TOP 100 OILERS: MIKE COMRIE (51)

Mike Comrie’s time with the Edmonton Oilers seemed scripted like one of those feel-good flicks where the local boy comes home and makes good. While it started out that way midway through the 2000-01 NHL season, it played out with more plot twists than a soap opera — complete with heroes, villains and intrigue, not to mention an unlikely encore, by the time it was done.

Truth is, the off-ice storylines were more intriguing than what happened on the ice during the 235 games Comrie spent as an Oiler in two stints with his hometown team. It was an on-again off-again tenure that saw the son of Brick furniture magnate Bill Comrie produce 154 points and make a bagful of bonus money for doing it. There was a grand entrance. A bitter break-up. A busted trade thanks to an unusual ask by GM Kevin Lowe. Then, to close the show, a reunion almost nobody saw coming. Lights, camera, action . . . 

Mike Comrie

Center

Born Sep 11 1980 — Edmonton, ALTA 


Height 5.10 — Weight 185 [178 cm/84 kg]

Drafted by Edmonton Oilers

Round 3 #91 overall 1999 NHL Entry Draft

BY THE NUMBERS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

TOI

ATOI

2000-01

20

EDM

41

8

14

22

6

14

62

12.9

467

11:23

2001-02

21

EDM

82

33

27

60

16

45

170

19.4

1437

17:32

2002-03

22

EDM

69

20

31

51

-18

90

170

11.8

1232

17:51

2003-04

23

TOT

49

12

12

24

-6

28

101

11.9

769

15:42

2003-04

23

PHI

21

4

5

9

2

12

36

11.1

270

12:51

2003-04

23

PHX

28

8

7

15

-8

16

65

12.3

499

17:50

2005-06

25

PHX

80

30

30

60

2

55

190

15.8

1282

16:01

2006-07

26

TOT

65

20

25

45

0

44

125

16.0

991

15:15

2006-07

26

PHX

24

7

13

20

1

20

38

18.4

398

16:36

2006-07

26

OTT

41

13

12

25

-1

24

87

14.9

593

14:27

2007-08

27

NYI

76

21

28

49

-21

87

194

10.8

1458

19:11

2008-09

28

TOT

63

10

17

27

-15

32

121

8.3

989

15:42

2008-09

28

NYI

41

7

13

20

-8

26

80

8.8

675

16:28

2008-09

28

OTT

22

3

4

7

-7

6

41

7.3

314

14:17

2009-10

29

EDM

43

13

8

21

-9

30

97

13.4

612

14:14

2010-11

30

PIT

21

1

5

6

-4

18

25

4.0

248

11:49

4 yrs

EDM

235

74

80

154

-5

179

499

14.8

3748

15:57

3 yrs

PHX

132

45

50

95

-5

91

293

15.4

2179

16:30

2 yrs

NYI

117

28

41

69

-29

113

274

10.2

2133

18:14

2 yrs

OTT

63

16

16

32

-8

30

128

12.5

907

14:24

1 yr

PHI

21

4

5

9

2

12

36

11.1

270

12:51

1 yr

PIT

21

1

5

6

-4

18

25

4.0

248

11:49

Career

589

168

197

365

-49

443

1255

13.4

9486

16:06

PLAYOFFS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

TOI

ATOI

2000-01

20

EDM

6

1

2

3

0

0

7

14.3

90

14:00

2002-03

22

EDM

6

1

0

1

-1

10

9

11.1

79

13:07

2006-07

26

OTT

20

2

4

6

-1

17

25

8.0

254

12:41

Career

32

4

6

10

-2

27

41

9.8

422

13:12

NOTABLE

When Comrie, originally drafted by the Oilers 91st overall in the 1999 Entry Draft from the University of Michigan, was introduced midway through the 2000-01 season at Rexall Place after deciding to leave the Kootenay Ice, it was with great fanfare. The former star of the St. Albert Saints had leveraged unrestricted free agency – under the Mike Van Ryn precedent – to a bonus-laden contract worth $10 million over three seasons.

On the ice, Comrie didn’t waste any time triggering those bonuses during his first three seasons, campaigns in which he produced 61-72-133 through 192 games. Off the ice, Comrie soon grew weary of playing and living with the expectations that came in the hockey fishbowl that was home. The intensity of the scrutiny ratcheted up a notch when Lowe went up one side of the team and down the other after another first-round playoff loss to the Dallas Stars in 2003. With Comrie’s first contract up, things got sticky.

At the 2003 Entry Draft in Nashville, word was Lowe was testing the waters to see who might be interested in Comrie. Negotiations between Lowe and agent Ritch Winter were going nowhere. Things got ugly when Comrie was told he couldn’t attend training camp without a contract. When the season began, Comrie began a hold-out. While that was widely reported as a ploy during negotiations, it was anything but a bargaining chip. The fact was Comrie and Winter had requested a trade. 

THE STORY

Comrie

It looked like Comrie would get his ticket out of town when Lowe struck a deal with the Anaheim Ducks in a trade that included Corey Perry and a first-round draft pick. It was seen as such a done-deal that Comrie’s Oiler teammates held a going-away party for him. That deal came apart with an 11th hour demand by Lowe that Comrie pay $2.5 million to complete the trade – essentially, an unprecedented attempt to claw back some of the bonus money Comrie had earned during his first contract. 

The Oilers were on the road in Los Angeles when Comrie was eventually dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers on December 16, 2003. The return from the Flyers was Jeff Woywitka, a first-round pick (Rob Schremp) and a third-round pick (Danny Syvret). Despite the bad feelings and a public pissing match leading up to the trade, Comrie and the Oilers eventually kissed and made up – after stops in Philadelphia, Phoenix, Ottawa and Long Island, Comrie re-signed with the Oilers as a free agent for the 2009-10 season. It was a largely uneventful reunion as Comrie scored 13-8-21 in 43 games.

While Comrie has been painted by some as a silver-spooner who took a big stack of bonus money, turned his back on the Oilers and ducked out of town, Lowe and his supporters in team ownership at the time were co-authors of all the over-the-top drama. In between a promising beginning and that ugly split, Comrie was a very good player here.

This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up. 


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

PREVIOUSLY:

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    On-Ice: Helluva player. Had speed, smarts and soft hands.

    Off-Ice: Complete total douchebag. I thought that just possibly Hillary Duff could sort him out, but his “old douchebag ways” caught up to him there as well.

  • Morgo_82

    Ah yes, the official start of Kevin Lowe putting his ego before the teams best interests.

    PS that first round pick from Anaheim would’ve been (unless they screwed it up, which was probable), Ryan Getzlaf. So Perry and Getzlaf for Comrie, but instead of that we got a bunch of crap and Comrie never actually had to give back the 2.5 million, so real smooth KLowe.

    *Yes I know hindsight’s 20/20 but still…

  • FISTO Siltanen

    Considering that later that season Adam Oates tried to pay back some of his money on his own valition on account of not playing well and the NHLPA blocked that would the Oilers have even got the money out of Comrie if he was willing?

    And I’m no fancy stats wizard but does 10+ years of Corey Perry playing for your team end up being worth more than $2.5M?

      • Ed in Edmonton 1

        I haven’t been paying close attention to all of your choices, but Comrie caught my eye. I would have been just as surprised by almost anyone who is on the list with only a brief history with the Oil.

        • So, 235 games is a brief history with the Oilers?

          What’s the cut-off point — if games played with Edmonton is your thing — where the inclusion of a particular player catches your eye?

          For the record, 513 players have played for the Oilers in the NHL. Only 65 of those 513 players have seen action in more than the 235 regular season games Comrie played.

  • LibrarianMike

    My biggest takeaway from this whole situation is that it was (by my recollection) the first time I’d heard an Oiler publicly talk about how this team would pressure them into playing while injured. Being completely honest, at the time I thought Comrie was being a baby.

    However, after hearing about this over and over again from people like Souray, Renney, etc. it really shows that the rot in this team’s upper levels has been there for a long time.

  • PlayoffsPlease

    I am a few years younger then Mike and grew up across the street from him. Him and his family were always great neighbors.

    When he signed that contract, he bought himself a Porsche Boxster and you could tell he hadn’t owned a manual before because he stalled it quite a few times in front of our house. His step-mother, however, could really use that car to its full potential.

    We figured he was probably one of the highest paid people in town that
    A) still lived with his parents
    and
    B) brush snow off his sportscar every morning because the two slots in the garage were taken

    His on-ice play speaks for itself, but since I actually do have (granted this is the internet and is unprovable) first hand knowledge of his off-ice antics, I thought I would chime in to say over the 10 or so years I lived across the street from him I witnessed 0 acts of douchebaggery.

    • Seanaconda

      His dad owned the brick he was making minimum wage compared to his parents

      Suprised a family that rich only had a 2 car garage and lived on a normal street tho. Must be a pretty frugal family

    • I have nothing but respect for the Comrie family and their contributions to this city over the years.

      I got to know Bill over many years — well enough that he trusted me to do a profile on the Comrie family for Henry Singer’s magazine — and I knew Mike and Paul through my work covering the Oilers. Paul was also a neighbour of mine, including the time when Mike made his return to Edmonton for a second stint here and stayed with him.

      Given the wealth of the family, I knew Paul and Mike as anything but spoiled little rich kids who acted or felt like they were entitled to anything or were better than anybody else. I found them to be completely the opposite, actually. That’s my first-hand experience and when I hear otherwise via internet rumours and gossip it does not jibe in any way with my interactions with them.

  • vetinari

    I remember when the potential trade deal leaked out and being excited by the prospect of getting Perry and a 1st rounder and then the WTF moment when it was scuttled over Lowe’s demand of the repayment of the $2.5M. It seemed petty at the time and now in hindsight seems like a huge loss for the team at a time when they could have used the young talent.

    Looking at some of the players on Robin’s list, I’m amazed at the number of smaller skilled players that made their way through the Oilers over the years and also started their NHL careers at an early age. It also seems like 200-300 games in an Oiler uniform is the norm before many of the parties cut ties.

    I hope this changes with the next wave of prospects and we see guys like McDavid, Klefbom and Puljaarvi around for a long time.

  • Serious Gord

    Still maybe the darkest moment of Kevin Lowe’s career as GM.

    Is there a GM in the last 20 years who was worse?

    And yet he is still on the payroll – is still a relied upon confidant of both the President and GM according to the President.

    He’s Hockey’s Rasputin.

    • Seanaconda

      Mike Millbury ? Seems like he is considered the worst gm of all time and 20 years ago includes most of his time as the islanders gm.

      And tbh Lowe’s record as a gm wasn’t that bad unless you’re a conspiracy theorist and include tambs and mactavishs records as well. Klowe got killed by overpaying after the cup run tho. Does anyone have his win loss record as edmontons gm? Probably one of the worst presidents of hockey operations of all time tho ?

  • DougWeightProblem

    Lowe gets the blame for that Perry trade not going through, but it should be more on the EIG and the state of team ownership at the time, I think. They needed every penny they could get to keep the team afloat, and, from Pocklington to the EIG, it could explain why the Oilers have often had a culture of forcing players to earn every dollar by coming back early from injuries, giving back bonus money, and other shady rumours following the team. This is one of the things Katz should be able to weed out, but it takes time, and the “old boys” weren’t helping things.

  • Druds

    Yeah Mike certainly was and still is (judging by the posts) a controversial oiler. I didnt mind him, he was a poor mans Doug weight .. and I will catch flak for even mentioning him and Weight in the same Universe but it seemed to me they had a similar style but Weight’s leadership was miles above Mike.

    The worst was Lowe’s stupid maneuver which sank us into the eternal hell of mediocrity …One of the great if only’s …Perry as an Oiler…maybe we would have won that 2006 Cup!

  • hockey1099

    Comrie was a fantastic player for us. He is tiny by NHL standards. I’m 5’10 and i can guarantee you he is not, ran in to him several times on whyte and watched him Play a lot of Bantam Games. He seemed to always have the ice slot before me and we all watched his games mostly to see if his step mom (Hottie) was in the crowd. I remember chirping he was only on the team because his dad sponsored it, boy was i wrong. 30 goals in the show is no joke. Guy played a tough game especially for his size. I love that we brought him back and even have a signed jersey from him and hemmer, oddest jersey ever. Both guys were injured and in the same box i was.Both were super nice and let me bring in my bosses 4 kids to get their jerseys signed.

    Great Player and seemed like a decent guy off the ice.