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.
ON THE COMEBACK
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."
A FIT HERE?
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.