By Jim Matheson – Edmonton Journal
If you’re ever scouring the NHL record book under the goalie section, page 662, you’ll find a clean sheet for Sherwood Park’s Tyler Weiman — 16 minutes played, 10 saves, goals-against average of zero.
“Yeah, not many goalies can say I had perfect stats,” Weiman says with a laugh.
Weiman, 32, now minding the nets in South Korea for the Daemyung Killer Whales in the nine-team Asia Hockey League — the same league in which former Oilers Alex Plante, Bryan Young and Brock Radunske play — never dreamed he’d be playing so far away and living at the sparkling international business district of Songdo, near Seoul. It sprung up from nowhere on 1,500 acres of landfill on the Incheon waterfront.
“They have a replica of Central Park in New York there,” said Weiman.
It’s also where they filmed the music video “ for the hit song Gangnam Style with its 2.6-billion YouTube views.
But we digress, just a bit.
Weiman, son-in-law of Simon Sochatsky — who was part of the Oiler ownership group back of Cal Nichols-Bruce Saville-Jim Hole days — has been an everywhere man as a goalie, starting in junior with the Western Hockey League’s Tri-City Americans. Fellow Sherwood Park goaltender Cam Ward and Weiman were together in Lowell with the Loch Monsters in the AHL in 2005-06. Weiman was in Winnipeg with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose and shared duties with Eddie Lack. Ward and Lack are the Carolina goalies today.
Weiman, drafted by Colorado in the fifth-round in 2002, backed up for 25 to 30 NHL games, including some playoff work, but played only one league game in October 2007, replacing Peter Budaj, who had the Avalanche start because Jose Theodore couldn’t go.
“Nashville’s home-opener that year,” recalled Weiman.
Weiman, who has his commercial real-estate licence, played 200 WHL games and 215 in the American Hockey League — mostly in Lake Erie (Cleveland), with stops in Lowell and Manitoba — and four stops in Europe (Augsburg, Nuremberg and Landshut in Germany and Val Pusteria in Italy).
He went to Europe in 2011, listening to players who told him he’d love the money and lifestyle. He was tired of beating his head against the wall as an AHLer. He knew in his heart of hearts, he was an NHL call-up guy for a game or two, no matter how he looked in camp. He never had a save percentage less than .903 in the AHL and was a starter, but it didn’t matter.
Plus, he was 5’11” and not 6’2”, the average NHL goalie height.
Then South Korea beckoned and he signed a two-year contract. Korea’s hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics and they’re trying to build a team that’s quasi-competitive, constructed of Korean-born players and Canadians with Korean citizenship like Radunske (Anyang Halla) and Young (High 1), who’ve been there long enough to qualify. And probably Plante after this season. American winger Mike Testwuide, who played in Philly’s farm system, also has Korean citizenship.
Weiman would love to do the same, but might not have the chance. Canadian-born goalie Matt Dalton, a former Boston Bruins farmhand who played with Nail Yakupov in the KHL for one season, also as the inside track. He plays for the powerhouse Anyang Halla with Plante and crew.
“He’s pretty good and he’s a top player on the top team,” said Weiman.
But Weiman says he’s having a fantastic time over there, playing for the Daemyung Corporation, a conglomerate into resorts.
“The owner (June Hyuk Seo) is a huge Devils fan and he’s taking the whole team to see five NHL games at the start of December. Toronto, Montreal, New Jersey, Madison Square Garden and Philadelphia,” said Weiman, “I’m sure the best seats we can get. I don’t think they’ll be up in the nosebleeds. And we’ve got a trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame in there, too.”
Weiman, of course, will be the NHL tour guide. He’s actually been in NHL rinks and not as a fan, although he was Rogers Place in the seats to see Craig Anderson, a former member of the Avalanche, this past week when Ottawa was in town to play the Oilers.
“What we’d like to do as a team is come over to Edmonton for training camp (next year). Chance to see the best building in the NHL and maybe our team can play teams like NAIT,” said Weiman.
For now, though, there’s the 48-game season in Asia with the nine teams. Three in South Korea, four in Japan, one in China and one in Russia (Sakhalin Island). Owners with lots of money who don’t care that attendances at games are often somewhat less than crowds. Or that, while South Korea is a major short-track, speed-skating country, hockey is a novelty to many. The players are fast but small, not overly physical, but they’ve got good skill so national team coach Richard Park, the ex NHL forward, will have enough Korean-born players to fill at least half his Olympic squad.
The league, over the years, has also had NHLers like Esa Tikkanen, Jamie McLennan and Tyson Nash on their teams—deep into the back-nine of their pro years, but hockey’s not a big draw even the league itself with the money offered to foreigners is very good, along with living facilities.
It isn’t the NHL, but it’s not the American League either.
No bus rides. Only 48 games, but tough ones for a goalie.
“I think I’m averaging 47-48 shots a night. I thought I was unbelievable one game, and we lost 6-0, but that’s the way it is,” said Weiman.
The Killer Whalers play in a 5,000-seat rink with a video scoreboard, lots of comforts.
But if they draw 1,000 a game, it’s big. As much as speed-skating in a hockey-size rink with boards is very popular there and the country’s won 17 Olympic gold medals, hockey is not.
The owner gets some nice tax breaks and the team gives tickets away.
“You could be a block away and people wouldn’t know there’s a hockey game on,” said Weiman.
That said, the players are treated royally and he loves being over there to embrace a different culture.
And where he lives, you can’t beat it.
It’s the largest private real estate development in history. They’re building 80,000 apartments, five million sq. metres of office space and 900,000 sq. metres of retail. Computers are built into buildings and street lights for video conferencing with neighbours. Wide streets, no crime.
“It’s one of the safest places you’ll ever see,” said Weiman.