THE TEAM TODAY: Tuesday Notebook
Coach Nelson updates on the status of RNH & talks about Schultz's monthly honour; VandeVelde speaks on becoming a father for the first time
BACK ON ICEOKLAHOMA CITY - The Barons continued their week of practice on home ice ahead of games on Saturday and Sunday in San Antonio.
There was again a shuffling of lines, notable the absences of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall. Hall missed his second straight practice with a neck ailment.
"Getting some work done on his neck. Nothing serious, just want to make sure that he's feeling 100% as well. We expect him back," Barons head coach Todd Nelson said after practice yesterday.
Jordan Eberle was in Regina where his jersey will be retired at Wednesday night's Pats game.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins remained in Edmonton.
"Right now, he's up in Edmonton and he's going to continue rehab and treatment for the rest of the week. Prior to the 10th he's going to make his announcement about the World Juniors," said Nelson following practice today.
Nelson added that the team is proceeding this week with the expectation that Nugent-Hopkins will not be available for the weekend games in San Antonio.
"We don't expect him back for San Antonio. When he makes his decision, one way or the other, we can go from there."
The line combinations on Tuesday were: Paajarvi, Lander and Hartikainen, Cornet, Green and Hamilton and Byers with VandeVelde and Arcobello. Cam Abney subbed in on VandeVelde's line while Tyler Pitlick and Ryan Martindale wore yellow non-contact jerseys.
Brandon Davidson, who skated on Monday, did not skate Tuesday.
SCHULTZ HONOURED AGAIN
After being named AHL Player of the Month for October, Justin Schultz earned Rookie of the Month honours on Monday for November. Coach Nelson talked about how impressive the defenceman has been this season.
"He brings a lot of everything," said Nelson. "Besides scoring goals and setting up guys, logging 30 minutes of ice time and playing well defensively, that's pretty much it in a nutshell. He's a pretty complete hockey player, I've talked about that before. It's a great honour to have him win Rookie of the Month."
As a college player, Schultz has never played a season as long as the 76-game AHL campaign but Nelson said that he doesn't see any signs of fatigue in Justin.
"He doesn't show any signs of slowing down. We had a very hard skate today and he's leading the charge doing that. He has a lot of energy, he's a machine out there. He's a great asset for us to have and it's fun watching him play."
STORK VISITS VANDEVELDE
Barons centre Chris VandeVelde missed last week's games in Houston but he had a very good reason. He and his wife Olivia were welcoming their first child: Levin Oliver VandeVelde, who came into this world on Thursday, November 29 at 7 pounds, 2 ounces.
"It's awesome, but obviously it's exhausting," said VandeVelde of his newfound fatherhood. "Adding that new life into your life and sharing it with my wife, it's a pretty special time for us as a family and I look forward to the future ahead."
It's been a whirlwind couple of years for VandeVelde as he progresses through his pro career on the heels of a recent marriage and now starting a family.
"I got married a couple years ago and then my wife was pregnant all summer and part of last year as well. And now the little guy's finally here. It's exciting and a really special time."
VandeVelde said none of his on-ice achievements can equal becoming a father.
"It's a little more important, obviously family comes first. I try to not let it affect my play out here," he said. "I think I got a little bit more rest last night than the four or five nights before. I'm catching up on my sleep and like I said, it's a fun time and I'm really excited."
The pivot added that his son already has a pair of skates.
"They're a little big and the hockey stick we'll work on."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com