Boys back in town

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

Mike Comrie didn't even get a chance to touch the puck before he heard the boobirds.

All he did was station himself in the faceoff circle ready for a draw and the ex-Edmonton Oiler returned to his hometown with the unkindest of welcomes. After that moment, Comrie was booed each and every time he did latch onto the puck.

There were boos for others -- a few rather quiet jeers for Petr Nedved and even some raspberries for Curtis Joseph when it was announced that he would be in the starting lineup. But all of those hostilities combined couldn't equal the scorn the fans still feel towards their formerly beloved son.

"As athletes we go through different things,"said Comrie, who played on a line with Halkirk's Shane Doan and Geoff Sanderson. "A lot of guys get booed in different cities and this is the city that boos me.

"When you're on the ice you really don't hear stuff going whether you're scoring a goal or getting booed. It can't affect your game."

Twice Comrie did hear some cheering when he was on the ice. He got a dose of Bronx cheers when he was tossed out of the faceoff circle during the second period and the wrath was there again in the third when he bumped into Chris Pronger only to see his helmet go flying and his body stumble into the back of the Oiler net.

Back in the day, Comrie -- the Oiler fan -- was the other side of side of the scene. He saw a fair share of his favourite players either head out of town on their own accord or get shipped out for any number of reasons. Having been through it from the fans' perspective, Comrie can understand the rationale behind wrath now.

"I remember being frustrated too as a fan," said Comrie. "When you grow up and see it and then go through it, you're able to understand."

Nedved got a little taste of revenge on the home crowd when he sent a crafty backhand pass to Doan who buried his second of the season on a power play early in the third that put a bow on an Alberta road-trip sweep for the Coyotes.

Joseph, too, got the last laugh as his 27 saves paved the way to the back-to-back wins.

"We've been on the losing end of a lot of tight games and we have to find ways to win those games. Fortunately, the last two games we did," said Joseph, who wasn't bothered a bit by the rough reception.

"That's OK. I'm on the other team. That means they're acknowledging you and last year during the lockout I didn't get acknowledged. I was taking the garbage out."

The Coyotes' ties to players from Edmonton were upped during the game when they acquired local boy Jamie Lundmark in a deal with the New York Rangers that sent Jeff Taffe out of Phoenix.

Beside the festivities honouring Paul Coffey, the night belonged to onetime Calgary Flame Oleg Saprykin. His two first-period goals were something right out of the vintage Oiler days when Coffey, Gretzky, Kurri and Co. would make the highlight reels game after game with spectacular plays.

"I remember watching him as a kid skate through the neutral zone and then attack the goaltender, it was exciting," added Comrie. "I don't think any fan who watched him remembers the way he played."

The ceremony was far from the Coyotes' minds, however, as their coach had them focused on getting a much-needed win.

"Watching Gretz, his mind was on the game,"said Joseph. "I'm sure he enjoyed, but not as a spectator. He had something else on his mind. He pulls a lot of weight behind that bench and you want to win for him. We respect him immensely in this dressing room and when he tells you to go out and do a job, you want to do the job."


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