Off the Top of My Head
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
It’s way too early for the Edmonton Oilers to say when they expect to have Evander Kane back in their line-up, but the twirl he took on the ice at Rogers Place prior to the morning skate of Saturday’s 5-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens has people talking.
Kane, out since Nov. 8 when his left wrist was sliced by the skate of former Oiler Patrick Maroon in a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, not only stretched his legs before practice, he did some stickhandling and took some easy shots at the net.
That might not sound like a big deal, but with a return date set anywhere between three and four months, seeing Kane take on some on-ice work less than a month after surgery seems like a positive sign.
Kane, 31, had 5-8-13 in 14 games when he was injured against the Lightning. It’s an understatement in the extreme to say the Oilers have missed not only his production but his physicality, speed and edge in the top-six forward group.
BIG RIG WITH THE COMEBACK
Anybody remember J.D. Dudek? Me either. I ask only because Dudek is the prospect the Oilers received along with a third-draft pick from the New Jersey Devils in February 2019 in the trade that sent Maroon packing. Dudek is 26 now and he still hasn’t played an NHL game. Maroon, as we know, has made a habit of winning Stanley Cups since Peter Chiarelli sent him away.
I ask about Dudek only because I came across his name this week when looking up Maroon, who found himself in the headlines after Boston Bruins NESN play-by-play man and noted loudmouth Jack Edwards decided he’d make fun of Maroon’s weight during a broadcast.
Instead of taking a public verbal run at Edwards, Maroon responded by announcing on Twitter he was donating $2,000 to Tampa Bay Thrives, a charity that deals with mental health and substance abuse issues. A terrific response by Maroon, who has always been a real beauty.
In parts of three seasons in Edmonton, Maroon scored 49-37-86 in 154 games, including 27 goals in 2016-17. Maroon provided good value for what he was paid by the Oilers. It’s obvious in hindsight he’d have been a handy guy to keep around awhile longer. Maroon said more than once stops in New Jersey, St. Louis and Tampa Bay he didn’t want to leave Edmonton.
If you remember the Viking Cup, a tournament played in Camrose for many years, then you’ll likely find a book about the tournament by founder LeRoy Johnson a good read and something that might make a great Christmas stocking stuffer.
From the publisher: “How does a small college in a rural Alberta city of just over 12,000 people become host to the finest hockey players in the world? Now a part of the University of Alberta, Camrose Lutheran College was challenged to compete against larger city colleges.
Through persistence in following a vision, the school and the community embraced the potential of the Viking Cup in 1980, opening their doors to the world of hockey through this unique international exchange program . . . by the time the Cup had its last hurrah in 2006, the NHL had drafted more than 400 players from its ranks. The link to the item is here.
Thanks to Wilf Brooks, past owner of United Sports and a driving force in the early days of Sports Central, for passing this along.
A HELPING HAND
Jake Chiasson, selected by the Oilers in the fourth round, 116th overall in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, was one of four members of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings who made headlines this week for intervening and helping with the rescue of a suicidal man on a bridge in Brandon.
It was Chiasson who called 911 after the players pulled over in their car to talk to the man and keep him settled until emergency personnel and police arrived. The full story is here.
A JOB WELL DONE
With news Myrna Khan is taking over as executive director of the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation, a tip of the cap for the outstanding job done by outgoing director Natalie Minckler, who retired in September. Over the course of 25 years, I saw first-hand Minckler’s dedication to doing good deeds in our community. Congratulations on a great run.