The Oklahoma City Barons are in the final days of training camp at the Cox Convention Center. The Barons' NHL affiliate, the Edmonton Oilers, has sent several prospects to its American Hockey League farm team since last weekend. The regular season begins at 5 p.m. Sunday, when Oklahoma City plays the Texas Stars in Austin. The Oklahoman will visit one-on-one with both veteran players and youngsters as the season progresses.
Andrew Lord, Oklahoma City Barons
*Height, weight: 6-3, 205
*Hometown: West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
*First professional contract: Lord was not drafted after playing four years at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. He signed with the Wheeling Nailers of the Double-A level East Coast Hockey League in 2008. Lord's point production and toughness impressed scouts enough that he has played 39 games in the American Hockey League, including 34 last season for the Barons.
*Famous friends: NHL heavyweight Steve MacIntyre played for Wheeling when Lord was a rookie. But many of the famous players Lord will have played with remain in early stages of their careers, too. Right here in Oklahoma City.
*Frequent flier miles: Lord has played for just four different minor-pro teams: Wheeling (W.Va.), Rochester (N.Y.), Milwaukee and Oklahoma City.
*Card wars: Lord is on one trading card, and that was when he played junior hockey for the Vernon Vipers in British Columbia. He is card No. 10 in a set promoted by Chevrolet.
*Lord said knew he was headed to football country when he joined the Barons last season. “I didn't really know what to expect as far as hockey, what the following here was like. But I was definitely and pleasantly surprised. We have a great following here. I think it will be even better this year, because I think the fans are beginning to realize the caliber of hockey we have, how many of us are so close to making it to the NHL. We had so many guys last year who got called up. The fans are starting to realize they can come and see these guys play here one night and then see them on TV playing up in Edmonton the next.”
*Do you know who the Oklahoma City Blazers are?
“Yeah, I do. I've heard all about them. They're pretty much legends here in this town. Everywhere I go, everybody talks about the Blazers. Even back home, I tell people I'm heading off to Oklahoma City, they say, ‘Oh, the Blazers.' I tell them that it's the Barons now. But it's cool to run into some of the fans here. They definitely loved their old team.”
*Do you know who Joe Burton is?
“I've heard of him, yeah. I've heard that he played real hard, a really good player. When you put those kind of numbers up that he did, that's pretty impressive no matter what league it is.”
*What kind of car do you drive?
“A 2000 Jeep Cherokee. I'm not a huge car guy. Maybe one day when I make my money I'll definitely try and have a couple of toys.”
*If you were starting a hockey franchise and you had the choice of Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky, Martin Brodeur or Sidney Crosby, which one would you take?
“Wow. I've read tons of books on all of the old guys — but I still think I need to go with Wayne. Just for what he did for the game overall is really amazing. He transformed it.”
*Any magazine subscriptions?
“Not anymore. I had The Hockey News, but we get that here at the rink.”
“I just put my gear on the right side first. I tape my stick the same way. Basic stuff. There might be a few more small things I won't tell anybody about, but if you come to some games, you might be able to pick them out.”