Eberle: Oilers will wait

CRASH CAMERON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

Nobody asked him.

When Jordan Eberle arrived at Rexall Place Saturday afternoon fresh off the bus, his sole concern with the arena that may -- or may not -- be his future hockey home, was leaving it with a win. It's the blue-and-orange jeresy he wears right now -- that of his hometown Regina Pats -- he's thinking about, not the colour scheme of his future.

"It's fun any time you come to Edmonton," said Eberle. "They're passionate about their hockey, so it's always enjoyable to play here, especially in this rink.

"From here on, we need the two points," he said of the Pats. "We're battling for a playoff spot right now.

"Personally, I haven't really thought about all that," he said of things Oiler. "My goal right now is playing for the Pats and helping this team get to a playoff spot. This is my last kick at the can. To not make the playoffs would be an extreme disappointment and a sour taste left behind. Especially after the World Juniors, you're a little hungry for a win. Once the summer comes around I start working out and I'll start thinking about that."

While there are many that hope Eberle will play a significant role in the Oilers' future, he will always be cemented in the history of the World Junior tournament.

Less than half filed into Rexall Place Saturday than the record-setting crowd that showed up last season, the very day after he won the gold medal in Ottawa, but it was his name that drew the biggest reaction Saturday when the starting lineups were announced.

"To play in it twice -- in my home province this year, my home country last year -- was an amazing experience, even though we were a little short this year.

"In the moment, you don't really think of that stuff," he said of being Mr. Clutch Canada. "You're more just trying to help your team out by scoring a goal, really."

It's the same responsibility he carries for the Pats.

"We haven't been doing well, myself and the team. I take a lot of ownership of that myself."

Of course, if the Pats' playoff quest falls short, Eberle may get a taste of the big show for the tail end of this season.

"As a hockey player, you want to be in the NHL," Eberle said.

"That would be unbelievable to step in right away and play here. That's out of my control. All I can do is play hockey and concentrate on what happens now."

The real arena issue for Eberle might not be about downtown or uptown Edmonton. It might be more about where ever the location of the rink in Oklahoma City is.

"I played in Springfield at the end of last year and had a lot of fun there. I'm not too familiar with Oklahoma to say anything."

He hears, though, it's a little warmer than Regina and Edmonton this time of year.

DAVID.CAMERON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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