Past knows presence

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, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

The news: Jordan Eberle is in town with the Regina Pats.

He's the Edmonton Oilers' first-round draft pick, don't you know.

It's something he shares with his coach - maybe you didn't know.

Although the scenario Dale Derkatch faced was a little different than the one his star winger has now.

Eberle has become used to talking into microphones and cameras.

Besides being well-known in Regina and around the WHL, Eberle's profile was raised over the Christmas holidays.

Bet you do know he was with Team Canada. Bet you saw that goal: five seconds left against the Russians, gold-medal dreams about to melt. A junior version of Paul Henderson's.

That'll raise a player's profile!

That's why, apart from the obvious Oilers angle, Eberle was a media target in Edmonton yesterday.

"Ha, ha," he chuckled about getting used to interviews. "I do a lot at home.

"I did quite a few this morning, though," he said later yesterday after practice at the Kenilworth Arena. "I did a bunch with - I don't know who they all were! - SportsCentre and all those people.

"I don't usually do many (as a visitor).

"It's fun to play in a city where a team drafted you," said Eberle. "I got to say hi to Craig MacTavish and the coaching staff. And I got to walk through the (Oilers') room for a bit."

That frenzy is something coach couldn't help much with.

There was no media scrum when Derkatch was a 7th round pick (140th overall) by the Oilers in 1983.

Despite being one of the all-time scorers in WHL history - and, still is - something about his five-foot-six, 145-pound frame didn't create expectations at the NHL level.

"Of course things have changed immensely since I played," said Derkatch. "There's more media coverage of all kinds, and it really helps to promote the kids that are playing in the league and just hockey in general. It's amazing.

"Sometimes it's a little overboard! But that's what it is."

The Pats all-timer (you won't see anyone in Regina blue-and-orange wearing Derkatch's No. 16 again) returned to Queen City last year after four as a director at Notre Dame. (He won a national midget title with the Hounds in his day and coached Eberle there in bantams.)

"I don't think you can really prepare anyone for what's been happening (to Eberle)," said Derkatch.

"Good things happen to good people and he's very lucky and deserves it. But he handles it like a pro. He's very humble."

Derkatch didn't have to deal with it. He didn't even pursue a contract with the Oilers, instead heading to Europe where he remained a prolific scorer to the end over his dozen-plus years there.

"I think they 'get it' a lot earlier," the coach said of players dealing with the spotlight.

"They see a lot more of it. When I was growing up, first off you had only had two or three channels, you had one Hockey Night in Canada game a week - things have changed so much.

"I think the kids actually grow up with, and are more used to doing things, in terms of public speaking. I think that's just that's the world these days in society, that kids handle those things.

"And, as you can see with Jordan, he does it well."

Eberle said the Oilers do keep in contact. But not a lot.

"But I think the less they say the better," the winger joked. "If they don't have to say anything to me, it's probably a good thing!"

THE DERKATCH FILE ...

In Derkatch's WHL rookie-of-the-year season in 1981-82, under then-coach Bill LaForge, the Pats led the league in goals (465) and - a LaForge trademark - in penalty minutes. They lost the league final to the Portland Winter Hawks, the transplanted franchise of the original Edmonton Oil Kings ... In '82-83, Derkatch had 179 points (84 goals) in 67 games, with 92 PIM ... He had 103 points in 54 playoff games in his three-plus years, including 53 in 23 in '83-84 ... Derkatch also had 53 penalty minutes in those 23 playoff games.


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