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.
MacTavish didn’t hold back when speaking about the high potential of Schultz and what he could possibly become someday. The most bold statement was perhaps the following.
“I think that Justin has Norris Trophy potential and I don’t think there are too many people who would disagree with me in that regard,” he said.
The James Norris Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the NHL defenceman who demonstrates the greatest all-around ability throughout the season.
That’s high praise for the 24-year-old, who heads into his third season with just 122 NHL games under his belt.
The 2014-15 season is a big one for Schultz as he tries to earn himself a long-term deal. But the Oilers clearly view him as an important piece of the club’s future.
“He is right in the mix with the most important guys on our team, there is no question about that,” MacTavish said.
Like the rest of the Edmonton Oilers, the 2013-14 season didn’t get off to the best start for Justin Schultz. Admittedly, Schultz saw room for improvement at the start of the season. But as the year wore on, Schultz came around defensively to the point where there was a noticeable improvement in his game.
Schultz says that it wasn’t only him who saw personal improvements but the team improved overall in the defensive category as well. It’s a finish to the season that Schultz hopes he and the Oilers will build off of.
“Defensively, the start of the year was a little rough for me and the team but I thought as the year went on everything improved. Our team was improving. We obviously didn’t finish the way we wanted to but it was a good finish for us and hopefully we build off of that and start strong this year,” Schultz said.
The RFA has agreed to terms with the club on a one-year contract.
RFA defenceman Justin Schultz has agreed to terms with the Oilers on a one-year contract. In doing so, Schultz has the opportunity to prove his worth this season on the road to a longer term contract. That makes the 2014-15 season a big one for the 24-year-old blueliner.
This season, the main area of his game he wishes to improve upon his on the defensive side of things. He was -22 last season and cites plus-minus as a number he wishes to improve.
“I want to be a plus player,” he said. “Improving my plus-minus is something that’s going to come with being better defensively. Also, having a better team game and winning more games. Hopefully we get off to a good start and build off that.”
“I knew it was going to get done,” he said. “I didn’t want to drag it on into training camp and be a distraction. I wanted to get something done, they were the same way and it worked out well.”
Schultz is happy with the term of the contract, citing his need to prove himself more at the NHL level as the reasoning behind the one-year deal.
“I think we are both pretty happy in getting it done, having this drag on. I’m happy with the contract. I obviously have to prove myself more to get a longer term. Hopefully I have a good year this year, the team does better and we’ll get it done.”
The Edmonton Oilers announced today they have agreed to terms with defenceman Justin Schultz on a one-year contract.
Schultz, 24, had a career year in 2013-14, posting 33 points (11G, 22A) and 16 penalty minutes in 74 games. He set career highs in several categories including points, goals, assists, blocked shots (107) and hits (30). Schultz led all Oilers defencemen in points, assists and goals, as well as led the team in time on ice, averaging 23:20 per game.
The 6’2”, 188 pound blueliner has accumulated 60 points (19G, 41A) and 24 penalty minutes in 122 career NHL games.
The Kelowna, British Columbia native also had a standout rookie campaign in 2012-13, splitting the season between the Edmonton Oilers and their AHL affiliate Oklahoma City Barons. He appeared in 34 games with the Barons, registering 48 points (18G, 30A) and six penalty minutes.
Schultz’s impressive numbers with Oklahoma City earned him the Eddie Shore Award as the American Hockey League’s Defenceman of the Year. He is the first rookie in the 56-year history of the Eddie Shore Award to earn the honour.
Martin Marincin, 22, got a taste of NHL action last season, playing in 44 games for the Oilers. Now heading into training camp he knows what the coaches expect from him.
Even having already played on the team, Marincin feels like he still has to continue to work even harder to make the roster this year. He is no different from any other defenceman.
“I am like every player now,” Marincin said. “I was playing in the NHL last year but that’s nothing for me though because I need to work hard every day. There are lots of new guys and new defencemen so I need to be working hard and we’ll see after camp.”
Getting bigger and stronger was an emphasis for Marincin this summer. He says he has gained five pounds during the off-season.
His one goal now is to make the Oilers team out of camp and then take the season from there.
“Right now it is to make the NHL. First make the team and then we’ll see.”