Thursday night will be nothing new for Jason Chimera, playing at Rexall Place against the Edmonton Oilers. He has done it seven times in his NHL career as an opposing player.
But the ex-Edmonton forward and forever Edmonton native was doing that a long time ago, playing in “Mites On Ice” games there when he was a kid. This week’s road trip to western Canada is a chance for the 32-year-old to go home again – and for the first time as a member of the Washington Capitals.
Chimera’s parents still live in the same house he grew up in in Edmonton, so the familiarity factor is still there despite all the time away while playing professionally.
“My mom will probably cook all my favorite stuff,” he said. “So it’s just back like when you were a kid again.”
The speedy winger was a fifth-round pick of the Oilers in 1997 and played 130 games with the big club in Edmonton. And while players often lament being traded, the deal that sent Chimera to Columbus was one of the best things to happen to his career.
“It was good to move on because I wasn’t really getting a good shot there. It was good to move on,” Chimera said. “I went to Columbus and became a better player.”
Being close to home presented its challenges, though, and Chimera has no regrets about his time with Edmonton or afterward.
“Everything’s a stepping stone,” he said. “It’s a lot of pressure playing in your home town. You’ve got a lot of distractions outside the rink, so it’s nice to get out and kind of get on your own.”
Since that ‘05 trade, Chimera has gotten on his own and developed into a solid role player, both with the Blue Jackets and the Caps. Thursday will be his first game in Edmonton since Oct. 22, 2009.