Happy to get away in the first place and less thrilled than that to be back with good reason, the Edmonton Oilers returned to the ice at Rexall Place Wednesday afternoon, marking an end to their Olympic break.
Sitting dead-last in NHL standings at 19-36-6 for 44 points after a 7-3 thrashing from the Anaheim Ducks before the break, the Oilers did some drills to knock the rust off with a full complement of coaches, including Pat Quinn, just returned from Vancouver, looking on.
Suffice to say, it was a less-than brisk workout and the dictionary definition of non-descript, as you’d expect from a bunch of players getting back at it with 21 games remaining and little left to play for — aside from securing a lottery pick in the 2010 Entry Draft.
Hey, I don’t make the news, I just report it.
— Sam Gagner’s sore knee hasn’t responded as well to rest over the break as he’d hoped it would and he didn’t skate.
"I feel a lot better," Gagner said. "We just talked it over with the doctors and we’re just going to take a little time. Tomorrow, I’m going to do some on-ice testing and see where it is.
"Hopefully, the next day I’ll get back practising with the team and be ready for our first game."
Gagner has already had two MRIs on the knee. While neither one has shown any structural damage, he’s still experiencing some stiffness and pain.
— Future Mr. Duff, a.k.a. Mike Comrie, obviously isn’t a kiss-and-tell kind of guy, as he made it clear before practice even started he wouldn’t be taking questions about his engagement to Hillary Duff.
Comrie, who popped the question to Duff in Hawaii during the break, filed out of the dressing room, called over one of the Oilers media relations guys and told him to inform the unwashed masses he wouldn’t be taking inquiries about the engagement. That was that. For now.
— With the trade deadline looming, it’s nail-biting time for the players between now and March 3. While there’s plenty of buzz — I’ll get into that in coming days — most of it is of the unsubstantiated rumour variety.
The objects of most of the talk in these parts we know — Ethan Moreau, Sheldon Souray, Steve Staios and Fernando Pisani.
Pisani couldn’t help himself: "What are you hearing?" he asked me. "About you?" I answered. "Well . . ." So it goes, and will go, between now and deadline day. Reminded me of Raffi Torres, who was always as nervous as a blushing bride when trade day neared and was always leaning on the media guys for the inside dope.
— No sign of Souray around the rink, but I didn’t ask if he was here. In any case, he’s done until late-March, at the earliest after surgery to repair a broken wrist at the end of January. J.F. Jacques (sore back) didn’t skate either.
— Nikolai Khabibulin, who had his mugshot posted around the internet after failing a roadside sobriety test on Super Bowl weekend in Arizona, remains at home, ahem, rehabbing his back. Khabibulin will face a DUI charge in court Friday.
Patrick Garland, second-banana to J.J. Hebert in the Oilers media department, was sporting the best tan at practice, so I asked him if he’d been someplace warm.
"Cabo San Lucas," said Garland, who is Twenty-Something.
"Oh, did you bump into Barry?" I asked.
"Barry who?" Garland said.
"Who’s Barry Fraser?"
— Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.