Los Angeles Kings' Ryan Smyth is congratulated on his goal against the Colorado Avalanche during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 26, 2011. Smyth is heading back to the Edmonton Oilers.The 35-year-old was traded to Edmonton on Sunday by the Los Angeles Kings for forward Colin Fraser and a seventh-round draft choice in the 2012 NHL entry draft. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Danny Moloshok
EDMONTON - This past week has felt like a prize fight to Ryan Smyth.
Smyth's proposed trade to Edmonton from Los Angeles had been rumoured for days, but hit several snags before the two sides eventually came to an agreement Sunday that saw the Oilers send the Kings forward Colin Fraser and a seventh-round draft choice in the 2012 NHL entry draft.
"It was tough and it was exhausting," Smyth said on a conference call. "It was almost like going through a boxing match, 12 rounds, and in the end finding out that you're appreciated in regards to being an Oiler again.
"It was a pretty emotional ride but in the end I really believe this is where God wanted us to be. So we're really excited."
Smyth and his family had been thinking about the possibility of moving for six weeks.
"My wife and I discussed for a little while that we wanted to come back to Canada for personal reasons. That's where home is for us," Smyth said. "The kids are starting out in school. We just felt it would be best for us to come back."
Smyth asked Kings general manager Dean Lombardi for the trade but didn't anticipate the circus that would surround it.
"My wife and I discussed it just after the end of the season and we really felt it would be best if we could orchestrate it, talk with Dean about it," he said.
"I didn't want everything to explode to the level that it did. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment down there. It was just a different lifestyle for my wife and I and my family to live in. I hope nothing but the best for the organization of the Kings and the fans."
Smyth had 23 goals and 24 assists in 82 games last season with Los Angeles. He started his NHL career with the Oilers in 1994-'95 when Edmonton drafted him sixth overall in the 1994 draft. He spent over a decade with the team before being dealt to the New York Islanders in a surprise deadline deal in February 2007.
The six-foot-two, 192-pounder is 12th on Edmonton's all-time scoring list with 549 points (265 goals, 284 assists.)
Fraser is due to make $825,000 next season after finishing last season with three goals, two assists and 60 penalty minutes in 67 games with the Oilers last season.
"I still have a lot to offer," Smyth said. "I felt great last year. I felt like I was a little kid again. I stayed healthy, which was the number one thing. I just want to bring my leadership and wherever Tom (Renney) and the coaching staff want me to play I'll play."
Smyth joins an Oilers team that is going in a different direction to the one he left in 2007.
"When we left it was the year (after) we went to the cup. We lost Prongs (Chris Pronger) and then it just started to filter on after that," he said. "I see a huge upside. Obviously with the new draftees, Taylor Hall. Really exciting. (Jordan) Eberle. I just see a huge tremendous upside."
Smyth, who has played on the Canadian Olympic team twice and has represented Canada at the World Championships seven times, will bring his own brand of leadership to the young Oilers.
"What I've experienced along the way in my journey is a tremendous amount," Smyth said.
"I've been fortunate and blessed to play on the Olympics a couple times around, the world championships, a run to the Stanley Cup. I've been around the Lemieuxs, the Gretzkys, the Yzermans. I've hung around those type of players and seen what they bring on a consistent basis.
"It's all about how you come to the rink and how you execute as a hockey player. Just how you compete. Sometimes it's not what you say, it's how you act. Just going out and playing and being yourself."
Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini said part of the reason the team acquired Smyth was to help Edmonton's younger players in their development.
"You need people that are respectful of these young players," Tambellini said. "You need people that are encouraging as far as their development. You need people that want to share in their success. There's extreme passion there in Ryan Smyth."
While the 35-year-old is approaching the end of his career, thoughts of retirement are "way farfetched."
"I've got many years left in me," Smyth said. "I know that I'm older but I still got lots left in me. I feel like I've played some of my best hockey within the last few years. I felt excellent just this past season.
"Being around some young guys is going to push me and make me better. And hopefully I can bring some experience, some leadership and just enjoy."
Smyth is heading into the last year of his contract where he will cost the Oilers US$4.5 million.
"I got this last year and hopefully the organization can see that I would like to extend my deal and go from there," Smyth said. "But I'm just thrilled to be an Oiler."
Smyth admitted he thought about joining the Oilers' fierce provincial rivals, the Calgary Flames, but the pull of the Oilers was too strong.
"There was a couple of teams in the mix," he said. "(The Flames) were one of them for sure. The fact that they were willing and excited I thank them for that. But obviously it would have been really tough emotionally with the Edmonton blood that's in me."
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