According to Josh Elliott of the Hockey News, Ryan Smyth was a captain of the Edmonton Oilers for one night in his final National Hockey League game on Saturday. Smyth, a native of Banff, Alberta (an hour west of Calgary), officially announced his retirement on Friday in a press conference.
Smyth also led the Oilers in ice time at 23 minutes and 46 seconds. In 24 shifts, Smyth was a -1, took a two minute minor penalty for roughing with 3:54 left in the second period and had a shot on goal. The Oilers defeated the Vancouver Canucks 5-2.
Prior to the game, Ryan Smyth's son Alex stood beside him during the national anthem of O Canada. After the game according to CBC Sports, Smyth received a hug from the referees and linesmen officiating the game.
It would have been interesting to see how well the Oilers would have done over the last three years if Smyth was their full time captain. One thing is for sure. Smyth, who was the captain for many years for Team Canada at the World Hockey Championships, played with more emotion and showed stronger leadership last night as captain than Shawn Horcoff or Andrew Ference had over that time period. Oilers fans will be left wondering what could have been.
Smyth finished the 2013-14 regular season with ten goals and 13 assists for 23 points in 73 games. Smyth, who is the all-time leader in Oilers power play goals (tied with Glenn Anderson with 126), also has career totals of 386 goals, 456 assists and 842 points in 1270 games.
With the victory, the Oilers improved to 29-44-9. However their 67 points now moved them one point ahead of the Florida Panthers into 28th in the National Hockey League standings. The Oilers desperately need a defenseman, and with the victory probably saw their chances of drafting second evaporate. The Panthers desperately need a defenseman too to protect newly acquired goaltender Roberto Luongo and will probably select Aaron Ekblad if the Buffalo Sabres don't.