Oiler fan finally cracks lineup

DEREK VAN DIEST, Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:22 PM ET

Growing up in Daysland, Richard Petiot took in his share of Edmonton Oilers games.

Now as a professional, he’s getting a chance to play in one.

Petiot, 28, was in the lineup for the Oilers on Friday as they hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning in an exhibition contest at Rexall Place.

“I grew up an Oilers fan and a Flyers fan,” said Petiot. “I was a big Eric Lindros fan growing up.

“But my dad used to drive a bus in Daysland and he would drive people up to the games. I would hop in with my dad and come watch some games.

“I remember coming up to watch Wayne Gretzky in one game, it was pretty exciting.”

Friday proved to be exciting as well.

Petiot had a number of friends and family members make the trip up from the town 140 km southeast of the city to take in the game. Unfortunately his father couldn’t be one of them, having passed away a couple of years ago.

“I have a lot of family coming, but they’ve all seemed to have bought their own tickets, so I’ve only had to get a couple,” Petiot said. “I think there’ll be probably about 15 to 20 people here, so that’s exciting.

“I have three brothers and one sister and my mom’s got 10 nephews and nieces, so it keeps her busy.”

Having played a season of junior with the Camrose Kodiaks, Petiot went on to spend four years at Colorado College, before turning pro.

He was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the fourth round — 116th overall — of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft

A six-foot-four, 210-pound defenceman, Petiot suited up in two games for the Kings, spending most of his time in the Los Angeles organization with their AHL affiliate in Manchester.

From there he moved on to play with the Toronto Marlies before being traded to the Lighting, where he got into 11 NHL games during the 2008-2009 season.

“It’s been tough trying to make it up to the NHL,” Petiot said. “It’s definitely a grind, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity here.”

Last year Petiot played with the Chicago Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate in Rockford, scoring eight goals and adding 29 assists in 80 games.

It was the most offensively productive season of his career.

“I thought I had a pretty good year last year, but I didn’t get an opportunity to go up,” Petiot said. “They had a pretty strong team in Chicago, they didn’t have very many injuries. They had the best team in the league, so it was tough to crack the lineup.

“But I had fun, I played well, worked hard and that’s all you can ask for. Then, if opportunity knocks, I’ll try and make the most of it.”

This summer, Petiot signed a one-year free agent contract with the Oilers.

He’s expected to provide depth for their farm team in Oklahoma City.

“It’s a good opportunity here with a lot of young, up-and-coming guys,” Petiot said. “Being from Daysland, it means a little more to me to try and make a good impression and make my family proud.”

Considering how hard injuries have hit the team over the past couple of season, it would not be surprising to see him back up with the club at some point during the regular season.

“I remember scouting him as a junior player with Camrose and it’s interesting to see him as a pro player now,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “He’s a big, strong guy that skates very well and can move the puck.

“At the very least, he should turn out to be depth player for us. We would like to see him push the envelope and give us his best games so we can make an educated decision on where he should go.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.c,


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