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Oil Kings bolster lineup with California kid

Tyler Maxwell’s plans for U.S. Thanksgiving took a major turn Thursday, but he was thankful nonetheless.

Tyler Maxwell’s plans for U.S. Thanksgiving took a major turn Thursday, but he was thankful nonetheless.

Maxwell woke up to the news that the Edmonton Oil Kings had acquired him in a Western Hockey League trade with the Everett Silvertips, who had sent the 20-year-old forward home to Manhattan Beach, Calif., two weeks ago.

Maxwell is Everett’s all-time leading goal-scorer, but the team parted company with him earlier this month after he requested a trade.

That deal came yesterday as the Oil Kings gave up a third-round pick in the 2012 WHL bantam draft and the rights to 16-year-old defenceman Griffin Foulk, who plays major midget with the Colorado Thunderbirds.

“It’s been crazy, ever since I got the call at 9 o’clock this morning,” Maxwell said Thursday afternoon from the departure lounge at the Los Angeles airport.

“It’s good news, though. It’s been a good Thanksgiving, so far, despite having no turkey or anything. There’s been no time for that.”

Maxwell was running out of time in his four-year WHL career, and he didn’t believe the rebuilding Silvertips were the right match for his overage season. He’s confident the contending Oil Kings are compatible with his aspirations for a playoff run.

“I’ve just been waiting for a trade and it’s kind of been like a roulette wheel waiting to stop to know what team I’m going to,” he said.

“I was definitely excited when I heard Edmonton. I know it’s a good organization and they’re doing well this year.

“When I played against them last month, I thought that they were a good team. I think they have a hunger to win and that it should be a good fit for me, as well.”

An Everett fit that seemed so snug for Maxwell disintegrated this season. In a matter of weeks, he went from being the toast of Everett to an unhappy camper told to go home. Maxwell and the Silvertips went their separate ways after a rocky nine-game road trip that ended with five straight losses.

Before flying out of L.A. yesterday, he took the high road when asked about his Everett troubles, but admitted his hockey hiatus was upsetting.

“I had a good experience in Everett,” he said. “I have nothing bad to say about them. I wish things could have gone a bit differently, but I wish them the best.

“I don’t want to talk bad about anything. I just want to play hockey. That’s what I love to do.

“To not play hockey the last two weeks has definitely given me an extra hunger to get on the ice and perform well and have fun doing it. I’m looking forward to having a new start in Edmonton.”

On a personal level, he doesn’t know any Oil Kings well, but he’s most familiar with a couple of Medicine Hat Tigers — fellow Californians Emerson Etem and Matthew Konan — he expects to go up against tonight at Rexall Place.

Another hectic day is in store for Maxwell, who plans to fly to Edmonton this morning after detouring to Everett to pick up his belongings, mainly his winter clothes. That’s probably not a bad idea for the Edmonton-bound kid, fresh off “a few beach runs” in California during the past two weeks.

When he spoke with Everett general manager Doug Soetaert and Edmonton GM Bob Green in back-to-back phone calls Thursday, Maxwell was at his mother’s house in Carlsbad, San Diego, preparing for a family feast to celebrate Thanksgiving. But those dinner plans quickly moved to the back burner.

“We were making the fixings (Wednesday) night and we were going to have lunch and Thanksgiving dinner at my mom’s house,” Maxwell said. “We were cooking, went to bed, woke up and I was ready to be shipped out. So it was a bit of a change of plans.

“I had to drive up to L.A., fly to Seattle, go to Everett, and then I’ll fly to Edmonton (today). So I’m going all the way from the southern part of the West Coast all the way up north to Edmonton.”

Although he made a few trips to the beach during his unscheduled break at home, Maxwell didn’t stray far from the hockey routine.

“I’ve just been training every day, getting on the ice as much as I can and staying in game shape, because I knew that when I got the call to whatever team I was going to, I had to be prepared and ready to step into a game,” he said. “It’s just what I’ve been expecting, so I’m definitely ready for it.”

Off the ice, he’s hoping to ease the transition to an Alberta winter.

“I’m bulking up on my winter-clothes’ supply,” Maxwell said. “I’m gearing up for the winter, so it should be interesting, coming from California. I might need to pick up a pair of boots, because I’m not used to the snow.

“Fashion is definitely important to me. I have a lot of clothes, so moving from town to town is difficult for me, because I have so many clothing items. I go by the motto, ‘Look good, feel good, play good,’ so that’s important for me.”

The Oil Kings hope Maxwell wears their colours well. It’s a certainty that a good Edmonton team just got better, and it’ll be interesting to see whether other WHL teams follow suit and make similar deals.