The Oilers sent Brad Hunt, Zack Kassian and Griffin Reinhart to Bakersfield this week, so they could see some playing time during the off week for the All-Star game. It is a major item—Edmonton’s hockey team is on a damned long layoff and that will have its own consequences. I think the organization still believes (the Oilers playoff hopes may well end up being an X-File later in the season) they can push for the second season, but a ghastly start after the break will put it all to rest.
I have been thinking about tonight’s lineup (nothing posted yet, McDavid isn’t going to play) and about their decade—the one that begins tonight. Do you remember the old Edmonton Roadrunners? That team is eleven years old now (2004-05) and the years have given us poetry and prose for every line. How did it turn out? Great! And awful.
2004-05 ROADRUNNERS NHL GAMES PLAYED
- Jarret Stoll (841) The home run career in the group, on Stanley, on money, on wealth and on fame. A crooked road or two, but hell boys would we have done anything differently?
- Kyle Brodziak (667) Miles and miles and miles farther than we thought, Lorne Davis apparently knew but he didn’t have enough friends in management to stay so they sent him away. Brodziak never missed a beat and continues to skate in the world’s best hockey league.
- Raffi Torres (635) At 34, still chasing dreams and demons. Exactly one helluva player.
- Toby Petersen (398) Although he is often a punch line for Oilers fans, at the end of the day (thanks, Chris Pronger!) the man believed in himself and, more importantly, found important others who did the same. Oilers walked him about a decade ago, he went down to the AHL and ran out every groundball for an entire season—and he caught the train back to the show for another 220+ NHL games. You have to respect that—or you should—and if you are a former Oilers prospect and reading this, you hold on tight to the Toby Petersen Story. Not every hockey man knows his ass from a hole in the ground.
- Brad Winchester (390). The wind blew him a long way, he made it, and stayed for a time.
- Jeff Woywitka (278) I think Doug Lynch would have had a stronger career, but you can’t blame Woywitka for that, and you can’t blame him for the Comrie deal. Heh. There was a time when I was a mod at HF that I could have sent everyone in that deal into the sun for the trouble they caused. Of course, none of them did a damn thing but pursue their dream. I am glad he got 278.
- J-F Jacques (166) He didn’t play much for the Edmonton Roadrunners, but did get into a lot of games as an Oiler. My two enduring memories of him were Quinn’s folly (opening night 2009-10 with Horcoff and Hemsky) and the year he went forever without a single point. How he did it, God only knows. Good Christ this has been an insane decade.
- Tony Salmelainen (70) He caught a flight to Switzerland, finished up 2013-14.
- Mathieu Roy (66) I think about him sometimes, when I fall down or the dog does something silly. I have never seen a hockey player before or since who could find an awkward moment out of the blue like this fellow. He is still playing, God bless him. DEL. Hamburg Freezers. I imagine one will fall on him soon.
- Jeff Deslauriers (62) He played a lot for the Oilers not so long ago (2009-10), but we really don’t talk about him much now. Remains an active player, in the DEL with Augsburg where he is the starting goalie.
- Martin St. Pierre (39) I saw him good as a Roadrunner, but he was small, smaller, smallest. One of the big upsets on this list is that he made it into 39 games, suspect that ridiculous skill bought him every game. I am glad he got some at-bats.
- Mike Morrison (29) Three memories. Fantastic accent, just a beauty. If I were rich, I would pay him to read Kenndy’s speeches. Second thing: The shootouts! MacT would bring him in off the bench. Holy hell. Third? Well, since he was a goalie in 2005-06, I can’t think of him without also thinking about Dwayne Roloson, which means I am reminded of MA Bergeron and Andrew Ladd and then Ty Conklin. And then it is dark for a long time.
- Rocky Thompson (25) He played all the NHL games before he got here, I met Rocky Thompson a few times. He is absolute proof you cannot judge a book by the cover. When I met him, he could have been an extra on the Rocky Horror Picture Show, but the guy is wicked smart and will be an NHL coach some day. Book it.
- Mike Bishai (14) He made it into the Hockey Encyclopedia. I would give my left nut for the same.
- Doug Lynch (2) He was an AHL All-Star right out of the box, and then a hand injury derailed him. Stupid damn shame really, but he took off to Austria and built himself a career there. I have always followed him, thought he deserved at least that after luck bit so hard. As a Dad, this kind of thing is what I think about sometimes. Hockey is full of tough buggers, that’s the truth.
- JJ Hunter (0) I met a man a few years ago who had some knowledge of Hunter and a lot of pro athletes. He told me Hunter worked harder than anyone he’d seen. I wish he had gotten a game in the show.
- Jesse Niinimaki (0) First-round pick and he never pissed a drop. He hung around the SM-Liiga for a long time though, played three games this year.
My memories of that team are still pretty strong, wonder if you have any. The game goes at 8pm tonight, I will update the lines and pairings and following the game in the comments section. The decade begins for these Condors. Who is the Stoll? Brodziak? One hopes there is no Lynch in this group.