After 19 seasons, Ryan Smyth calls it a career

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One of the most beloved Oilers of all time is stepping away.

Ryan Smyth, who played the second-most games (970) in Edmonton franchise history, announced his retirement on Friday to an outpouring of emotion and admiration from his peers and former coaches.

“We would like to thank Ryan for being a great Oiler,” said general manager Craig MacTavish, per CBC. “Ryan and his family are ambassadors for both the Oilers and the city of Edmonton and we cannot thank them enough for their dedication. Ryan truly exemplifies what it means to be an Oiler and I am extremely proud to have had him as a key part of our hockey club for so many years.”

MacTavish wasn’t the only member of the Oilers’ organization to heap praise on Smyth.

Taken sixth overall by Edmonton at the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, Smyth spent the first 12 years of his career in Edmonton and emerged as the face of the franchise, scoring 16 points in 24 games en route to the 2006 Stanley Cup Final. He also provided an unforgettable moment in 2007, breaking down in tears upon being traded to the Islanders after failing to reach a new contract agreement in Edmonton:

Smyth returned to Edmonton via trade from Los Angeles in 2011, and would go on to tie Hall of Famer Glenn Anderson for the most power-play goals in franchise history.

“I have been truly blessed to play this game for as long as I have and will cherish the memories forever,” Smyth said. “After some difficult discussions over the past week, I felt it was best to make this decision and move on with life after hockey and enjoy every minute I have with my family.”