The sin bin sensation!

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:11 AM ET

Mike York laughs at the irony.

He's been waiting two seasons to stay healthy enough to let those gifted hands of his speak for him on the ice again.

But after accomplishing exactly that with the Iserlohn Roosters of the Deutsch Elite League during the NHL lockout, his mouth did the talking that gets your attention.

The speedy Edmonton Oilers forward enjoyed a career year points-wise with the Roosters this past season, finishing second in DEL scoring with 16-46-62 in 52 games.

It was a comeback year for York, who missed 21 games with the Oilers in 2003-04 because of a broken left index finger that required the insertion of a plate and six screws. That injury came on the heels of a broken right wrist the season before.

Nice numbers, for sure, but it's his 77 penalty minutes with Iserlohn - York had never spent more than 20 minutes in the sin bin during a season as a pro - that really stand out.

What, he's a tough guy now?

"I know," laughed York before suiting up with Team USA against Team Canada in Halifax last night in a pre-tournament game before the World Championships. "It's the penalty minutes, right?

"I got 27 minutes on the last shift of my last game. I ran into a guy and the ref didn't see it. He thought I cheap-shotted him, so he gave me a five and a 10. I yelled at him and he gave me another 10."

York, 27, hasn't turned into a sack of cement, then. That's good news for the Oilers, who haven't managed to coax a complete season from the Waterford, Massachusetts, native since they acquired him from the New York Rangers in March 2002.

York missed 11 games in 2002-03 when he fractured the scaphoid bone in his wrist on a hit by Rob Blake in Colorado. He finished the season wearing a cast and struggled mightily.

BROKEN FINGER

In 2004-05, again in Colorado, York sustained a badly broken finger Jan. 27 when hit by a clearing attempt by Karlis Skrastins of the Avalanche, limiting him to 61 games in which he tallied 16-26-42.

The wrist and finger held up nicely with the Roosters this season, and York relished the chance to do what he does best - dart into holes, dangle with the puck and create offence.

"I played every game," York said. "That part was really good for me. It was good to get in a full year. It was getting pretty frustrating the way my luck was going.

"I had no problems with the wrist or finger. It was all healed up by the middle of last June and I was good to go."

Given his injury woes, it was a no-brainer for York to look for a place to play when the NHL lockout began, even though insurance cost $52,000 - the Roosters paid half that, but the $26,000 out of his own pocket was almost half of his $60,000 salary.

"I just wanted to play and have that competition again," he said. "I would have pulled my hair out if I had to sit at home.

"It was good hockey. We played Friday through Sunday and we only played 52 games, but the fans get into it pretty good. We'd draw, like, 4,500. We had a small rink, but it was packed."

BACK ON THE BLADES

It certainly wasn't the NHL, although Oilers' teammate Ty Conklin was in Wolfsburg and former Edmonton captain Doug Weight played in Frankfurt. But getting back on the blades was exactly what York needed.

"I'm definitely not as rusty as I would have been if I didn't play at all," York said, talking about being named to Team USA. "I'd get on the Internet to see what was happening with the lockout and stuff. It was frustrating to follow when things weren't going well, especially when the season was cancelled. I think we'd all like to get back to playing over here."


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