Ryan Smyth earned the nickname “Captain Canada” for his frequent appearances for his country in international events. Smyth won gold for Canada at the World Junior Championships (1995), the World Cup of Hockey (2004), the World Championships (2003 and 2004) and the Olympics (2002), but he won’t get a chance to duplicate that final feat.
Smyth was not selected for Team Canada today. With his strong play at the start of this season, Smyth had made a push for inclusion on Canada’s roster, but then his mid-November injury kept him off the ice for almost six weeks, during the time when Canada’s roster was being finalized. Here’s what Smyth said today about not being included and about Drew Doughty’s selection, followed by Terry Murray’s thoughts about Smyth…
Question: Were you disappointed to not be included on the team?
SMYTH: “Am I disappointed? Yes, I’m disappointed. I would love to play for my country. It brings chills to my spine as I say it. I have a great deal of pride with putting on the Canadian jersey, and I hope to for many more years.”
Question: There’s still a chance that something could happen over the next six weeks, and you could get added. Do you take anything away from that?
SMYTH: “I believe they picked the 23 guys for a reason. I know there’s a lot of hockey between now and then, but you’ve just got to go out and play and carry on forth. If an accident happens, it happens, but you can’t think about that. These guys are going to represent our country with pride and I’ll be their No. 1 fan.”
Question: What do you think about Drew Doughty being selected?
SMYTH: “I think he’s a tremendous pick. I’ve gotten to experience playing with him over the course of this year. He’s nothing but raw talent and obviously he plays well in his own zone. Everybody thinks he’s really offensively skilled, which he is, but he is determined to play well in his own zone and when he sees the chance to jump up in the play, he will. He will make a huge impact for that team.”
Question: What were your thoughts about Ryan Smyth not being included on the team?
MURRAY: “I’m sure he is very disappointed. He was looking forward to playing one more time with the Canadian Olympic team, especially in Vancouver, where he spends his summers now. He was the first player here in the dressing room this morning, with the television on and listening very closely to the announcement. So it’s been a tough morning for him. There’s no question that the injury he went through, six weeks away from the game, must have had some kind of an impact on the decision. There’s a lot of players in the game, and whenever you’re not visible for that length of time, you can go out of sight very quickly.
“Still, with that, there’s a lot of guys that have been playing, right from the start of the year, and were not selected. So it’s a tough process. You’ve got people involved in the decision-making part of it that have to feel comfortable with their own team. Yzerman and Babcock made that decision, and I’m sure that the group they selected is going to have great success.”