Not many players benefited by missing the 2004-05 NHL season because of the lockout, but Edmonton Oilers centre Marty Reasoner is probably one of them.
Reasoner, who sat out the final 38 games of the 2003-04 campaign with a career-threatening injury to his right knee and a broken left ankle, signed a one-year contract for $650,00 with the Oilers yesterday and will be ready with bells on when training camp opens with medicals Sept. 12.
"The biggest thing is that I've got past the injury," Reasoner said from his home in Boston yesterday. "I'm one of the few guys who actually did benefit from the lockout."
Reasoner, 28, who played just 17 games the season he piled into the end boards with Bryan Marchment of the Toronto Maple Leafs while contesting an icing call at the Air Canada Centre, spent the first part of last season rehabilitating his knee under Ken Lowe and Daryl Duke before signing with the Salzburg Red Bulls in Austria.
Reasoner tallied 5-4-9 in 11 games with Salzburg. More important, he tested his surgically repaired knee in game conditions and it held up just fine.
He's healthy and ready to go.
"Playing over there really helped me," he said. "I felt good going into this summer after getting back on the ice and testing it. I don't consider the injury an issue at all."
WARD RETAINED: Geoff Ward, head coach of the AHL Road Runners last season, will stay with the Oilers as a roving coach after agreeing to a one-year deal.
Ward, 43, has spent five full seasons with the Oilers, leading the Hamilton Bulldogs to the Calder Cup final in 2002-03. Under Ward, the Road Runners missed the playoffs with a 32-33-4-11 record.
Ward will be based in Ontario and work with prospects in Hamilton, Des Moines and Greenville. He fills a position that's been vacant since Mark Lamb left to join the Dallas Stars.
AROUND THE RINK: Expect North Dakota defenceman Matt Greene, drafted 44th by the Oilers in 2002, to announce whether he'll remain at UND for his final year of eligibility, or turn pro, by early next week ... Ward had lunch with first-rounder Andrew Cogliano yesterday ... Cogliano, who lives down the road from Ward in Woodbridge, Ont., leaves for Team Canada's World Junior Championship summer camp in Whistler today ... veteran defenceman Dan Smith, who captained the Road Runners, has inked a two-way contract for this season.
THEY SAID IT: Reasoner, on the signing of Chris Pronger: "I don't know if people realize the impact he's going to have on our team. Having played with him the second half of the year he won the Norris Trophy and Hart Trophy in St. Louis (1999-2000), he was the most dominant player in the league, hands down. It's invaluable to have a guy who can completely take over (the) game and decide things on his own."