SUN Hockey Pool

Daum's return a feather in Oilers cap

JOHN SHORT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

The return of Rob Daum as head coach of a professional hockey team was long overdue. The Oilers deserve credit for making a move that probably should not have been necessary.

There was nothing in Jeff Truitt's coaching record to equal Daum's success at the University of Alberta, but no matter.

Giving the Springfield job to Truitt after last season - Daum was available at the time - was a top-drawer example of the way pro sport often works against itself.

Cronies look after cronies, that's all there is to it.

Daum did a creditable job in Houston as head coach of the Minnesota Wild's AHL farm team a few years back but was moved out so former NHL coach Kevin Constantine could come in.

Constantine's run at Everett in the WHL was both successful and questionable. So why the change? Because Constantine and Wild general manager Doug Risebrough had an NHL background in common, that's why.

It's probably too late for Springfield to reach a playoff spot, but Daum's emphasis on fundamentals and a team system figures to help his players reach the NHL sooner or later.

FUNDAMENTALLY SOUND

As for fundamentals, the Oilers played a remarkable game yesterday in that shootout victory.

Dwayne Roloson was brilliant a lot of the time, but most of the rebounds were cleared and a tough defensive approach made it almost impossible for Los Angeles to screen the Oilers goaltender most of the time.

And the timing was perfect, since this was probably the most important Edmonton game of the season so far.

After months of misery, they could be getting hot at the right time. Do you think?

POACHING COACHING

I wonder if it's still true that professional hockey scouts lower leagues in search of prospective coaches.

If so, Bryan Keller, executive director of the St. Francis Xavier hockey academy, has probably drawn some attention.

He received some notice as an assistant in the AJHL and had new success in Alberta college ranks before focusing full time on his high school responsibilities and working with a women's team.

Now, he's got a Sherwood Park team battling for top spot in the provincial Triple-A Midget free-for-all. Typically, Keller deflects credit: "The guys work hard," he said. "They deserve everything they get."

Typically, things work that way.

TOIL, TOIL ...

Whoever arranged the draw for the annual Tri-Prov hoops tournament at Harry Ainlay has earned a big high-five.

To have the home school playing against arch-rival Jasper Place in one of the finals and Ross Sheppard in the other was a master stroke, both in terms of building a crowd and creating intense on-court warfare.

Year after year, Edmonton's high school athletes keep competing at higher levels, in basketball, volleyball, football and every other sport. Too bad more citizens still aren't aware of it.

JCSHORT@SHAW.CA


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