New Oilers goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin has an interesting-looking mask as a member of the Oilers. In addition to his usual "Bulin Wall" design, he has Grant Fuhr masks on either side of the helmet in homage to the Oilers' hall-of-fame netminder.
"I've always tried to keep the design kind of the same. This is the retro, so I wanted to reflect a little bit on the history," he remarked.
On the subject of Khabibulin, Quinn remarked that he likely won't see much action early on. He said he'd like to see the netminder get some work in practice while he gets a better look at the young goaltenders competing for the number two spot.
"We're just going to take our time with him. I'm not going to play him early on," said Quinn. "We'll play the young guys and give them a good look."
LUBO STILL RECOVERING
Lubomir Visnovky skated with Sheldon Souray as a defence partner in his first Oilers-related activity since a shoulder injury on February 3 sidelined him for the season.
His recovery is coming along nicely but he's still likely a week or two away from game action.
"The doctor said I need one more week for rehab to play in the exhibition games," said Visnovsky following practice.
NILSSON IMPRESSES HEAD MAN
Oilers head coach Pat Quinn liked what he saw from Robert Nilsson today - a player who is among a number a forwards fighting for a spot in the team's opening-night roster.
"From what I see, he has tremendous talent. What happened to him last year might be less than what the expectation might be for that skill level," Quinn noted.
"He's in tight. We have more contracts than can play on our team right now. He's going to be challenged for position."
Nilsson is relishing the opportunity for competition in this year's camp.
"We've got 14 forwards on one-way contracts right now and they're all good forwards. We're all going to have to battle hard to make an impression on the coaches that you want to be here and play," Nilsson stated. "I hope everyone does well and we have a good year."
"I never watched him play and we're trying to pick the right guys now," Quinn continued. "He's a player of terrific skill who's going to have to find a way to play better.
QUINN SHAKES IT UP TOMORROW
The Oilers had three teams out there skating today, with specific line combinations (listed in yesterday's Daily Update). However, tomorrow things will change once again as he tries to get a feel for the lineup. The players will be split into two completely different teams.
Team A will be on the ice from 8:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. with a scrimmage beginning at 9:30 a.m. Team B will be on the ice from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with a scrimmage to start at 11:45 a.m. The rosters for each team will be announced in the morning.
"What we were trying to do was get a little balance in the three groups. Tomorrow will be a different setup, we're going to do two groups then pull them together and do a bit of a scrimmage," said Quinn. "We have established our lineup for Calgary and the Islanders. We're still refining that."
There were no scrimmages today, only a number of technical drills and system work which was a departure from past Oilers camps.
"We have over 60 guys here. You need to set up the team to be efficient out there," said Quinn. "This particular year is set up in a tough way for our players. We have two days of practice then five games in six nights. It's not enough time to get their antennae working."
OILERS DAILY UPDATE FOR SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2009
Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin arrived in Edmonton yesterday and had his first official duties as an Oiler today with fitness testing.
Khabibulin comes from a team much like the Oilers in the Chicago Blackhawks. The 'Hawks are led by a number of young stars while the Oilers have a talented young core as well hoping for a breakthrough season.
"There's a lot of similarities here, I think," said the netminder. "This team has a little bit more of the veteran guys."
Khabibulin replaces Dwayne Roloson in goal this year. Roloson played outstanding last season and the goaltender was asked if he feels pressure as a result.
"I think there's always pressure on the goalies no matter where you go. When you play up in Canada it's a little bit more," he said. "At the same time, when you play up in Canada it's a lot of fun, too."
SOUR PATCH PENNER
When asked today about his off-ice training, Dustin Penner remarked what he missed the most with his strict off-season diet.
"Sour Patch Kids, that's a favourite of mine. If they're watching hopefully (I can get) a sponsorship deal," he joked.
The 6'4" winger noted that his program worked - he's coming to camp in the best shape of his NHL career.
COMRIE TAKES A NUMBER
When Mike Comrie arrived at Oilers training camp this morning, he found that his familiar number - 89 - was taken by new teammate Sam Gagner. In its place, Comrie is wearing number 91.
The number was assigned by the Oilers and Comrie could potentially change it at some point before the regular season begins. He has no interest in Gagner's 89 but did wear 39 in junior and college. That number is currently being worn by Chris Minard. QUINN SPEAKS
In his first official day as the team's head coach, Pat Quinn spoke to the Edmonton media.
"Without the masks and helmets they all look a little bit different. Almost like hockey school I'm going to ask them to put tape on their helmet (with their names on it)," Quinn chuckled when asked about his familiarity with the squad.
"We're going to practice with three groups here," he said. "With five games in six nights after only two days in practice we're going to keep a lot of bodies around because I really don't want to put those guys at serious risk."
"Maybe after the first Islanders game (September 16 at Rexall Place) we'll think about paring it down"
LINE COMBINATIONS AND SUNDAY, MONDAY ICE TIMES
All practices tomorrow and Monday will be open to the public so pay attention to this next section if you want to see your favourite Oiler on the ice tomorrow:
Team A will be skating on Sunday from 8:15 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. The line combos will be as follows: