March 07 2008 07:52PM
"Sorry, kid, No. 99 isn't available. And don't even ask about 11, 17, 7, 3 or 31. You'll take this one and you'll like it..." Edmonton Oilers' equipment man Sparky Kulchisky has handed out a lot of jerseys during his career, but he'd never hung up jersey No. 49 in a player's cubicle on game day until last night. Theo Peckham's first NHL game also marked a first in the numbers game for the Oilers. Peckham emerged from the tunnel against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena draped in No. 49, a number worthy of a training camp long shot if ever there was one. Peckham's the first to wear that digit in franchise history. No worries, though, the hulking 20-year-old rookie defenceman didn't look the least bit out of place paired with Denis Grebeshkov in a 2-1 overtime win over the Jackets. "It feels pretty good," said Peckham, who was recalled from Springfield of the AHL. "It's a big jump." In fact, Peckham's debut was rather eventful. Early on, he rode Columbus forward Andrew Murray hard into the crease and levelled Mathieu Garon—the coaches might want to cue up that 2006 playoff footage of Marc-Andre Bergeron and Andrew Ladd taking out Dwayne Roloson. No harm done on this bit of crease-crashing, though. Later, Peckham had Columbus tough guy Jared Boll blowing snot bubbles with a clean open-ice hit in front of the benches. Still in the second period, he got into a "Your momma" exchange in Garon's crease, pushing around Nikolai Zherdev like a school yard bully looking for lunch money. All in all, Peckham finished the night even with 18 shifts, 13:22 in ice time and two blocked shots. One oddity—for a number that's about as popular as the salad bar at a convention for reporters, Peckham wasn't alone last night. Dan Fritsche of the Jackets, who sent the game to OT with one second to go in regulation time, obviously lost a bet as well and wore No. 49. AND... No surprise Boll and Zack Stortini threw down and tossed 'em in this one. Boll leads the NHL with 23 fighting majors and Stortini sits third with 20 fighting majors. —Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 5 p.m. on Total Sports with Bob Stauffer on Team 1260.