POSTED ON OCTOBER 13, 2010:
The Puck Stops Here
Oilers turn to youth in Ramsey's second season as head coach
Not Enough. ďEven though we finished at basically .500, we didnít make the playoffs,Ē head coach Bruce Ramsey said. ďThatís the ultimate goal. That was the first time in my career as a head coach in seven years that I didnít make the playoffs and I donít want to let it happen again.Ē
PHOTO BY GAVIN ELLIOTT
Do you remember the old "Friday the 13th" movies? Not the cheesy television series, but the original four theatrical releases. Those films did not rely on over-the-top gore or 3D dramatics.
I know it sounds weird, but each of the first few films built to a climatic stage. Then, all of a sudden, chaos ensued. Arms were chopped off, Jason lurked under beds and people suddenly forgot how to run through the woods.
Similarly, the sports scene was cruising along at a normal pace. Then all of a sudden this week transformed into a climatic killing spree of highlights.
Randy Moss was traded to the Vikings. Brett Favre was caught allegedly sending females pictures of his little helmet. The baseball postseason piqued interest across the nation.
Scott Sutton added his brother Sean Sutton to the Oral Roberts basketball family. But that's a story for another column.
However, in T-Town, we're about to turn the calendar to hockey season. So without further ado, here is your official 2010-11 Tulsa Oilers preview.
A year ago the Tulsa Oilers brought in a new head coach. Bruce Ramsey provided a spark behind the bench as well as a winning game plan. The team failed to make the playoffs, but with a year under his belt, he feels like now is the time for playoff hockey to return to the BOK Center.
"Even though we finished at basically .500, we didn't make the playoffs," Ramsey said. "That's the ultimate goal. That was the first time in my career as a head coach in seven years that I didn't make the playoffs and I don't want to let it happen again."
The Central Hockey League proved to be a stiff test for our new coach. He leaned on veteran players a year ago. The focus shifted this offseason.
A better mix of veteran players and young legs make up this year's roster. A minimal number of experienced veterans were invited back.
"The ones we brought in," explained Ramsey, "a big emphasis was on their leadership capabilities. What they've done in the past as leaders. The character was going to be very strong."
Some of the veteran leadership returning includes Tyler Fleck, Gordon Bell, Marty Standish and Stacey Bauman all of whom donned the "C" on their jersey in the past.
"We are looking for the best young players," coach said. "We're looking for a younger player who is going to be more like a Rob Hisey. In order to have those kinds of players to have potential one day to be in the NHL, you're not going to find that in the veteran players. You are going to find that in the younger players."
Oilers fans need not fret if the names are not familiar when the puck drops Oct. 15 at the BOK Center. The organization skimmed leagues for new blood.
Also helping the cause is the new affiliation with the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League. What started off as a loaner situation a year ago blossomed into a full-fledged partnership.
The Avalanche were looking to get some playing time for second-round draft pick Trevor Cann last year. The Oilers answered the buzzer. When the Avalanche visited Tulsa to watch him play, they were impressed with the Oilers, the facility and the city of Tulsa.
Cann returns to start the year in goal for the Oilers. How long he remains in T-Town? That remains to be seen. We are entering a phase of Oilers hockey that could resemble the Drillers. Mid-season roster call-ups could become the norm.
However, the chance to witness the next big scoring machine in town makes it worth our time and energy.
Sean Erickson and Brennan Barker hope to secure the defensive zone in front of Cann. Both are highly regarded across the league.
Another possible diamond in the rough it Jack Combs. He topped the 100-point mark in the Ontario Hockey League previously.
"The reason he signed here was his dad was looking for something different than the East Coast Hockey League," explains Ramsey. "He saw we were affiliated with Colorado. His son was in a NHL camp two years ago and decided this is the place. He's in camp right now and he looks great."
The BOK Center keeps bringing the hits. Seriously, another round of applauses for the arena that brought us a NHL affiliation and a WNBA franchise. Hooray BOK!
Selling the Oilers as an exciting entertainment investment is like being a screaming victim in a Jason flick. It's pretty easy. Hockey fans are showing up no matter what. But just in case you are not sold, here is a final pitch from Coach Ramsey on the squad he plans to ice this season.
"We want high energy, high tempo and fantastically skilled players. A good mixture of grit, toughness and leadership. My young kids are going to be exciting. You're going to see 100-percent effort every night."
Call the Oilers office at 918-632-PUCK (7825) for ticket information. Visit TulsaOilers.com for schedule and additional information.
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