SUN Hockey Pool

OKC trio beefs up Oilers bench

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:59 PM ET

There’s a promotion that’s a staple around minor-league baseball, where fans bring a suitcase to the game and someone wins a trip, leaving immediately after the game.

They ran a version of it last night in Grand Rapids, Mich.

The winners were the TBA Three from OKC.

They were informed they’d won the trip immediately after the game ended — told they were being called up to the Oilers and to proceed immediately to the airport, where the NHL team had arranged for their own personal private charter plane to be sitting on the tarmac, waiting to fly them to Edmonton.

“It was very nice of them to arrange for a private plane, considering the circumstances we’re dealing with here,” said Bill Scott, the general manager of the Oklahoma City Barons.

Ah, Grand Rapids to Detroit, Detroit to Chicago, Chicago to ... it wasn’t going to work any other way.

Tuesday the TBA Trio played the Rivermen in Peoria, Ill. Wednesday they were scheduled against the Griffins. Thursday they will play against the Phoenix Coyotes in Rexall Place.

Three games in three days is not allowed by the NHLPA but is OK in the American Hockey League. Any combination of the two, apparently, is OK, too.

If the Oilers were to hold that charter private jet to send one or two of them back down after the game, they could rejoin the team in Rockford, Ill., with a game against the Icehogs Friday night followed by back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday against the Wolves in Chicago.

There’s no law that says a player couldn’t play six games in six nights.

And wouldn’t that be something to tell your grandchildren about one day?

“The rule in the AHL is that you can’t schedule more than three games on consecutive nights. There’s nothing in it that says a player couldn’t play more than three games in a row,” said Scott in a telephone interview from Grand Rapids prior to the game Wednesday.

“I think we’d take it on a case-by-case scenario. If one player played three minutes and another player played 25 minutes ...”

It’s a crazy situation with the Oilers having only nine healthy forwards, including Steve MacIntyre, at practice the last two days while they waited for the Barons to play two games in their playoff race.

MacIntyre has been employed as a hockey version of a seat-filler at the Oscars at recent games, so the Oilers would have a full bench.

Add the OKC TBAs to Linus Omark, Jeff Petry, Liam Reddox and Teemu Hartikainen, and that’s a lot of players who started the season in Oklahoma City who will be playing against the soon-to-be-Winnipeg-Jets-again tonight.

Oklahoma City might be a more interesting study than Edmonton right now.

This is a team four points out of a playoff spot going into the game in Grand Rapids with a game in hand on everybody involved.

And the Barons are playing 12 of their last 14 games on the road while this is all happening to them.

So much for the parent team’s plan of teaching their prospects how to win and play pro playoff hockey, while the big-league team languishes in last and collects top draft picks.

“It’s frustrating, but it’s hard to be upset with Edmonton when they’ve got nine NHL guys out of the lineup. I mean, they’re essentially going with 12 forwards and six defencemen up there right now. It’s not like they’re bringing players up to sit in the stands,” said Scott.

“There’s not anything more you can ask of an affiliate.

“Having guys like Linus Omark and Liam Reddox going up and then sticking hasn’t helped us. But it’s all positive stuff. We’re finding out a lot about a lot of players and we’re happy for the guys going up.”

There’s not much left to cheer for this Oilers season, but there’s plenty to cheer for down on the farm.

“We have a good road team, the second-best road team in our league. And if we’re fortunate enough to get in the playoffs, with the players we’d have available from Edmonton, we should be pretty deep. We think we can beat any team in our league any night. Right now it’s who wants it more.”

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos