On Tuesday, the Edmonton Oilers traded 31-year old forward Ryan Smyth to the New York Islanders for Robert Nilsson, Ryan O'Marra, and the Islanders' 2007 first-round pick.
On Wednesday, Smyth met the press for the first time since the trade, and cried like a toddler while insisting that he wanted to stay with his old team.
He was very happy in Edmonton, he said, and after playing twelve seasons and 770 games with the Oilers he never thought he'd be traded. He also said that he'd bring the Stanley Cup back to Alberta if he won a championship with the Islanders.
What Ryan Smyth didn't say was that he and his agent Don Meehan were in the midst of stalled contract negotiations with the Oilers, and that he could have stayed in Edmonton if he weren't so greedy.
Smyth, whose current deal is up at the end of the year, would have been an unrestricted free agent this offseason if he and the team didn't reach an agreement. The Oilers were offering $5.4 million a year for five years; Smyth and Meehan were asking for $5.7 million a year for the same duration.
At 2:59 p.m. on February 27th, the two parties were still at odds. The impasse left the Oilers in a bad position: If they didn't make a move, they risked losing Smyth for nothing in July. Instead, the Edmonton front office decided to protect itself, and GM Kevin Lowe made the wise decision to get what he could for the star forward.
The bottom line is this: Smyth could be an Oiler today if he'd been willing to give up $300,000 a year -- 5.5 percent of the total $5.7 million he was asking for. If you ask me, his stubbornness was a product of pure greed. He gambled, and he lost...and then he reacted by sobbing as if something tragic had happened.
Which brings up a question for everybody out there: How much is your happiness worth?