Arsene falls victim to numbers game

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

TAMPA BAY -- It was fun while it lasted.

Check that, it was a dream come true while it lasted.

But 29-year-old defenceman Dean Arsene, who played his first ever NHL game on this call up, is going back down to Springfield

"You don't want to leave, this is the best place to be," Arsene said outside the Oilers dressing room. "It's a pretty incredible experience. I'll go down there and try to keep the same mind set, working hard to get back."

Arsene was one of the feel-good stories of the season, finally getting his shot in the show after nine seasons in the minors. He did more than just put in an appearance. He showed the coaching staff, and himself, that he can play here.

"That was kind of the hope," he said. "I wasn't expecting to be here three days, let alone three and a half weeks. For me, personally, it was kind of nice to realize that I can play here and contribute."

But with Denis Grebeshkov returning, the Oilers are back to seven healthy defencemen.

ODD MAN OUT

"I understand numbers and the way it works," said Arsene. "I was the odd man out, but I feel confident that I can play here and hopefully given the chance I can come back here and do a job."

For the longest time he thought he would never even get a chance to try.

"That was the lingering thing that kind of hovered over my career, can I play in the NHL? A lot of times the chips didn't really fall my way but this time they did. It kind of helped me. If I didn't get another game the rest of my career I can kind of retire happy knowing that I could have played. It just didn't work out in my favour."

Head coach Pat Quinn is sad to see him go.

"He's one of the young men you really cheer for. Having him play his first game with us was terrific, it was a thrill for us as well as for him. There were nights when we could have easily subbed him in and he would have been as good or better than the veteran guys we had in.

"It's good for me as a coach to know that we have that sort of young man available to us."


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