Mike Comrie had it all. He achieved the Canadian dream, playing in the National Hockey League, in his home town to boot. Not that he needed the money. He is an heir to the Brick furniture empire. Oh, and he married Hilary Duff.
But after a third hip surgery in five years, including a completely new hip joint, Mike Comrie had to hang up his skates for good. After 10 seasons and 589 games, most notably the Oilers in his native Edmonton, Comrie could no longer play the game he loved.
“I look back and I’m happy to have played 10 years in the NHL ... I’d like to have played more games healthy, for sure,” Comrie told Jim Mathieson of the Edmonton Sun.
Playing in his hometown was a career highlight.
“But I got to start things off in my hometown with my family and my friends in attendance. The first game was December 30, 2000, signed right out of junior (Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League), the game was on Hockey Night in Canada against the Montreal Canadiens. I hadn’t even had one practice with the Oilers, everything happened so fast. I didn’t have time to be nervous."
More of a shooter than a playmaker, this centerman was never the fastest or strongest or most accurate shooter. But he was a dandy of a stickhandler who had great offensive instincts. He knew where to be and when to jump into holes.
“He was a gifted player, very creative, he brought something new every game. Really good hands. He could stickhandle in a phone booth,” said Smyth. “He had a knack for the pucks around the net and was determined to get them.
Comrie played the first 192 games of his NHL career with the Oilers before he was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2003 over a contract dispute with then general manager Kevin Lowe. The Oilers received forwards Rob Schremp and Danny Syvret and defenceman Jeff Woywitka in return.
His stint in Philly was short, as was his next stop in Phoenix. The Ottawa Senators acquired him in 2006-07, and he contributed nicely to their march to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Comrie then moved on to the New York Islanders before a brief return to Ottawa. In 2009-10 he opted to come home again, playing with the Oilers after a rather acrimonious departure 6 years prior. Despite a long bout with mononucleosis, Comrie chipped in nicely with 13 goals in 43 games.
Comrie ended his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2010-11, hoping against hope that he could find a lucky and healthy break and play along side either Sidney Crosby or Evgeny Malkin. But it was just not meant to be.
“I scored a goal on my very last shift in my last game,” said Comrie, who was limited to 21 games — he had one goal and five assists.
Comrie was a decent offensive player, scoring 20 or more goals a season — including 33 with the Oilers in 2001-02 — five times. He had 168 goals and 197 assists in 589 regular-season NHL games. He was also on Team Canada's gold medal winning team at the World Championships in Finland in 2003.