SUN Hockey Pool

The agitator!

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:25 AM ET

With all the hoopla surrounding the arrival of Chris Pronger and Michael Peca, it's not surprising Todd Harvey showed up at training camp with the Edmonton Oilers yesterday amid little fanfare.

That's fine with the 30-year-old from Hamilton, who inked a two-year deal with the Oilers one day before the NHL lockout, then spent last season playing senior hockey.

If history means anything, Harvey will garner considerably more attention when the puck drops and the boards and glass start rattling Friday against the Calgary Flames.

If Pronger is the world-class defenceman the Oilers have lacked and Peca is the answer at centre, Harvey, a veteran of 608 NHL games, is the agitator Craig MacTavish has long seen the need for. You'll notice him soon enough.

"That's my game and I'm not going to change it," said Harvey, a lock to start the season among MacTavish's 14 forwards.

Harvey, who is listed at six feet and weighs 195 pounds soaking wet, broke in with the Dallas Stars in 1994-95, an NHL tenure that's produced 216 points, 918 penalty minutes and more corner scrums than you can count.

"It didn't matter when I was a young guy coming up or right up until the last few years," he said. "I've been a guy who is hard to play against, in your face and creating some energy and emotion. I don't care how old I am."

Harvey is seldom the biggest dog in the fight, but you know how that saying goes. He never needs a written invitation to get involved. "He'll slip through the cracks until that first Calgary game. Then you'll go, hmm, that's why we got Todd," smiles MacTavish. "I really have high expectations for him and his contribution to the team because I know what type of player he is and the grit and sandpaper he brings during the game."

Harvey was a member of the Dallas team the Oilers upset in the 1997 quarterfinals, but fans here might remember him from a notable night at Rexall Place, Dec. 4, 2000, as a member of the San Jose Sharks.

Harvey, trying to lay the smack down in a scrap with Jason Smith, knocked himself unconscious. Looking to land a haymaker with Smith down on the ice, Harvey slipped and smacked his melon on the freeze. Knocked goofy, he needed an escort to the room when he came to.

"That was a pretty good tilt," chuckles Harvey. "When I went to hit him, my feet went out. The trainer is there and I saw this big pool of blood. I said, 'Who the hell is bleeding?' He says, 'You are.' I said, 'What? I thought I was winning the fight.' That's what happens."

Harvey played for MacTavish during a two-year stint with the Rangers after he left Dallas. Then, it was on to San Jose. Drafted ninth overall by Dallas in 1993, Harvey spent the lockout in the Ontario Senior AAA League playing with the Cambridge Hornets with former Oiler Steven Rice.

"It was time for me to move on," said Harvey, who decided his days were numbered when Darryl Sutter left for Calgary.

"We had some good teams, but there was a changing of the guard there and I felt I needed a fresh start. I'm excited to be here."


Videos

Photos