm getting close. It hurts ... bad. But if this phony is back ...
I'm getting DAMN close ...