Pat Quinn might have given up on Liam Reddox, but Liam Reddox hasn’t.
The underdog utility player is determined to reclaim the ground he lost last season when a coaching change in Edmonton slammed the door on his NHL aspirations.
The first step is signing a contract, which he did Monday, inking a one-year, two-way deal with the Oilers.
“We were being patient. We know with all the changes they have lots to do so it was a sit-and-wait kind of thing,” said Reddox, who wasn’t worried that it took this long, but wasn’t taking anything for granted, either.
“It’s definitely nice to know where I’m going to be and have something done.”
Here or there?
Technically, Reddox still doesn’t know where he’ll be — Edmonton or on the farm in Oklahoma City. He’s one year removed from the best year of his career (46 games with the Oilers), but that was under Craig MacTavish, who had a soft spot for Reddox’s work ethic and head for the game. Quinn saw things differently last season and only gave him nine games (the maximum before having to clear waivers) and shipped him to Springfield for good.
“It was definitely a step back after playing pretty much the whole season up top,” said the 24-year-old. “Going back to the minors wasn’t where I wanted to be but Pat wanted size on his bottom six and obviously I’m not 6-4, 220 (he’s 5-foot-11, 190 pounds). I guess I wasn’t the guy.”
Though his career took a kick in the gut, he doesn’t believe he regressed as a player last season.
“No, I don’t think so. I had some good exit meetings at the end of the year. They told me it wasn’t the way I was performing, it was the philosophy. It was a hard pill to swallow but it is what it is and I have another chance this year to prove myself again.”
This fall, the Oilers will have their third coach in three years at the helm, and Tom Renney represents another chance.
“I like Tom, he’s really smart when it comes to his philosophy, the Xs and Os and stuff,” said Reddox.
“I take pride in being a guy who can pick up systems and things pretty fast. I feel like I’m pretty knowledgeable when it comes to the X and O side of the game.
“Hopefully that shows up when he starts to put in his systems and those sorts of things.
“Hopefully (Edmonton’s overhaul) is a good thing for me. If they’re going young and rebuilding that way, I feel like I could be a guy who could jump in any time and be a part of it, whether it’s a depth guy or a guy who gets called up when somebody is injured. I think it’ll be a good thing.”
The Oilers have added top-six skill (they hope) in all those rookies, and they’ve toughened their roster with the likes of Steve MacIntyre and Jim Vandermeer, but with Ethan Moreau and Fernando Pisani out of the picture, checking and penalty killing are areas that still need addressing.
“I haven’t really looked at the depth chart,” said Reddox. “Last year going into camp it was tough seeing all the guys with one-way contracts. You don’t want to think you’re going to be the guy going down to the minors, but it was definitely on my mind. Coming in this year, I’m not going to be worrying about where I’m going to be. I believe I can make the team out of camp, I believe I’m part of the team until somebody tells me otherwise.”