‘You have 30 days:’ Luke Gazdic reflects on his early time with the Edmonton Oilers

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Mazzei
1 month ago
The hockey world is divided about Matt Rempe and how the start of his NHL has gone.
On the one hand, some people are entertained that the tall Canadian forward is willing to get in spirited scraps and crave a niche to secure a spot in the league. On the other hand, there are some with concerns about the long-term impact this will have on his health given he already has a big bruise around one of his eyes. Either way, Rempe has gotten the hockey world’s attention and has quickly become a household name just five games into his career.
But this is not the first time a player has taken the league by storm by getting in a bunch of scraps to begin his NHL story. This developing story shares quite a few similarities to how Luke Gazdic’s time in the NHL began over a decade ago when he broke into the league as a member of the Oilers.
The now-retired forward was certainly aware of the parallels as he appeared on the latest episode of Daily Faceoff Live and reflected on the early days of his time in Edmonton. He recalled a conversation he had with Dallas Eakins shortly after being claimed off waivers from the Dallas Stars.
“When I got picked up by waivers by Edmonton, I got pulled over by coach Dallas Eakins at my first practice and he looked at me and said ‘You have 30 days here to show us what you got and we can evaluate you'”, Gazdic said. “I took that as a challenge and I went after anybody in my path. I made it a challenge to myself.”
Gazdic did exactly that by getting in four spirited scraps within a month of him getting claimed, including in his NHL debut where he also got his first career goal. It would be enough to secure him a spot on the team for the remainder of the season where he would record four points in 67 games played while registering 127 penalty minutes, good enough for 11th in the league.
It even helped him earn a two-year extension with the Oilers in the offseason worth $1.6 million.
While his fights eventually became more sporadic after bursting onto the scenes, Gazdic said that it was part of his goal to find his place in the league and earn a living.
“My goal was them either telling me to get a place and that I made the team or that I did that enough and no one was going to want to do this after a while and both happened.”
Gazdic would go on to appear in 136 career games with the Oilers, where he scored eight points and got 194 penalty minutes, but it was ultimately where he spent the majority of his time in the NHL apart from an 11-game stint with the New Jersey Devils in 2016-17. While his career in the best league in the world would be under 150 games, his grand entrance helped get him in and set him up financially for life.
Going back to the present day where Rempe continues to make a name for himself, Gazdic relates to what the 21-year-old is currently going through. Gazdic knows that the fights will eventually become less frequent for Rempe but that initial start is what will ensure he can stay in the league a bit longer.
“I understand how I feel right now at age 34 after 176 fights and the risks that come with it, but that’s what you sign up for,” he said. “This is not a sustainable thing. This is not what he is going to be doing, he’s not going to be fighting every game. This is what you do when you enter the league and you want to carve out a little niche for yourself.”
You can listen to the entire exchange and the rest of the episode below.

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