Liam Reddox is enjoying the game again.
The Edmonton Oilers forward, called up from the team’s AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, struggled in the minors last season after failing to make NHL club out of training camp.
He was once again the final cut this year, but decided to go to the AHL with a different mindset.
“The biggest thing is that I’m having fun again,” Reddox said. “Last year was pretty tough on my psyche. After playing a lot of the previous season here, I might not have taken it the right way and it definitely affected my game. It’s just nice getting the confidence back and contributing on both sides of the puck.”
Reddox, 24, a fourth-round pick of the Oilers in 2004, appeared to have made a breakthrough two seasons ago by becoming a regular in Craig MacTavish’s lineup.
He scored five goals and added seven assists in 46 games with the Oilers becoming one of the team’s most versatile players.
But when MacTavish was replaced, Reddox lost all the cache built up with the former coaching staff, and did not impress enough to stick around the following season.
He struggled in the minors and was ineffective in his brief call up, collecting just two assists in nine games.
This year, he’s nearly surpassed the point total collected all of last season in the minors, with 33 points in 37 games. He finished with 35 points in 70 games with the Springfield Falcons last year.
“I asked him how it was going down there (Oklahoma City) and he said he was having a lot of fun,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “I guess having success does that to you.
“But I think that’s an organizational thing. I think our outlook is a real clear vision to the future. There is something on the horizon there and we’re all building towards that. I think it’s an excellent coaching staff, not that it hasn’t been in the past, but I think they have their eye on the process as well. It’s allowing players to go play at their strengths, maybe make some mistakes, but keep forging ahead.”
Reddox made an immediate impact in his first game with the Oilers this season, setting up Gilbert Brule in the 5-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.
He’s expected to be in the lineup on Thursday when the Oilers host the New York Islanders.
“It’s definitely a different feeling, getting called up this time,” Reddox said. “I’ve been here, I know what it’s all about. I just tried to carry over the confidence I’ve gained in Oklahoma City and tried to bring a little bit more to that table than I would have in previous years.”