Smyth injured during senior AAA provincial final
Ryan Smyth of the Stony Plain Eagles and former Edmonton Oiler, lands on the ice following a hit by Lacombe Generals forward Kyle Sheen during Chinook Hockey League provincial final playoff action at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex on March 11, 2017. (Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe)
Although the Stony Plain Eagles came out of Game 1 of the Chinook Hockey League final with a win, they’d finish the game without their captain and former Edmonton Oiler Ryan Smyth.
Midway through the third period, Smyth was cutting through the middle of the ice to score what would be his second goal of the night when he was caught on his right-hand side with a body check by Lacombe Generals winger Kyle Sheen.
The hit, which happened as officials blew the whistle, saw Smyth fall to the ice, unmoving. He later left the game, assisted, on his own two feet.
In releasing a statement Sunday via their Twitter, the Stony Plain Eagles referred to the hit as a “blatant head shot,” claiming the hit involved an elbow.
“As many of you have heard, last night out Captain and Canada’s Captain, Ryan Smyth was struck by an elbow from an opposing player who left his feet in Game 1 of our provincial final against the Lacombe Generals. This hit resulted in Ryan lying motionless on the ice in Lacombe as a hush fell over the crowd,” said Eagles General Manager Rob Sklaruk. “We will not comment any further on the hit and will allow our league to hand out its punishment to the player in question.
“On behalf of the Eagles Hockey Club, I would like to update that Ryan is in good spirits and is resting at home in Edmonton.”
A five-minute match penalty was assessed to Sheen. No announcement was made during the game as to what the penalty was for.
Although Stony Plain said they would not disclose video of the hit to the public after many requests, a clip found its way online Monday afternoon. By then, however, people across the country had began to message and criticize both the Generals and Sheen over social media.
Generals General Manager Jeff McInnis said the team absolutely does not condone the hit.
“As a team, we don’t want that to happen in our league, whether it’s our team or anyone else doing it. To think our team wants that is false,” McInnis said. “We don’t want Ryan hurt; We don’t want anyone hurt, especially in senior hockey to men who give their time and bodies to a game they love.”
He said there were a number of different aspects of the incident he didn’t like, including that it was a half a second late, and that Smyth didn’t see Sheen coming.
“I didn’t like how, in the heat of the moment, Kyle was on the ice with his hands up in the air as though to say ‘Well, come and get me.’ That was very unbecoming,” McInnis said.
“I wish we saw some indication of Kyle’s body easing up, something that indicated it was too late, but in that fraction of a second, he didn’t do that. I’m sure he wishes he did.”
According to McInnis, Sheen did reach out to Smyth via text and personal voicemail to express his remorse.
“He doesn’t expect a call or anything from Ryan – Ryan’s got to be pretty upset. There’s not much (Sheen) can do,” he said. “He expressed his remorse and he feels terrible and will face suspension, whatever that may be.”
Still, he says Sheen has been a valuable asset to the Generals and denounces the idea he doesn’t belong in the league.
“Kyle’s had success for six seasons with our team and he’s been a big part of our success. To paint him as a guy who shouldn’t be in the league and isn’t valuable is incorrect,” he said. “He’s a great person and a great teammate to all of those men so it’s a tough situation for him.
“He’s a guy who doesn’t deserve the negative attention, but does deserve a suspension for a suspendable hit.”
A decision on supplementary discipline on the hit is expected to be made by Hockey Alberta and the Chinook Hockey League.
Smyth did make an appearance Tuesday to watch the Generals and Eagles play in Stony Plain, but there is no official word on when he will return to the lineup.