It’s called Old Man Power. Hall-of-fame pitcher Nolan Ryan showed some in 1993 when he slapped around Robin Ventura. George Foreman did likewise in 1994 when he knocked out Michael Moorer to win the IBF and WBC heavyweight boxing titles. Dwayne Roloson is doing the same thing now with the Edmonton Oilers.
The 39-year-old goaltender has defied his birth certificate by backstopping the Oilers stretch drive charge to the playoffs.
A 5-4 shootout win in Chicago Friday was his 27th consecutive start, a stretch in which he’d fashioned a record of 13-8-6 with a 2.77 goals-against average.
Not as dramatic as when a 46-year-old Ryan pummelled Ventura after he charged the mound, or when a 45-year-old Foreman, behind on the cards of all three judges, KO’d Moorer in the 10th round, but just as impressive.
Deemed by many observers an over-priced back-up to Mathieu Garon when this season began, Roloson has been Edmonton’s MVP, hands down, as the Oilers have clawed back into post-season contention.
“He’s an absolute warrior,” said coach Craig MacTavish, who made it 28 straight starts for Roloson by giving him the nod against the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center yesterday.
With 55 games in the books, Roloson is about to become the oldest goaltender in NHL history to appear in 60-or-more games in a single season.
Roloson is already one of just six stoppers to play in 60 games past the age of 37, joining Curtis Joseph, Ed Belfour, Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek and Tony Esposito when he appeared in 60 games for the Oilers in 2006-07.
While Roloson isn’t the best technical goaltender and isn’t blessed with unbelievable reflexes or physical tools, he’s as focused as a player can possibly be and he battles with everything he’s got.
Put focus and fight together, and you've got a goaltender playing the best hockey of his career at an age when Father Time and history dictate that it shouldn’t happen.
If I’m GM Steve Tambellini, it's a no-brainer to offer Roloson a new one-year contract when the season is done.
BUY ME SOME PEANUTS
As somebody who covered the Edmonton Trappers of the Pacific Coast League for six seasons, including two PCL championships, I’ve been to just two games since the Triple-A left town for the Northern League and, now, the Golden League.
A lot of that had to do with the user-unfriendly ownership of Dan Orlich, but I’ll be back at Telus Field for opening day now that the Oilers have taken over. I have a feeling a lot of other people will be, too.
WHILE I’M AT IT
If the NHL wants to be taken seriously about eliminating head shots, then hits like the blindside, cheap shot that Chicago’s Ben Eager delivered to Liam Reddox at the United Center Friday have to be answered with suspensions in the double digits, not three-game slaps on the wrist.
In a decade covering the Edmonton sports scene, Robin Brownlee has been the newsbreaker and insightful voice for sports fans in Oil Country; email@example.com.