PASSIONATE ABOUT THE GAME
After a brief morning skate and a number of introductions, Ryan Smyth was handed his new No. 94 New York Islanders sweater by general manager Garth Snow and head coach Ted Nolan, in front of dozens of cameras and reporters from the United States and Canada.
Smyth grew up in Alberta an avid Edmonton fan during their heyday in the mid-1980s when they won five Stanley Cups. After reflecting on his time in Edmonton, he continued by discussing his new home Long Island.
"I look forward to this new chapter with the Islanders and making a run for the Cup," said Smyth. "I'm just one player and that doesn't make a team, but hopefully, I'll be a piece to the puzzle that gives this team an opportunity to win the Cup."
When Smyth arrived at the arena this morning around 11 am, he had little time to dress and get on the ice before the Islanders' morning skate ended, but he still had time to talk to some of the players and personnel.
"Everyone here has been so welcoming," said Smyth. "The first guys I talked to were Silli and Hunts. I know Silli from way back, and Hunts as well. I met some guys in the locker room and on the ice as well. The atmosphere has been really good."
A student of the game, Smyth certainly knows the Oilers dynasty that he grew up following closely, but he also talked about the dynasty the preceded the Oilers', the Islanders' four Stanley Cup run.
"I really appreciate the history of this organization. Just looking up at the banners, it's a lot like the history of the Oilers. The names of Trottier, Bossy go on and on."
One reporter asked how Smyth would respond now that he's not playing for the team he grew up idolizing.
"Every day I'm proud to be playing in the National Hockey League," said Smyth. "When I get onto that ice, I think about nothing but being at the rink and doing whatever it takes to help the team win. I'll do whatever Ted wants me to do even if it means putting my teeth in front of a shot."
The four-time 30 goal scorer said he was "honored and flattered" by the Islanders' fans responses to his arrival on Long Island.
Smyth also talked about how is older brother, Kevin, played under Nolan, when he was an assistant coach for the Hartford Whalers. When asked what his brother thought of Nolan, Smyth jokingly said "no comment," smiling and looking towards Nolan. He continued "No, everyone I've spoken to has said Ted is such a great guy, who's easy to get along with. I look forward to playing under him."
A mainstay on Team Canada in international competition Smyth surprised when he received a call from Islanders legend Mike Bossy this morning.
"It was an honor for me that he took time out of his day to give me a call," said Smyth. He was a legend on those Islanders teams when I was growing up. So it was awesome to get a phone call from Bossy."
Check Islanders TV this afternoon to watch this morning™s press briefing with Ryan Smyth.