The Next Fan Favorite?

This is Kelly Buchberger (a loooooooooooong time ago). Thousands of fans screamed “take ‘em wide Bucky!” at Northlands for years, and for a time Kelly Buchberger and “has a heart as big as all outdoors” seemed tied together like peanut butter and jam.

Kelly Buchberger’s fame in this city far eclipsed his actual ability and since he lasted so long after the golden era (Buchberger was the last active connection to those wonderful days) there were many nights when the Oilers were down two or more after the first when Bucky was the single most interesting thing happening.

He showed up every night and gave effort, plus he was a useful player (but less useful on a team that couldn’t use him in the playoffs since they weren’t getting there) when the team was competitive (80s and then later in the late 90s).

Seems to me the Oilers have lost a lot of character in the last 12 months. Ryan Smyth, Jason Smith and some of us are a little concerned Shawn Horcoff may be headed out when the Lowe blockbuster (version 2.0) happens in the next 7 weeks.

The next great Oiler (character division) can’t be a bigtime free agent like Sheldon Souray, or a an incoming player of quality like Pitkanen (he was traded for Smith for crying out loud). No, the next Bucky would have to be from that group of players who know what it’s like to battle in the corner, to block a shot, to have a breakaway and miss the net by 20 feet, to hear the fans scream “take ‘em wide” even though they know the feet cannot cash the cheque the fans have written.

Blind adoration. Stories that can be added onto until they become legend. Who will carry the torch now that Toby Petersen is gone?

  1. Zach Stortini: We love our tough guys, and even though it’s not certain he’s a enforcer (according to hockey fights he had only 1 win and two draws among his 7 NHL fights last season) he didn’t back down in his 29 games so might have that Sean Brown “hey at least he stood up for his teammate” appeal.
  2. Jarret Stoll: He was already becoming the favorite young forward on the team, and now that the fanbase spent the summer fretting over his health a gritty season and 25 goals should elevate him to legendary status.
  3. Mathieu Roy: He’s got some jam, and there’s already one story out there that makes him a legend (he was PISSED at getting sent out. I love that). He’s a long shot to make the club but will stand out as a heart and soul guy should he make the Oilers.
  4. JF Jacques: Assuming he scores a point before the end of the decade, I think Oilers fans may warm up to him. A truly unique set of skills (huge player, some skill, freight train hitter and as a bonus appears to be making an effort to bring back the “rover” position) will get him noticed should he, well, you know, actually do something.
  5. Andrew Cogliano: We like our speed demons PLUS the jackass scouting staff came up with the humorous “he’s Todd Marchant only skilled” tag for this kid. If he’s the forechecker he’s supposed to be, then time on the PK is possible and Oilers fans love an effective penalty killer.

Did I miss anyone? Schremp? :-)

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31 Responses to "The Next Fan Favorite?"

  1. Lord Bob says:

    He didn’t back down in his 29 games so might have that Sean Brown “hey at least he stood up for his teammate” appeal.

    Is this not, in fact, termed “the Kelly Buchberger Special”? Sticking up for a teammate and getting scraped off the ice after the period by the Zamboni as a result?

  2. Lowetide says:

    Yeah, but Buchberger was more than that because he was actually a player.

  3. Lord Bob says:

    Yeah, but Buchberger was more than that because he was actually a player.

    Obviously, that’s true, and I haven’t been around long enough to remember this, but how did 22-year-old rookie Kelly Buchberger compare to 22-year-old rookie Zack Stortini? The numbers suggest “pretty equally”, to the tune of one goal apiece on 19/27 games.

    That said, I don’t exactly have any other resources to draw upon. But when I look at Zack Stortini, I don’t say “he’s useless now and will be useless forever more”. I see a fourth-line grinder.

  4. Lowetide says:

    Who on earth said he was useless now and will be useless forever more?

  5. Lord Bob says:

    Who on earth said he was useless now and will be useless forever more?

    Not you, though I have heard people tell me what a pile of trash Stortini is, and your “Buchberger was actually a player” bit seemed to be leaning in that direction. As a result, I kinda took off.

  6. Loxy says:

    I believe in Marty Reasoner.

  7. Kyle says:

    I think Staios has just about everything you’d want in a captain besides overwhelming talent. He’s my vote for fan favorite as well.

  8. Bendelson says:

    What about Fernando?

    I guess Pisani has developed status beyond merely ‘Fan Favourite’?

    I thought his ’06 playoff performance would cement his place as the greatest of the ‘Buckys’.

    Perhaps he has elevated beyond simple ‘johnny hustle’ reverence and has entered the realm of ‘local hockey legend’?

    Wasn’t MacT the Oilers first ‘Bucky’?
    Or perhaps Lummer?

    Kyle – I would think Moreau is the next captain.

  9. Mustafa Hirji says:

    Ethan Moreau. Maybe he’ll even be captain.

  10. Scarlett says:

    “He’s Todd Marchant only skilled”

    Damn I love that! I think Stoll is the man right now, but I’d like to see one the younger kids step up this fall.

  11. Bohologo says:

    No love for my amigo Raffi Torres? If, and it’s a big if chisled out of granite, he coud bring his A game every night-pot one, knock some heads together, and strike fear into the hearts of the opposition, I think he’d qualify for your list.

  12. MikeP says:

    Mustafa called it. I can’t believe you didn’t put Moreau on your list. The man fought his first game as an Oiler, for Pete’s sake. He’s carried the team on his back more than once. He’s one of those players that’s worth far more to the team than he’s likely to fetch in a trade.

  13. Showerhead says:

    Well, Stoll is clearly a better player than Horcoff. His skillset is much better suited to be on the first line and he shoots the puck really hard. I think I also read on HF that he once wrestled a bear to save Chuck Norris himself from certain doom.

  14. Lowetide says:

    Well I love Pisani and Moreau, they’re warriors. I was more looking for “new” blood but quite right they should have been mentioned somewhee.

    lord bob: One thing to remember is that Stortini isn’t an offensive skill player so lots of the fans who post on the various sites don’t think much of him. However, he gained the confidence of MacT in a pretty quick hurry and that probably says more about his future than the 1,000,000 words written about Jani Rita.

    Stortini is a 3rd rd pick in the 2003 draft who arrived in decent time. I think it’s a good bet he’s have a career.

  15. Kyle Kosior says:

    “…as a bonus appears to be making an effort to bring back the “rover” position< "

    That is the funniest thing I have read today…

    I think the next fan favorite will be Jacques. It seems nearly impossible that he won’t be able to put all his talents to use at the NHL level, and the Crazy Train moniker can’t hurt.

  16. Simon says:

    It’s a long shot, and my own personal preference but I think Patrick Thoresen has what it takes, if he stays around. That guy’s a ball buster.

    Failing that, Ethan Moreau will do the trick nicely.

  17. Andy Grabia says:

    Saint Fernando is the chosen one. Thoresen would be 2nd, with Chopper in 3rd. I can’t believe you didn’t include Le GG in your list of guys gone out the door, LT. Has there ever been a bigger fan favorite in this city? I actually think Le GG wins that one hands down. God, I miss him and Smytty.

  18. Andy Grabia says:

    Theory: It was when Le GG went out the door that the hockey Gods finally turned on Kevin Lowe. He had warnings (Game 1 SCF, Pronger), but he ignored them. He has paid dearly. As have we.

  19. Black Dog says:

    we’re looking for someone like Motor City Smitty here folks – he was a Leaf during the 80s who could barely skate. They would push him off the bench, he would take a whirl and bang into whatever got into his way (couldn’t stop), drop the gloves when he could and then tumble back into the bench – highlight, iirc, was him scoring a breakaway goal after coming out of the box (may even have been a playoff game) – crowd went nuts

    in other words – Stoll, Moreau, Pisani and Staios are all too damn good. For that matter so is Thoresen. You need an everyman – crash and banger, who is pretty well overmatched in every facet of the game but heart and guts.

    Its either Stortini or, if he doesn’t get any better, Matt Greene.

  20. Andy Grabia says:

    You need an everyman – crash and banger, who is pretty well overmatched in every facet of the game but heart and guts.

    Wasn’t that our entire team for the last 20 games, except for the hearts and guts part? I don’t want any of that ever again. I think the guy can have talent. Smytty had talent, and he was that guy. He was the heir apparent of Bucky, really. I’m sticking with San Pisani, Pat, so bite me.

  21. Ribs says:

    Ethan Moreau has to be the guy.

    When others come and go he will be there. Steady as always, checking away.

    Stoll needs an ‘A’ as he will be leading as well. I suspect he will be a captain one day once he’s a bit older. His leadership while with the Ice was what sold me on this guy and I look forward to seeing him translate those traits to the Oilers.

  22. PDO says:

    Well, Stoll is clearly a better player than Horcoff. His skillset is much better suited to be on the first line and he shoots the puck really hard. I think I also read on HF that he once wrestled a bear to save Chuck Norris himself from certain doom.

    I heard he shortly after became the first man to not only have Chuck Norris buy him a beer; but also the first person to drink Chuck Norris under the table.

    True story.

    Sadly, I think this means that Stoll will soon be roundhoused into oblivion…

  23. jerk clown says:

    Moreau will get the ‘C’…that’s a slam dunk. Although I was disappointed in his comments after the Pitkanen – Smith deal.

    As for Bucky – Stortini. Kelly was a pretty good skater and really developed his game to the point where he was counted on in key situations in game. (Still have vivid memories of his OT winner against Dallas after the miracle 3-0 comeback). I don’t think Zack has the physical tools to build on. His skating really has to improve if he is to stay at the NHL level as anything but a bit player.

    As for the younger generation, the way Stoll was playing when he got hurt points to him. He was out of his mind for about a month-long stretch. Hitting, scoring, forechecking…I remember joking to my girlfriend that I thought he was on the “juice”…he was unreal.

  24. dave says:

    OMG!! First I agree 110% around Bucky. Second isn’t this what some of us were scared of regarding the Smyth trade. Third Stoll is absolutely the “next one”. He led this team when smyth went down earlier in the year.

    Lastly what is the mathematical formula that measures these “winning qualities”? And when the come in a package including a strong skill set ala Smyth what is worth financially? Hockey teams success cannot only be measured statistically. The good looking statistics are more a result of some other witches brew such as those unknown coaching factors. It is for these reasons that I believe Souray is a good move.

    I’m not ready to let go down the middle. Torres, Pisani, Smid, Greene (read and/or between them) packaged up with whatever assortment of picks to get Hemmer a top 3 shooter and lets play some hockey.

  25. Mr DeBakey says:

    Who will carry the torch

    Who indeed?

    Ohhh-Maaaaare-uhh!
    Ohhh-Maaaaare-uhh!

    “Can play on your 4th line without a stick” – love that line

  26. Dennis says:

    Simon says Thor’s the guy and I’m inclined to agree with him. LT says that the new hero should be on the PK and I think 28 can do that. He’s also an absolute dog when it comes to working the forecheck, last season down the stretch his shifts were the most impressive. If he could score 10-15 goals a year and say have four to five fights on home ice, you could give him the crown.

    Then again I might be biased when it comes to this guy. I can’t access his Desj numbers right now but I can’t imagine he played tough opp and I can’t imagine his GF rates were anything worth talking about considering he didn’t score for 90 straight games. That being said, his ability to forecheck and competes paints him as a possible tough opp guy, at least IMO.

  27. Master Lok says:

    If we’re skipping the older possibilities like Moreau (the guy fought with one shoulder separated for crying out loud!) or Pisani (Fernaaaaando!)

    then the new guys you didn’t include would probably be the hardworking Norwegian Thorsen or the future Bucky… Kyle Brodziak!

  28. Big T says:

    Don’t wanna highjack this LT but apparently Katz has put in another bid for the Oil, this time going around the board and straight to the shareholders.

    Clearly he’s motivated and is at least somewhat likely to actually get what he wants. But the question remains, is this an improvement or do we, as fans, really want to stick with the devil we know?

    Just ’cause the guys rich doesn’t mean he wants to lose money. Does he really want to spend to the cap? Apparently he and Lowe are friends (though, I admit, I have no way of verifying this – just the word of some poster on HF). What would happen with Lowe if Katz took over??

    Thoughts

    T

  29. Julian says:

    Yeah, way down the line I can sorta see O’Mara being “that guy”, all-around good player, and he’s a great talker which would give him that “character” tag.

  30. Dennis says:

    Good point on ROM being a future contender for this role. The guy’s already saying all the right things about being an Oiler and he seems to have a lot of knob polishing in him. Given that the fans and media are so insecure about people wanting to play in Edm in the first place, he’ll get more love than necessary if he’s constantly extolling virtues.

    It’s like when you tell a fat woman that she’s hot, she wants to believe it and that’s it goes over so well

  31. digger says:

    It’s up in the air who’ll be a Buchberger-like fan favourite in 07/08, but sometime between now and 09/10 I’d bet money it’ll be Tyler Spurgeon.

    110% effort every single second of every single shift, skates well, and doesn’t back down from anyone despite being undersized.

    I’m certain he’ll be an Oiler 4th liner within 2 years.

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