As a young hockey player in the city of Edmonton, the legendary Mark Messier has nothing but fond memories. As part of a winning organization, Messier had the chance to share the celebration with the people and the fans.
“I think the beauty of it was that we were able to share it with the community,” Messier said at a hot stove media availability in advance of the 1984 Stanley Cup Championship Reunion. “Even without the social media aspect we were out in the community… We were entrenched in the community. We weren’t afraid to go out in the community. In fact, we relished it.”
The players on the Oilers teams of the 80’s were very much involved with the city and their relationship with the fans became more of a friendship.
“That relationship with the fans became really close,” he said.
“That relationship became one of the things that was so compelling to the players and the fans.”
Messier said the players enjoyed blending into the community and the only regret is that there weren’t more seats in the arena to allow more of the city an opportunity to enjoy the games.
But because of the players’ relationship with the fans, even the people who couldn’t attend the games, “still felt a connection to the team because of our overall emersion into the community.”
- 1-on-1 | Luke Gazdic talks to Tom Gazzola
- SKATE | Interviews with Perron, Klefbom and Schultz
- PLAYER RAW | Perron
- PLAYER RAW | Klefbom
- PLAYER RAW | Schultz
- Team success and individual success
- Perron pleased with off-season attendance
- Perron on his hip injury
- Klefbom knows what to expect
- Klefbom welcomes added competition
As the Oilers prospect pool develops, the more pressure the up-and-coming players will bring to the roster. As the young guns begin pushing the veterans and competing for spots, the organizational parity should make everyone perform better.
Perron’s message to the young prospects in town ahead of training camp is for them to bring that pressure and push the veterans to show management they’re close, if not ready, for the NHL.
“I think for them personally, if you’re going to want to make the team then you are going to have to make an impression,” Perron said. “It’s not going to be just tiptoeing around. You have to come in and really make a big impression and work the veterans respectfully but work them really hard. You’re trying to show the management that either you are ready or you’re going to be ready very soon. It’s a good strength for an organization to have when a lot of young guys are pushing.”
David Perron tied for the team lead in goals last season (28), on his way to a personal best 57 points (28-29-57). Just as with any player in the NHL, Perron is hoping to build off those numbers heading into a fresh season.
The veteran winger believes that team success will lead to better numbers for everybody.
“Stats-wise, you always want to get better but I think the more wins this team is going to get the more points everyone is going to get. That’s going to mean we score more goals as a team and that’s the only thing you need to worry about. More wins will mean more points for everyone,” he said.
More and more Oilers players are filtering back to the city as training camp approaches. On the ice today, about 30 players and prospects gathered at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park for an informal skate.
Among them was David Perron, who is pleased to see so many teammates arriving in Edmonton. He hopes the early arrivals help the team get ready for training camp and pre-season which are quickly approaching.
“We’ve been done playing since April and it’s something we’re trying to change,” Perron said. “With more and more teams, their veteran guys are showing up earlier and earlier so as soon as camp starts they are ready to go. Three days after camp starts I think we have an exhibition game so it’s something where we have to be as ready as possible. When I asked the trainers a couple of days ago about how many guys were in town they said roughly 30. I thought he was kidding at first but it’s a nice showing of veteran guys and prospects. We’ll see who is going to be able to make the team.”
Though he was invited by Hockey Canada, David Perron was unable to participate in the 2014 IIHF World Hockey Championship in Minsk, Belarus this May due to a hip injury. The Oilers forward says the injury was something he dealt with this summer but it is getting better. He skated with about 30 Oilers players and prospects on Monday in Sherwood Park and says everything went well and he’s been able to do more lower-body work lately.
“My off-season was different though as far as training,” Perron said. “With my hip, I had to miss the World Championship. I had some inflammation in there. It has kind of dragged on for a lot of the summer actually. I got to do a lot of upper body stuff but not too much lower body to start. I’ve been doing a lot more lately and it is starting to feel good. I had a real good session out there on the ice today. I’m going to just try and keep building off of that and try and get as good as possible for camp.”
Perron tied Jordan Eberle for the team lead in goals last season with 28.
Oscar Klefbom learned a lot last season.
“It was a huge season last season,” he said following an informal skate with fellow Oilers players Monday at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park. “It was a big ego boost. Now I know how it is and the coaches know that I am ready for the NHL too. It was a really good season for my confidence so it was a big one.”
The 19th overall pick by the Oilers in the 2011 NHL Draft got his first taste of North American hockey last season. Not only that, he also earned 17 games in the NHL and even chipped in with a goal and two assists.
Now heading into training camp, Klefbom knows exactly what to expect in Edmonton, which is all thanks to the 2013-14 season.
“It’s huge. It helped me a lot and now I feel more prepared. I know what I have to do and how it works up here. I just try to prepare myself the best way to get ready.”
In addition to his 17 big league appearances, Klefbom played 48 games in the American Hockey League with the Oklahoma City Barons and added two playoff games there as well.
Confidence is one thing that Klefbom wants to transition over from last season. That confidence will eventually lead to him not only defending well but also gaining more offensive bravado, allowing him to jump up in the play more.
“I just want to stay confident on the ice with the puck. Last season at the end of the season was really good for me. It feels like I have more confidence on the ice right now with the puck. I am not just out on the ice to make the play but I can hold the puck and follow up some rushes too.”
Oscar Klefbom, 21, is heading into his second season with the Oilers. The former first-round pick gained 17 games of NHL experience last season and now knows what is expected of him.
The Oilers added some depth on the blue line during the off-season with veterans like Keith Aulie, Nikita Nikitin and Mark Fayne. Those experienced rearguards, along with other young defencemen such as Martin Marincin and Darnell Nurse, provide Klefbom with more competition for a roster spot heading into training camp.
Klefbom isn’t shying away from that competition and embraces it, knowing it could make him a better player in the long run.
“It’s always good when you have to compete hard for your spots on the team. I think that will make us better players in the future so it’s a really good thing.”
Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins and Captain Andrew Ference teamed up with a Canadian triathlon legend to compete in the corporate sprint relay race at the ITU 2014 World Triathlon Series at Hawrelak Park in Edmonton.
The pair of Oilers partnered with their long-time friend Simon Whitfield to complete the three-sport event. Whitfield is a four-time Olympian who won gold in Sydney (2000) and Silver in Beijing (2008).
“I’ve gone out to some of his races, I’ve trained with him in Victoria and have gotten to know him very well over a number of years,” Ference said. “He’s a great competitor. He’s taught me a lot about nutrition, recovery or just going out and raising the bar with training and stuff.”
Ference first met Whitfield over a decade ago and the two have remained good friends since. Eakins has also been friends with the triathlete for quite sometime. Being able to compete with Whitfield on Sunday was “an honour” for Eakins.
“Simon and I have been friends for a long time now and I know Andrew has developed a relationship with him too. It’s always interesting because you forget who your friend is sometimes. He’s a great ambassador for Canada and we’re proud to be on the same team supporting this great event today,” Eakins said.
Whitfield started off the race with the 740 metre swim. Ference followed Whitfield with the 20 kilometre bike ride and Eakins wrapped the race up with a 5 kilometre run. The head coach drew the short straw as he was the last to respond to the email from Whitfield setting up the event.
“I jumped on the bike as soon as I could because I didn’t want to run so Dallas had to run,” Ference said.
Eakins finished the race strong for the team, who was the first trio of participants to cross the finish line. They were bested only by a solo athlete -- Paul Tischler -- who just so happens to be an Olympian.
“It was interesting coming in and being in the lead because there were so many switchbacks out there,” Eakins said. “The guys seem to be closing in on you and you’re just in a panic. It’s like you’re being hunted. I probably ran faster than I should have and I’ll probably pay for it tomorrow but that’s okay. It was a lot of fun being a part of this.”
Oilers captain Andrew Ference and head coach Dallas Eakins will be taking part in the Sprint Relay prior to Sunday's ITU Trathlon Grand Finale event at Hawrelak Park.
"I've seen the preparation that they do and they're outstanding athletes," Ference remarked. "I have a lot of respect."
Ference and Eakins will team up with Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist Simon Whitfield to form their team for the event. Ference will bike 20 kilometres, Eakins will run five kilometres and Whitfield will swim 750 metres.
"I called bike right away. I'll be doing the course. I definitely didn't want to swim. Simon's going to be by far the fastest doing that. Dallas was the last to email back so he got stuck with the run," Ference chuckled.
Edmontonoilers.com will provide coverage of Sunday morning's event with a report back on how Ference, Eakins and Whitfield did.
The Oilers announced today that they will be concluding Rookie Camp with a game against the U of A Golden Bears. It will be held on Wednesday, September 17 at 7:00 p.m. at Clare Drake Arena Click here for more details.