TORONTO - Somewhere along the line the Edmonton Oilers must have upset a witch doctor.
On Monday, head coach Tom Renney became the latest victim of the strange injury curse that has plagued the team in the last couple of years.
Renney took a puck in the head during the morning skate and had to leave in order to be stitched up. He was not behind the bench later Monday evening when the Oilers took on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“That’s a good reason why young coaches where helmets, but Tom is going to be fine,” said Oilers associate coach Ralph Krueger, who took over the reins Monday. “He’ll have stitches, but he’s a fighter and he’ll be alright.”
Renney was hit when Andy Sutton fired a pass over to Ladislav Smid as the Oilers coach was talking to Ales Hemsky in the corner.
The puck bounced off Smid’s stick, went up and caught Renney toward the back of the head.
“I feel terrible about it,” said Smid. “It just went off my stick, up in the air and hit him right in the head.”
Renney stayed in the hotel for precautionary reasons, while Krueger and the rest of the coaching staff guided the team against the Maple Leafs.
Earlier this year, Taylor Hall was forced out of the lineup when cut by the skate of Corey Potter following a spill in warm-up. Last season general manager Steve Tambellini had a pain of glass fall on him while standing on the Oilers bench in Philadelphia.
Ryan Jones was not a Maple Leafs fan growing up in Chatham, Ont. Regardless, the Oilers winger was excited to be playing close to home Monday where his friends and family could take in the game.
“I was a Red Wings fan, because I was only an hour from the border,” Jones said. “But I have a lot of friends who are Leafs fans, that’s for sure.
“But it’s a pretty cool time being here, all the family seems to venture up and get to check out a game. Any time you play in front of a Canadian crowd, it’s pretty exciting and we get to do that ever home game.”
Jones didn’t have to pick up a lot of tickets, as most of his friends and family were able to get their own. He did have a big contingent waiting to see him after the game, however.
“My cousins is from Milton, John Tonelli, so all the Tonelli family wandered up from Milton,” Jones said. “So we’ll reminisce about all the times I used to watch him play and now they get to come see me play. It’s pretty exciting.”
Oilers centre Sam Gagner was recognized by the NHL for his recent accomplishments, named the league’s first star of the week Monday.
Gagner had 12 points last week, which included an eight-point game Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks.
“It’s tough getting eight points in a game,” said Leafs winger Joffrey Lupul. “There are a lot of guys in this league who don’t touch the puck eight times in one game.
“Getting eight points is pretty impressive. Obviously a little luck is involved with that too, but he’s a guy that’s playing with a lot of confidence.”
It didn’t take long for the Oilers to snap James Reimer’s shutout string as Jordan Eberle scored 21 seconds into the contest.
Regardless, the Maple Leafs goaltender went into the game on a roll, having posted a pair of consecutive shutouts in his previous two starts.
Reimer made 49 saves on Saturday in a 5-0 win over the Ottawa Senators and turned away 25 shots in a 1-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins previous to that.
“To me the important thing is that we win the game, getting a shutout is just a cherry on top,” Reimer said. “Sometimes in order to win the game, you can’t let any goals in.
“I feel good right now, but it doesn’t mean much unless I’m able to follow through on it and keep winning games. I’m just going to try to keep working my butt off and keep challenging myself.”