It's Oil gone!

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

His equipment bag, shaving kit, helmet and pants are company issue from the Phoenix Coyotes. The No. 39 jersey, turned inside out, represents the silks of the Michigan Wolverines.

There might have been a Kootenay Ice puck in the bag somewhere, or a roll of tape from Farjestad.

What wasn't there as he dressed at the Kinsmen Arena yesterday was one single shred of evidence of the Edmonton Oilers. Not a sock. Not a jock. Not a pair of shower flip-flops.

Mike Comrie admits that's no mistake, but, aside from suggesting the reminders of his three seasons with the Oilers in his hometown had been misplaced, he wasn't about to delve into the reasons why.

Comrie, 24, is home for Christmas. Given the circumstances leading up to getting his ticket out of town last December - a public spat with the Oilers and GM Kevin Lowe that dragged on for months until he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers - the term "home" might be a stretch.

Once an Oiler, always an Oiler?

"No," said Comrie, spurning a saying that doesn't fit him.

"Edmonton is always going to be home, but when you go through something like I went through, you're going to have a bad taste," he said. "I realize that sometimes when you stand for what you believe in, when you aren't really happy where you are, you're going to go through something like what happened here."

NOT COMFORTABLE

While Comrie is comfortable skating with former teammates like Georges Laraque, Ethan Moreau and Jason Smith at a local rink, as he's done since returning 10 days ago from a month-long contract with Farjestad in Sweden, he isn't comfortable revisiting the events that led to his departure.

Comrie yesterday declined to shed any light on his reasons for wanting to leave with a stack of bonus money after just 192 games with the Oilers - details he and agent Ritch Winter said throughout the sometimes-ugly split would be forthcoming when the time was right.

"Now that I'm in Phoenix, I'm very happy to be there," Comrie said.

"It's nice to come and visit family and friends, but, for where I am in my life and where I'm playing, I'm very happy to call Phoenix home during the winter."

Comrie, who signed a three-year deal with the Oilers to much hoopla at Rexall Place on Dec. 30, 2000, has already faced his old team on the ice - once as a member of the Flyers in Philadelphia, with the Coyotes here and at Glendale Arena in Phoenix last season.

SOLD HIS HOME

He's sold his home here and now lives in Phoenix, splitting time between Arizona and Los Angeles.

Edmonton, his family plans for the holiday season aside, is not high up on his travel itinerary.

"Edmonton is still the place where I grew up," he said.

"It's nice to see my friends. To get out here and skate with some of the old guys I played with, Georges and Ethan, Gator (Smith) and Jason Chimera, it's fun."

Bill Comrie still keeps a home here.

Paul Comrie, an executive with United Furniture, is flying in from Vancouver.

Father and sons will bundle up with family and friends and play an outdoor game of shinny that's become a tradition over the holidays.

"Paul just called and told me he's bringing his skates, so we'll be playing," Comrie said.

"We still have our house here and my sister and her family still lives here."

After the shinny is done and the presents are unwrapped, Comrie intends to tuck his Michigan Wolverines jersey into his Phoenix Coyotes' equipment bag and jump a jet back to Phoenix, where he'll wait out the NHL lockout.

"I just signed for a month in Sweden and we were going to evaluate things when that was done," Comrie said.

"I had a lot of fun, but I'm just going to train and work out and see what happens with the season."


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