I’m not so sure we saw anything resembling the best of Gilbert Brule, the person or the hockey player, during his first tour with the Edmonton Oilers. I find myself wondering if he might be worth a second look now.

I’m contemplating that possibility after reading a piece by Vancouver Province columnist Tony Gallagher today. I always liked the kid, even though he wasn’t right and didn’t show us enough to stay during his first stop with the Oilers, so I’m hardly impartial on the subject.

Now, having battled depression and a difficult relationship with his father and still only 26, the former Vancouver Giant apparently has his head on straight and is looking to get back into the NHL, where he belongs.

The Vancouver Canucks might be interested in Brule, and I’d suggest the Oilers should be, too. What’s the downside of offering Brule a professional tryout before training camp rolls around? There isn’t one.


Brule played 117 games with the Oilers from 2008-09 to 2010-11, tallying 26-23-49. His best stretch came in 2009-10, when he scored 17-20-37 in 65 games. That season was seen by some, including me, as his breakthrough year.

It wasn’t to be. Burdened by depression and the fractious relationship with his dad, Brule, who was the sixth overall pick by Columbus in the 2005 Entry Draft, instead faded away.

"I went to see a therapist, who prescribed temporary medication, and I really don’t believe in taking drugs for a problem like that," Brule told Gallagher.

"I thought it should have been dealt with in a different way. But the Oilers wanted me back on the ice as soon as possible. It’s a business and I understand that, and I’m not trying to throw the Oilers under the bus; they reacted as any team would and should.

"But the medication didn’t make me better, it made it worse. And all the while I was trying to play through this. Now I’ve talked those issues through, my head is clear, I feel good. It’s actually fun again to be on the ice. That’s the thing with my father. I’m really happy and grateful that he got me into hockey, it’s just that any regular relationship with him while I’m playing isn’t going to work."


I hope Brule gets another chance somewhere in the NHL, and I’d be happy to see him get it here. He’s one of the most decent young men you’ll ever come across and, like I said, I’m not exactly unbiased on the subject.

That said, being a "good guy" doesn’t necessarily make him a fit with the Oilers. I can’t help but think, though, that the physical edge Brule plays with for an undersized player and his offensive ability as a secondary scorer makes him a candidate for this line-up.

It would certainly provide Oiler fans with a feel-good story to see the kid back in town. More important, though, he might provide the Oilers with a third-line option they don’t have now. I wonder, might GM Craig MacTavish might be contemplating the same thing?

The Oilers, after all, have taken longer shots where reclamation projects are concerned, no?

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • MKE

    Any chance we can get the itunes podcasts updated every week? I have subscribed to your podcast on itunes, but all the media is a year old, nothing from 2013 on there. Seems you have to download from the web site only. Thank in advance. Neal

  • MKE

    why not? why not have a team entirely made up of undersized forwards? buck the trend, go against the curve. be the smallest SC champion in history!!!

    he plays big, but he’s just another smurf. if he’s the best the team can fill the lineup with, then look forward to another top 10 pick.

    put me down in the ‘not interested’ column

  • MKE

    Robin : Due to latest report on concussions what new action might league go on recommendations ? do you feel more skilled but softer might get an advantage with new recommendations . I do and I feel size will not be such an issue as it is now . Comparative advantage Oilers ?

  • MKE

    Signing Brule would not help anyone.

    The Oilers need more size and more forwards who can backcheck (or at least make some semblance of an effort to backcheck). Brule lacks the former and is mediocre at best on the latter.

    As for Brule, I am not a psychiatrist but I could raise the question as to whether Brule wouldn’t be better off turning the page on his depressing times here and in Columbus, and attempt his comeback in a more positive (i.e. winning) environment with a better track record for supporting its players? While Brule didn’t blame the Oilers for the whole medication thing, it just doesn’t sound like he has any good reasons to come running back here.