Could the Unthinkable Happen?

By Jeff Bromley
By now, you are probably well aware of the Mike Comrie situation. That being of course that the Edmonton Oilers have until the June 2001 NHL
Draft deadline to sign the prominent Kootenay ICE forward or lose him to unrestricted free agency. A couple of weeks back, a report by New
York Post Columnist Larry Brooks cited sources close to the New York Rangers that stated that they were actively pursuing the rights of the
former Michigan Wolverine from the Oilers for either a 3rd or 1st round draft pick, depending on whether or not Comrie played with the Rangers
or was sent to their AHL affiliate in Hartford.

As all ICE fans collectively gasp, there are a few observances to be made.

First, consider the source, The New York Post. Not exactly the Hockey News and, when it comes to reporting gossip, rumors and heresy, is
sometimes looked upon as a few steps up the ladder from the National Enquirer. Nevertheless, the story does have some credence that should
be taken seriously. Please note that former Oiler G.M. and current Ranger Boss, Glen Sather was the one that drafted Mike Comrie in the 3rd
round of the 1999 NHL Draft. So besides that fact that Comrie is an incredibly talented prospect, Sather’s interest in him is obvious, he knows
the potential was in Comrie when he drafted him, now perhaps he would like that realized potential to join him in a Ranger uniform. Another
bolster that helps this rumor along is the fact that former AJHL line-mate and close friend Jamie Lundmark is also a top prospect of the New York Rangers and the thought of reuniting them with the Blueshirts of Broadway is tantalizing. But remember, those kinds of rumors had Lundmark
coming to Kootenay when he wouldn’t report to Moose Jaw and demanded a trade. That didn’t happen either as Lundmark is now a Seattle
T-Bird.

So, could it happen? Could Mike Comrie, on the cusp of a dream season, be whisked away from ICEland to the ranks of the professionals? It
could, but will it? Who knows? Oilers G.M. Kevin Lowe has gone on record as saying that he hasn’t given up on signing Comrie but don’t bet
on Lowe losing him for nothing if he can’t get a deal done by the ‘01 Draft deadline. There is one saving grace to this all Mike Comrie fortune
telling. If a deal isn’t done and Comrie hasn’t signed or isn’t brought up to the pro ranks by January 1st, he can’t be recalled by the pro club unless an extreme emergency arises.

My gut feeling? Lowe still won’t give up on Comrie and if he has, I don’t think that any action will be done until at least the NHL trade deadline, which is in March. If Comrie’s torrid point scoring keeps up, the Oilers might be able to get more in return on any deal closer to the deadline. That being said, all this talk is still just rumor and should be treated as such but in light of such talk, as much as the DeCecco trade strengthened the offensive firepower of the ICE, it could also be looked upon as insurance in case of Comrie’s premature departure to the pros.

Quick Hits. – In Bret DeCecco’s first two games with the Kootenay ICE, the twenty-yr-old potted a goal and an assist. Admittedly, Coach McGill
thought that the former T-Bird will need some time to get fully integrated into the Kootenay ICE style of play. “I think that it is going to take
some time for Bret to adjusted to how we play, what type of game we like to play. “It’s going to take some time see who he fits in with the best,”
said McGill. DeCecco played against Saskatoon Saturday night on a line with Jason Jaffray and Zdenek Blatny. Against Tri-Cities the next night,
DeCecco was placed alongside Mike Comrie and Jarret Stoll on the number one line. For the record, I thought he was more effective with the first
combination, seemed to give the ICE a more balanced attack……ICE d-man Dean Arsene, known throughout the league for his prowess in the
bone-crushing hit category, has some competition in the open-ice-hit department from fellow blue-liner, rookie Andy Thompson. Thompson laid
the smack down on an unsuspecting Blade, Craig Valette. To his credit, Valette did finish his shift, although somewhat wobbly….The other
player in the DeCecco deal, defenseman Brennan Evans played both contests over the weekend and played well. He played physical, was smart
in his own end, rushed the puck once or twice and was used in some key situations – the kid is definitely a keeper……. We have been treated to
many facets of Mike Comrie’s game. Multiple points and assists, electrifying end to end rushes, puck control that would have you believe that
the biscuit is tied to his stick. Please add another dimension to that resume; enforcer? On Saturday night against the Blades, the feisty forward
decided that he’d had enough of the liberties being taking against him and fellow teammate, Jarret Stoll. After a dangerous hit from behind on
Stoll, Comrie had enough. Skating across the ice, gloves dropping Comrie faced the culprit, Garnet Exelby head on. Giving away about five
inches and twenty pounds, Comrie held his own, getting the decision and garnering a standing ovation for his efforts. I don’t know what was
more surprising. The Comrie tilt or the ensuing standing ‘O’.

Weekend Action – Prince Albert in town on Friday and the number eight ranked (no, that’s not a typo) Portland Winterhawks visit Saturday.