A story about Ryan Smyth

Edmonton Sun: Smyth making amazing recovery strides

I've pointed to a couple other stories about Ryan Smyth's progress with this ankle injury. Right now I'd have to say Ryan is my favourite active player in the NHL. And there's a sentimental place in my heart for him... let me tell you why.

October 21, 1995. Vancouver Canucks vs. Edmonton Oilers, in Edmonton. My grandpa and I went to this game together, he sat to the right of me. To my Grandpa's right were two kids about my age that were enjoying the hockey game and quite a few beers. At one point, the guy next to Grandpa says, "hey do you know who that guy is up there?" We look behind us, a few rows, and see this skinny kid, 19 years old. "No, who is he?" "That's Ryan Smyth, he's a new Oilers draft and in a few years he's going to be tearing up the ice!" "Oh." Whatever... hadn't heard of him before, and frankly, the Oilers had horrible luck with their top draft picks, so I wasn't too impressed, but regardless, it was pretty cool to be sitting a couple rows away from Oilers Property.

Later in the game, the same guy asked my Grandpa if he could borrow his pen (Grandpa was a major statistics fan, and would keep stats during the game in the game program)... Grandpa was hesitant to lend the pen to this drunk kid but he did. The guy went up to Ryan Smyth and asked for his autograph. He was so psyched! We were happy for him. And Grandpa got his pen back. :-)

I'm reasonably certain that's the last hockey game we ever attended together before he past away, December 19, 1996. Tomorrow will be the 5th anniversary of his passing.

I miss you Grandpa! RIP.

Written on December 18, 2001