Eberle's Oilers coming to Regina
By Greg Harder, Leader-Post
December 6, 2011 11:00 PM
The NHL is making another pit-stop in Regina.
The Leader-Post has learned that the Edmonton Oilers will face the New York Islanders next September in NHL pre-season action at the Brandt Centre. A formal announcement by Evraz Place is slated for 11: 30 a.m. today at the Queensbury Centre.
The NHL's last visit was on Sept. 21, 2009, when the Ottawa Senators defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 in front of a packed house. It was Regina's first NHL contest in 20 years, prompting a box-office rush which saw all 6,450 tickets get snapped up within a day of going on sale (from $79.50 to $109.50).
Prices for next year's game are expected to fall within a similar range, with a slight increase on premium seats.
The 2009 game was an overwhelming success, with the exception of some grumbling when Tampa failed to dress any of its star players, using a lineup dominated by minor-leaguers. Although lineups are strictly at the discretion of the teams, the issue is expected to be a source of ongoing negotiation leading up to the game. Talks with the Oilers will revolve around Jordan Eberle, a Regina native and former star with the WHL's Pats. Early indications suggest that Eberle will be available, barring injury or other unforeseen circumstances.
He's already looking forward to the game.
"I'm very excited to hear that," Eberle said via text message. "I have lots of family and friends from Regina who will get the chance to see an NHL game live. Heading back to the Brandt where everything kind of began for me is something every kid out of junior wishes for."
Eberle was still a member of the Pats during the NHL's last visit to his home town. Based upon the success of that game, it was assumed that another would soon follow. However, negotiations proved to be more difficult than expected, with talks stalling in each of the past two years before reaching an agreement with the Oilers and Islanders.
Evraz Place officials have also stated their interest in staging an NHL training camp at the new Co-operators Centre, a six-rink facility adjacent to the Brandt Centre. Those discussions have yet to bear fruit but it remains a possibility for the future.
The St. Louis Blues held training camps in Regina in 1981, 1982 and 1983, playing 10 pre-season games over those three years. The Blues also played an exhibition contest in 1990 against the Winnipeg Jets.
Two years ago, Saskatoon hosted the Islanders' training camp, plus two exhibition games. It has already been announced that the Jets and Boston Bruins will face off at Credit Union Centre on Sept. 22 of next year, marking the fourth straight season that Saskatoon has hosted an NHL exhibition game. The latest came this fall when Eberle scored the game-winner in the Oilers' 4-2 decision over the Chicago Blackhawks.
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