Everyone bleeds red except for maybe Ryan Smyth who bleeds red and white. He has always been committed to this country on the ice and has decided to once again play hockey for Canada. On Friday he’ll head to Switzerland to compete in the Spengler Cup.
“It’s an honor to be given this opportunity,” Smyth said. “It’s going to be a great time and a great chance to get in some games.”
Smyth has practiced a lot during the current NHL lockout as he’s been skating with the Edmonton Oil Kings, but he hasn’t played any games, instead deciding to wait out the labour dispute. With no end in sight, he jumped at the chance to leave the team he should be playing for, the Edmonton Oilers, and join the team he loves playing for, Team Canada.
“I’ve been blessed in my career,” explained the left winger. “I’ve had a chance to play for my childhood team and also to play for my country. It’s just something special to step on the ice and have that Maple Leaf on your jersey.”
Smyth knows all too well what that looks and feels like. He represented Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships, he’s been involved in half a dozen World Hockey Championships. He also played in the World Cup and has been on the biggest stage of them all on two separate occasions — playing in Salt Lake City and Turin at the 2002 and 2006 Olympics respectively.
“To me Canada is the greatest country on earth. To give back a little by playing for the country and representing a nation is a privilege.”
When he has been seen in his Canadian colours, Smyth is wearing 94 on the back of his jersey and many times a ‘C’ on the front of his jersey. He has become known as “Captain Canada” yet he doesn’t know, or in fact care, if that will be the case at the Spengler Cup.
“It really doesn’t matter to me,” Smyth explained. “It would be nice but I’m not expecting anything. I’m just happy to be playing and I’m going there to win.”
He isn’t the only one from the Smyth clan who is going to Switzerland. Ryan’s wife, three kids, his father and mother-in-law, as well as his sister-in-law are going along with him on a European working vacation for his family. Considering how many times he has played for Canada, Smyth almost feels like family to hockey-loving Canadians.