This is Domenic Pittis. He is one of thousands of “fringe” NHL players who’ve overcome tremendous odds to play in the best hockey league in the world. Pittis has less talent than lots of guys who never made the show, but he played over 500 AHL games waiting for another shot at the show (and he got 4 of them which is incredible and a tribute to his perseverance).
Another such player is Tobias Petersen. He has had two shots at the show so far and managed (twice) to put in a full season’s worth of work. Petersen became the whipping boy for Oilers fans and came to represent all that was wrong with the 06-07 edition of the team. Watching him man the point on the powerplay is like watching Wile E. Coyote waiting for another package from the ACME company: the result will not be good and there’s a chance an anvil will make an appearance.
Petersen signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Dallas Stars yesterday and it’s tempting to suggest his NHL career is over. It’s a mistake.
Why? Because despite not having half of the talent of many first round picks, Petersen has survived to play 155 NHL games, a total that trumps the Oilers 1st round picks from 1997-2000. In those seasons, Edmonton selected Michel Riesen (12), Michael Henrich (0), Jani Rita (66) and Alexei Mikhnov (2). Petersen was selected by Pittsburgh 244th overall in 1998 and has been outworking more valued prospects and learning from instruction since that summer day 9 years ago.
I wish him luck, and hope he makes it in Dallas. Why anyone would bet against him spending time on the Stars major league roster this winter is beyond me. NHL coaches go to war with players who offer them the best possible option available. The fact that Toby Petersen made himself a better option than some of the Oilers best prospects is both inspiring and terribly despressing.
But a roster spot has value, and Tobias Petersen earned it. Here’s hoping some of the kids who watched him get the call learned something from a guy whose career can tell them a lot.