I'm a big fan of Mike Comrie.
I make no apologies for it.
I'll be wearing an Oilers #89 original third jersey tonight in honor of the guy who was my favorite player for a long time.
Many forget how much excitement this guy brought to a team that so sorely needed it at such a lean time. We'd hit it big, we'd drafted a hometown kid who had panned out big and was on his way to SMASHING WHL records. My cousin who lived in Creston at the time would watch as many live games as he possibly could back then. One time when he was in town he told me about Comrie on a PK where he basically skated the ice on his own 4 times and then rushed in and scored like it was nothing. My cousin was no dope when it came to hockey (if not for some issues he had his 6'5" frame, massive slapshot and physical play as a d-man probably would have sent him pro) and he was as excited about this guy as he'd ever been.
I suppose that's why what ended up happening made many so bitter in some ways. The hometown hero became "the rich kid" or "spoiled kid" or whatever the heck you wanted to call him at the time. People that "hadn't liked him all along" came out of the woodwork suddenly.
My perspective on the issue is a lot different than many; perhaps because I believe I know what actually happened (I trust my sources on this one) and don't think it was fair at all. The incident that I'm sure sparked the beginning of the end was a regrettable one; but what ensued after was simply not okay.
Not paying one of your best out of spite rather than hockey sense is pathetic.
Trying to keep a guy from achieving his bonuses at the expense of your team's offence is sad and wrong in sports.
Choosing a coach over a player (which is what I truly believe happened eventually) when that coach is not the second coming, is hockey-stupid. Players are worth more than coaches...period. Especially talented ones. His concerns along with others on the team at the time were completely valid and it could be argued still exist. This team hasn't been the same save for a year in another world with a roster that had almost nothing to do with previous years' teams.
This team would have been seriously different in my view if Paul Comrie had not had his career shut down so early. He still plays in a rec league that a friend of mine is in and apparently just tears it up of course. Having your older brother around could have of course made a big difference; even foregoing the fact that he was massively talented as well.
I still think that maybe one day this city will be ready to forgive and there would be a chance for the hometown hero to return once again. That truly is my hope. It'd be a great story that both he and we deserve.
So tonight I'll be cheering; I know most of you won't, but I hope at least you think about what could have been and what is still possible.
GO #89 GO!