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Edmonton Oilers head coach and San Jose Sharks counterpart were once on same side

San Jose Sharks head coach Peter DeBor watches his team play the Colorado Avalanche on May 6, 2019, during their NHL playoff series.
San Jose Sharks head coach Peter DeBor watches his team play the Colorado Avalanche on May 6, 2019, during their NHL playoff series.

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Edmonton Oilers head man Dave Tippett and San Jose Sharks bench boss Peter DeBoer were on the same Canadian team staff five years in Minsk, proving hockey’s a small world.

“We were together in … uh, I dunno, Latvia or maybe Belarus (yup). Wasn’t memorable,” DeBoer said with a laugh.

“We didn’t win the gold. We were undefeated in the round-robin, then started the playoffs. All I remember is it didn’t end well,” said DeBoer, as Canada lost to Finland in the quarter-finals with ex-Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens giving up a late goal to Iiro Pakarinen in a 3-2 Finnish win.

Tippett, then behind Arizona’s bench, was head coach of that squad in Belarus.

“I didn’t know Peter well then, but he’s a really, really good coach. I have a lot of respect for him,” said Tippett, who felt the quarter-final got away from Canada in 2014. “We were up 2-1 against Finland and gave up two soft goals in the third. That was our Achilles heel. We weren’t sure which goalie was going to play (Scrivens or James Reimer). We picked one and it didn’t turn out well for us.

“It was an Olympic year and we had lots of good kids. (Nate) MacKinnon, (Mark) Scheifele, (Nazem) Kadri, players not in the Olympics. Came up just a little short.”

Getting your foot in the door

Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford singled out DeBoer for thanks at his Hall of Fame induction speech on Monday in Toronto after DeBoer played junior for Rutherford in Windsor and Rutherford got him into coaching when he was running Detroit’s OHL team.

“I wouldn’t be standing here without Jim Rutherford … gave me my first coaching job. I’ve leaned on him my entire career. He recognized something in me and Paul Maurice, too, as coaches,” said DeBoer, who holds a law degree as does Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper.

DeBoer was the 237th player chosen at the 1988 draft, in the 12th and final round, by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Between Keith Slifstein and Joe Flanagan, if you’re keeping track.

DeBoer was an offensive-minded centre who played two years of pro with the IHL’s Milwaukee Admirals and quit playing at 23 to study law.

“I remember vividly signing my first pro contract and sitting down with Jim Rutherford and (former Windsor junior coach and ex-NHL head man in Los Angeles) Tom Webster, who is in the battle of his life right now with cancer, and them telling me, ‘give it two or three years in the minors and you’ll know.’ I think they probably knew (playing pro for a long time) before I did. They predicted I’d be a crossroads pretty quickly.”

While going to law school, Rutherford gave him a coaching job in the OHL.

“Not one day goes by do I wish I was a lawyer,” said DeBoer.

Oil Spills podcast: Taylor Hall back to the Oilers, the trade rumour that won’t die

The rumour has been persistent since early in this NHL season, that Taylor Hall — former Edmonton Oilers star — would welcome a trade away from the New Jersey Devils, who have faltered on the ice thus far. And his rumoured preferred destination? The Oilers.

Host Craig Ellingson talks to hockey beat writer Derek Van Diest about the rumours and what a Taylor Hall trade to Edmonton would mean for the team.

Clock ticking on back-end

Brandon Manning, who hurt his finger in a fight with Barclay Goodrow in the Oilers’ 6-3 loss here last week, was partnered with fellow injured-reserve defenceman Adam Larsson on the fourth pairing at Tuesday morning’s skate.

As soon as Larsson comes off IR, Manning most likely will go on waivers to be sent to Bakersfield because that will give them eight NHL defencemen, one more than they want to carry.

Manning is the perfect No. 7 NHL defenceman, his $2.25 million salary an impediment but not his work ethic. If he clears waivers as expected, he’ll join another crowded back-end in the AHL after Swedish first-year D Joel Persson was just sent down.

Oilers assistant GM Keith Gretzky said there was no timeline mentioned in Persson’s AHL look, unlike Swiss centre Gaetan Haas last month.

Haas, who has missed only one of the last 11 games (against the Sharks in San Jose last week) has an out-clause to return to Europe if unhappy in his first NHL season.

They said Haas was going down for five or six games only but Haas was recalled when they had injuries. Persson, signed to a one-way, $1 million contract last spring, doesn’t have the same out-clause. He has to improve the pace of his game and decision-making at the faster NHL level. “Persson was good about it (demotion),” said Gretzky.

This ‘n’ that

  • If this was a playoff game, Larsson could play, but the Oilers will buy a few more days as he recovers from his broken fibula. Sitting out the Sharks game means he’s missed 22, more than a quarter of a season. “He’s right there. He isn’t playing tonight but I don’t rule him out somewhere on this trip,” said Tippett, who very easily could have him off IR and playing in Los Angeles Thursday.
  • The Sharks AHL club plays at SAP Center just like the NHL club but they’re averaging just 3,600 in the 17,562-seat capacity, and there are plans for a new 4,000-seat rink adjacent to Solar4 America Ice Arena where the Sharks have their practice facility. Way better idea.
  • Noah Gregor has played 10 Sharks games as an NHL rookie, including the 6-3 win over Oilers, but he’s back with the AHL Barracuda. The nephew of local radio host Jason Gregor has five points in four AHL games.
  • Oilers farmhand first-line centre Cooper Marody (charley horse) could play this week. Same with goalie Shane Starrett (groin), who has been out since early October.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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