The thing I hate most about the Oilers

Jonathan Willis
November 12 2008 08:42AM

I’m not a guy who “hates” hockey players, as a rule. I’m not a big fan of Todd Bertuzzi, as an example, or Mike Comrie, or the Apostate, but I don’t hate them, for a ton of reasons. Matt Cooke bothers me, as does Sean Avery, but hate is too strong of a word.

One of my really strong hockey-watching memories as a teenager involved the one player who I did hate, at least at the time. What made it worse was that he spent three and a half seasons in an Oilers uniform. I don’t have much memory of this player as an Oiler, but he was on the team, managing 44 points in 200-and-some games.

The memory I have is of a 6’2”, 213-pound defenceman going for the knee-on-knee hit on Oilers captain Doug Weight, who was my favourite player at the time. Weight (5’11”, 196 lbs), Oilers fans will remember, had a nasty edge in his own right, and he went after this defenceman. The defenceman dropped to the ice and covered his head as Weight’s gloves flew off and the Oilers captain grabbed him. Weight paused for a second, as if in confusion, and then started whaling on the prone figure, until the referees pulled him off and escorted him to the penalty box. Then, and only then, did Bryan Marchment lift himself off the ice.

It made me sick that Marchment, a vicious goon with the worst of intentions, was employed so long by the Oilers. Of course, I’ve aged since then, and it’s hard to feel as strongly with the incident years in the rearview mirror. It’s also calming to consider that Marchment’s career, already in its twilight, ended in the same play that he had been the aggressor in far too often—a knee-on-knee collision, courtesy of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jason Allison.

The claiming of Jesse Boulerice off of waivers says a lot of things about the men making decisions in the Oilers front office, and I’m not sure that it says good things. Boulerice is a liability on the ice, a player who hasn’t managed an NHL point in the 43 games he’s played since the lockout. Along with the pointless streak, he’s gone -9 and contributed 93 PIM. It’s well and good for Boulerice to talk about getting another chance here in Edmonton, but it’s hardly his second, or even his third. The amount of time NHL general managers have for this guy is mind-boggling.

Boulerice’s junior career ended nearly a decade ago, in a fashion that should have had him blacklisted by the powers in hockey. Boulerice took a two-handed swing with his stick at the face of junior opponent Andrew Long. Long suffered “a broken nose, multiple facial fractures, a Grade III concussion accompanied by seizure, a contusion of the brain, two black eyes and a gash in his upper lip the size of a handlebar mustache. Had the stick landed a hand's width higher or lower, Long might have been killed. ”

It isn’t the only incident of this nature in Boulerice’s past. Or for that matter, even in his recent past. Boulerice got hit with a 25-game suspension for his nasty cross-check to the face of Canucks forward Ryan Kesler, a tough suspension, but given his history, not nearly tough enough. How many times does Boulerice need to hit an opposing player in the face with his stick before he realizes it isn’t okay? Is twice enough? Will it happen again?

Boulerice is a thug, from the same general family as Steve MacIntyre, except that unlike MacIntyre, he has twice attempted to end an opposing player’s career with his stick. He’s a disgrace to the game, and it’s unfortunate that the Oilers have decided they want him in their uniform.

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Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#1 DJ Spyn Cycle
November 12 2008, 11:59AM
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Hey all, our spambot zapped a bunch of legit comments. Sorry if yours was one of them. If you have anything cached please repost while I try to remedy the problem at the backend!

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#2 Henry
November 12 2008, 12:04PM
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I really don't like this much. Check out the youtube on the Andrew Long and Kestler jobs. He is listed at 6'2" and 215 lbs. Not a heavyweight. SMac is a very big deterrent for the gooning of Hemsky and Gagner that can (well, could) punish the offender directly. This looks more like Tambellini wants to send this message, "You better not go after our skill guys or we'll unleash our crazy pitbull on your skill guys." It's like a rock throwing contest in baseball and it's bulls**t. Unless there is a value in his play I don't see, Boulerice just might end someone's career and embarrass the team I love.

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#3 Smokin' Ray Burnt
November 12 2008, 12:39PM
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SO I say again??? Why are we keeping Stortini around? Why waste a spot on him? Would it not be better to have a young kid up with the big club?

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#4 Fiveandagame
November 12 2008, 01:12PM
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Stortini is young.

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#5 Jason
November 12 2008, 01:54PM
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Initially when I heard about the pick-up, I didn't like the idea of having someone who could only play 3-ish minutes without making an effect. SMac at least backed up his job cleanly, at least, as far as I've heard. I haven't heard of any suspensions against him, which is good.

Boulerice? Frick, I watched the cross-check to Kesler, and that was sick. Is he a deterrent? Yeah, as much a deterrent as a nuke is: it'll kill you both to use him. I'm not impressed by the Oilers for picking him up. We don't need dirty crap like that in the league, and claiming him off waivers only sends the opposite message, that him and his 'skills' are needed.

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#6 jeanshorts
November 12 2008, 02:47PM
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Hey Spyn Cycle, can you fire us off an email, thank you please? We have some business to discuss.

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#7 Gord
November 12 2008, 03:33PM
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Boulerice is an embarrasement to the league and unfortunately it's a matter of time before he disgraces our team while dressed in copper and blue.

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#8 milli
November 12 2008, 04:10PM
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Big Mac does the job he's work his ass off to get, does in properly. He shouldn't even be compared to this dude. Do you see Big Mac on the ice just running guys alla Boogard? NO, he plays his position, takes the hits that are there and is a willing combatant to drop the gloves. HE SHOULD NOT BE COMPARED TO A DIRTY CHEAP SHOT ARTIST. The guys has worked for what he got and he did it the right way.

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#9 Jonathan Willis
November 12 2008, 07:04PM
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MacIntyre's form the same general family; his role is enforcement. He hasn't, to the best of my knowledge, displayed the sort of qualities that make Boulerice what he is, and that's nothing but good.

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#10 R-DAWG
November 12 2008, 09:22PM
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WOW!!! Jonathan, it seems that you have it all figured out!! All last season the Oilers fans have been pleading with the management to go out and get somebody who can scare the shit out of the gutless cowards that take advantage of our skill players. Who do we get S-MAC. He has done everything in his limited ice time that has been asked and he does it CLEANLY. If you want some shitty no hit no fight hockey, might I suggest a pee-wee game...oh oh that has hitting!! Give Boulerice a chance to carry on where Macintyre left off.

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#11 milli
November 13 2008, 07:32AM
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Jonathan, I know what your saying, but I think it is offensive to compare a scrapper with a bottm feeding GOON. Big Mac worked his ass of for years and had earned this job. He isn't like Boogard who dosn't play the position, simply runs at other teams players trying to injure, he isn't swinging sticks or hitting from behind. You might not like the role he plays, but, he plays within the rules and dosn't need to be in the same sentence as Boulorice. There is no place in the game for these dudes who are trying to injure.....maybe the coach and mgmt should be punished as much as the player when these stupid acts occur....that might serve as a deterent. But, looking around the division, and after watching that thug Boogard take librities with our skill guys I want to have a guy on the bench who can answer the bell. I want to have a guy who can tangle with anyone and isn't scared to send a message "don't mess with our guys". And, I'm happy that he's so far done it the right way, fight, hit, and no BULLSHIT.

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#12 Jonathan Willis
November 14 2008, 08:38AM
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Milli:

Yeah, MacIntyre has done exactly what was expected of him, and done it well. He's not in the same class as Boulerice; my only point was that neither is an NHL player except as muscle. They aren't similar in how they perform their job.

R-DAWG:

Are you really that stupid? I have no objection to MacIntyre as a player (I wish his skill level was higher, but he isn't trying to murder guys). Boulerice has twice attempted to end careers with sticks to opposing players faces. If you can't figure out the difference between the two, I don't think I can explain it to you. Watch what Boulerice did to Andrew Long - if you think that's hockey, you're an idiot.

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#13 Jonathan Willis
November 14 2008, 08:41AM
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R-DAWG:

We all saw what MacIntyre did to those 4th-line boys in Calgary. He did it in the course of the game, though: the hit was a hockey play, and the fight came naturally from it.

Hitting a guy in the face with a stick isn't a hockey play.

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