SUN Hockey Pool

Move makes very little sense

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

Twice Steve Tambellini was asked if the signing of Mike Comrie was in any way, shape or form initiated and/or inspired by owner Daryl Katz.

Both times he dodged the question with evasive responses.

President Kevin Lowe did the same but ended by saying "at the end of the day management makes the decision."

So why in the world would management make the decision to add another small, soft forward who can't kill penalties or win a faceoff to a team which already had two more forwards under contract than they can take into the season?

Why, with the baggage that Comrie carries, would they sign him to a one-year contract worth $1.125 million and put the team over the salary cap to accommodate him?

It's one thing to have Comrie come back to the building to be booed as a Philadelphia Flyer, Phoenix Coyote, New York Islander or Ottawa Senator. But to have him come back and be booed as an Edmonton Oiler? Why would they go out of their way to ask for that distraction?

It will happen. He will be booed.

It will happen the first time he touches the puck in the first preseason home game here Wednesday against the Islanders. And it will happen again every game Comrie shows himself to be the underachieving player he's been in his multiple stops since leaving here. Not everybody is going to forget how he left our little "fish bowl."

Let us review.

Not since Peter Pocklington had hockey fans been so happy to see somebody's tail lights leaving town. He left as one of the most hated, vilified players ever to wear an Oilers uniform -- a spoiled brat who couldn't handle the heat so he got out of the kitchen.

It was a 30-game holdout in the 2003-2004 season which was also badly mishandled by GM Kevin Lowe and ended up with Edmonton losing one of its most outstanding citizens in Bill Comrie, his son making the biggest mistake of his career. The Oilers ended up with Jeff Woywitka and a pair of draft picks who turned out to be Danny Syvret and Robbie Schremp.

Mike Comrie wasn't coming back here unless it was over Lowe's dead body.

But there stood Lowe, alive and in person, speaking after the first period of the Oilers-Vancouver Canucks rookies game last night in Leduc.

"Expect the unexpected," said Lowe of the over-my-dead-body suggestion.

"Things change as time passes. He wants to step on the ice at Rexall Place in Edmonton as an Oiler. Hearing what he heard from the fans in his returns, it's a courageous move. Probably not all the fans are hoping he's successful."

Comrie spoke to the media with exceptionally short notice at 2:30 p.m. -- at the same time the Calgary Stampeders pre-game presser was being held at Commonwealth Stadium. Tambellini, who a week ago was saying "no negotiations have taken place" spoke to the media a few minutes after the final supper-time sportscast had been completed.

"It's a chance for him to re-establish himself in the league in a market where he's had some success. His play has not been where he's wanted it to be at the last couple of years," said Tambellini.

"It was a chance to add depth. It adds to the competition for jobs. That's what we want. We thought it was worth the risk.

"He has a lot to prove."

When asked about why another small, soft forward who can't kill penalties or win a faceoff, Lowe said "the top attraction is that he scored 30 goals. We don't have a 30-goal scorer and he's done that. His best success was in Edmonton."

He said Comrie may be a small, soft forward who can't kill penalties or win faceoffs, but they're not really adding another one because "he'll replace another small forward."

Well, why didn't he say that right off the go? Now it all makes sense. OK. Maybe not.

But, hey, I'm a sports columnist. Mike Comrie coming back to play in Edmonton is a compelling sports story. You can never have enough compelling sports stories in your constituency. Lets find out if he can come home.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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