Be A Player: Rewind | Ryan Smyth

Originally aired February 21, 2002, this episode features Edmonton Oilers fan favourite, Ryan Smyth – aka ‘Captain Canada’ – serving it up as a chef at his restaurant!

Ryan Smyth

Drafted 6th overall in 1994 by the Edmonton Oilers

386-456—842 over 1,270 GP

1995 World Junior champion

2002 Winter Olympic Gold medalist

2003 & 2004 World Champion

2004 World Cup Champion

2007 NHL All-Star

2012 Spengler Cup winner

The year was 2002, the host was Brett Lindros, and the player was Ryan Smyth.

A young Smyth proudly wore an Edmonton Oilers jersey to a Calgary Flames game long before he ever skated in the NHL for the club. But when it came to his draft year, the Oilers were a little more coy about how keen they were on selecting the Banff, Alberta native with their sixth overall pick at the 1994 NHL Entry Draft.

As Smyth tells it in this week’s Be A Player: Rewind, Phil Esposito and the Tampa Bay Lightning threw all their cards on the table in letting the teenager know that he was their guy – should he be available by the time the team’s eighth pick came around. There was no indication one way or the other from Glen Sather and company, but as it turns out, the club was smitten with Smyth and he wouldn’t hang around long enough to don a lightning bolt crest on his jersey.

Smyth played 11 consecutive seasons beginning in 1994 for the Oilers before spending two and a half more between the New York Islanders, Colorado Avalanche, and Los Angeles Kings. He returned to the club in the 2011-2012 season and retired after skating in his final NHL game with the club. He was paid a touching tribute by the team, in which he was honoured by being dubbed captain for the night of April 12, 2014.

Along the way, Smyth posted career highs in goals (31), assists (39), and points (70) with Edmonton in the 2000-01 season.

Not only does this episode feature a candid Smyth away from the rink, but we get a peak into one of his passions – food! The winger takes Lindros behind-the-scenes to serve up a few dishes at his restaurant at the time, Chance.

BONUS: Ian Turnbull, who scored five times in a single game to earn an NHL record that still stands 40 years later, puts his artistic side on display. Turnbull is a gifted artist with a visual and musical side – check out his manipulated digital prints while also being treated to a riff or two on his guitar.
Then and Now

After the doors closed on Chance Restaurant, Smyth went on to a new venture, partnering with Chris Lachance to open LUX Steakhouse + BAR94 in downtown Edmonton.

Smyth played in 1,270 NHL games over 19 seasons as he developed into a fan favourite among Oilers fans. Appreciated by the whole of Canadian hockey fans, Smyth also earned the moniker ‘Captain Canada’ around the nation for his impressive collection of international accolades. He served as captain at the IIHF World Championship six times (winning two golds and one silver), and brought home Olympic gold, as well as world junior gold, and World Cup and Spengler Cup titles.

Smyth was recently celebrated by Hockey Canada in January for his outstanding contributions, and was named a 2018 Order of Hockey honouree alongside Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock and Olympic champion Danielle Goyette.

Smyth’s name still bears significance on the Oilers of today’s game, including current team captain Connor McDavid.

“It’s an amazing honour. He’s done a lot for the game in Canada," McDavid spoke of Smyth's impact. Seeing him around the room in Edmonton, you just get a sense of how passionate he is for the game. He still plays senior level hockey, that says everything about him. He just wants to play. He loves it. And now he’s being recognized for it."

“It’s a huge honour and one he’s definitely deserving of,” added Oilers’ goalie Cam Talbot. “I’ve met him multiple times in the few years I’ve been here and you can tell his passion burns for the game, you could see it when he was on the ice and all the times he represented our country. There’s no one more deserving of the honour than him.”

The group will be honoured June 18-19 at a gala in London, Ontario.