For an injured Tyler Pitlick, this is as close to the game as he's going to get.
The Oilers considered themselves lucky to be able to draft Tyler Pitlick with the first selection of the second round of the 2010 NHL entry draft. Of course for Pitlick, there was some disappointment in not going in the first round but speaking with the up and coming player you wouldn't know it. Pitlick has a calm and cool demeanour. He smiles easily, and doesn't seem as though he is ever rattled.
Last season Pitlick played for Minnesota State and he's talked about his time there and the transition to the WHL with us before. Pitlick only played a single year for Minnesota. Following the draft, he elected to play with the Medicine Hat Tigers, who held his rights. The move from university hockey back to the WHL was a good move in terms of Pitlick's career development and if anything is an indication of how strong his desire to play hockey is.
Pitlick injured his ankle before the WHL playoffs and unfortunately has missed all playoff games. The cast has been removed and Pitlick is on his way to health. Unfornately however, the Tigers were swept by the Kootenay Ice and are now out of the playoffs. This interview was recorded Saturday April 23rd, 2011.
Copper & Blue: How do you like Medicine Hat?
Tyler Pitlick: I like it a lot. It's got a good atmosphere here. The town's good. It seems sort of similar to Minnesota, so I feel at home here. It's a good place to be.
Copper & Blue: We don't hear much about your injury and recovery, how are you progressing?
Tyler Pitlick: Good, I'm starting to walk more normal every day. I still have a bit of a limp but I've skated once, and I'm skating again tomorrow. (Sunday April 24th) Things are coming along pretty well, I've just been rehabbing it every day, trying to get it better as fast as I can. Like I said, things are getting better every day and I'm hoping for the best and taking it day by day.
Copper & Blue: Can you let us know how this happened? We just heard you were out with a broken ankle.
Tyler Pitlick: In Red Deer, I was in the corner. I was battling with [Justin] Weller and I don't know, he ended up on me somehow. I threw him off of me, and he ended up landing on my leg. Then it was broken.
Copper & Blue: Going into the draft last year, one of the things you were known for was your shot. This year you have far more assists than goals. Are you looking for your teammates more, or is it lack of shooting luck?
Tyler Pitlick: I don't know. I guess I haven't shot the puck as much as I probably should have this year. But I think that it's just being on the power play, you get more assists. I don't really know how to explain it, it just kind of happened. I mean usually that's how it happens; you get more assists than goals.
Copper & Blue: It must be incredibly difficult watching your team through the playoffs, I saw you watching from the zamboni entrance. How do you keep feeling like a member of the team?
Tyler Pitlick: I'm just here at the rink every day, working out and doing all of the things that I can do to get better. I'm watching practice and doing anything I can to help. There's not too much really that I can do. It will depend on the boys and how well they can do. I just try to be around and if they need anything I'm here.
Copper & Blue: Overall, would you say this was a successful year?
Tyler Pitlick: Yes, this is a successful year. They've gone farther than they did last year. Hopefully we can win some more games here and keep going.
Copper & Blue: How about your personal development?
Tyler Pitlick: I don't know, I think it's definitely gone well here. I'm happy with my decision to come here. I think it definitely helped my career. Just playing a lot more games and all that really helped me to develop. It's helped me to get used to this sort of schedule that I'm going to have to get used to for the next level so overall I think it's gone well and I'm happy with it.
Copper & Blue: So no regrets on leaving school?
Tyler Pitlick: No, I miss the guys from back at school but I think that this was the best thing for my career.
Copper & Blue: Now at the end of the season, do you have a preference for wing or centre?
Tyler Pitlick: Not really. I mean I like playing wing, I've gotten used to it this year. Before this year, I mean I played a little bit of wing last year, but I've always been centre. If they throw me at centre, I'm ready to go. Either way, I'm fine.
Copper & Blue: I think you read the Oilers media, you know they need centres.
Tyler Pitlick: Ya [laughs]
It's hard to say what the Oilers coaching staff will pencil Pitlick in, even for their prospect camp. They need to develop more centremen, but Pitlick has been spending a lot of time on the wing. It was unfortunate that Pitlick has not played as many games since the last time Bruce McCurdy and I spoke with the Oilers prospect at Rexall place in January, but we can still look forward to watching his further development.
Because Pitlick was born in the year 1991, he is eligible to play in the AHL next season. Pitlick may have played his last games in the WHL, but the Barons signings and training camps this summer will be the deciding factors. It is positive to hear that on Oilers Lunch on the Team 1260 with Bob Stauffer On Friday April 29th, Oilers GM Steve Tambellini said of Pitlick and Hamilton that they look ready to play in OKC next season, "It looks like they're ready to begin that part of their career."