WATCH: Farewell Rexall Place Series
The Oilers will host the Vancouver Canucks on April 6 for their final home game in Rexall Place, before moving downtown to Rogers Place in the fall. The post-game farewell ceremony will feature more than 100 Oilers alumni in attendance. Each day leading up to that game we’ll announce five alumni who are scheduled to attend.
Dave Semenko won two Stanley Cups with the Oilers, but he also served the important and well-respected title of Wayne Gretzky’s bodyguard. He spent just over seven seasons in Edmonton and provided his best post-season performance during the franchise’s first Stanley Cup championship run. He had five goals and five assists in 19 games that 1984 post-season. He fought 70-plus times in his NHL career and played 575 NHL games, almost all for the orange and blue.
Pat Hughes spent four full seasons and part of another with the Oilers from 1981-1985. He once set an NHL record by scoring two shorthanded goals 25 seconds apart. His four years with the Oilers were the best of his career, as he surpassed the 20-goal mark three times. He helped the Oilers win two Stanley Cups during his stay in Edmonton. Hughes played 573 career NHL games and 71 more in the post-season.
Jason Strudwick finished his NHL career, which spanned more than 670 games, in his hometown of Edmonton. He closed out his career with three seasons with the Oilers (2008-2010). Strudwick also played games for the Islanders, Canucks, Blackhawks and Rangers, as well as had stints in Europe. The hard-working, versatile player has made a career after hockey as a radio analyst and now television host in Edmonton.
Chris Josephcame to Edmonton from Pittsburgh as part of the Paul Coffey trade in 1987. The defenceman played parts of six seasons with Edmonton and their affiliate in Cape Breton. He was a big part in the team’s 1992 Conference Final appearance. Joseph enjoyed a long professional career, which began in the 1987-88 season and ended with a stint in the Italian league during the 2005-06 campaign. He played more than 500 career NHL games for the Oilers, Lightning, Penguins, Flyers, Canucks, Coyotes and Thrashers.
Ian Herbers is currently an assistant coach with the Oilers. The former defenceman, a native of Jasper, AB, enjoyed a long and fruitful career with the University of Alberta. That playing career resulted in a chance to join the Oilers. He played mostly with their AHL affiliate in Cape Breton, but laced up for 22 NHL games with the parent club during the 1993-94 season. Herbers left the ice for the bench and became a coach in the AHL, first as an assistant in 2003-04. He wound up taking the head coach job at the U of A, leading his alma mater to two CIS national titles in three seasons at the helm.
WATCH: Farewell Rexall Place Series
April 6 is right around the corner as the Oilers close in on closing out their stay at Rexall Place. The Oilers will host Vancouver for their final home game in the building, before moving downtown to Rogers Place in the fall. The post-game farewell ceremony will feature more than 100 Oilers alumni in attendance. Each day leading up to that game, we’ll announce five alumni who are scheduled to attend. Here are today’s five.
Al Hamilton played eight seasons for the Oilers back in the WHA days, beginning in 1972 with the Alberta Oilers. Hamilton was named to the WHA First All-Star Team in 1978. His career in the WHA spanned 455 regular season games, in which the defenceman racked up 311 points (53-258-311). He ranks among the top 40 in all-time WHA scoring leaders. Hamilton also played 31 NHL games for the Oilers in 1979-80, scoring 19 points. Before turning pro, Hamilton helped the Edmonton Oil Kings capture the 1966 Memorial Cup championship. His number (3) was retired by the Oilers franchise in 1980 and a banner was raised in his honour in 2001.
Ron Low played just a few seasons for the Oilers, but the goalie made his mark on the team as a long-time coach in the system. Low played 67 NHL games for Edmonton. After leaving the ice and heading to the bench, Low joined the AHL Nova Scotia Oilers as head coach in 1987, then coached the Cape Breton Oilers the next season. He joined the NHL club as an assistant in 1989-90, and held that distinction until he was promoted during the 1994-95 season. Low replaced George Burnett as the Oilers coach and managed to lead the team to the playoffs in three of his five years at the helm.
Louie DeBrusk joined the Oilers by way of New York as a piece of the Mark Messier trade in 1991. The enforcer spent six years with the Oilers and racked up 797 penalty minutes with the club. DeBrusk fought more than 100 times during his NHL career, which lasted 401 regular season games and 15 post-season appearances. Following his playing career, DeBrusk became a colour analyst for the Coyotes radio broadcasts. In 2008, he transitioned to television and joined the Sportsnet broadcasts of Oilers games. He now serves as a Sportsnet hockey analyst.
Scott Ferguson, a Camrose, AB native, signed with the Oilers as an undrafted free agent in 1994. His path through the Oilers organization was unique. He was traded from the Oilers to Ottawa in 1998, but returned to Edmonton a few season later. After 20 games for the Oil in the 2000-01 season, Ferguson became a regular blueliner for the club. He played exclusively in the NHL for Edmonton from 2001-2004, accumulating 21 points in 218 total games.
Tom Roulston played one game for the Edmonton Oil Kings during the 1975-76 season. He found his way back to the city during the 1980-81 season as a member of the Oilers. He played 11 NHL games that season and went on to play a 137 of his 195 career NHL games for the Oilers. His career high in points came with the Oilers (19-21-40) in 1982-83. Roulston finished his NHL career in Pittsburgh.
The countdown is on to April 6, when the Oilers host Vancouver for the team’s final game at Rexall Place. The post-game farewell ceremony will feature 100+ Oilers alumni in attendance. Each day leading up to the game, we’ll announce five Oilers alumni who are scheduled to attend. Here are today’s five.
Grant Fuhr helped the Oilers capture five Stanley Cup championships during his tenure with the orange and blue. The goaltender earned the Vezina Trophy for his 1987-88 season, in which Fuhr racked up career-best 40 wins for the Oil and a career-high four shutouts. His lengthy NHL career between the pipes brought him from Edmonton to Toronto to Buffalo to Los Angeles, St. Louis and Calgary. The Spruce Grove, AB native was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003.
Kelly Buchberger is an Oil Country icon, having played within the Oilers organization for 13 seasons — 11 as an NHL regular — from 1986-1999. Originally taken in the ninth round, 188th overall, of the 1985 NHL Draft, Buchberger went on to play 1182 NHL regular season games and 97 playoff games, mostly with the Oilers. The forward recorded 309 points in his NHL career and was a forceful checking presence on Edmonton’s championship team in 1990. He was team captain from 1995-99 and took up a coaching career with the Oilers a few years after retiring as a player, both in the AHL and as an assistant in Edmonton from 2008-2014.
Mark Lamb joined the Oilers for the 1987-88 season after being claimed on waivers and was with the club until he was claimed by the Ottawa Senators in the 1992 expansion draft. He won a Stanley Cup with the Oilers in 1990, playing an important two-way role. He was a productive player for the Oilers in that post-season, recording 17 points in 22 games. Lamb was an assistant coach for Edmonton during the 2001-02 season.
Dean McAmmond would play close to 1000 NHL games and spent a good part of six seasons with the Oilers before being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks (1999) in a seven-player trade that landed Edmonton their future captain — Ethan Moreau. McAmmond’s role with the Oilers increased during his time there, with his best season coming during the 1997-98 campaign in which he recorded 19 goals and 50 points. McAmmond also played for Chicago, Philadelphia, Calgary, Colorado, St. Louis, Ottawa, the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils.
Fernando Pisani was born in Edmonton and, fittingly enough, was drafted by the franchise in the eighth round, 195th overall, of the 1996 NHL Draft. The winger only ever played one season in the NHL for a team other than the Oilers. Pisani's legacy is his performance in the Oilers 2006 Stanley Cup Final run. Pisani posted a career-high 37 points during the regular season and led all Edmonton players in playoff scoring with a whopping 14 goals. Pisani’s NHL career lasted 462 games, in which he compiled 87 goals and 169 points.
Oilers winger Patrick Maroon was named the first star of the game in Edmonton’s 6-3 win over the Sharks in San Jose last night. He scored a goal and added two assists and five shots in an impressive effort. That was Maroon’s second career three-point night.
“I don’t really judge myself after games,” said Maroon. “Some games I’ve played terrible and I’ve played some terrible games as an Oiler, maybe a couple. Last night, I thought I felt good. I thought our line played good in all three zones. We were breaking out clean in the defensive zone and we did good offensively leading to some zone time. I thought we did a good job of that. The more time we do that, the more successful we’ll be.”
Maroon was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks at the trade deadline. The hulking winger has played 11 games for the Oilers and has nine points (3-6-9). He is consistently playing a top-six role with Edmonton and has shown a knack for going to the net and playing with skilled linemates, such as Connor McDavid and Jordan
“It’s been going good so far,” said Maroon. “The coaches and the brass have given me a chance to play in the top six. For me coming in here I have to seize the opportunity. I’ve got to play good, because this could be a spot for the taking and maybe for my future, it could be good for me. Obviously, playing with Connor and Ebs is pretty easy. They have really good skill, good speed in the neutral zone, good and clean breakouts so that really helps for me. I just try to play big and physical and go to the net and try to open space for those two.”
The Oilers didn’t have the first period against the San Jose Sharks they wanted or expected. By the end of the opening 20 minutes Thursday night, Edmonton found themselves down 2-0.
Lauri Korpikoski got the important first goal for Edmonton 1:39 into the second period, after the team received chastisement from Head Coach Todd McLellan during the intermission. Following Korpikoski’s tally, the Oilers comeback continued.
Taylor Hall scored at 8:18 of the middle frame and Adam Clendening gave the Oilers their first lead just 45 seconds later. Following a Sharks goal to tie the game at 3-3, Patrick Maroon responded for the Oilers and they never surrendered the lead again. Hall’s empty-net goal at 19:54 of the third closed out the 6-3 win.
“It was huge coming back from behind,” said Korpikoski. “We haven’t had too many of those lately. The first period is something we all learned from. We weren’t ready to go in that one, but the last 40 was a lot better.”
With San Jose trying to clinch a playoff spot with a win against the Oilers, it was impressive that Edmonton was able to not only come from behind, but beat a motivated team in their own barn.
“It says a lot. It says we’re capable of doing that, and it says basically going forward into next year, if we play like that, we can beat any team in this league. That’s a good sign,” said Maroon. “The last month of this season, it’s probably the hardest to play. It’s like playing playoff hockey. Some teams are trying to make it, some teams are trying to clinch a playoff spot so they’re playing for their spots. To come back and win shows good character in the locker room and good response, good poise and the leaders took charge.”
The playoffs are not in the team’s immediate future, but showing resiliency down the stretch is better than the alternative.
“We may not be in a playoff spot this year but it gives us confidence going into the summer that if next year we come back and play 60 minutes (every game) then we can be a playoff team,” said defenceman Jordan Oesterle.
Maybe momentum won’t carry into 2016-17, but lessons learned may and momentum can at least provide a boost heading into their showdown with Los Angeles Saturday night.
“It definitely gives us some momentum going into LA, and it definitely gives the boys a boost of confidence leaving San Jose with two points,” said Oesterle. “We came out in the first not the way we wanted and responded well in the second and third.”
The Oilers have hit the ice for practice at the SAP Center in San Jose before flying to Los Angeles this afternoon.
No Talbot either, so LB racing from one end of the ice to the other during drills. pic.twitter.com/sav4hvZgit— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) March 25, 2016
Stay tuned for full coverage.
Oilers defenceman Griffin Reinhart has to be feeling pretty good about his last two games. After logging a team-high six hits and receiving praise for a physical and assertive performance against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday, Reinhart perhaps topped that with his night Friday.
Reinhart played a career-high 23:37 and blocked a game-high eight shots on his way to being named the game’s third star in a 2-0 win over Vancouver.
“For a segment of games, this is probably the best Griffin has been all year,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “We’ve talked about some of the factors or the reasons why. He’s played well.”
Reinhart has felt more comfortable in the lineup now that he’s playing regularly, and his familiarity with his defensive partner, Jordan Oesterle, has helped him settle in.
“I thought it went well,” Reinhart said of his game against the Canucks. “I thought I was playing physical. I actually didn’t know about eight blocked shots, so that’s a good thing. That’s a bonus.”
Reinhart is pleased to be getting more minutes, saying that helps him perform better as well.
“It’s easy to get in a groove,” he said. “You’ve got to get up every second or third shift and it’s easy to play. Sometimes it’s hard when you’re in penalty trouble or on the power play and you don’t get in that regular shift, so it’s something I can build off of.”
Reinhart is feeling much better as of late and his confidence is building with each performance.
“I always knew I could play like this, but it’s sometimes tough. I think the biggest part of it is knowing I’m playing every night right now. I think that’s what helps. You get into that routine and you do the same things every day and you build off of that rather than checking the board every morning to see if you’re in the lineup and breaking it up a bit.”
Reinhart agrees with the statement that this may be the most confident and comfortable he’s felt in his short career as an Oiler.
The Oilers are comfortable, as they should be, with Cam Talbot between the pipes. With every performance like Friday night’s 40-save shut out of the Vancouver, Talbot solidifies his number-one role with the Oilers that much more.
Talbot has managed a 7-2-1 record in his last starts and boasts a .948 save percentage in that stretch. As the 2015-16 season comes to an end, one must think the Oilers would be confident in placing Talbot in a 60-70-start role next season. The Oilers would be confident in his ability to handle a heavy workload but would want to make sure his 40-shot nights are limited.
“It’s not just about me and my team, it’s our team, the coaching staff and the players,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “I think you could line them up tonight in order by numbers and I think every one of them will tell you they feel really good when 33 is in the net. I echo those thoughts. 60-70 games? We’ve got to make sure we keep this guy alive.
“We’ve had some good nights where we’ve had 22-23 shots against, but you put three or four 40-shot games in a row, it’s taxing on him. We also have to be aware we’re trying to develop a real young, good goaltender (Laurent Brossoit) as well.”
Talbot signed a three-year extension with the Oilers on January 17.
For two straight games now, Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan has expressed his pleasure with the play of the defensive partners Griffin Reinhart and Jordan Oesterle. McLellan has also begun experimenting with the former American Hockey League pairing, swapping Reinhart to the right side and Oesterle to the left.
“I think that pair has been pretty steady since we’ve put them together,” said McLellan, following a 2-0 win over Vancouver Friday night. “We’re experimenting with him on the right side and Jordan on the left. They both played big minutes, they penalty killed.”
Reinhart logged a career-best and team-high 23:37 TOI against Vancouver, while also contributing a game-high eight blocked shots. Oesterle played 21:23 against the Canucks and recorded an assist on Matt Hendricks’ big goal that gave Edmonton a 2-0 lead in the third.
Oilers defenceman Griffin Reinhart didn’t register a point against the Vancouver Canucks, but his defensive performance stood out. For those who just look at the stat sheet and see the zero by Reinhart’s name in the goal and assist columns, they don’t get the whole story.
“There were six (possible) points handed out, two goals and four assists,” Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan said after the 2-0 win. “Some guys play on teams and aren’t counted on for offence. Other guys play and move pucks and break up plays and that’s Griffin’s forte. Even in his best years in junior he wasn’t leading the league in scoring as a defenceman. It takes all types to have success. We’re still trying to find more pieces to the puzzle, we’re trying to develop the pieces we have here, trying to get more out of them so that we can grow and have more success. We’re not where we need to be. But Griffin, from the time we sent him down last time to this time, there has been some grown and it’s showing. That’s a good thing.”
Reinhart isn’t worried about offensive numbers when he can play a solid defensive game.
“There’s kind of a double standard in some ways, but I thought I defended well and I look at a good game in how I break up plays and execute breakout passes and get the puck out of our zone. All the stuff on top of that on the stat sheet is just a plus,” he said.
Reinhart played 23:37, finished +2 and registered eight blocked shots in the Friday night win over Vancouver.