Back in the Oilers’ broadcast booth?

Well, it’s been one interesting week for this sports writer. Long-time Tulsa Oilers broadcaster and media relations director Rob Loeber resigned last week to take a job with Jenks Public Schools. The next thing I know, I’m talking with Oilers General Manager Taylor Hall about a return to the Oilers broadcast booth.

My first stint with the Oilers was in the 1992-93 season, the first year of the new Central Hockey League. That was the year the Oilers won their only championship. I had the honor and privilege to broadcast all 72 games, home and away, right through the four game sweep of Oklahoma City to win the CHL title.

I then went back to the Oilers in 1999, and did three more seasons as the Oilers play-by-play voice, finishing after the 2002 season.

Over those four total seasons, I broadcasted 285 Oilers games; most on radio, with a couple on television. It was the most of any Oilers broadcaster to that point. That record was later broken by Steve McCall.

Ever since 2002, I had longed to get back on the Oilers broadcasts, if for no other reason but to get to a tidy 300 games. It now looks like I’ll have that opportunity. Plus, the fact that the Oilers are now in the East Coast Hockey League, a league that is truly a developmental league, with some players under contract with the Winnipeg Jets (National Hockey League) and the Manitoba Moose (American Hockey League), we get to see a whole different level of hockey than we saw with the CHL.

All these players have a legitimate chance of moving up the minor league ranks through the AHL and someday on to the NHL. That’s exciting. You can equate it to watching the Tulsa Drillers, who are the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Oilers are the Double-A affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets. Someday, we’ll be watching an NHL game and say, “hey, I remember when that guy played for the Tulsa Oilers.”

I grew up in the Buffalo area, and have always been a big Sabres fan. As a kid, I listened to the broadcasts of Ted Darling and Rick Jennerett on my transistor radio in bed at night. As I got older, I went to several Sabres games, and had the honor of getting to know Ted Darling really well. The Sabres media relations guys were always good to me, and I had a great relationship with the team until I moved to Tulsa in 1988. That’s why when the CHL came back in 1992 I was chomping at the bit to be the first broadcaster for the Oilers. It’s in my blood.

Although the details have not been worked out yet, and there’s no commitment by either the team or me to go beyond the next few games, I can say I’m truly thrilled for the opportunity to broadcast once again the sport I love and the team I love.

I had received press credentials to the Camping World Independence Bowl and was all set to travel to Shreveport this Saturday to cover the game between Tulsa and Virginia Tech, but now I’ll be with the Oilers in Wichita. You can listen to the Oilers broadcasts on ECHL.com or Ustream.tv.

To all my readers, thank you for your feedback through the year. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Keep your stick on the ice!