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Old 05-30-2007, 01:49 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Comrie, once a Flyer, has found his niche

Bumped around, he's settled in with Ottawa.
By Tim Panaccio
Inquirer Staff Writer

ANAHEIM, Calif. - There is no smaller universe in the world than that which exists in hockey.

And it's in the NHL that someone like the Ottawa Senators' Mike Comrie, whose time as a Flyer amounted to "a half cup of cappuccino," was at one time in a position to play for both the Ottawa Senators and Anaheim Ducks.

The Ducks lead the Senators in the best-of-seven championship series, one game to none, with Game 2 tonight at the Honda Center.

"That whole trade fiasco back in Edmonton, it was very frustrating," Comrie recalled.

Ah, yes, those were the days.

Comrie went to the Flyers from Edmonton on Dec. 16, 2003, for highly regarded defensive prospect Jeff Woywitka and two draft picks. He lasted less than two months before being shipped to Phoenix for goalie Sean Burke and forwards Branko Radivojevic and Ben Eager.

In between, Comrie signed a pro-rated one-year contract worth $1.45 million.

The funny part is, Ottawa coach Bryan Murray - then the general manager of Anaheim - thought he had a deal completed that would have sent Corey Perry to Edmonton for Comrie, who was holding out in Edmonton. It fell apart when Edmonton general manager Kevin Lowe demanded Comrie return some of his bonus money. At that point, Comrie was traded to the Flyers.

Four years later, Comrie is facing Perry, still with the Ducks, in the Cup final. Comrie recalls his brief time as a Flyer and shakes his head. After that nasty contract dispute as an Oiler, he thought the Flyers were a long-term solution.

"That was a case where our [Flyers] goalie got injured and management basically stressed that we needed one," Comrie said. "It was a timing issue. I had a great time with a good group of guys. I moved on. It's one of those things where you have to take it in stride.

"Trades happen for different reasons. It was a learning experience. It's a great hockey community. I ended up playing with Jeremy Roenick in Phoenix again. It was nice to have that relationship."

Comrie was everything the Flyers craved: a small, crafty forward with speed and skill. But because he wasn't playing in Edmonton, he was terribly out of shape, causing coach Ken Hitchcock to remark, "It could be two months before he's up to speed."

In that two-month period, Comrie was dealt for Burke because of injuries to both Jeff Hackett and Robert Esche. Edmonton, Philly, Phoenix. Comrie was barely 23 years old and being shuffled around the NHL like a bag of pucks.

"It's a learning experience," he said. "Our careers are so short, and you go through so many ups and downs."

In January of this year, Comrie was traded to Ottawa from Phoenix after the Senators had pretty much become a MASH unit when their three centers - Mike Fisher, Jason Spezza and Antoine Vermette - went on the disabled list.

"I was given a lot of ice time," Comrie said. "We were winning. It was great. Then guys came back, and now I was trying to find a role where to fit in."

Murray, who was Comrie's biggest fan in Anaheim, thought Comrie let his game slip when he was moved to right wing to accommodate Fisher's return.

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