Oilers’ AHL coach hoping for best with Hurricane Irma approaching

Hurricane Irma. (NOAA via AP)

PENTICTON, B.C. — Gerry Fleming isn’t complaining about the smoke in the Penticton air from all the forest fires in B.C., a minor nuisance compared to what’s happening down in Florida. His mind is back home in Estero, Fla., where the Edmonton Oilers‘ American League head coach has people and property to worry about.

“I have two condos. I bought another one last year as a rental property,” he said Saturday morning. “I’ve been there since 2000. Have a lot of friends and a lot of family there.”

Estero lies between Fort Myers and Naples along Florida’s western coast, and is right in the line of Hurricane Irma according to weather reports early Saturday. It is home to Germain Arena, where the Florida Everblades of the ECHL play.

Fleming has insurance on both properties, and all his family members have evacuated. The condos are boarded up.

“That’s all you can do,” he shrugged. “Make sure your friends and family are safe. Do the best you can as far as getting your places ready for a hurricane. Sit back, take shelter, and hope for the best.

“I went through two of them in 2004,” said the Bakersfield Condors head coach. “We were fortunate, the winds were coming out of the South. If they come out of the East or West, it’s a different story. We’ll pray for everybody and hope for the best.”

He’ll try to get his baby Oilers to 2-0 at the Young Stars tournament in a game against Winnipeg Saturday evening. The stakes are small potatoes, however, to what folks in Florida are going through.

“There are people dealing with real issues all over the place, all the time. We’re blessed to be doing what we’re doing, without a doubt.”