Jason Smith Absolutely Bails Out Ottawa

I'm a big fan of Jason Smith. I'd like to start this writing by mentioning that I believe Smith to be one of the grittiest, firey, and passionately true "Oilers" that ever played for the Copper and Blue. Oiler fans should always be greatful for having a guy like Jason Smith help define and set forth what it meant to be an Edmonton Oiler.

With all that said, Smith's retirement announcement comes at a time that helps everyone, especially the Ottawa Senators. This retirement devoids Ottawa of all consequences related to going over the salary cap and signing a player like Kovalev, when as a team, they didn't have the room to do so. With their inability to move Heatley and the season not far off, the Senators and in all likelihood Jason Smith knew that a decision was coming. A decision that would have made everyone look bad.

When you have cap issues and you can't make further trades, you're options as a team are to find an expendable player and waive or bury their contract in the minors. Jason Smith was going to be that player. At $2.5 million and being far less effective than he was with his limited skill set to start with, it's very possible this decision comes after a conversation between Murray and Smith which gave Gator the option to publicly leave on his terms. Sure, it's just as likely Smith was looking at or contemplating retirement anyways, but it's no coincidence that he made this announcement before being moved ; and it was smart to do so.

Ottawa didn't want to bury a gritty verteran and captain material player in the minors, and Smith wouldn't have wanted to go there. Retiring allows Smith the opportunity to leave in a dignified manner, and in the meantime, help Ottawa clear up some much needed cap space. So too, if my hunch is correct, I respect Murray for giving Smith that option.

Regardless of why this retirement took place, my hat goes off to Jason Smith. He'll truly be remembered as an Oiler who took no crap, who stood up for his team and who was able to make a worthy career out of more than skill. It's too bad not all of our current roster could be a little more like Gator.


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