Most players don’t have a cheering section during a practice, but that’s exactly what Jake Neighbours of the St. Louis Blues had when the team skated Friday morning at Edmonton’s Downtown Community Arena.
Some of his former Edmonton Oil Kings teammates gathered to welcome Neighbours back to town.
“A couple of guys wanted to come see the skate and started banging the glass. It cost me a few chirps. I guess they owe me now,” Neighbours chuckled.
Neighours enjoyed a four-year career with the Oil Kings, becoming one of their top players and captain. Now he’s finding his role with the Blues.
“I think I have an idea. The players and the staff are very communicative of what they expect from you. As a young guy, it’s about being reliable, doing the details, not trying to be too flashy like maybe I was in junior. It’s different roles, but I think I still try to bring the same tangibles night in and night out.”
Neighbours isn’t the only member of the Blues returning to Edmonton. Craig MacTavish joined the Blues as an assistant coach in the summer. The former Oilers player, coach and manager worked in broadcasting last season.
“It’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed it,” said MacTavish. “There’s action. Last year was the first year I was really out of the game. It was boring. Now it’s great action, great energy.”
MacTavish noted the speed of the game seems to be ever-increasing.
“I think a lot of it is driven from coaching. Minor hockey league coaches, too. They’re finding new, creative ways to create offence through speed and quick attacks. We used to be more play driven. Now it’s more transition driven than it was before,” explained MacTavish.
The Oilers and Blues square off at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Coverage on 630 CHED starts with the Face-off Show at 12:30 p.m.
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