The Oilers lines for tonight's season-opening game against the Winnipeg Jets:Smyth - Hall - Hemsky
Perron - Arcobello (wearing #26) - Eberle
Joensuu - Gordon - Yakupov
Gazdic - Acton - Brown
The defence pairings:
Ference - J.Schultz
Smid - Petry
N.Schultz - Belov
Prior to taking the ice for morning skate, the Oilers announced that their alternate captains for the upcoming season. They are:
#Oilers have named Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nick Schultz and Ryan Smyth Assistant Captains.— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) October 1, 2013
The forward was excited that the Oilers picked him up off waivers yesterday.
"I thought I had a good game against them and a good training camp. It was nice that someone noticed up there and it couldn't have worked out any better," he said.
Gazdic scored a goal and played a good, physical game against the Oilers in Oklahoma City on Friday.
"I thought I came in in good shape. I got into a couple exhibition games and I thought I did a lot of other things well. I thought I might have a chance to stick there but things didn't work out and I'm happy to be here."
Known for his fighting ability -- he had 80 penalty minutes in 59 games last season -- Gazdic added that he feels he brings more to the table than just fisticuffs.
"I bring a lot more to the ice than that 'goon mentality'. I think that job in the game is done. I have to be sound defensively, I have to be reliable, making plays. It starts in the defensive zone. If I can chip in on the scoresheet every once in awhile then that's okay. I know that first and foremost, the physical side of my game has gotten me this far and that's my primary job on the ice."
Joining the Oilers this late in camp, Gazdic has had to do a crash course on the team's systems work.
"He's throwing all the systems at me. For the most part, all this stuff is generally the same but they do some different stuff here so he's going over and making sure I know what spot I should be in and where I'm supposed to be on the ice at all times."
The other Oilers forward lines are the same as yesterday:
Perron - Arcobello - Eberle
Smyth - Hall - Hemsky
Joensuu - Gordon - Yakupov
- Tom Gazzola goes 1-on-1 with Andrew Ference
- Post-Practice Interviews
- RAW | Dallas Eakins
- RAW | Mark Arcobello
- RAW | Luke Gazdic
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Mark Messier speaks with the Edmonton media
Mark Messier was at Oilers practice today and afterwards met with the media.
"I'm here doing a sports and memorabilia dinner up in Sylvan Lake on Thursday so I took the opportunity to come in a couple of days early and see the boys and catch the opening game," he told a group of local reporters.
"I always get a chance to come see the game, see Kevin and MacT and some good friends here in the city."
Messier is currently helping oversee the transformation of the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx into the largest ice complex in the world -- nine rinks. He is working on this project after departing the New York Rangers organization this past summer. After the project is complete, Messier could see himself returning to the NHL in some management capacity but his focus right now is on the project.
"This was an opportunity that I had been working on for the last three years and all of a sudden it became very real and we were getting through all the approvals that you need to do something in the city. It's a historical landmark building and all the approval processes are very stringent. We're getting through community votes, we're getting through council votes, we're getting through to City Hall. It looks like it's getting off the ground," he said. "This has been a work in progress the last three years."
The former Oilers captain also had some words about Andrew Ference, who was named the 14th captain of the Oilers yesterday.
"Being a captain at any team level is important. It's not to be taken lightly. It's a big responsibility. I think that players need a galvanizing figure to rally around. That player has to have the experience and wherewithal to live 25 lives instead of just one and it's not easy sometimes," Messier began. "The guys that do it well and the teams that do have good leadership from their captains and assistant captains oftentimes are the teams that will perform better. But you don't need a letter on your jersey to be a leader. Ultimately, everyone needs to be a leader in their own way and take their own responsibility to do more."
Following Oilers practice on Monday, Curtis Hamilton stepped out onto the ice to skate on his own. Hamilton has been out with a knee injury since tearing his ACL in the American Hockey League playoffs back in May.
"It shouldn't be too much longer before I'm back playing," said Hamilton prior to hitting the ice today.
"It's slowly progressed. You're limited in a lot of things you can do and you have a knee problem and it's been a slow process but it's coming along nicely. I've been skating quite a bit now. Hopefully I start skating with the team in a little bit."
The winger had surgery back in May and the recovery is going along just as scheduled. He will remain in Edmonton until he is ready to play. As for when that will be, there are no definite timelines.
"The trainers here think I'm close to ready but it's up to the doctor's discretion on when he thinks I'm allowed to come back and do skates. As far as contact goes, being able to actually play a game is probably still a little ways away but I kind of go day-by-day."
Head Coach Dallas Eakins did not take his job of naming a captain of the Oilers lightly. He told the media back at the start of training camp that he would take his time to find the right man for the job. He found the right guy in Andrew Ference.
Of all the roles that Ference will perform as captain of the Oilers, the most important will be unifying a dressing room that is attempting to change the culture of the organization. Eakins delivered some glowing compliments of his captain and discussed his role as a unifier today.
"He's everything you look for," said Eakins. "You start rattling off words like compete, honest and commitment, a guy who can communicate. Everything you talk about as a leader, that's what this young man is. The biggest thing for me is his ability, that I know he can do, is unite an organization. He's the most important person in this organization. It's not (General Manager Craig MacTavish) and it's not me. it's your captain.
"He's the one who has to unite your organization and unite your players because they're all in there trying to get to a certain place. They all have a common goal. He has to find a way to include them all, push them in the right direction, inspire them, hold them accountable, he's got a lot of different jobs and he's the right guy for them."
Whether or not Ference can unite the Oilers dressing room could go a long way in determining when the team will break their current seven-year playoff drought.
Take one trip around the Edmonton Oilers dressing room and it is clear that the choice to make Andrew Ference the team's captain was well-received by all.
"It's an exciting time for the Oilers," said forward Jordan Eberle. "He's a guy that has that playoff experience, has won cups and has that respect level in the dressing room and his resume goes on. It's a good thing to have a veteran guy leading us."
Head Coach Dallas Eakins informed the team of his decision last night at a large dinner function. Ference made a speech to his teammates as he took over the captaincy of a storied franchise.
"We're just super excited for him," said defenceman Ladislav Smid. "For us, I think he's going to be a really great leader. Obviously, he knows what it takes to win it all. I thought he had a great speech yesterday during our dinner. I hope he's going to get us to the ultimate goal that we have."
Coach Eakins told the media today that from the moment Ference walked in the locker room he was a leader. There was no hesitation on his part.
"I think it's great," said Taylor Hall. "He's had a lot of experience winning and that's important for our group. We don't really have a lot of that especially with the young guys here.He's really taken charge off the ice and on the ice. He's a great player and a good guy. I think it's the right move for us."
Head Coach Dallas Eakins addressed the move to place forward Ryan Hamilton and defenceman Philip Larsen on waivers this morning. It was more of a salary cap move than a hockey move according to the bench boss.
"Well, the guys that are on waivers… those are tough conversations today because both of those young men played well in camp," said Eakins. "But we are in a salary cap world and that's the world we live in. It's about saving cap space and that's the way we've got to go about it. As an organization we want depth so we selfishly hope they clear and as soon as I say it, I hope someone pick them up because they're NHL players."
The Oilers then claimed forward Luke Gazdic off of waivers from the Dallas Stars.
The Edmonton Oilers have claimed Luke Gazdic off of waivers from the Dallas Stars.
Gazdic, a former 6th round pick by the Stars, is a 24 year-old forward out of Toronto, ONT. At six-foot-four and 240 pounds, Gazdic adds size and physicality to the Oilers lineup.
Gazdic played 59 games with the Texas Stars last season, scoring four goals and seven assists while serving 80 penalty minutes.
The Oilers got a glimpse of Gazdic on Friday night during their exhibition game in Oklahoma City. The forward scored a goal in that game and finished plus-two with two penalty minutes for Dallas.