Dallas Stars D-man Petrovic bled green while growing up in Edmonton

Article content

His stint with the Edmonton Oilers lasted all of nine games.

But Alexander Petrovic’s history with hockey in Edmonton goes back a lifetime.

Article content

Now a member of the Dallas Stars, the 32-year-old defenceman finds himself facing his hometown team in the Western Conference finals.

And you’d have to forgive him if it looked like history is repeating itself here in the post-season.

Advertisement 2

Article content

“I actually grew up as a Dallas fan,” said Petrovic. “I remember the Oilers and Dallas, they were always fighting it off in the playoffs. Usually the first round.

“Dallas was usually the top team, Edmonton was the eighth seed or whatever. But I remember watching them and just loved watching Dallas.”

It’s nothing short of a turncoat mentality for a generation or two of hockey fans in Edmonton.

Seven previous times, the Stars have met the Oilers in the playoffs since relocating to Dallas in 1993 — one year after Petrovic was born. The current series marks the ninth playoff meeting between the clubs.

The last meeting came in the 2003 conference quarter-finals, which the Stars won 4-2, marking the last in a series of six meetings in seven years (1997-’03). Dallas earned a 5-1 series record in that span, contributing to a 6-2 series record overall with a 27-15 record across 42 games prior to this series.

So, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise hometown ties weren’t enough to sway an impressionable Petrovic while growing up a hockey fan.

“Mike Modano and Sergei Zubov and Richard Matvichuk — he’s actually from where I’m from, Fort Saskatchewan,” Petrovic said. “So, it was fun watching those guys. It definitely caught my eye.”

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

Drafted 36th overall by the Florida Panthers in 2010, Petrovic stopped for a proverbial cup of coffee with the Oilers in 2018 before taking a run through the American Hockey League that eventually landed him in Dallas.

On Sunday, he will be flying the Victory Green flag in Edmonton as a player on the team, and not a fan like when he was growing up, as Game 3 gets underway in the third-round series, which is tied 1-1.

“It’s going to be crazy. I know it gets loud in there,” Petrovic said. “A lot of passionate fans. I’ve got a lot of family that are Oilers fans and whatnot, but I think they’re rooting for us and it’s going to be pretty exciting.”

Whoever they’re cheering for, some people back home have been hitting up Petrovic for tickets to Monday and Wednesday’s games.

“A little bit, yeah,” he said. “Not too bad though, I think. Just close family we’ve got coming. I’ll have some other friends going there, as well.

“So, it will be a good time.”

One made even better for the Stars if they can gain control of the series and reclaim home-ice advantage with a win Monday.

His time playing in the home colours at Rogers Place didn’t leave much of an indelible mark on Petrovic, who had an assist and two penalty minutes in nine Oilers games. Not to say he wasted his time.

Advertisement 4

Article content

“(It was) good,” he said. “I got traded there around January, it was actually in the new year. I didn’t really put in my best effort, I don’t think I took advantage of that opportunity, and ran into some injury issues too.

“But they were in a playoff push at that point and they had some guys that were rolling, so it was cool to practice against (Leon) Draisaitl, (Connor) McDavid, a lot of those guys just to see how they work, day in, day out. I just took some of that stuff and use it nowadays.”

If the Stars have an advantage over the Oilers in this series — besides a historical one in the playoffs or winning the regular-season season series 2-0-1 on their way to capturing first place in the conference — Petrovic said it’s their even-keeled mindset when things aren’t necessarily going as well as they should.

“I think you can just kind of feel that energy, it’s never too up, never too down,” he said. “It’s a good feeling, even if you’re one of the guys making a mistake, or whatever.

“You come back, everyone’s calm and cool and you just get ready for your next shift.”

E-mail: [email protected]

On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge

Article content