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.
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.