A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

For some Canes, a sort of homecoming.

By now, everyone has heard that some of the Hurricanes players are from the Edmonton area and grew up watching the Oil. Of course, in the case of Glen Wesley, Edmonton didn't even have a WHA team when he was born. That though, is another issue.

Wesley, 37, was born in Red Deer, Alberta, about 100 miles from Edmonton. He played one year with the Red Deer team in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Cam Ward, 22, grew up in Sherwood Park, which is a suburb of Edmonton. He played midget hockey in Sherwood Park for a few years. From there, he went on to star for the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League, twice winning the league's goaltender of the year award.

Mike Commodore, 26, is from Fort Saskatchewan, about 25 miles from Edmonton. He played one season of junior hockey there.

All these guys grew up with the Oil. They went to games there, they probably all have fond memories of seeing Grant Fuhr, Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, and the like. Of course Glen Wesley played against these guys, and Cam is probably too young to remember Fuhr, but you get the point.

Doug Weight spent many years playing with the Oil, wearing the C.

The cool story about all this, though is Ray Whitney. He's 34 and also hails from Fort Saskatchewan. He probably has more ties to the Oil than some players who are currently on their roster. When he was a kid, he was the stick boy for the Oilers. His dad, Floyd Whitney, has been the practice goalie for them for about 25 years. He has two Stanley Cup rings to show for it. He's a policeman in Edmonton, and has also served as security guard for the Oilers' dressing room.

Until now.

When it became clear that the Oilers' opponent in the Stanley Cup Finals would be the Canes, that part of it had to be temporarily halted. Both Floyd Whitney and the Oilers decided it would be better if he didn't work this series, so as to avoid the "conflict of interest". This little story tells it all.

Floyd had already planned to skip this one so he could watch his son play...
I'd already made the decision that I was going to leave my duties to my backup

but they beat him to the punch. They've actually banned him from the room. They didn't simply ask him to take those days off. They banned him from the room.

Well, there went our plan. That was our undercover secret agent. It was an incredibly elaborate set-up, but it's all for naught. Now we've lost that. Although Floyd says he was kind of hurt by it, I'm sure there's no hard feelings on either side. It does make sense on both sides for him to be as out of the official picture as possible.

Speaking of being "in the picture", maybe this will give Floyd an opportunity to be like his son. Ray has made it a habit of popping his head into the camera shot of pre-game interviews, hamming it up, and staying in the shot as long as he can. He'll be somewhere in the background, or in a corner, but he was there every time. All season long on FSN, Ray managed to do some little thing to hijack the pregame interview with another player. He's had success with this in the NBC playoff games, too. I'm hoping that we'll see more of it. I think he was having some difficulty with the OLN crew, but we are officially done with them.

Anyway, during the pregame on-ice interviews with Canes players, keep your eyes peeled for Ray Whitney in the background doing something goofy. Also keep your eyes peeled for Floyd Whitney. When the Canes were having a father-son week, FSN was interviewing somebody's father, and sure enough, Floyd popped his head in the shot. Like son, like father.

In my search for a picture of Ray and Floyd together, I found the picture you see here, which accompanied this article about Floyd, who was pressed into emergency service over in Europe during the lockout. He played two minutes, made two saves, allowed zero goals. He also told of one time when he nearly had to enter a game for the Oilers a few years ago. Take the time to read the article.

There are no Oilers with any ties to the Raleigh area, unless somebody has some relatives here. If they do, nothing's been said of it. Of course Chris Pronger was a Whaler. He was traded to St. Louis for Brendan Shanahan. Shanahan (along with other players) was traded to Detroit for Keith Primeau and other players. Primeau was "traded" to Philly for Brind'Amour. So those two have a "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" thing.

Puck drop Saturday will be 8:00 on NBC in the United States.


kubiak said...

I'm going to go to the RBC to watch the game tonight. Can't wait!

Brushback said...

Nice post, DLee. Good job!

Anonymous said...

See you in Carolina on Wed. tied 2-2....hope those redneck collars aren't getting too tight for "y'all"

CC in WA

Desdemona said...

What an excellent post!

Just as an aside: A friend of mine was wondering about, actually fearing two teams in the SCF with no fan base outside of their cities (during a discussion of growing the game etc.)

He suggested that a great story should be told to draw the outside in. I used this story that you posted as a great example (as I think it is).

Then he pointed out, there are great stories for the HOCKEY fans, but if you're just a joiner, you're left wondering "Ray who?"

I gotta say, I was left speechless.

conal said...

Just a quick correction. Fort Saskatchewan is only 5 miles from Edmonton's city limits. It's also about a 15 minute drive from Rexall Place. I've lived here for about 14 years and we are closer to Edmonton than people realize (even Edmontonians).

I know it's a little late but good luck to Mike. I was talking to his dad at my baseball teams' game last weekend (he used to coach baseball when Mike played with my brother) and just like any other parent he is extremely excited that his kid in the finals for the second straight season. Good luck to Ray too.

Good job on the site. Good luck in the series.

Anonymous said...

Another correction. Sherwood Park is NOT a suburb of Edmonton. ;)It's a hamlet in Strathcona County.


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