This is a (poor) photo of Selmar Odelein. I watched him play for the Regina Pats in the early 1980s. He was a pretty nice hockey player, good enough to be drafted in the 1st round in 1984, 21st overall. I remember that draft very well because it came soonafter the Oilers first Stanley and because the procurement department was having a run similar to that of the Beatles 64-66: they were bigger than Jesus.
Central Scouting ranked Odelein #11 in the 1984 draft but he fell 10 slots to the Oildrop. He was on the Gold-winning 1985 WJC team (Canada) and they won silver the following year. Jeff Beukeboom was also on the 1985 team. He was a WHL 1st All-Star 1985.
He was a good hockey player, and although there was no Hockey’s Future and no blogs at the time Odelein was a player of interest to Oilers fans and certainly got his share of attention in publications like the Hockey News. In the summer of 1985 Odelein was mentioned as one of three defensemen (Beukeboom, Jim Playfair) who might be ready to either force their way onto the roster or be part of a package headed to Toronto for Borje Salming (which was a huge trade rumor at the deadline in 1985 spring).
I talk about injuries on this blog quite a bit. Examples would be here and here. The problem is we forget about these things so that when it comes to looking back on specific prospects we remember only failure or success and not the impact some of these injuries have on careers. For example, Marc Pouliot may never be the player Edmonton thought they were getting and a big part of that might be injury. It was certainly the case with Doug Lynch.
And with Selmar Odelein. He played 4 NHL games with the Oilers in 85-86 and then turned pro that fall, playing for the Nova Scotia Oilers (AHL). On October 17, 1986, he played in his second AHL game against Adirondack and and suffered a knee injury that would have a major impact on his career. Odelein eventually had to have major surgery and was never the same player again. He ended up in Europe and I believe his hockey career ended with a back injury.
This past season saw some injuries as part of the prospect story (specifically Jacques among the top enders) but the latest news on Taylor Chorney is something we need to remember. Not for the excuse-making when he fails, but for the real and obvious fact that injuries rip through a prospect clustre like a knife through butter. Defenseman appear to be the most vulnerable.
The Chorney injury doesn’t look that bad at this time. The young North Dakota defender is on record as saying “I got an MRI Monday they found out (it) was just a strain and I’ll only be out three to four weeks. It’s pretty good news, I feel pretty fortunate.”
The injury may or may not be a huge factor in his progress and career, but it’s something to keep in mind. History tells us that much.