The Edmonton Oilers have gone through several captains and alternate captains through the past couple of years. The team has even taking to having home and away alternates. True, most of that has been due to the fact that the Oilers have had more than their share of injuries, but I often wondered if it also had to do with some of the leadership quotes that the coaching staff made. Quite often it has been said that some players need to step up their leadership, or that they are hoping that some players will emerge as a leader. Now, what happens with the fan perceived leader of old returns to the fold, what now?
The only Oilers that remain from the days when Ryan Smyth, Captain Canada last roamed the halls of Rexall are few. The majority of the current Oilers roster have never played with Smyth. So, it is indeed hard to say that Smyth should be seen as the natural leader for the team this season, but what about an "A", would that go over well for the team and the fans.
Last season Ryan Whitney, Ales Hemsky, Tom Gilbert, Jim Vandermeer, Ladislav Smid and Dustin Penner were among those Oilers who wore the "A", and only Penner and Vandermeer are no longer Oilers. Although I am against the Oilers taking the "C" away from Shawn Horcoff, or asking him to give it up for Ryan Smyth, I don't see it being the same thing sewing an A on Smyth's jersey.
Smyth was wearing an "A" on the front of his away jersey when last he skated as an Oiler, but it has been many years since we last saw that picture. Years of experience don't always mean that someone will be a great leader. Sometimes it takes respect, earned from battling together. I believe that Smyth would be an excellent option for an alternate captain. He may not be known, personally by the young and new Oilers, but from what we have always heard from the Oilers coaching staff, management and other players, Smyth is exactly the type of leader you would like to see your new recruits aspire to be like.
I take it to our fans here, would you see it as appropriate to give Smyth a letter?