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IN DEPTH: Crossroads

Assistant Coaches Trent Yawney, Manny Viveiros and Glen Gulutzan all crossed paths in Saskatchewan, joining the Oilers organization unified through a profound connection

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

CROSSROADS

BY PAUL GAZZOLA

If it weren't for Glen Gulutzan's vehicle needing repairs, their assembly could have begun on time. When the elevator doors of Studio 99 split, only two of three Oilers assistant coaches emerge.

In an Oilers cap and tracksuit is Trent Yawney, also known as Yawns. He hails from Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan, and even without skates on, one could confuse Yawns for having skates on. He hovers around 6-foot-4 and can cover a large area of ice. He was a Hudson Bay celebrity, playing his junior hockey alongside Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan for the Western Hockey League's Saskatoon Blades. Drafted by Chicago 45th-overall in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft, the large defenceman patrolled bluelines for the Blackhawks, Flames and Blues, racking up 783 PIMs in 593 career NHL games from 1987 to '99. 

Due to his size, Yawns' presence is almost always known. He was a hard-nosed defender and the thought of crossing lanes with him on the ice is unpleasant but off it is quite the contrary. With 12 playing seasons in the NHL and 18 years of coaching professionally, Yawns has achieved defensive sensei status. When he shares his wisdom with players, it's direct and honest. 

Manny Viveiros is a stride behind in an Oilers half-zip and track pants. His real name is Emanuel but at the rink, most people refer to him as either Manny or Viv. Manny is shorter than Yawney, everyone is, and maintains a stiff build. He was a "hot rod" defenceman, those being Gulutzan's words (who is still absent) and would face off against Yawney and McLellan when his Prince Albert Raiders played the Blades. He was drafted by his hometown Edmonton Oilers 106th-overall in '84, the same year Yawney was drafted, but spent most of his playing career overseas in Austria. 

On game days, Manny wears three-piece fitted suits in tones ranging from burgundy to pastel blue and as a defenceman in Austria, he was flashy, too, notching 50 or more points in four separate campaigns. Manny also scored one NHL goal and put up 12 points in 29 career games over three seasons with the Minnesota North Stars. "A dream come true," the St. Albert native answered when asked about getting selected by his hometown Oilers. But with rearguards like Paul Coffey, Charlie Huddy and Kevin Lowe at training camp, "There was no chance."

Gulutzan's nonappearance presents a roadblock. This occasion was supposed to be the assistant coaches' crossroads. An opportunity to gather in Studio 99 for a sit-down to talk about their tenure with the Oilers organization thus far, their coaching backgrounds, philosophies, styles, how to manage certain players in certain situations and how to manage certain situations with certain players. 

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PRE-GAME REPORT: Oilers vs. Golden Knights

The Oilers finish back-to-back games against the Vegas Golden Knights at Rogers Place on Sunday.

by Jamie Umbach / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers host the Vegas Golden Knights at Rogers Place on Sunday in the second of back-to-back games.

You can watch the game on Sportsnet or listen live on the Oilers Radio Network, 630 CHED.

Read the game preview below with more to come, including our Morning Skate Report, videos and lineup updates. 

Video: OILERS TODAY | Pre-Game vs VGK 11.18.18

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GAME STORY: Flames 4, Oilers 2

The Flames erase a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Oilers 4-2 in a heated Battle of Alberta

by Ryan Frankson / EdmontonOilers.com

CALGARY, AB - It was a Battle of Alberta in its purest form on Saturday night in Calgary with the home team emerging from combat with a come-from-behind 4-2 victory.

OILERS TODAY | at CGY Post-Game

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LIVE BLOG: Oilers at Flames

Get regular updates, highlights and more as the Oilers take on the Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers take on the Flames tonight at Scotiabank Saddledome.

You can watch on TV on CBC and Sportsnet or listen on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.

Read below for updates, highlights, tweets, commentary and more in our live in-game blog.

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COMMUNITY: Oilers bring support for Joey Moss at 2018 Iron & Frost Gala

Oilers players, staff and special guests fundraised in support of Joey Moss, the Edmonton Down Syndrome Society (EDSS) and Special Olympics Edmonton (SOE).

by Jamie Umbach / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB - Oilers defenceman Adam Larsson revealed the inside of his jet-black blazer, showing his name embroidered above the pocket on the left side surrounded by a pocket watch pattern of gold and black.

The momentous occasion of honouring Joey Moss, who has been a staple in the Oilers dressing room for 35 years, required an extra-special touch.

"I actually got it today, so I would say it's a special suit for a special night," Larsson said. "Every time he walks into the locker room, everyone gets in a good mood. He brings a lot of happiness and a lot of fun moments, and I think just seeing how happy he is around the team makes everybody smile a bit more."

The Swedish blueliner was among Oilers alumni, players and special guests at Rogers Place on Thursday night as members of the best-dressed crowd in Edmonton for the 2018 Iron & Frost Gala, this time in support of the Edmonton Down Syndrome Society (EDSS) and Special Olympics Edmonton (SOE).

Video: AROUND THE RINK | Iron & Frost Gala

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MORNING SKATE REPORT: Oilers at Flames

The Oilers visit the Scotiabank Saddledome for the first Battle of Alberta of 2018-19

by Ryan Frankson & Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers visit the Scotiabank Saddledome for the first Battle of Alberta of the 2018-19 season.

You can watch the game on CBC and Sportsnet or listen live on the Oilers Radio Network, 630 CHED.

Read the game preview below with more to come, including our Morning Skate Report, videos and lineup updates. 

Video: OILERS TODAY | Pre- Game at Calgary 11.17.18

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RELEASE: Oilers license plates unveiled

Albertans have a new way to support their community and show pride for their favourite hockey teams

by Press Release / EdmontonOilers.com

CALGARY, AB - Whether Albertans cheer for the Edmonton Oilers or the Calgary Flames, they can proudly display their support on their vehicles. Service Alberta is introducing two new specialty licence plate designs that feature team logos, slogans and colours. Money raised from the plates will benefit the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation and the Calgary Flames Foundation.

"Albertans are passionate about hockey. We're pleased to give them a way to not only express their loyalty to their favourite NHL team on their vehicles, but also give back to their communities. I'm looking forward to seeing the battle of Alberta extend to licence plates on our highways and roads."  
Brian Malkinson, Minister of Service Alberta 

Starting on Monday, November 19, the plates can be ordered from Alberta registry agents for a one-time cost of $75 plus a registry agent charge. From those funds, $20 is retained by the government to recover costs of producing and shipping the plates, and the remaining $55 will go to the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation or the Calgary Flames Foundation, depending on the plate selected.

Video: COMMUNITY | License Plate Launch

"The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation is excited for the opportunity to partner with the Government of Alberta on their specialty licence plate program. The proceeds from the licence plates will be used to help the Oilers Foundation pursue its goal of helping build strong, vibrant and safe communities, with a focus on programs that support health and wellness, education and minor hockey programing for youth in northern Alberta."
Natalie Minckler, executive director, Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation

"We are very appreciative of the Government of Alberta for inviting us to participate in this program. We look forward to sharing the proceeds raised by this initiative with charitable and other organizations based in southern Alberta in support of health and wellness, education and amateur and grassroots sports. The new licence plates will allow the Calgary Flames Foundation to continue to make a positive impact on the lives of southern Albertans and build on the over $32 million distributed since inception. Thank you for selecting the Flames brand to make a difference in our community."
John Bean, president, Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation

Plates will be mailed to Albertans after the order is placed through the registry agent. If they choose to register the plate to a vehicle after receiving it, standard registration fees apply.

The two new hockey designs are an expansion of the existing specialty licence plate program, which features the popular Support Our Troops design honouring current and former members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

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BLOG: Spooner embracing Oilers excitement

"There's a lot of skill there and their top-six forwards are some of the best players in the world. It's going to be fun to be a part of that," newly-acquired Oiler Ryan Spooner said.

by Jamie Umbach / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB ­­- In a New York minute, Ryan Spooner became an Edmonton Oiler.

The forward's focus immediately swapped to the present and the role he can play for his new team and teammates this weekend in upcoming back-to-back games that begin with the first Battle of Alberta of the season in Calgary on Saturday.

A home debut against the reigning Western Conference champion Vegas Golden Knights follows the day after at Rogers Place

Talk about an introduction.

"I'll be flying in tomorrow [to Calgary] and meeting the team there for back-to-back games," Spooner said. "I'll try to get some rest tonight, pack up, and go from there."

A swap from blue and red to blue and orange hopes to be a welcomed change for the former Ranger, who recorded a goal and assist through 16 games this NHL season.

"At the end of the day, I just wasn't really playing up to my standard," Spooner admitted. "There are no excuses for that, and the fresh start here will do me good. There's a lot of skill there and I think I'll be able to fill in. I'm excited to join them."

Spooner, able to play at centre or wing, brings a versatile game and plenty of speed that can be slotted in seamlessly in the Oilers forward corps. The talent and notoriety surrounding a young Oilers team is an exciting prospect for the former 2010 second-round pick.

"There's a lot of skill there and their top-six forwards are some of the best players in the world. It's going to be fun to be a part of that," Spooner said.

"They started off well there and things are looking good. They have a lot of talent and skill and I'm excited to go in there, help the team, and just bring my skill and my speed. I just want to help out and its exciting times for sure."

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BLOG: Old connections revived for Spooner

The forward was drafted by Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli back in 2010, with Milan Lucic and Zack Kassian providing some familiar faces from his time in Boston and Peterborough.

by Jamie Umbach / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB - At the 2010 NHL Draft in Los Angeles, then-Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli called forward Ryan Spooner's name on stage in the second round at 45th overall to officially welcome him to the National Hockey League.

Eight years and five months later, now at the helm of the Edmonton Oilers, Chiarelli was the first to call the 26-year-old to welcome him to the Oilers organization, only this time by phone.

"He gave me a call right after it happened and I was surprised," the Ottawa, Ontario product said to EdmontonOilers.com. "We chatted and I told him how excited I was to get there and he said the same thing. Hopefully I can get back to playing the game I know I can play."

Spooner recorded 41 points (13 G, 28 A) in 59 games last season split between the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers, including 16 points in 20 games in New York after arriving in Manhattan as part of a deadline-day deal for Rick Nash.

With the Bruins under Chiarelli was where Spooner was also introduced to Milan Lucic, who played a role in helping him adjust to the league as a rookie after playing parts of three seasons with the big man in Beantown. Spooner's former Peterborough Petes linemate Zack Kassian is another familiar face he's excited to reconnect with as an Oiler.

"I actually played on the same line with him for a bit, too," Spooner added. "I was 21 or 22 when I played with him and he was great to me and always positive, so that was definitely something good to see.

"Then I actually played with Zack Kassian with the Peterborough Petes for two seasons when I was 16 or 17. He was my linemate there too. It's been a while, so I'm definitely excited to see him too."

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BLOG: Koskinen to start in Calgary

Finnish netminder will get his first taste of the Battle of Alberta, while Cam Talbot is expected to start on Sunday versus the Vegas Golden Knights

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB - The back-to-back starters have been decided.

Mikko Koskinen will man the pipes against the Calgary Flames on Saturday and Cam Talbot will get the Vegas Golden Knights in Edmonton on Sunday.

Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan confirmed his starters on Friday before departing for Calgary.

"Two games, we're at home and we're on the road," he started. "One team went to the Stanley Cup Finals last year and the other team is a rival. We just decided that we would play Mikko on the road to experience the rivalry and Talbs at home in the back-to-back."

Koskinen is 4-1-0 this season with a 2.52 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. McLellan expressed his comfort with the Oilers goaltending situation so far in 2018-19.

Video: RAW | Todd Mclellan 11.16.18

"Two goaltenders that are capable of playing any given night," he added. "With all due to respect to the goalie that were here in the past who gave us everything we had, I don't know if we ever got to that point. 

"At this point right now, we feel comfortable playing either of them. Mikko's done a tremendous job of creating a sense of confidence amongst his teammates and staff. That's gone a long way and we know what Cam can do."

The Oilers coach has also been happy with Talbot's body of work in practice late. The netminder is 5-7-1, owning a 3.09 goals-against average and .895 save percentage.

"He's spent a lot of time with Dustin Schwartz, the goaltender coach and they talk about his play, scenarios, reads and then when he does get the time on the ice, he works as hard and as efficiently as anybody we have on our team," McLellan said. 

"That is very encouraging."

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