Comrie stuck in limbo

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:45 PM ET

Mike Comrie’s arrival in 2000, his bitter controversial exit in 2003 and his feel-good homecoming last fall all ranked as some of the biggest Oilers stories in the last decade.

So why is it so hard for him to get noticed now?

Comrie seems like the odd-man-out in Pat Quinn’s forward rotation, a default scratch whenever the coach wants to look at somebody younger.

This hasn’t been the kind of year he envisioned when he buried the past and came back to Edmonton. A long, drawn-out bout with swine flu and then mono sapped his strength and gutted his season. He was good before the illness (six points in his first seven games) and played hard since he came back, but despite five points and a fight in his last nine games, he was still a healthy scratch in three others.

“There are a few of us who, for whatever reason, maybe because of our experience, (get sat out),” said Comrie, who’s an unrestricted free agent this summer and would like to remain in Edmonton, but knows he has to earn a spot like everybody else.

“Apart from being ill and not winning as much as we’d like to, I’ve enjoyed being back here. At the same time, the organization is going to want to move forward. Whether some guys are here or not is going to be determined by how we finish and how they evaluate us as a group.”

It’s hard to be evaluated in the press box, but Comrie has always been a good soldier who knows when to bite his tongue.

“You have to be a leader and be a guy who can be counted on when you’re asked,” he said. “Worrying about this summer or next year wouldn’t be very professional.”

All he can do is try to make an impact when he’s been in the lineup, whether it was scoring a goal or dropping San Jose’s Scott Nichol in a scrap.

“Sometimes you have to do a little more than what’s expected,” he said. “If that means going outside your comfort zone, then that’s part of the game, we’re all in this together.”

There’s no doubt Comrie will find work somewhere next season — low-priced players who can still score 20 will always be a sought-after commodity in a salary cap world.

“He certainly can complement a good team,” said Quinn. “He’s the kind of guy who can make a good hockey team a lot better on the offensive side.”

The Oilers aren’t exactly a good team yet, so where does that leave the 29-year-old?

Quinn says just because he isn’t always in the picture doesn’t mean he isn’t in the plans. But right now they need the ice time to answer some other questions about the kids.

“So the guys who would logically get sat out, whether they deserved it or not, are Moreau, Pisani, Comrie,” said Quinn. “In a way it’s not even merit. Mike is a guy who if we think we’re going to get stronger can certainly fit in with a game that he can bring. The writing is not done on this guy.”

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca


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