Andrej Sekera remembers coming to Alberta to play for Slovakia in the Viking Cup in Camrose in 2002.
“I got to experience the real Edmonton winter at that point. It was quite exciting,” he deadpanned.
The memories of that nasty weather didn’t deter Sekera from signing with the Oilers as a free agent in the summer of 2015. Now in his second season in Edmonton, he’s proven his value as a reliable defender who can chip in on offence (30 points last year, 30 so far this season).
Sekera, 31, doesn’t just stand out for his play but also for his steady emotion. You’re never going to see him hanging his head after a mistake or going crazy after a good play.
“There are good days. You don’t want to get too high. There are days it doesn’t go your way. You can’t get too low. You have to stay in-between and take care of yourself mentally,” Sekera said.
He admits he wasn’t always so good about keeping an even keel. He learned a lot in his late teens and early 20s. Sekera played in two World Junior tournaments (2005 and 2006), won defenceman of the year in the OHL in 2006, and made his NHL debut with the Buffalo Sabres in the 06/07 season.
“I just learned it over the course of my career. Especially when I was a young kid going into the league, the first couple of years of my career were kind of tough mentally for me,” he explained. “The sooner you can forget a bad game, the better for you. You can’t be whining about a bad play or a mistake.”
“He’s a very steadying influence on the group,” said head coach Todd McLellan. “He comes well-prepared and well-educated in regards to what might happen each shift and what’s going on with the opposition. That’s just the sign of a veteran that’s been through the trenches a number of times.”
The Oilers close out their eight-game home stand Monday night against the L.A. Kings. Coverage on 630 CHED starts with the Face-off Show at 5:30pm. (jrw)