May 16 2008 11:05AM
Two serieses. Both sitting at three games to one. The remaining games in these series are kind of like Paris Hilton applying to Yale—completely pointless.
So screw it, who cares. Both series are already over, it’s just a matter of when. Let’s make like good hockey fans and pretend that we care about how they end, and then talk about something important shall we?
Pretending to care
Blah blah blah FLYERS blah blah blah NOT OUT OF IT blah blah blah BRIERE blah blah blah POWERPLAY blah blah blah TAX EVASION.
Blah blah blah STARS blah blah blah RICHARDS blah blah blah COMEBACK TRAIL blah blah blah DON’T STOP BELIEVING blah blah blah CLOGGED FUEL LINE CAUSING VEHICLE STALLS AT RED LIGHTS.
There. (Whew) We’ve done our duty to Nation fans who want to talk about this. Now let’s talk about something important:
Scott Cullen at TSN has suggested, in his infinite wisdom, that the Oilers should consider bringing back Jason Smith next year to add a physical presence to the blue line. Cullen is the guy who maintains the TSN powerpolls, and is also the guy who refused to include the injury to Ethan Moreau in the key injury report last year. Apparently the captain being out isn’t key to the Oilers’ successes, but that’s a rant for another day. Perhaps Cullen is on to something here and may have an actual good idea—we guess even a garbage can gets a steak every now and again.
Sure Smith is slowing down and sure he’s suffering from wear and tear, but it’s not like he was flying down the ice to begin with? He’s still an effective defenceman, a very capable leader and what he lacks in speed he more than makes up for with grit and pain threshold. It would be pretty tough for Joni Pitkannen to sit out with a mild toe ache when he is sitting between Staios and Smith, both suffering multiple flesh wounds at any given time and held together by A-535 and bandages all season long. We can see them sitting there now:
Pitkanen: My toe hurts. Smith: (snarls) Pitkanen: Nevermind, I’m good to play.
Bringing back Smith would also be a great move for the 158 sophomore players the Oilers will be icing next year, as his leadership would be well received in the dressing room. It would also help the Oil out of a sticky situation with Ethan Moreau.
Moreau’s the captain and if he’s healthy he is a fine choice. Even on the shelf he’s still an excellent leader, and by all accounts a real beauty of a guy. But the depressing fact is that he has also played in only 32 of the last 164 games since he was named captain, and is seemingly one blocked shot to the grill away from another season on the shelf.
The Oilers need a captain now more than ever—on the ice not in the press box. They’re the second youngest team in the league, and during the next two years these kids are going to absorb attitudes from leaders and decide what kind of players they are going to become. Seeing as the good rookies are all signed through the 2030 campaign, it’s important they’re learning good lessons and that their captain beats them regularly. Andrew Cogliano needs to have his ass kicked before a faceoff by someone other than Sam Gagner, who while adorable, isn’t scaring anyone. Moreau jabbing him from 150 feet up in the press box, or talking to Grebeshkov via the two-way radio he installed in his helmet ain’t it.
But what do you do if you’re the Oilers and Moreau is injured again? It’s a horrible situation and awarding the “C” to any other player but Moreau would be an unfair demotion at its finest. Moreau is a champion leader, cut from Smithian cloth and deserving of the captaincy. Maybe you should go out and bring Smith back for the two or three years he has left in the league. Moreau stays healthy, all the better: you have another excellent leader to teach the kids how to bleed oil. Moreau gets injured again, you rename Smith captain and tell Moreau “look, the job is yours once you’re healthy. Stop worrying and get better you salty dog.”
Smith can play out his career as an Oiler, and Rexall could be treated to something it rarely ever sees—an actual Oiler retiring an actual Oiler and a captain to boot. Lowe is the only modern-day Oilers captain to retire with the team—and even that has an asterisk beside it cause he hadn’t been captain for six years when he retired. Other than that it never happens:
We swear the Oilers lead the NHL in two all-time records by a country mile: “Letting in NHL players’ first career goals” and “least players retired wearing their jersey.” Honest to gods if Sanderson retires this off-season, That’s one of the few players whose last pro hockey game came in the copper and blue we can think of. Sure some players drift into other crappier leagues and whatnot, but no one EVER retires an Oiler it seems.
The more we think about it, the better an idea it becomes. You want a former Oiler captain to bring into the Coaching System down the road? How about Jason Smith? He would have legions of prospects in the farm system doing push-ups on broken glass between pre-season periods. He would build so many marginal prospects into tough minded defenceman willing to play without a cup if it means victory, it would be absurd. When Staios retires you could send him to Springfield too, and watch the Falcons go 82–0 every year as each opposing team forfeits when staring down the barrel of 20 Jason Smith/Steve Staios clones every night.