Deep Thoughts V

Robin Brownlee
January 12 2009 11:33AM

In the real world and in real life, there are times when honesty is not always the best policy.

Like when your wife asks you, "Do these jeans make me look fat?" And you say, "No honey. Those jeans don't make you look fat. Your big ass makes you look fat."

Like when you're a hockey coach with absolutely no intention of giving a particular player a chance as long as you're calling the shots because you don't like the way he plays and you'd rather see him traded -- or just go away -- so you don't have to think about him any more.

And you say: "I guess every time we call somebody up, we've got to defend it, why it's not Robbie. I think the bottom line is it's up to Robbie to be a decent player down there.

"We all know what he can do. He's got decent hands. He can work a power play OK. But he's slow. He's not a physical player. He's soft at this level. There are a lot of things in the game he needs to address to be that guy who gets called up. It's getting to the point where, I've got to be honest, he's not helping them, particularly, down there right now. There's no reason to think he's going to come up here and help us, given those circumstances."

The truth hurts

As everybody has heard by now, so said Oilers coach Craig MacTavish about Rob Schremp Sunday when Chris Cuthbert of TSN asked why Ryan Potulny and not Schremp had been promoted from Springfield of the AHL.

Now, contrary to what some fervent backers of Captain America believe, I can't say with a straight face that much of what MacTavish said isn't true. It is true of course, but that, like telling your better half she has a bum as big as bus, probably isn't very smart.

It's abundantly clear, if it wasn't before, that no matter what Schremp does, he's not going to make it with the Oilers while MacTavish is the coach. Not his kind of player. Not his kind of personality. We get it.

But instead of pointing out Schremp's flaws publicly and diminishing what little value he has as an asset, MacTavish should have played it smart and fibbed a little bit.

"Robbie's made a lot of progress and we liked what we saw when he was up here in December, but we're a little bit small up front right now, so we'd like to add a bit more size. Besides, Potulny has done everything we've asked of him and he's earned a look-see."

How difficult would that have been? MacTavish is a sharp guy and he usually plays it smart. For whatever reason -- maybe he's feeling the heat of what's been a disappointing first half -- he played this one like a, well, big ass.

Are we there yet?

As always in any edition of DT, some random thoughts and questions rattling around that spacious cranium of mine:

  • Did Gilbert Brule show enough in Sunday's 2-1 win over St. Louis to start in Washington Tuesday with somebody other than Kyle Brodziak and Steve MacIntyre? Of course he did. Fact is, MacTavish should end his infatuation with Liam Reddox and start Brule alongside Shawn Horcoff and Dustin Penner for as long as Ales Hemsky is out. ??The Oilers have eight games to make a definitive call on Brule. Once he hit’s the 160-game mark in the NHL, he needs waivers to be demoted or recalled.
  • Pucker up all of you whose lips were stained with copper-coloured Kool-Aid during the pre-season. At 20-18-3 for 43 points at the halfway mark of the schedule, you can kiss a Northwest Division title goodbye.
  • Nice home record, fellas. The Oilers are 9-8-3 at home and 11-10-0 on the road through 41 games. After surviving a brutal road schedule, they've piddled away too many points at Rexall Place. Now, they've got 20 games on the road and 21 at home in the second half.

And...

  • Schremp has "decent hands" and can work a power play "OK?" Schremp has amazing hands. What grates me about what MacTavish said isn't that he showed up Schremp by pointing out his weaknesses, he also downplayed his strengths.?? Would MacTavish ever dissect the shortcomings of, say, Ethan Moreau, Steve Staios or Sheldon Souray in the same fashion? Uh, no.
  • With Jeff Deslauriers due back from his "We-can't-make-up-our-minds-on-which-two-goaltenders-we-want-to-keep stint in Springfield, can we expect GM Steve Tambellini to make a move this week?
  • Does my mug shot make me look pissed off and balding?

—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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#101 BUCK75
January 12 2009, 04:58PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Chris: Because of the difference in their contracts. Aside from the first Chris Pronger trade, Hemsky’s contract is the best thing Lowe has done as a GM.

I totally agree with this comment - that being said I would love Tambo to totally gut the team, rebuild after Hemsky & Souray while we have them locked up.

No couple of pieces here & there. Just like last year run with the kids & build a team.

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#102 TDSM31
January 12 2009, 05:02PM
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The GM's across the league are well aware of the type of player Schremp is. MacT stating the obvious in the media has no effect on his trade value.

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#103 Jonathan Willis
January 12 2009, 05:05PM
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I wonder if one of Cogliano/Gagner + one of Gilbert/Grebeshkov would get the conversation going with Tampa Bay...

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#104 RobinB
January 12 2009, 05:12PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: No. Any sane GM would start with Hemsky. And, as you said, I wouldn't trade Ales for Lecavalier straight across right now.

Then again, with the kooks in charge down there, you might get Lecavalier for a Paul Kariya rookie card, a pallet of "merchandise" from the Rexall pharmacy and the rights to Jesse Niinimaki, Michael Henrich and Michel Riesen.

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#105 Jonathan Willis
January 12 2009, 05:18PM
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@ RobinB:

It would be nice from an Oilers' perspective if one of Horcoff/Gagner/Cogliano would start the discussion, but they'd need to be crazy to do it, as you said.

Still, Mackenzie says Montreal has offered Plekanec, Higgins, Subban, Gorges + draft picks for Lecavalier. I think Gagner, Gilbert, Eberle, Nilsson + draft picks compares somewhat favourably.

Wouldn't do it if I were sitting in the G.M.'s chair in Tampa Bay, though, either way.

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#106 Chris
January 12 2009, 05:19PM
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LeCavlier will probably end up in Montreal if he is moved at all. I agree with Willis that Hemskey's contract is just too good to trade away. It's sad that the contract has become more important than the player who signed it... If the Oilers did by some miracle grab Vinny... What would happen if he retired after the 2016-2017 season? Would the Oilers be on the hook for for a three year cap hit of 7.73 million for a retired player who was already paid over 60 million in salary? Is my understanding of this correct? Why would the contract be structured in this way?

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#107 Mike
January 12 2009, 05:40PM
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Chris wrote:

Would the Oilers be on the hook for for a three year cap hit of 7.73 million for a retired player who was already paid over 60 million in salary? Is my understanding of this correct? Why would the contract be structured in this way?

Negative. The only reason you get stuck with a cap hit is if the player was over 35 when they signed the deal. If Vinny retired tomorrow the Lightning wouldn't be on the hook for a penny.

The contract would be front-loaded for two reasons. First, Vinny gets more money sooner. Good for him.

Second, while the cap hit remains high, a low actual salary makes him easier to move later.

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#108 Halfempty
January 12 2009, 05:44PM
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Mike wrote:

The only reason you get stuck with a cap hit is if the player was over 35 when they signed the deal.

Thanks Mike.

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#109 Chris
January 12 2009, 05:50PM
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@ Mike: Thanks. I didn't understand how that worked. I change my vote to yes- I would trade Hemskey for Vinny. Hemskey is an awesome player... but many find it difficult to develop chemistry with Hemmer because he is so unpredictable. Imagine LeCavlier with Cole. Or LeCavlier with Penner. OR HOW PISSED HABS FANS WOULD BE!

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#110 Corbs
January 12 2009, 08:04PM
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Im a little late to the party but just wanted to say that was a great piece Brownlee... I've kinda thought you were a jerk because of some rather candind comments in previous threads, but you earned (not that you prob care) a little respect back with the great points and the humour in the send off, lol... great read, cheers...

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#111 RobinB
January 12 2009, 08:24PM
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@ Corbs: Thanks, but always go with your initial gut feeling . . .

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#112 volfman
January 12 2009, 09:52PM
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lecavlier for Eberle, Gilbert, moreau, 1st and 2nd rounders with a conditonal 1st rounder if we make it to the final's. plus throw in Shremp or Brule works for me.

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#113 Korruption
January 12 2009, 11:24PM
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RobinB wrote:

This is like Groundhog Day . . . For me, the halfway mark of the season has always signalled the time when teams have had plenty of time to assess their situations. It follows, then, that the possiblity for trades opens up once everybody knows what they need. As far as Katz “stepping in,” it’s more a case of GM Steve Tambellini making the moves he deems necessary. What happens now is a hockey operations situation, not a case of the boss kicking the furniture around in Kevin Lowe’s office and demanding that “something” be done. I don’t see a coaching change until the end of the season and until Tambellini makes a trade or two to get everybody’s attention. Let’s not forget, the Oilers weren’t going anywhere fast in 2006 until they got Roloson and Samsonov at the trade deadline. Not saying this team can do that, but they’ll be close enough to a playoff spot the rest of the way that making the right player move could bump them into the top eight.

If the media reports regarding the state of the dressing room are correct then it is definatley time to make a move. The holes that are evident and need to be addressed. I know that first line players are hard to come by but it is obvious that we need a scoring center if we have any hope of making the playoffs. Tambellini really needs to show the fans some love.

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#114 Wanye Gretz
January 13 2009, 12:31AM
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RobinB wrote:

You might get Lecavalier for a Paul Kariya rookie card, a pallet of “merchandise” from the Rexall pharmacy and the rights to Jesse Niinimaki, Michael Henrich and Michel Riesen.

You can't give up on Henrich so soon. Next you will be telling me that Kelly over Doan was a bad pick too I bet.

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#115 Deep Oil
January 13 2009, 09:01AM
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@ Wanye Gretz:

Former Bankrupt Owner George Gillette is in trouble again (ski resort and hotels)- Molson still owns 20% for background support. Buying the team and arena for $180mm was a steal, his soccer team in liverpool is for sale with Hicks.

Here is his bio - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_N._Gillett_Jr.

If VC is being traded - a one year expiring contract is coming back with draft picks - as Tampa is having trouble with payroll - very shakey.

Why does the Quebec media think every francophone wants to or has to play in Montreal - maybe VC loves his Ferrari, golf course and sandals.... clock is ticking on his no trade this summer - but in retrospect, the salary / contract is the rope around his neck with Khoules and Barrie looking for nickels.

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#116 Deep Oil
January 13 2009, 09:05AM
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Chris wrote:

@ Mike: Thanks. I didn’t understand how that worked. I change my vote to yes- I would trade Hemskey for Vinny. Hemskey is an awesome player… but many find it difficult to develop chemistry with Hemmer because he is so unpredictable. Imagine LeCavlier with Cole. Or LeCavlier with Penner. OR HOW PISSED HABS FANS WOULD BE!

Tampa might not want that much salary back (really) and would trade Hemmer to another team (draft pick) in a heartbeat - this is a fire sale - prior to bankruptcy. All Tampa has are seniors and early bird specials - mostly francophones wintering... so there is no need for VC to have a desire to play in Montreal for that french loving feeling...

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#117 Colin
January 13 2009, 09:53AM
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I think Kovalchuk is more likely than Vinny.

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#118 Travis Dakin
January 13 2009, 09:58AM
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Colin wrote:

I think Kovalchuk is more likely than Vinny.

Atlanta just named him captain to prove that he won't be traded. Waddell said, “We all know this team is Ilya’s team and he’s the face of the franchise. Obviously, I’m not going to trade him. I’ve squelched those rumors 100 times."

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#119 Thorn
January 13 2009, 01:24PM
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I'd like to comment on the angry fans calling for MacT's head on a pike. Obviously the team/certain players are underperforming but any 3rd party who tries to explain "why?" would just be speculating. Those who want a change in coaching because they're convinced it's all MacT shouldn't be so hasty. There has to be some accountability for the players; but if mgt decides a coaching change is in order it won't be for "whoever's available". Maybe the locker room has gotten stale in MacT's 9yr tenure, but it's an extremely difficult decision to make. If someone like Pat Quinn actually decided to jump on board and we tank the rest of the season...will the Mac T naysayers conceed that maybe it wasn't the coaching after all? I seriously doubt it. Don't think for a minute McTavish doesn't loose sleep over what he can do differently. A few years ago the biggest complaint was how he's not hard enough on the players. This year he takes a more aggressive approach and suddenly he's too hard on certain players. A coaching change may very well help the team chemistry but one thing is for sure; if I ever witness anybody giving MacT or K Lowe a hard time out in public, you will have one angry fan up in your face! Lets keep it in good taste and remember they bleed copper and blue more than any of us! P.S. This is coming from a 5 year season ticket holder.

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#120 RobinB
January 13 2009, 01:44PM
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@ Thorn: And you would take it upon yourself to be up in somebody's face because . . ?

PS: This is coming from somebody who has covered the team since 1988.

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#121 Colin
January 13 2009, 02:01PM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

Colin wrote: I think Kovalchuk is more likely than Vinny. Atlanta just named him captain to prove that he won’t be traded. Waddell said, “We all know this team is Ilya’s team and he’s the face of the franchise. Obviously, I’m not going to trade him. I’ve squelched those rumors 100 times.”

I hadn't heard, thanks Travis.

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#122 Travis Dakin
January 13 2009, 02:12PM
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@ Colin:

I was saddened by that. Here, let's make the next few seconds of our day a little brighter before the cold smack of reality sets back in... picture this if you will....

Ilya Kovalchuck on the left wing knocking Ales Hemsky mozza balls out of the park on a nightly basis. Oh that's hot. Ok now back to reality.

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#123 Little Fury
January 13 2009, 03:49PM
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@ RobinB: "Bette rto get a seventh rounde rthan a fifth"

No. Unless by some miracle we get a moron of a GM for a trading partner (unlikely since Lowe is out of the GM game, I hear), the chances of us pulling one over on them with a Schremp deal are slim. IOW: if MacT and the Oil brass know Schremp is the suck, if fans (minus the cultists in the S.A.) know Schremp is the suck, if the numbers say Schremp is the suck, Schremp being the suck will not be a surprise to any team willing to trade for that bag of suck.

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#124 RobinB
January 13 2009, 07:47PM
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@ Little Fury: Again, what's your point? Your first comment on this was a smart-assed remark and this one is much the same.

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#125 Thorn
January 14 2009, 09:41AM
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@ RobinB: In their face for no reason other than shouting "You suck McTavish!!!" while he's with his child in booster juice is not a classy thing to do. (true story) Call me old fashioned but I'm big on respect. Of course we're all entitled to our own opinion, but when people take it to the point of trying to degrade someone in front of others' (let alone their pride and joy) I will always take issue...unless of course you've been covering the team since 1988...

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#126 RobinB
January 14 2009, 01:39PM
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@ Thorn: Anybody who would do that to MacT in situation like that deserves to be called on it, although trust me, I've known MacT a long time and he can handle any fool like that.

There's nothing old-fashioned about respect. At least there shouldn't be.

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