Following one season away from the game, Ryan Smyth is ready to return to the NHL. But don’t expect him to be strapping on the blades.
In an interview with the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson, Smyth, 39, said that he’s ready to be involved with hockey again, but he’s unsure how exactly he’ll fit in. One thing is for sure, though: he’d love to make his return as a member of the Oilers organization.
“I would like to sit down with (Oilers Entertainment Group chief executive officer) Bob Nicholson and see what they’re thinking,” Smyth told Matheson. “I want to be involved in hockey but I don’t know in what capacity.”
The Oilers have had a tendency to bring in former players in front office roles, and presently Kevin Lowe, Craig MacTavish and Kelly Buchberger, all former Oilers, are part of the organization. What spot Smyth would fit is uncertain, though it wouldn’t be hard to see him in a player development role. Considering there has already been rumors that Oilers first overall selection Connor McDavid bunking with Smyth during the rookie’s first NHL campaign, it would seem like others could see ‘Captain Canada’ in a development position, as well.
“I ran into Stacy Roest when I was back in Moose Jaw for my (jersey) retirement and he’s now Tampa Bay’s director of player development. I picked his brain a little bit,” Smyth told Matheson. “It’s something I’ve thought about, something I’ve processed.”
As for the McDavid rumors, Smyth said he hasn’t been contacted by the Oilers, but he wouldn’t be opposed to housing the could-be NHL superstar.
“I haven’t put my name forward,” Smyth said regarding the rumors. “It’s not that I haven’t thought about it though,” said Smyth, admitting his kids would be thrilled having McDavid in their house…I want the Oilers to excel going forward and Connor is going to be a big part of it, but you also have to protect the kid.”
Smyth could also join the growing legion of former players who move into coaching, though he admitted to Matheson that he hasn’t spoken “in depth” with new Oilers bench boss Todd McLellan about the potential of stepping in as an assistant. Smyth did, however, say that he believes McLellan will, “get the most out of this team.”
Where Smyth fits in the organization, if at all, is to be determined. There’s little doubt, however, that Smyth, who wore an Oilers jersey for more than 1,000 total NHL games, would cherish the opportunity to become part of the team again.