Rod Phillips grounded

Who will do the radio play-by-play on 630 CHED for the Edmonton Oilers upcoming seven-game road trip?

As of right now, it’s tough to say for sure, but I can tell you it won’t be HHOF broadcaster Rod Phillips, who has been calling Oilers games for 35 years and has missed just two regular season tilts in that time.

Phillips, 67, played hurt on the Oilers last three-game road trip, but the ear infection he battled through in stops in Chicago, Colorado and Vancouver is going to put him on the shelf for the upcoming swing from start to finish—the Skipper will miss more games in the next two weeks than he has in the last four decades.

No choice

“It’s an ear infection that started last week in Chicago,” Phillips said. “I’ve been told not to get on the plane. There’s not too much I can do about that, for certain, but I feel pretty bad about it.

“I kind of feel like I’m letting a lot of people down, but I have to look after the ear, so… the doctor in Denver told me this is a very bad infection and it’s probably going to take me a month to get it healed.”

With Phillips told by doctors to stay on the ground when the longest trip of the season begins in Nashville Thursday, the Oilers are scrambling to find somebody to man the microphone in his absence.

As it stands now, indications from the Oilers are the likeliest candidate to take over for Phillips is Bob Stauffer, who is in his first-year doing colour commentary as the Skipper’s sidekick on 630 CHED.

Over to you, Bob?

“These are big shoes,” Oilers Vice-President of Broadcasting Alan Watt said of finding a replacement.

“The guy’s taken pride in never missing games. I mean, he tried to do one of the games he missed when his nose was bleeding so badly he couldn’t even see. He’s doing the right thing. This infection is serious. He has to stay here and we’re OK with that.”

Phillips will work tonight’s game against the Boston Bruins at Rexall Place, but he’ll stay behind when the team leaves for stops in Nashville, Carolina, Philadelphia, Columbus, Pittsburgh, New Jersey and New York.

The Oilers might be able to use Sportsnet TV play-by-play man Kevin Quinn for two of the games and leave Stauffer as the analyst, but with five of the upcoming seven games on the tube, he won’t be available.

The likeliest bet, though, is Stauffer, who has several years experience doing play-by-play for the Alberta Golden Bears hockey and football teams and has one NHL game on his resume.

Stauffer did play-by-play for the San Jose Sharks in a game here against the Oilers during the 2000–01 season as a fill-in for Dan Rusanowsky, who’d been seriously injured in a car wreck.

“I’ve only missed two games over the last 35 years,” Phillips said. “I missed one (game) in 2002 and one in 2003. I really feel bad about it, but some things you can control and some things you can’t.”

—Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on Team 1260.