The last time the Edmonton Oilers and Ryan Smyth played a game of chicken, no one blinked and Ryan Smyth cried himself to the New York Islanders and an extra four million (or so) dollars in the off-season. Now, four million dollars is a lot of money, but when Smyth fought to get himself back to Edmonton for the last year of that contract, you got the feeling that he may have regretted his previous stubbornness. Of course, his return to Edmonton came with some costs: he arrived just in time to watch his old team win the Stanley Cup and just in time to let that pride well up again while negotiating another deal. Before the trade deadline, the Oilers offered Smyth a contract that was in the range of $2M per season for two seasons (source: Robin Brownlee). Smyth turned down the offer.It was a curious decision. When I looked for players who had performed similarly to Smyth, they received contracts right in that range, so it wasn't like the Oilers were being unreasonable. Of course, Smyth probably believed (and rightly so) that he could get a better deal on the open market. The thing is, he didn't actually want to get the best deal available to him on the open market, but rather, he wanted to get the best deal available to him to stay in Edmonton. That's probably why he waited so long to sign. It's probably also why he blinked. The new deal is a two-year contract that will pay him $2.25M per season (source: Darren Dreger), strikingly similar to the deal the Oilers had offered earlier.
I'm not going to lionize Smyth for backing down here. This isn't some kind of huge discount he's taking, and Smytty does in fact get to stay in his preferred city. Still, I can't help but smile that Edmonton is his preferred city, and I'm excited that one of my favorite Oilers will be back for another two years. All that's left to do now is hope like hell that he performs well enough to earn some angst from the fanbase when this next deal is coming to an end.