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Special travel arrangements for Oilers call-ups

Thursday, 03.17.2011 / 2:22 PM / NHL Insider

By Robin Brownlee - NHL.com Correspondent

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Special travel arrangements for Oilers call-ups
Alexandre Giroux, Chris Vande Velde and Ryan O'Marra are used to AHL bus trips, not flying on private jets. But that's what they got to do when they were recalled by the Oilers
EDMONTON -- American Hockey League call-ups don't often get the rock-star treatment Alexandre Giroux, Chris Vande Velde and Ryan O'Marra experienced Wednesday after they were summoned by the Edmonton Oilers for Thursday's game against the Phoenix Coyotes.

With their roster riddled by injuries, the Oilers put in a call for the trio from the Oklahoma City Barons. Team owner Daryl Katz sent his private jet to pick them up in Grand Rapids, Mich., to make sure they arrived well-rested for the game against the Coyotes.

"It's actually been a lot of fun," said Vande Velde, who will make his NHL debut after playing five games in the last seven nights with the Barons. "We're tired, but we're glad to be up here.

"Flying us three, we kind of felt like rock stars there. It was nice of Edmonton to do that, to come down there and get us. They knew we had a rough day of travel the night before. This kind of made up for it."

"Flying us three, we kind of felt like rock stars there. It was nice of Edmonton to do that, to come down there and get us. They knew we had a rough day of travel the night before. This kind of made up for it." -- Chris Vande Velde

Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner and Taylor Hall all are gone for the season with injuries, and captain Shawn Horcoff and Jean-Francois Jacques are banged up, so Giroux, Vande Velde and O'Marra, who played for the Barons against Grand Rapids on Wednesday, hopped aboard Katz's jet.

"We jut put our stuff on and away we went," said O'Marra, who spent nine games with the Oilers earlier this season. "The boys were laughing and saying we were taking a private jet there right away. I was like, 'What the heck are you talking about?' I figured we'd stop over in, like, two cities (flying commercial). It was really a first-class thing to do. We're very appreciative."

Duo to debut -- Vande Velde, 24, isn't the only one making his NHL debut with the Oilers tonight. Finnish winger Teemu Hartikainen, summoned from Oklahoma City on Monday, will also dress. Hartikainen, 20, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound forward selected in the sixth round (No. 163) by Edmonton in the 2008 Entry Draft, got the call after totaling 17 goals and 25 assists in 66 AHL games.
 
Around the rink -- The Coyotes edged the Calgary Flames 4-3 on Tuesday. They have won three straight are 20-12-5 on the road. …  The Oilers are 12-19-4 at Rexall Place and need four wins in their final six home games to avoid tying the franchise-low for home wins in a full season (15-21-5 in 1995-96). … The Oilers beat the Coyotes 4-3 on Jan. 25, the last time the teams played, while Phoenix won the first two games of the season series, 5-0 on Nov. 23 and 4-3 in a shootout on Nov. 19. … Shane Doan arrives on a five-game point-scoring streak. He has 3 goals and 7 points in that span. … Phoenix's Keith Yandle is tied with Anaheim's Lubomir Visnovsky for the points lead among NHL defensemen with 57.
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