EDMONTON — Six years ago, when their very bitter and very public feud was boiling all over the stove and stinking up the Oilers’ kitchen, nobody, not in their wildest dreams, ever believed that the quick-tempered GM and the petulant rich kid might one day join forces again.
Whether it happens or not - and it’s still more of a longshot than a gimme - the very fact that Mike Comrie and the Oilers are even considering a possible return to Edmonton is almost incomprehensible.
It’s like Donald Trump and Rosie O’Donnell starring in a remake of Sleepless in Seattle. Like Kevin Lowe and Brian Burke entering the two-man luge.
Mike and Kevin, talking? Without every sentence ending in “and the horse you rode in on.” After squaring off in a nasty, four-month battle royal that made both sides look like villains and nearly had fans Oilers fans taking to the streets with torches?
Comrie, breaking his silence on the subject, confirmed that the bridge he burned to the ground in the summer of 2003 has been rebuilt enough to cross again. He met with Oilers management and neither side is philosophically opposed to him coming back.
“There has been dialogue with a lot of teams and Edmonton is one of them,” said the 28-year-old unrestricted free agent. “Decisions should be made shortly, I think.”
Nobody is naive enough to think Comrie would be sniffing around Edmonton if he was a 30-goal man in high demand, or that the Oilers would be considering him if they were a really good team.
He isn’t, though, and neither are they, and mutual desperation has made for a lot stranger hook ups.
The Oilers have no immediate plans to sign him, but will take another look when camp begins on Sept 12. In other words, it’s a hockey decision, not a personal one, which is a long, long way from where they left things six years ago.
“It’s my home town,” said Comrie, adding that will never change because of “a contract dispute that turned into a lot more than what it probably needed to be. I think that some of my greatest memories were here.”
The Oilers are no strangers to controversy, from Michael Nylander to Dany Heatley to Chris Pronger, they’ve had more than their share of uncomfortable situations, but being able to reconcile with Comrie, whether he plays here or not, shows a maturity that wasn’t there in 2003, on both sides.
“I’ve come out after and said that I didn’t handle it properly,” said Comrie. “I was young, I made mistakes and I learned a lot. I was 20 years old when I first played there, I’ll be 29 this year. You live, you learn.
“When I first came here I was very excited that I could play in my home town. As my career progressed I got a little bit frustrated, it was very challenging. It’s hard to explain.
"When you’re a fan you think that it should just be natural, stand in front of the cameras, you get paid a lot of money, you should be happy. But being young, not really understanding the type of challenge I was ready to face was a little overwhelming.”
He knows some Edmontonians vow to never let go of the resentment they feel towards him, but he’s watched other players forgiven for much worse than wanting to spread their wings.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re Manny Ramirez or Michael Vick, guys gets second chances in different organizations and sometimes they get second chances in the same organization,” he said. “Sometimes in life you learn a lot and you can make the best of it.”