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.
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.