Smid: ‘MacTavish not afraid to move guys’

Nail Yakupov is among a handful of Western Conference players who need strong seasons. Jason Franson/CP

CALGARY — Ladislav Smid had this warning for the boys back on his old team, the Edmonton Oilers, if things don’t turn around pretty soon in Edmonton. “They’re going to start dealing guys,” says Smid, a seven-year Oiler who was traded on Friday to Calgary, where he’ll debut tonight for the Flames. “Mac (GM Craig MacTavish) is not afraid to move guys, for sure. He wants to succeed. He doesn’t want to wait. I think there’s been too much waiting, too much waiting. He’s not going to (mess) around.”

Smid and his wife Ashley—an Edmonton girl—had only this past summer moved into the house they had built in the Alberta capital. Now it’ll be on the market, and she’s already buying Flames doggy sweaters for their pooch, Jasmine. “Funny, eh?” laughs Smid.

The 27-year-old Czech, was a core piece on Edmonton’s blueline, having come from Anaheim in the Chris Pronger trade back in 2006. Seven seasons and five coaches later the Oilers are still mired in the basement, and the Flames are already ahead in the standings. He can’t pinpoint what’s gone wrong in Oil Country. “I have no clue, no clue. I think they would like to know too,” says Smid, who was traded from Anaheim by then-GM Brian Burke, and now acquired by a Calgary team that calls Burke its president of hockey operations. “It was a search for identity in Edmonton. What the face of the team is going to be? Everyone was talking about how skilled we are … but when Dallas (Eakins) came his biggest thing was to give us a different identity. Work hard, and the skill will come with that.

“The system was fine,” he continued. “We had five different coaches over the past five years, but that’s not the biggest problem. I don’t know if it’s the chemistry, the personnel, how the team is built? With that team, there is no reason they should be last. No reason. It’s not much fun when you lose every night, coming back to the room and trying to keep it positive. We somehow, kind of did keep it positive, but it was such a grind.”

The Oilers will welcome goalie Ilya Bryzgalov into their dressing room soon, and Smid was asked if that will help matters. “I’ve never met him. I’ve just seen his interviews. He’s hilarious,” he laughed. “I wish them all the best. I had seven great years there. I don’t regret it.”

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