EDMONTON – Coming home again just felt right for Mike Comrie.
The unrestricted free agent signed a one-year deal with the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, the NHL team that first drafted him and the club the forward left on bitter terms.
“I had to make a decision on some of the options I had,”Comrie told a news conference at Rexall Place. “This was the one that felt right.
“I got chills walking back into this rink. It’s been a while since I had a feeling like that.”
Comrie, who turns 29 Friday, had one of his best years with the Oilers when he scored a career-high 33 goals and collected 60 points during the 2001-02 season.
The five-foot-10, 185-pound Edmonton native was traded to Philadelphia before the 2003-04 season after a contract dispute. He admitted he didn’t always do a good job of handling the pressure of being a hometown hero.
“I’m older, more mature,” said Comrie, whom the Oilers selected 91st overall in the 1999 draft. “It was a little overwhelming and I don’t think I embraced it as well as I could. It was a lot to handle. I felt I needed to get away.
“I am here six years later and I’m excited about being an Oiler again and playing in my hometown.”
Comrie has 154 goals and 184 assists in 525 career games with Edmonton, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Ottawa and the New York Islanders.
He had 10 goals and 17 assists in 63 games last season split between the Islanders and Senators. He also underwent hip surgery.
“I feel good,” Comrie said. “I took time to heal.
“It’s going to be something I have to work hard and do what I can. I am excited and can’t wait for the season to start.”
Comrie was the subject of boos when ever he returned to Edmonton and knows he will have to win some of the fans back.
“I hope to earn their respect back,” he said. “The last six years wasn’t easy on me.
“I wasn’t a fan favourite for leaving. But having this chance to work hard and try to help this team, all I can ask for is a chance.”
Comrie isn’t worried that he is joining a team that already has several small forwards.
“In the new NHL you just have to play hard,” he said. “If a guy is six foot, it doesn’t mean he’s any better hockey player than a guys that is five foot 10.”
During his career Comrie has played both centre and left wing.
“You play where the team needs you,” he said. “I enjoy playing on the left side. Where ever the coaching staff decides to put players to make the team better is the main objective.”