It never gets old watching certain guys play hockey, even as they continue to age.
Like most elite players, Sakic makes those around him better. He certainly contributes enough on his own, but his ability to raise the level of play in his linemates is a rare gift. We're not talking
Before you go off thinking that it is a cinch to pair proven players together and get the expected results, I hold up the New York Rangers as exhibit A. The predicted success of having
Sakic's ability to find Smyth so easily is a sign of greatness, but also hastening their side-by-side effectiveness is the fact that the two know each other hockey-wise from playing as teammates on several editions of Team Canada. Most recently, they played together at the 2006 Olympic Games in Turin, Italy. Then consider that, over the past couple of seasons,
So, that familiarity -- both of the player and his style of play -- is on Sakic's side. But what is as striking as Sakic's recent run of point-per-game-plus production is how comfortable Smyth looks in an Avs jersey. Prior to his acrimonious down-to-the-wire February trade deadline negotiations in Edmonton, Smyth was the face of the Oilers franchise. He was a local product and the team's captain. He oozed Oilers. Watching him play now, though, he looks like an Avalanche lifer. The Rocky Mountain logo suits him. He doesn't look awkward or out of place at all.
That's to Smyth's credit, surely. So to, though, is the astute assessment by Avs' management. They signed a player they knew would fit their style of play. The differences in systems from team to team and conference to conference might be subtle, but it can have a substantial effect on early output and long-term production. There are no such issues with Ryan Smyth in Denver.
Of course, it helps when Joe Sakic drives the welcome wagon.
The same night, Sakic, Smyth and the rest of the Avs entertain the Pittsburgh Penguins in what is