It’s all over but the crying.
Actually, the crying is over, too, after Ryan Smyth skated off Rexall Place in an Oilers uniform for the very last time.
One of the most beloved figures in team history had a warm and weepy sendoff Saturday night, capping his brilliant 1,270th game career with one final victory - an emotional 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every moment I’ve had in this jersey,” he said after the last of his on-ice farewells. “They are the best fans in the world. It’ll be a hard moment to take this jersey off.”
While the season is absolutely worth crying over, Saturday’s stage provided the fans and players with a chance to at least end it with something special.
And they did.
“It was special just to be a part of that, Smytty is such a class act and he means so much to this city,” said Jordan Eberle. “It was unbelievable. I had goose bumps the whole game.”
Game 82 in most Oilers season is a pitiful and pointless exercise, but Smyth and the fans made this one fun.
And his teammates held up their end of the party, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first 22 minutes (Roman Horak, Jeff Petry and Will Acton scoring on Edmonton’s first six shots) before Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored late in the second and early in the third to extinguish any thoughts Vancouver might have had about spoiling the evening.
Smyth and the fans did the rest, providing some great theatre.
“As far as it being a special night and night I’ll never forget, it was definitely one of those,” said Taylor Hall. “Smytty wanted to out with a win, to go out on a high note, that was his main message before the game. We won it for him. It’s great memories when you’re playing with a guy like him.”
The memories were plenty. The place roared every time he touched the puck, and went crazy watching him stay out there for entire two-minute power plays in search of a franchise record 127th power play goal.
They lost their minds when Vancouver took a four-minute minor, and then again when head coach Dallas Eakins had the sense of occasion to call time out half way through and give him a breather.
They actually booed when Jordan Eberle got credit for a goal they thought Smyth might have tipped, and Eberle laughed along with them.
“On the replay, we maybe thought he’d spun around and tipped it, we were hoping,” said Eberle. “We were shooting everything, trying to get the puck around him for him to tip it. We were trying so hard.”
Again, the season sucked, but Smyth’s last ride put some smiles on some faces. Players, fans, everyone.
“It was all about him,” said Eberle. “We wanted him to go out with a bang and I think we did that.”
The Oilers finish the season 28th, with a 29-44-9 record. That part will sting all summer.
But when asked if he’s glad this season is finally over, David Perron motioned over to Smyth and said if there’s one thing the veteran Oiler taught everyone in the room is that you should never take any game, any day, in the NHL for granted.
It’s all over but the crying.