Who Wore It Best: #94
After featuring several numbers having represented by only a single player, ninety-four has been worn by two players. Kinda sorta.
Ryan Smyth: LW 2007-2009, 140GP, 42-59-101, 114PIM
Ryan Smyth came to the Avalanche from the Islanders in the summer of 2007 as an unrestricted free agent. After spending just shy of twelve seasons in Edmonton, he was traded to New York by the Oilers rather than meet his contract demands. Colorado, however, was more than willing to give him the five-year, $6mil/year contract he sought. He came highly recommended: first round pick (6th overall in 1994) power forward currently scoring at a point-per-game pace with lots of leadership ability.
Smyth was not only in search of a contract but also wanted to play for a cup contender. In a tear-filled send-off from Edmonton, he said he would, “win the Stanley Cup with the Islanders and bring it back to Edmonton.” The 2006-07 Islanders were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Buffalo Sabres.
Ryan’s first season in Colorado didn’t go much better. Due to his aggressive play style, injuries often prevented him from playing a full slate of games. Neck and ankle issues limited Smyth to fifty-five regular season contests and his stats – 14 goals and 23 assists – were some of the lowest of his career. He recovered enough to see action in the postseason. His winning goal in game six against the Minnesota Wild sent the Avalanche into the second round (assisted by David Jones and Tyler Arnason). Smyth only played in two of the games against the Red Wings due to his reoccurring ankle problems. Detroit swept Colorado and went on to win the Stanley Cup.
Putting major time and resources into Smyth’s injury problems in the summer paid off in the 2008-09 season. He played 77 games and came close to his old form scoring 26 goals and adding 33 assists. Both he and Milan Hejduk reached their 300th goal milestones on the same night in a 6-2 drubbing of the Calgary Flames. In spite of the optimism and his improved play, the Avalanche as a team finished last in the Western Conference.
The Avalanche fully embraced the rebuild moving into the 2009 season but Smyth still sought a chance at a championship. Colorado agreed to trade him to a contender and worked out a deal with the Kings in exchange for Kyle Quincey, Tom Preissing, and a fifth round pick (Luke Walker). In his two seasons in LA, Ryan didn’t match his last one in Denver. While the Kings made the playoffs each of those seasons, they also exited the post season in the second round each time.
At this point Smyth realized time was catching up to him and would rather end his career with the team that gave him his start. Although signed for three years in LA, the Kings agreed to trade Ryan to Edmonton. The original terms of Gilbert Brule and a fourth caused some controversy. The NHL nixed the deal since Brule had been placed on long-term injured reserve. The teams finally agreed on a healthy Colin Fraser and a seventh. Smyth played three more seasons for the Oilers and secured his legacy as the team’s all-time power-play scorer (126 goals). In April 2014 Smyth again bid farewell to Oilers fans as he announced his retirement.
Considered part of the Best-Players-to-Never-Win-a-Stanley-Cup Club, Smyth participated in three All-Star games, led the league in power play goals in the 1996-97 season, and received several Selke trophy nominations.
Andrei Mironov: D 2017-2018 10GP, 1-2-3, 12PIM
Colorado chose Mironov in the fourth round of the 2015 draft (101st). He’d been playing for Dynamo Moscow of the KHL for the past three years and continued there through the end of the 2016-17 season. Andrei was placed on the Avs starting roster immediately debuting in the first game of the season. He was then sent down to the San Antonio Rampage much of the rest of October. Called back against the Blackhawks on Oct 28th, Mironov participated in the next eight games before returning to San Antonio. Andrei again joined the Avs for a Dec 31st tilt with the Islanders. That was last time he got game action but not the last of his call-ups. After this point he was only brought up to the big club to sit as a healthy scratch.
Fed up with the yo-yo routine, Mironov finally refused to report anymore to the Rampage. The Avs terminated in contract in March of 2018. By May, Andrei had signed a new three-year tender with Dynamo Moscow.
While he enjoyed good rapport with the players, Mironov received criticism for seemingly not adapting his game to the different size and tempo of North America. Criticism has also been leveled at the Avalanche organization for putting him into NHL competition right away rather than sending him to San Antonio for the entire season to allow for the adjustment. Additionally, rumors swirled suggesting that Andrei refused to come to Colorado without a guarantee of playing for the top club. In any case, the Avalanche organization appears to be correcting for this sort of situation with a development strategy incorporating their AHL and ECHL affiliates.
So, dear reader, who wore #94 the best?
That’s a rhetorical question, of course. Ryan Smyth is the only honest answer here.
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