Oilers back on injury train

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:22 PM ET

For all of his talents, who knew Taylor Hall could be a sportswriter, too?

He came up with the definitive lead of the day at Oilers practice on Tuesday, describing their situation and their mood almost perfectly.

“Everybody’s been going down like flies and it sucks.”

Pretty much sums it up.

Even the ultra-positive Hall can’t sugar coat the ridiculous state of the hockey team, or what’s left of it, anymore. Nobody can.

Not after throwing three fresh bodies on a scrap heap that was already high enough to cast a shadow on the rest of a lost season.

“The guys are handling it the best they can, trying to play through the adversity,” said Sam Gagner, a bandage and splint where he just had surgery to repair a severed tendon in his hand. “But it comes to a point where it’s tough.”

That point is now, now that Shawn Horcoff (ankle), JF Jacques (foot) and Gilbert Brule (concussion) have just joined Hall, Gagner, Ales Hemsky, Ryan Whitney and Taylor Chorney on the pain train.

Oh yeah, and the shoulder injury they thought was going to keep Hemsky out for two to three weeks? Turns out he needs surgery and four to six-months of rehab.

If all this didn’t hurt so bad it would be funny.

“Obviously we’ve had some tough luck but that’s the way it is,” said head coach Tom Renney. “Nobody’s going to sit back and feel sorry for the Edmonton Oilers, so lock and load.”

Just don’t shoot yourselves in the foot, which is a distinct possibility given how cursed they’ve been in the five years since that deal-with-the-devil Cup run.

From Fernando Pisani’s ulcerative colitis to Mike Comrie’s mononucleosis, to Sheldon Souray’s two ill-fated run ins with Jarome Iginla to Ethan Moreau’s twice broken leg to a pair of visits from the swine flu, this team is an accident/illness/ailment waiting to happen.

Hall, despite playing with a target on his back since he was 10, had never been injured before in his hockey career. Ever. Five months in Oilers colours, gonzo.

“I’m not depressed or anything, it just sucks,” he said. “Hockey is my life and it’s no fun being hurt.”

Gagner got hurt while sitting on the bench. He was asleep when they found out he was done for the year.

“I went under (anesthetic) thinking they were going to find nothing wrong and I was going to play in Detroit,” said Gagner, cut by a skateblade while reaching for a water bottle. “When I woke up they told me the surgery went well and I was going to be out for three months. That doesn’t sound ‘well’ to me.

“When you’re sitting on the bench you don’t expect to get hurt.”

Unless it’s the Oilers bench, then it’s just a matter of time.

They’re trying to keep a stiff upper lip (Andrew Cogliano has no choice because he’s been hit the face so many times), but at practice on Tuesday it looked like the hopelessness had finally caught up with them.

“We were a little disengaged, looking at our circumstances,” said Renney. “We brought them in and reminded them that we have an obligation and a responsibility to each other and our organization to come to work every single day.

“They’ve been great at that. Today is the first day I can honestly say it’s happened.”

The show must go on, even if it is with more understudies than stars.

“I will evaluate how we all decide to handle this,” said Renney. “I think that will be important.”

Forget about the short-term pain for long-term gain scenario — that all this misfortune guarantees them the first pick overall. That’s loser talk, just the type of culture they’re trying to exorcize.

“If I could find a way to attach my stick to this thing...,” said Gagner, holding up the useless left hand. “It’s hard, but guys are handling it the best they can. You look how hard they’re working, it’s inspiring.”

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/TYCHKOWSKI


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