Not once since Mike Comrie left this city after the Edmonton Oilers traded him to the Philadelphia Flyers in December 2003 have I thought to ask him if he’d ever consider playing for the Oilers again.
I didn’t think to ask during his tenure in Philadelphia, or during his time with the Phoenix Coyotes, the Ottawa Senators or the New York Islanders in the six seasons since he played here.
I didn’t think to ask in any of the off-seasons along the way. Or the other day, when I ran into Mike down the street from my place at brother Paul’s house. It didn’t dawn on me at the K of C Arena during an interview we did Monday. And why would it?
Given all the ill-will I remember in the months leading up to Comrie being traded — a nasty bit of business involving Mike, agent Ritch Winter and then-GM Kevin Lowe that came to an ugly head when Lowe queered a deal with Anaheim by asking for $2.5 million to complete the trade — you’d have to be nuts to even ask, no?
Well, apparently not. The question of whether Comrie might be a fit for the Oilers right now was discussed by Dan Tencer and Bob Stauffer on 630 CHED Tuesday night. Really.
God Almighty, Steve Tambellini, in the name of sweet mercy make a move of some kind before everybody is completely insane. I can hear Hillary Duff screaming at the top of her lungs now, “Noooooooooooooooooo.”
I hear you, girl.
Second time around
I’d be the first to suggest Tambellini be fitted with a rubber mouthpiece and a jacket with extra-long arms if he even considered inking Comrie, who is a UFA and is bunking at his brother’s house while awaiting a contract offer.
I’m not sure if Tencer, who I’m guessing was barely out of high school when the Comrie fiasco unfolded, was just filling air time, floating a trial balloon or fell down the stairs and hit his head before going on the air, but there’s nothing about the first time around I didn’t understand.
Now, there’s no indication whatsoever from anybody I know the Oilers are even considering talking to Comrie. I’m taking the discussion to be nothing more than a what-if bit of radio filler.
While Comrie, now 29, is good enough to play in the Oilers top six and could be had for a discount rate, like maybe $2 million in a one-year contract, it’s a profoundly bad idea on so many levels I don’t even know where to start. But, hell, let’s try.
Let’s get real
— Comrie didn’t enjoy the attention he got as a home town boy while playing for the Oilers his first time around, and he’s not going to be spared the spotlight now on a team that’s missed the playoffs three straight years.
— While Lowe has been bumped to the background in favour of Tambellini, the fact that he’s president of hockey operations means he still has a say in player personnel. He’s the head of hockey ops.
Forget what made it into the papers back in 2003 when things got ugly — the best stuff that conveyed the depth of the bad feelings between Lowe and Comrie never made it into print, and I can tell you that because I knew most of it. I don’t see the passing of six years healing that wound.
— Comrie and Winter never did go public with the reasons they wanted out of Edmonton, despite suggesting the “real story” would come out at the appropriate time and fans would understand their position.
While I don’t see a need to sift through that pile of dirty laundry, Comrie and Winter never did deliver the dirt. All fans know, without the reasons why, is Comrie took a pile of bonus money and turned his back on his hometown. They haven’t forgotten.
— The last thing the Oilers need right now is another five-foot-something forward to join the ranks of Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, Robert Nilsson and Patrick O’Sullivan. Where’s the fit? Where’s the cap room?
Look, I’ve got no beef with Comrie. As you might recall, I was accused by some of being in Comrie’s camp throughout the whole mess back in 2003. Maybe, in some ways, I was.
I never thought he owed it to fans here to stay if he was unhappy, whether he went public with his reasons or not. I was sympathetic to his position. It was criminal how some people tried to smear Comrie with the allegation he slept with Tommy Salo’s wife. That was bogus.
For those who don’t know, when it looked like the deal with Anaheim was done — before Lowe asked for some bonus money back — the Oilers had a going away party at Comrie’s house. Salo was there. So was captain Jason Smith, who, according to somebody’s fantasy, had roughed up Comrie for bedding Mrs. Salo. Again, bogus.
Be that as it may, any flights of fancy about Comrie returning here will crash and burn when he signs with Ottawa, Philadelphia or New Jersey, Maybe even Los Angeles, if Ms. Duff has any pull around the Staples Center. But here? No way.
I’m not even going to ask him.
— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on Team 1260.