A former UPEI Panthers forward is helping Edmonton Oilers prospects develop and chase their NHL dream.
Gerry Fleming is in his first full season as head coach of the American Hockey League's Bakersfield Condors. He has been with the Oilers AHL affiliate teams since 2008-09.
"It's been a great experience," he said recently. "I've been really blessed to have worked with some great people along the way."
The list of players who have made stops with the Condors or the Oklahoma City Barons, the Oilers affiliate before moving to California this season, includes Leon Draisaitl, Darnell Nurse, Brandon Davidson, Iiro Pakarinen, Jujhar Khaira and Anton Lander.
"To be given the opportunity to work with the young guys, and the importance of that role of developing guys for the NHL, it's an honour," Fleming said.
"To know you had some small part in helping them develop and get there, and hopefully stay there, it's always rewarding."
Charlottetown native Josh Currie signed a 25-game professional tryout contract with the Condors this season after starting the year in the ECHL.
Fleming grew up in Montreal and played three years with the Verdun Canadiens of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. After his junior career ended, Fleming had a decision to make about his future.
Asked how he ended up at UPEI, Fleming didn't hesitate.
"Vince Mulligan," he said of the Panthers hockey coach.
See Fleming's mother, who was from the Maritimes, worked the night shift and would get home at 7:30 a.m. Mulligan, a well-known recruiter, would call her on a regular basis in the morning. She would get Gerry up to talk to the "nice man" from Prince Edward Island.
"For about six weeks he was relentless," Fleming recalled. "I ended up going to the Island in the middle of August, which is probably one of the most beautiful times to go, and I fell in love with it. . . I was fortunate that Vince took interest in me."
Fleming played four seasons with the Panthers for Mulligan and Billy MacMillan from 1986-87 to 1990-91. He also played on the Allan Cup-winning Armour Fence Islanders team in 1990-91.
He went on to play for the AHL's Fredericton Canadiens from 1991-92 to 1997-98, earning call-ups for 11 NHL games with the Montreal Canadiens, before starting his coaching career.
Need to know about Gerry Fleming
Who - A Montreal native who played for the UPEI Panthers and Armour Fence Islanders.
The latest - He is coaching the Bakersfield Condors of the American Hockey League. Charlottetown native Josh Currie is a centre with the team.
Quote – “Gerry’s attention to detail and ability to develop our young players made him a natural fit to return as head coach.”
Edmonton Oilers assistant general manager Bill Scott in July when Fleming became the Condors head coach. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL RELEASE.
Looking back - Statistics from Fleming's UPEI career via http://www.legendsofhockey.net
Season GP G A Pts.
1986-87 20 19 11 30
1987-88 23 11 15 26
1988-89 17 11 23 34
1990-91 9 2 6 8