Oilers' supporting cast of cling-ons

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:42 AM ET

PENTICTON, B.C. — Remember all those Star Trek episodes where Kirk, Spock, McCoy and a few drones in red shirts would beam down to a hostile planet?

It didn’t take a degree in science fiction to figure out who was getting vaporized first.

The starship Enterprise went through those poor nameless casualties like popcorn.

Well, that must be how rookie camp feels for about 26 Edmonton Oilers prospects, or, as they’re known around Penticton “the guys who aren’t Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi.”

Celebrated

While the Big Three have been fawned over and celebrated for weeks, cast as heroes and saviours and nearly blinded by the media spotlight, you can’t help but wonder if the rest of the red-shirted foot soldiers feel like forgotten men.

“Obviously, media is part of hockey, but what guys do on the ice is what matters, that’s what I think about it,” said Milan Kytnar, who isn’t put out by the lack of attention.

“I think the view of the media is different from the view of the actual players.”

And the way the players view it, there are no superstars when the puck drops. Everyone in that room, whether he’s someone doing 15 interviews a day or someone who wouldn’t be recognized with a name tag on his forehead, is trying to do the same thing.

Make it.

Everything else is cosmetic.

“Those three are very skilled and talented and fun to watch, and of course they’re going to be getting a lot of hype right now, especially with the rebuild that everybody’s talking about,” said defenceman Alex Plante.

“We’re all happy for them. But once they get in the room, everybody is back to equal and we’re all trying to work together.”

A little media love would be nice, but the redshirts realize it’s not all press conferences and number ceremonies.

Kirk, Spock and McCoy had their problems, too.

Staring up at a microscope all day, knowing that everyone is watching their every step, and that the world might just come to an end if they fail, isn’t easy, either.

“We don’t have that kind of pressure,” said Teemu Hartikainen, who doesn’t mind being able to go about his business without a camera in his face every day.

Hype aside, there is also a logistical element involved here.

If Eberle, Paajarvi and Hall all make the Oilers this season, then what hope is there for the other rookies in camp, given that it’s unlikely Edmonton would start the season with four or five freshmen?

“That’s true,” said Hartikainen. “It’s difficult, but I’ll do my best and see.”

“At this point, everyone in here is going to do whatever it takes to get there,” added Kytnar.

“Sooner or later ,I’m pretty sure most of the guys in here will.”

In the end, hype means nothing. In hockey, everything works itself out on the ice.

Longer

“The expectations and the coverage of those three is obvious because they’ve had such success up to this point,” said GM Steve Tambellini, adding everyone else still has time to make a name for himself — it just might take a little longer than they’d hoped.

“Most players understand that you need to spend time in the American Hockey League, you need to spend time back in junior.”.

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca


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