October 18, 2011 10:30 am

Derrick dangles over ice during Monday night Oilers game

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The bang caught the attention of Edmonton Oilers winger Ryan Jones. Then he realized that there was a derrick dangling over the player’s bench at Rexall Place.

“I didn’t see what happened, I just heard it bang off the boards,” he said. “I got the hell out of there.”

The oil derrick that has been a fixture at Rexall Place since 2000, malfunctioned before Monday’s game between the Oilers and the Nashville Predators.

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There have been suggestions that a cable snapped, which sent the large structure swinging above the bench and the nearby seats. A safety inspection crew was at Rexall Place on Tuesday and an incident report will soon be in the hands of Oilers president and CEO Patrick LaForge.

Until then, he wasn’t able to explain what had happened and what will be done. What he did say was the derrick will not be put back into service until the Oilers and Northlands are certain all the recommended safety solutions have been implemented.

The team will issue a statement after the report has been filed.

“Little nervous,” said captain Shawn Horcoff. “We didn’t know what was going on. It didn’t look like something broke. It almost looked like one of those situations where someone loses a rope when they’re pulling something up.

“But I looked at the fans underneath it, and no one moved. I would have been out of there.”

Head coach Tom Renney said it was just one game earlier that associate coach Ralph Krueger had asked him what would happen if the derrick ever came down.

“No one is aware of anything happening in the past,” said LaForge, “and it has been changed and updated a number of times since it was first installed in the building.

“The engineering people will be involved in this process.”

The derrick is lowered to the ice just before the players are introduced. After they skate through it, it is hoisted back to its resting place above the scoreboard.

“We actually stood there (at Rexall) like a bunch of dummies and watched it,” said Renney. “That’s a heavy piece of equipment.”

“That was just crazy,” said defenceman Ladislav Smid. “I was on the ice so I figured I was safe. Can you imagine what the guys on the bench were thinking? I guess these things sometimes happen. They shouldn’t, but they do.”

In 1996 the Jumbotron scoreboard at Marine Midland Arena, the home of the Buffalo Sabres, crashed to the ice. It happened during a routine pre-game check. No one was on the ice at the time.
 

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