There were more tears in Edmonton this week, as Ryan Smyth made his first trip to Northern Alberta as a member of the Avalanche.
Besides the nice human-interest angle of the Warrior returning home, two things struck me about the occasion.
First, Ryan Smyth could be mayor of Edmonton. The standing ovation given by Oilers fans proved most people weren’t snowed under by last year’s muckraking by Western Canada’s media elitists upon Smyth’s departure.
As we all know, GM Kevin Lowe admitted he made a mistake in his negotiations with Smyth, misjudging the incoming salary cap and instead trading Captain Canada to the Isles.
And here’s where the second point comes in: Even though the Isles lost a top prospect and a first round pick (plus Robert Nilsson) for 23 games of Smyth, they managed to escape the curse that has befallen the other three teams involved in the saga.
Watch the dominos fall: Edmonton loses their heart-and-soul leader, then tries to replace him with Thomas Vanek (unsuccessfully) and Dustin Penner (successfully). So far this season, Penner hasn’t taken off and neither have the Oilers.
Over in Buffalo, they are ‘forced’ to give Vanek a monster contract, having already lost Briere and Drury in free agency. Buffalo is currently second-last in the East and Vanek is on pace for about 30 points less than he had last year.
Finally, in losing Penner, Anaheim lost the third member of the emerging PPG line (with Getzlaf and Perry), which could have been its No. 1 line this year, since Teemu Selanne is also gone. The result? The champs stumble out to a 4-7-1 record.
Naturally there are some other factors at play, but these teams are certainly “cursing” the Ryan Smyth deal.