Gimme a break

Robin Brownlee
January 10 2009 04:31PM

If there's such thing as good news with how the Edmonton Oilers are staggering toward the halfway mark of their schedule like pie-eyed tourists toting a cupful of quarters at 2 a.m. in Las Vegas, it came this morning.

All-star defenceman Sheldon Souray, who left the game with an unspecified injury during the second period of Friday's 4-1 loss to San Jose and didn't return, was back on the ice at Rexall Place for practice today. It turns out Souray tweaked his left shoulder in a collision with Tomas Plihal, but aside from some numbness and tingling, he's fine and will be good to go against the St. Louis Blues Sunday.

And tough guy Zack Stortini, who fell awkwardly during a scrap with Brad Staubitz -- many feared he'd suffered a badly broken leg -- has escaped what looked like a season-ending injury with a sprained knee. With the Oilers going nowhere fast in Western Conference standings as they hit the 41-game mark against St. Louis, a silver lining is better than a swift size 13 in the groin.

GETTING LUCKY

"I just gave my shoulder a little tweak. It was a pretty innocent play," Souray said. "It was more of a precautionary thing at that point. I wanted to make sure I was ready for the next game." When Souray, limited to 26 games last season, left the ice shaking his left arm, there was reason to fear the worst. He's had surgery on both his left shoulder and wrist, so it didn't look good. Souray expects he'll be good to go against the Blues and doesn't see any long-term effects. He said today he'll keep his date in Montreal for the all-star game. "It's not going to be an issue," he said.

Stortini didn't get off as easily and will be out for an unspecified length of time, but he's not nearly as badly off as he could have been. The play with Staubitz had spiral fracture written all over it. "He's got rubber legs, obviously," MacTavish said of Stortini. "When we looked at the replay, it looks like something's got to break, but it didn't. That's good news. "It still strained a bunch of (ligaments). I'm shocked, absolutely shocked that it wasn't so much worse. It's going to be awhile, but . . ."

AND . . .

-- Sam Gagner has been battling a nagging ankle injury and it forced him to leave practice early today. He's been playing through a fair bit of discomfort, and it flared up again against the Sharks. "It's just precautionary," Gagner said. "My skating is fine. Going into battles, I'm not really worry about it. "During a hard battle, I'll tweak it and the pain will last for five or 10 seconds and go away. It's nagging and something I have to stay on top of."

-- Robert Nilsson, who sustained one mild concussion already this season, got buzzed Friday when he fell into the end boards. He skated today but is less than 100 per cent. With Stortini out and Gagner and Nilsson hurting, expect the Oilers to call-up a player from Springfield of the AHL.

-- MacTavish had Gilbert Brule skating with Kyle Brodziak and Steve MacIntryre in Stortini's absence. Liam Reddox was on right wing with Dustin Penner and Shawn Horcoff.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 socaldave
January 10 2009, 04:36PM
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DUDE! Throwing up a picture of a broken arm is NOT COOL! Naturally I threw up in a fit of panic until I remembered Souray didn't look THAT hurt as he skated off last night...

You bastard.

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#2 socaldave
January 10 2009, 04:38PM
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oh yeah - might we see RS as the call up? I can't imagine why it would be, but if/when Gags/Nilsson miss some time, that might be a decent slot for RS to fill, no?

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#3 baggedmilk
January 10 2009, 04:55PM
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Having Brule skating on the 4th line while Reddox fills in on the top spot makes a world of sense...

Unbelievable.

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#4 RobinB
January 10 2009, 04:58PM
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@ socaldave: I think it's more likely Potulny will get the call, but that's just me making an educated guess. MacTavish said it's likely they'll put in a call to Springfield, but he wasn't of the mind -- or perhaps hadn't decided -- to tell us who.

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#5 rindog
January 10 2009, 05:08PM
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@ RobinB:

Any word on who starts in goal tomorrow?

Judging by the fact that when Garon got stung in Pittsburgh - he sat for a month. And then again when Garon got shelled against Chicago - he got only 1 start the next 11 games and counting.

Then when Roli got lit up against Detroit he started the next game. Roli gave away the game last night - so I would guess that Roli is going to get the start again tomorrow???

It only seems fair in MacT's goaltending selection.

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#6 Wanye Gretz
January 10 2009, 05:09PM
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Holy cow Stortini is just strained? They should clone his ligaments and graft them on to the other Oilers.

Not his skills mind you, just his ligaments

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#7 RobinB
January 10 2009, 05:15PM
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@ Wanye Gretz: "Just" strained could still see Stortini out for several weeks, but, yes, that's better than firing up the bone saw to mend a displaced or spiral fracture with plates and screws.

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#8 hockeysmack
January 10 2009, 05:24PM
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Hey Robin, is it overly pessimistic to start looking forward to the June draft?

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#9 Puckbag
January 10 2009, 05:25PM
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A question for Robin, would you consider Hemsky a quality all-star in which other players in the league would follow? (is Souray considered this as well?) I was going through Western Conference rosters and almost every team has an all-star player (past or present) on the list. Even the lowly St. Louis Blues have Tkachuk and Kariya (albeit they are past their prime.) and the Blue-Jackets have Nash. Hell even Guerin convinced Weight to come to the Islanders.

The point I'm trying to make is that if Hemsky isn't considered that type of player, then that makes the Oilers the only team in the West without a proven, top-end, all-star quality player. That pretty well leaves the Oilers DOA when it comes to free-agent signings, therefore do the Oilers need to acquire (in any shape or form) a top-end player (even if its beyond their prime) to help convince high quality free-agents to move to Edmonton?

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#10 Wanye Gretz
January 10 2009, 05:29PM
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RobinB wrote:

@ Wanye Gretz: “Just” strained could still see Stortini out for several weeks.

I agree. His leg looked like a blody meat pretzel

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#11 RobinB
January 10 2009, 05:32PM
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@ hockeysmack: Of course not (if you've been following along here). You're wondering who might be available at, say, 11th or 12th?

I'm thinking either Brayden Schenn or Nazem Kadri.

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#12 RobinB
January 10 2009, 05:47PM
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@ Wanye Gretz: Zack obviously has strong bones. Reminds me of my first wife, Brumelda.

In the summer of 1981 Brumelda and I were camping up around Birkinhead Lake in the Whistler area. Anyway, after making a big dent in a two-four, I decided I do some four-wheeling, Not smart, since it was after midnight, but I thought, "What the hell."

Bad idea. Brumelda, it turns out, was out behind the Power Wagon taking a dump. Never saw my sweet bride until I'd backed right over her. I had the missus buried backside to differential before I saw the asswipe flying and knew what was going on.

Anyway, aside from having crap all over the bumper, buggering up the spare tire bracket and some cuts and scrapes, there was no damage done. Brumelda didn't break a thing -- except a couple of my teeth when she came up from under the truck swinging. Skookum girl. Big bones.

Zack's like Brumelda, although he shaves less often.

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#13 hockeysmack
January 10 2009, 05:50PM
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RobinB wrote:

@ hockeysmack: Of course not (if you’ve been following along here). You’re wondering who might be available at, say, 11th or 12th? I’m thinking either Brayden Schenn or Nazem Kadri.

Schenn or another big forward like Zack Kassian would be ideal, given the collection of mini-pops the team's assembled. The fact that the Oil have to play at a pace roughly 7-10 games above .500 the rest of the way makes the playoffs seem like a tall order. I guess we'd pick in a similar place in the unlikely event a dispersal draft is held for the collapsing Phoenix franchise. One can always hope.

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#14 MarkN
January 10 2009, 05:56PM
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@ RobinB:I have a good feeling that MacT might call up Theo Peckham to replace Stortini, since he rather play a defenceman up front rather than give Schremp a chance

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#15 Milli
January 10 2009, 06:05PM
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How much worse is it gonna get? Now, the Bigs can us ehte injury excuse i guess......What will it take to see some changes so that we can compete game in and game out????? Year in and year out???? Trade rumors? as I've given up on any mgmt/coach changes?

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#16 Milli
January 10 2009, 06:09PM
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Plus, I cannot believe how tough storts is....I had to quit watching that horror replay....

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#17 Jack Bauer
January 10 2009, 06:10PM
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Hey Robin, I dont mean to boast the Schremp wagon here, but I have a legitimate question about him. Has he fallen back out of favor with the Oilers coaching staff, or are they just giving other guys a shot?

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#18 RobinB
January 10 2009, 06:24PM
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@ Jack Bauer: I've got no indication he's fallen out of favour, but the immediate call-up would be for a guy to replace Stortini. Schremp doesn't fit with that. Unless Nilsson can't play or Gagner's ankle gets bad enough to keep him out, I don't see Schremp being the guy who gets the chance.

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#19 WayneMc
January 10 2009, 06:31PM
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Why do they continue to give Reddox a chance? I was at the skills comp and when they were standing at the blue line, one of the pee-wee kids was bigger then Reddox. How is he still here and not Schremp? Would Reddox stand a chance of cracking the other 29 teams line up?

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#20 rindog
January 10 2009, 06:39PM
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@ RobinB:

What about a replacement for Hemsky?

As you recall - when Hemsky first went down, we called up no one????

It was not until Pouliot went down that we called up Brule.

Our roster last night was the exact same as it was 7 games ago - with the exception of Hemsky out and MacIntyre in.

Is MacT now using MacIntyre to replace Hemmer?

Is it just me or is there some memorable roster decisions being made by the coaching staff???

And when I say memorable - I mean forgettable!!!!!

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#21 Jack Bauer
January 10 2009, 06:57PM
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I agree with rindog. The coaching decisions by this moron are hard to believe. Unless he intentionally sabotaging his own team, I cant imagine why he thinks the way he does. Why didnt he call up a top scoring forward from the A to replace Hemsky. You could have kept the Cole Gagner Nillson line rolling because they were finally producing. Then you could have kept the Pouliott Cogs Moreau line rolling cause they were finally making something happen semi regularly.

Instead what do we have? The Macblender at every opportunity with 6th line ECHL players playing with Horcoff and Penner. No wonder Horcoff's back is killing him.

This team sucks. The decisions this team make suck. The people making those decisions....suck.

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#22 Milli
January 10 2009, 07:14PM
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I agree. If horcs line is the number 1 line (which is anyone's guess with MacT) should it not be an offensive line first, yes, be responsible defensively, but think offense? Should, say, Moreau play on a line that has shut down capability? I am not going to pretend I have the lines, but to me, 2 scoring lines, 1 shut down and then the energy line.

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#23 Chris
January 10 2009, 07:16PM
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Well there is always next year...

I blame Lowe more than MacT for the ineptitude of this team. We needed a number one center to play with Hemskey; so Lowe acquires Cole, another right winger, and gives Horcoff a first line center contract extension. Predergast, at Lowe's request, began drafting "small" four years ago. With all these "talented" small players entering the lineup; Lowe trades Torres for Brule...As if we can integrate another minipop and remain "team tough" Don't get me wrong: MacT needs to go! MacT has been involved in personnel decisions. MacT believed that this team would contend for the division. MacT has been making increasingly weird decisions...

Fire MacT immediately. Give Tambo the reigns to hire the replacement. Use what is left of this season to develop Deslaurier down the stretch. Let the players we have under contract compete with each other for their jobs. In the offseason, sign a big evil shutdown D-man, a suitable linemate for Hemmer, and deal some minipops for grit... Pick any two of Nilsson, Cogliano, Gagner, Brule, Reddox, Schremp, Eberle, etc to be in your lineup. Assign the rest to the AHL or trade them. See if the new coach can get more physical edge out of Brodziak, Pouliot, Gilbert and Penner down the stretch. If not, move them this summer. Oh, and use what is sure to be a high draft pick on a player with BOTH size and skill. There has been no consistancy or improvement as the season has progressed... Only excuses. It's time for the Oilers to remember their roots: Speed. Aggression. Heart. What good is skill without the other three?

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#24 R-DAWG
January 10 2009, 07:47PM
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Hey Robin, if the call up Potulny, isn't he on a one way and would have to clear waivers on the way back to minors??

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#25 R-DAWG
January 10 2009, 07:47PM
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Jack Bauer wrote:

This team sucks. The decisions this team make suck. The people making those decisions….suck.

Sounds like a girl I dated once!

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#26 R-DAWG
January 10 2009, 07:54PM
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WayneMc wrote:

How is he still here and not Schremp?

Lets pretend they give Shremp 20+ games to see what he can do. What if he sucks like Gagner,Nilsson,(insert player here). Then the coaching staff will be left with nothing else. Eberle is the next up and comer eventually, after that who else is there for the Oilers?? Our scouting/drafting sucks and we have a future that is full of "smallish players". Give up on the Shremp thing until we have someone to complement him!!

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#27 RobinB
January 10 2009, 08:02PM
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@ Jack Bauer: I'm also befuddled by the decisions made since Hemsky went down. In my mind, Brule was the fit in that spot, but he doesn't get in right away and when he does, he gets yanked off the line too quickly.

There was no need to break up Gagner and Cole and I don't get the infatuation with Reddox. You get no argument from me on many of the decisions being made.

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#28 RobinB
January 10 2009, 08:04PM
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@ R-DAWG: One-way or two-way doesn't matter. That's not how waivers work.

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#29 WayneMc
January 10 2009, 08:09PM
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@ R-DAWG: Im not sold on Schremp. But anybody is better then Reddox. He wouldnt make the line up on the other 29 teams yet he's played on our first line. Im just saying if your going to plug someone on that line, Schremp is alot more deserving then Reddox. He at least has some skill and weigh's over 150 pounds

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#30 CurtisS
January 10 2009, 08:18PM
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Thanks for the update RobinB!

I cant wait till that clown behind the bench is gone.

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#31 hockeysmack
January 10 2009, 08:26PM
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Enough is enough here. How long will the new ownership allow this run of mediocrity continue? When will a coach or someone in management be held accountable for the perpetual lack of success? How long will the media in this town continue to be apologists for this organization? No plan, no direction, no leadership: the Oilers.

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#32 R-DAWG
January 10 2009, 08:30PM
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@ RobinB: Sorry, I though if you had a one way you had to clear waivers to go back down, but if you had a two way you could go up or down however many times???

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#33 R-DAWG
January 10 2009, 08:35PM
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hockeysmack wrote:

How long will the media in this town continue to be apologists for this organization?

I don't hear to much apologizing from the media do you? I think they don't have a lot to work with when everything and everyone they talk to has the same boring things to say. What are they supposed to do...go into the dressing room and demand Mac-T resign??

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#34 Brumelda
January 10 2009, 08:35PM
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How long do the fans have to suffer, do you think any UFA's would ever want to sign here again? The only Hossa we will get will be Marcel. This whole organization has to be blown up and start from scratch with another 8 years of rebuilding , it is just sick, Time to cheer for a decent organization, one that does not live in the past where the coach still thinks defence wins games. If Ruff and Carbinaue(montreal) can coach offence we thought MacTavich could? This is his first and only head coach job he will ever get. The Oilers are the JOKE of the NHL, everyone is laughing at them. so pathetic.... So this is how Rexal is run?

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#35 Pokie Reddik
January 10 2009, 08:38PM
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Potulny would have to clear re-entry waiver, he has a one way contract and was put on waivers to be sent down at the begining of the year

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#36 hockeysmack
January 10 2009, 08:45PM
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R-DAWG wrote:

hockeysmack wrote: How long will the media in this town continue to be apologists for this organization? I don’t hear to much apologizing from the media do you? I think they don’t have a lot to work with when everything and everyone they talk to has the same boring things to say. What are they supposed to do…go into the dressing room and demand Mac-T resign??

Not exactly, but when was the last time you saw an article in print breaking down the futility of the last 8 years, or even the post-lockout record? I'm not suggesting a bunch of reporters start picketing at the office, nor am I suggesting that they don't ask "hard" questions, other than perhaps asking why the club appears to have the same freaking problems every year. I'm just saying that as a dude who reads the paper, listens to sports radio, and hits fan sites, the critical analysis of this management's tenure is few and far between. You do it, some bloggers do it, but other than that, not much.

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#37 hockeysmack
January 10 2009, 08:47PM
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@ hockeysmack: SOrry, by "you" I meant Brownlee.

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#38 Chris
January 10 2009, 09:00PM
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hockeysmack wrote:

Enough is enough here. How long will the new ownership allow this run of mediocrity continue? When will a coach or someone in management be held accountable for the perpetual lack of success? How long will the media in this town continue to be apologists for this organization? No plan, no direction, no leadership: the Oilers

Spring of 1992. Kevin Lowe was captain of the Oilers. Vincent Damphousse and Joe Murphey led the Oilers in scoring. There was no internet, or e-mail...businessmen carried bagphones....

A person who was concieved that spring is just now legally able to the bars on Wyte Avenue. That person may well have been concieved on the very night the Oilers opened up the first round of the playoffs against the LA Kings... Concieved by a horney fan who witnessed a home playoff win in game 1.

THAT WAS THE LAST TIME THE OILERS OPENED THE PLAYOFFS WITH HOME ICE!

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#39 R-DAWG
January 10 2009, 09:04PM
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I\d like to know the answer if someone asked "Kevin Lowe...your team has been mediocre at bestsince the 1990's. with the exception of the 06 cup run,what do you have to do to suck less!!" Mac-T looks like he's about given up and Tambellini has been just as invisible as the players he's supposed to direct. Oh well who else are you supposed to cheer for...

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#40 MikeP
January 10 2009, 09:42PM
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Pokie Reddik wrote:

Potulny would have to clear re-entry waiver, he has a one way contract and was put on waivers to be sent down at the begining of the year

Like Robin said, it's nothing to do with the one/two way status of the contract. One way just means he gets paid the same, whether he's riding the pine in Edmonton or the bus in Springfield. It's everything to do with number of NHL games played and age. Have a look here.

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#41 RobinB
January 10 2009, 11:46PM
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UPDATE: While there's no word from the Oilers yet, the Springfield website shows Potulny as "not active" with the team, even though he was pencilled in to play against Portland tonight. Unless I'm misinterpreting this, it looks like Potulny has been called up.

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#42 humantorch
January 11 2009, 12:33AM
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hockeysmack wrote:

Enough is enough here. How long will the new ownership allow this run of mediocrity continue? When will a coach or someone in management be held accountable for the perpetual lack of success?

Dude, this is the Oilers we're talking about. Accountability isn't even in their dictionary.

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#43 Matt N
January 11 2009, 09:16AM
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For all of you clamoring for a Schremp return.

Before call up

GP/G/A/P/+-/shotspergame/PPG 18/1/11/12/+2/1.5/.66

not bad, not great, got the call up where he played well the first two games, got 3 points and then was invisible for 2, got demoted.

Since call up

GP/G/A/P/+-/shotspergame/PPG 12/2/3/5/-9/2.16/.41

All this against weaker AHL opponents according to Jonathon

http://www.oilersnation.com/2008/12/springfield-falcons-quality-of-opposition/

I am pretty much done with this guy.

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#44 Chris
January 11 2009, 10:01AM
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Schremp to too slow to be a top six forward with the Oilers and is too small/ weak to be a third or fourth liner. He is a marginal player at best. A prospect is someone like Gagner, or JF Jacques: both have all the tools to fill their respective roles in the NHL... We have seen glimpses of greatness in Gagner. Jacques has done nothing with his opportunities, but at least has the necessary ingredients to fill a role in the bottom six with his size and speed. It might be worth giving him another look next year. Schremp, however, has done everything right, but simply lacks the ability. I know Schremp has totally sick skills with the puck and he set up Pouliot, and so on... I just don't see him being fast enough or gritty enough to produce regularly against strong competition at the NHL level. I may be wrong, and Robbie may become a solid NHL'er, but the Oilers already have too many smallish non physical forwards as it is...

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#45 Jay
January 11 2009, 10:45AM
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@ hockeysmack & Robin B:

Personally I would like to dip into the top 10, this team is very capable with it's current personel moves and coaching to fall flat on their face enough to look at a top 7 pick. I believe in them. (Worse they believe in themselves??)

But, other than Schroeder I'd be happy with anyone currently named in ISS top 10. Although it's evident that this team could use a wHLer or two to toughen things up and up the leadership level. I'd take Cowen if we got low enough or Schenn if we were back enough. Kane would be a fall back position if Panik were still available.

Late 1st rounder? If Stauffer is right? Maybe package my 2nd rounder with the 1st to get Taylor Doherty or Scott Glennie. Or look at Carter Ashton late 1st or early second and follow up with Tatar with the other pick. Having said that the Oilers will draft some safe checking no upside forward or overrated "big" defenseman who's stats have been proped up by his d partner.

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#46 Jay
January 11 2009, 10:50AM
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Jack Bauer wrote:

I agree with rindog. The coaching decisions by this moron are hard to believe. Unless he intentionally sabotaging his own team, I cant imagine why he thinks the way he does. Why didnt he call up a top scoring forward from the A to replace Hemsky. You could have kept the Cole Gagner Nillson line rolling because they were finally producing. Then you could have kept the Pouliott Cogs Moreau line rolling cause they were finally making something happen semi regularly. Instead what do we have? The Macblender at every opportunity with 6th line ECHL players playing with Horcoff and Penner. No wonder Horcoff’s back is killing him. This team sucks. The decisions this team make suck. The people making those decisions….suck.

You get no arguement from me... except that you think Horcoff and Penner are being dragged down? Neither are quality top 6 forwards, neither create, neither generally have anything special in their game, neither show they can lead or be leaders, they fit right in with Reddox (who, unintentionally, I can't stop calling Toby Peterson and I can't stop it). BOth are greatly overpaid, that they do well together.

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#47 BUCK75
January 11 2009, 11:01AM
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I would really like to see them make the effort to see what they have in the minors. With Hemsky gone with a concussion they won't be hurrying him into the line-up. The Brule thing is not surprising, but aggravating to us peons.

I think the year is very close to being a write off, but I would like to see them dismantle the team & get some new players in here. Too long with the same cast of Veterans. I think the coach is gone at the end of the year any how, I think the players have more to do with the season than the coach.

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#48 Jonathan Willis
January 11 2009, 11:17AM
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Jay wrote:

you think Horcoff and Penner are being dragged down? Neither are quality top 6 forwards, neither create, neither generally have anything special in their game, neither show they can lead or be leaders, they fit right in with Reddox

Wow, that's an incredibly stupid thought. Liam Reddox has four points in 19 NHL games. Shawn Horcoff has topped 50 points every season since the lockout, and in Penner's worst season to date (last year) he scored 23 goals.

Yes, those three are identical. Makes perfect sense to me.

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#49 r59
January 11 2009, 11:30AM
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Jay wrote:

You get no arguement from me… except that you think Horcoff and Penner are being dragged down? Neither are quality top 6 forwards
I'll save you the reading of a detailed explanation and can assure you that both Penner and Horcoff are on pace for seasons that would put them in the top 6 of the vast majority of the league.
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#50 CurtisS
January 11 2009, 11:50AM
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Wheres our GD???

I want some updates from Gregor this morning.

Tsn has Nilsson out and Potulny in for him. Reddox on the first line.

Conformation Gregor?

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