SUN Hockey Pool

New Oiler familiar with injury bunches

Oilers defenceman Nick Schultz was acquired this season in a trade with the Minnesota Wild, which...

Oilers defenceman Nick Schultz was acquired this season in a trade with the Minnesota Wild, which went through its own bouts of multiple injuries this season. (PERRY NELSON/QMI Agency file photo)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:08 PM ET

LOS ANGELES - Didnt seem like all that long ago the Edmonton Oilers were fully healthy for the first time all season.

Then their coach got plunked in the head with a puck and the bodies started falling again.

Nowhere have they been hit harder than the back end.

In calling up Bryan Rodney from Oklahoma City, after Theo Peckham, Jeff Petry, Ladislav Smid and Corey Potter went down in a span of four games, the Oilers dressed their 13th defenceman of the season.

Its crazy, it seems like it comes in bunches, said defenceman Nick Schultz, who hasnt missed a game this season, despite injury waves that gutted both of his teams. We had the same thing in Minnesota. It was all defencemen hurt. It was basically just myself there for a while.

Then a bunch of forwards got hurt. It seems like it goes to one position all at the same time for whatever reason.

Fortunately there are only two games left in the season. But the veteran blueliners can expect to see a lot of work in both of them.

Its tough, you lose some key guys who play some big minutes for your team, said Schultz. Youre going to be relied on and counted on a little bit more and as a player you have to take that opportunity and know that you have to go out there and get the job done. Especially with some younger guys coming up, for the older guys were going to be looked upon to play and do the job out there.

WILD AT HEART

He hasnt been hurt this season, but having spent 10 years in Minnesota, Schultz cant help but feel some very deep sympathy pains for the Wild.

They were flying high early in the season, but their epic fail in the second half has been painful to watch.

I dont think we had the depth to sustain what wed been doing and it kind of snowballed, he said, adding injuries just wiped the Wild off the map. Its too bad because we had a good thing going there for a while.

I have a lot of close friends there, guys you care about who youve played with and have battled with for a lot of years. Youre rooting for them.

LIFES A BEACH

There is a big difference between a fishbowl and the ocean.

Matt Greene and Jarret Stoll, four years after moving from Edmonton to Los Angeles, know this better than anyone.

Its different, thats for sure, than being in Edmonton, said Greene, who spent three seasons under the hockey microscope before a 2008 trade to LA gave him a little breathing room.

Theres good and bad to (both places). I think Edmonton and the Canadian media attention is good, it keeps the onus on you, keeps you sharp every game because you know its a big deal.

At the same time its nice to be able to have a tough night and not see it for the next three days.

If Stoll misses anything about Edmonton, its how fans live and die with the team. He says the 2006 Stanley Cup run will always be one of the most memorable summers of his career.

Just the passion that everybody has for the team, win or lose, he said. In tough times, Im not going to say its negative, but they care, and thats great. And then the good times are unbelievable times, with everybody behind you.

DUBNYK TAKES UNION JOB

Some goalies are wound so tightly they wont even do interviews on game day.

Then theres Devan Dubnyk, who still hasnt solidified his role as a full time starter (although hes pretty darn close), volunteering to be the Oilers player rep heading into CBA negotiations with the NHL.

I was interested in it, said the 25-year-old, who takes over from Shawn Horcoff. My agent is Mike Liut, whos very educated when it comes to that stuff, so I have him to tap into as well. Its an important year and Im excited to be a part of it.

Dubnyk, who was 18 and just finishing high school during the last lockout, understands the position can be a bit of a lightning rod if theres a work stoppage.

Its an ambitious undertaking for a young, relatively unproven player.

I talked to Horc a little bit about that, it was a little bit of my concern. Im just trying to become a starting goalie and establish myself as a player in the league. I just wanted to make sure it was OK that I was going to be talking on behalf of everybody.

RODNEY UP FOR KINGS

Bryan Rodney had been waiting a long time for that call, and he still wasnt really ready for it.

I got a phone call late Sunday night saying something had happened to Corey Potter, said the Oklahoma City Barons defenceman, who joined the Oilers in Los Angeles after Potter came down with concussion symptoms.

It was a bit of a sleepless night, but full of excitement.

Its been an especially long road for the 27-year-old, who was acquired in the Feb. 16 trade for Ryan OMarra. He was undrafted out of the OHL, so he went the East Coast route, spending two and a half years with the Charlotte Checkers, Columbia Inferno and Elmira Jackals, followed by five years spent mostly in the AHL.

It wasnt the easiest road, or the most travelled road that most players take to the NHL, but that was the way I had to do it. Its a bit of cliche, but I wouldnt change any of it because its made me the player I am today.

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

@SUN_TYCHKOWSKI


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