Fernando Pisani: Karma my ass

I’ve never put much faith in the concept of karma, and I’m thinking it’s even more of a load when I look at the health issues that have plagued Fernando Pisani of the Edmonton Oilers.

Obviously, OilersNation is first and foremost a hockey site, so it’s fair game for fans to criticize Pisani’s on-ice contributions or lack of same since the Stanley Cup run of 2006 and the big contract he got in the aftermath of a magical post-season, but WTF is with health issues he’s had since then?

As everybody knows by now, Pisani was sent home by the Oilers at the end of the week after unsuccessfully trying to play through flair-ups of the ulcerative colitis that threatened his career during the 2007-08 season.

We all know how Pisani battled back from that, a courageous ordeal that made him a finalist for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in 2008, but now he’s back home and on the shelf again. The Oilers can’t say when, or if, he’ll be back. And, in the big picture, it really doesn’t matter. What Pisani needs now is to get healthy.

Hockey aside, if you’ve got a heart, you’re pulling for him.

Deserves better

Pisani, 32, has had nothing but health issues the past three seasons. In 2007-08, he missed the first 26 games with colitis. In 2008-09, he missed 44 games, most of those with a fractured ankle. This season, a bad back and the colitis has kept him out of 13 of 19 games.

I can tell your first-hand, Pisani is one of the most decent human beings you’ll ever meet. There isn’t anybody who knows Fernando who has a bad word to say about him. He’s Exhibit A why I don’t buy karma.

Pisani is the same guy he was before that wonderful spring of 2006, when he cashed in after scoring 14 goals in the playoffs. Down-to-earth. No attitude. No "I’m-a-big-deal." No sense of entitlement. He’s a family man and a father. He cares about people — and not just his teammates.

I’ve told this story before, so I won’t go into a lot of detail again, but during that spring of 2006 at the rink one day, Fernando and I had a good, long talk about family and fatherhood and the impending birth of my son, Sam. Fernando told me that no matter what else I’d done in my life, or would do in days to come, Sam would be my greatest accomplishment. He was right.

After Sam was born — I’ve related his struggles here as well — Fernando was always the first person to ask how Sam and my wife were doing, the first guy to pass along his best wishes. I never forget that. I never will.

Get well soon, Fernando.

On the road

— Shawn Horcoff, Robert Nilsson and Sheldon Souray were back on the blades at practice Saturday morning, and all three could be in the line-up against Atlanta tomorrow afternoon.

Horcoff has already declared himself fit to return from a shoulder injury, while Nilsson (mild concussion) looks ready to return. The one wildcard is Souray. He’s missed 16 games with a concussion and it looks like he’ll be a game-time decision. Like I said three days ago, I’m still of the mind he’ll draw in, but we’ll see.

— The lines today had Dustin Penner skating with Horcoff and Ales Hemsky, Mike Comrie on the left side with Sam Gagner and Patrick O’Sullivan, Ethan Moreau with Andrew Cogliano and Zack Stortini and Nilsson with Gilbert Brule and Ryan Potulny.

— Dean Arsene, recalled from Springfield with Souray’s status undecided and Denis Grebeshkov in Edmonton with a sprained MCL, will likely be paired with Steve Staios if Souray isn’t ready. Look for Ladislav Smid and Lubomir Visnovsky to be a tandem and Tom Gilbert and Jason Strudwick to be a pair.


— The call-up of Arsene, 29, is a surprise to those fans who thought Theo Peckham might get the promotion, but Arsene has earned the look with his play for Rob Daum in the AHL.

Arsene’s a player in the pattern of former captain Jason Smith. A career minor-leaguer, he’s tough as nails and mean as hell. Arsene won’t give you any offence, but he’s the kind of reliable stay-at-home type the Oilers are hoping Peckham will be one day.

Here’s hoping the call-up of Arsene gets Peckham’s attention. What Peckham needs to do is get in shape — an ankle injury kept him out of training camp — and get re-focused. Earn the call and you’ll get the call.

— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

  • Great Post Brownlee. I sure hope that Pisani wins the Masterton trophy this year (EDIT: If he's nominated). He deserved it last year. Get better soon Fernie!

    I'm a little surprised that Horcoff goes back to the #1 line. Since he is bigger than most of the forwards, I would think he'd go with Comrie/O'Sullivan.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Your right Robin, Pisani is one of the kindest individuals on this earth. It is truly tragic to see such an great human being go through so much pain and turmoil as Pisani has gone through. He is still one of my heroes and always will be, his fight and determination just to play the sport of hockey is enough to see how superhuman his character truly is when compared to the rest of us.

    Get Well soon you Italian Stallion!

    • Librarian Mike

      My wife is a nurse, and I remember telling her back then that I was happy to see Pisani come back from Ulcerative Colitis to finish the season. She was certain I got the name of the disease wrong because she said there was no way an athlete could come back from that.

      When I confirmed that it was correct, her exact words were "That guy is f**king tough".

      • Maggie the Monkey

        I have a good friend with colitis. He is one tough SOB, too, and works a job in construction through it as often as he can. It must be an entirely different can or worms to try to manage it as a pro athlete, though, as there's no way to mail in a game or take the odd sick day from time to time, which is what my buddy has to do to keep it in line.

        My intuition is that Pisani's days are all but over, even if he's able to mount a comeback. If the NHLPA had an ounce of compassion they'd waive the 30 games he has left to allow him to be eligible for their pension.

        Robin: do you know if there are any exceptions for the pension due to health related issues that Fernando can qualify for? (Not that he'll be terribly short of funds…)

  • It's a shame what Pisani is going through he seems like a great guy(I've never met personally) he meant alot to the team in 06 and has had crap luck ever since, I hope that if it's decided that he can't play anymore he finds a spot in the organization somewhere.

  • Anybody remember Linglet in camp? he had 120 points in the Q when he was 19. 19 points in 16 games this year, 6'4 210, why not give him a callup with all the other injuries on the team? some size and skill who knows maybe he will give them a shot of adrenaline up front.

    Or does he only have a 1 way AHL contract? Or really slow?

    not much pims so maybe he plays soft but with his scoring in the A maybe he is like Penner, does not fight but goes to the net.

  • Paq Twinn

    Maybe this is reverse karma. He got good luck in 06, now he has to pay for it. Poor guy hasn't even had a chance to earn his pay hike from 3 yrs ago. Get well soon Pi-san.

  • Librarian Mike

    Great article. I still get mad when I think about how Pisani was robbed of the Masterton in '08. Oh well, at least I can take solace that Pisani got about 3 rounds and 13 goals closer to the holy grail than Jason Blake ever will…

  • Yep, I totally feel for our cousin Pisani. I mean, I'd be pretty pissed off if I got colitis, and I don't even have an amazing job like being an NHL player, nor do I have kids. I really hope it's not the last we see of Fernando.

  • Librarian Mike


    Another great post! Let's hope Fernie gets healthy for himself and his family.
    On a different note, I know your wife is a pinay. Are you both watching the Pacquaio Vs. Cotton fight and what are your thoughts on Pacman?

    • Manny is the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet and, obviously, is a hero in the Philippines. The danger for him is he is bouncing between weight classes so much to find competition, and sooner or later he's going to jump up in weight too much and get beaten by somebody who is just too big and too strong, regardless of ability. Manny started out as a flyweight (112 pounds) and he's going to be fighting Cotto at 145. Cotto's the naturally bigger, stronger man having fought mostly at 140-and-up.

  • Maggie the Monkey


    Another great post! Let's hope Fernie gets healthy for himself and his family.
    On a different note, I know your wife is a pinay. Are you both watching the Pacquaio Vs. Cotton fight and what are your thoughts on Pacman?

  • Robin.

    This really sucks for Pisani I'd have to say injuries and illness have really sidetracked his career the last couple of years. It is nice to hear that he's got his head on straight and whatever he does next will be best for his family.

    Is there anyway the fine folks at ON can pass on the best wishes of all the posters and readers of ON. Whether he's been good on the ice or not Pisani deserves our support after all he is an Oiler and an Edmonton boy.

  • Oilitsinyoutogive

    I believe in Karam quite a bit. I also believe that bad things happen to good people, so by saying this, i think i have realized eventually were all gonna have some bad luck. I think Pisani needs to just take time and get healthy and i hope the best for him. I hope Stone will be back sooner now hes not the same as Pisani, but i like the edge he brings.

  • Sadly bad things do happen to good people, its nice to know that Fernando has things in proper perspective.

    Osullivan blocked a shot vs Buffalo and is nursing a sore foot.

    Hey jeanshorts… how bout them avs? When the manitoba moose and half of the sisterhood hang a snowman on yah, well……… karma indeed.

  • Best wishes Fernando.
    I admire his gutsy fight. I hope he takes the time to recover his health and see where things go from there. The hockey career is a dream come true, but he he has a lot of other good things going in his life. If the health issue prevents a return to the ice, I wish him well in the other parts of his life.
    I really like Arsene when I watched him in training camp and during the pre-season. I hope he gets a good chance to show what he an do.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    RB – Karma, is in my opinion, a load of bunk, period. However, the phrase, 'what goes around comes around' may be more accurate. At least I hope that Pisani receives back in spades what he has given to others. Much more has likely been done on behalf of others quietly by him and his family in the community than will ever be known. I am one of those who hasn't been impressed with his play and have said so, but clearly there was a medical reason for it. I was wrong.

    What has happened to Pisani is a microcosm of what the organization has faced in the first 6 weeks of the season. What do they do? I think it was Tambellini who let something slip while being interviewed the other day when he said something to the effect they are trying to acquire experience to bolster the current line-up but who would trade with them and for what?
    They have lucked out with deals that haven't worked out more than deals that have been consummated. Such as Heatley, Hossa and Nylander for openers.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I kinda figured that he was playing hurt last year. In a interview he said there were off days and practice days that he just felt like crap, and even though he didn't admit it I can almost gurantee that there had to be games where he wasn't himself.

    I won't be suprised if he retires after this year or even during the year and takes on some sort of position within the club.