|Zack Stortini has cleared waivers and was sent down to the Oilers AHL affiliate. (QMI Agency/David Bloom)
EDMONTON - The shock waves were still resonating in the dressing room from management's decision Tuesday to place Zack Stortini on waivers when the veteran winger cleared and was assigned to Oklahoma on Wednesday.
Just like that, Stortini's stall is empty and he's been replaced.
“I feel bad for him, we had been playing together for the last five years,” said defenceman Ladisalv Smid, as the Oilers filed off from their morning skate in preparation for tonight's game with the L.A. Kings. “He’s a really good friend of mine. We work out together in the summer and I know how hard he works, extra skating lessons and things like that.
“I feel bad, but that’s the business. That’s what happens when you’re rebuilding the team. Hopefully he’s going to do well down there.”
With a wave of injured players on their way back, somebody had to go and on a last-place team like Edmonton there are always plenty of candidates.
“We knew that something had to happen,” said J-F Jacques. “There were so many guys on the IR that when those guys started coming back...
“You don’t expect (a veteran like Stortini), but on the other hand it’s part of the business and there are probably more changes coming.”
Stortini was sort of caught in bit of a tweener role here -- not good enough to be a Steve Ott, Shawn Avery type agitator and not big enough to be the full-time enforcer -- but he always did what the Oilers asked of him.
“He was a big part of the team, he was here for so long and he gave everything he had for the organization and the team,” said Jacques. “It’s tough to see him put on waivers, but everybody here knows that it can be any one of them. You never know what’s going to happen with the business.”
LATE HITS... Gilbert Brule, who’s been out since Jan. 6 with a variety of maladies (ribs, spleen, ankle and now flu) was at the rink Wednesday. “I was throwing up every day,” he said of his recent illness. “But I’m feeling a lot better now.” He still has to go in for more blood work to see what hit him... Ales Hemsky is back in the lineup Wednesday against the Kings, but Jordan Eberle isn’t. Neither is Steve MacIntyre. Nikolai Khabibulin is expected to start.