The bucket list

Robin Brownlee
January 29 2009 03:51PM

The morning after the night before at Rexall Place didn't provide the puke-inducing bag skate many fans of the Edmonton Oilers, not to mention some players, expected from coach Craig MacTavish today.

In that regard, the Oilers -- still shame-faced after the humiliating stain on the franchise that was a 10-2 loss to the 1957 Montreal Canadiens, I mean the 2009 Buffalo Sabres -- were spared the need to reach for the bucket, even if those who pay the freight weren't afforded the same courtesy Tuesday.

What MacTavish didn't do in rehashing the worst home defeat in franchise history with a stench still hanging in the air was sugar-coat the abomination or take issue with fans who jeered his team.

At least the Sabres gave the faithful what they wanted, answering chants of "We want 10, We want 10 " by putting up double digits, capping 60 minutes of buffing their boots on Oiler backsides with a shorty.

Got a problem with that, MacT?

"Our fans, I give them a lot of credit," said MacTavish. "They're very appropriate in their reactions. When they're unhappy, they're good hockey fans, they know the game and they know the expectations.

"They don't fly off the handle prematurely. I thought last night, they weren't bad. They weren't as bad as what it could have been. We deserved it all."

But coach, "We want 10?"

"We would have joined in the chorus, too," MacTavish said of the coaching staff, trying to lighten things a bit. "We were disappointed, too. They were very appropriate in their commentary."

The saying goes that the first step in solving a problem is admitting there is one. Maybe so, but I'm not sure the Oilers deserve that much credit, given how the Chicago Blackhawks waltzed into town not so long ago and drubbed them 9-2. That said, MacTavish faced every question.

"I don't feel compelled to say anything, other than we'll be better, which isn't a stretch," said MacTavish when asked what he'd like to say to fans.

Revenge of the nerds

Tuesday's "debacle of monumental proportions" was like watching a schoolyard bully yank a kid out of algebra class by the pocket protector, drag him down the hall to the boys washroom, shove his head in the toilet and flush until his arm got tired.

At some point, even the nerd decides he's had enough and fights back, even if it's to no avail and the bully throws in a Stanfield's-stretching wedgie for good measure. Where was the fight from the Oilers? And, no, Craig Rivet accidentally getting kicked in the groin by Dustin Penner doesn't count.

What part of getting embarrassed by the Blackhawks Dec. 16 didn't the Oilers understand? I know it wouldn't have changed anything, but, failing salvaging some pride by coming out and winning the third period, doesn't somebody have to get punched in the mouth or two-handed?

At some point, doesn't somebody, anybody, say, "I'm not going to take this. I've had enough?" Apparently not.

"At that point, what's it going to prove?" said Sheldon Souray. "You're already getting embarrassed. We don't need to embarrass ourselves further. We were getting beat fair and square on the score board."

I've got all the respect in the world for Souray, who at least took a hack at a Buffalo forward in front of clay pigeon Jeff Deslauriers in frustration, but I disagree.

Until last night, it was fair to argue Chicago was a one-off, but to sit back and watch the Sabres light it up virtually unmolested?

Sorry, call me Scribe-osaurus-Rex, but somebody needs to get poked in the nose when it's 7-1 or 8-1 or 10-2.

"We were getting humbled and humiliated by that team," Souray said. "I think we would've embarrassed ourselves had we taken the game to a different landscape. I just don't think it would have served a purpose."

Now what?

  • With a three-game winning streak and their tidy 5-1 roll done, the Oilers have to gather themselves and face the Minnesota Wild, who'll arrive Friday eyeball-to-eyeball in Western Conference standings. Both teams are 24-20-3 for 51 points, but Minnesota sits seventh and the Oilers eighth based on goal-differential. Not to worry, the Oilers always light up Nicklas Backstrom like a cheap cigar...
  • Expect MacTavish to go back to Dwayne Roloson against the Wild despite his shaky start against Buffalo (three goals on eight shots).
  • GM Steve Tambellini and president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe took in today's marathon practice, which ran about one hour and 45 minutes and included a break to re-flood the ice. Both looked on for most of the session, with each stepping out occasionally to answer the phone -- no doubt lots of GMs out there are calling to help them out.
  • The next six games are particularly important to the Oilers playoff hopes. In order, they'll face Minnesota, Nashville, Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit and the Wild again.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm 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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#51 Ender the Dragon
January 29 2009, 08:44AM
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Greg MC wrote:

It looks like Coach doesn’t have a clue about how the team will perform day to day.

A little unfair. No coach in the league today would bet his salary against his team winning that night (Rick Tocchet doesn't count). While there are good teams and bad teams in the NHL, the talent spread isn't as wide as people like to think. Parity and the salary cap have ensured that any team of professionals in this league can beat any other night to night. If you want to win at this level, you have to show up with every one of your guys ready to play hard. One unfinished check or one puck that you fail to clear out of the zone can spell the difference.

MacT can't promise wins. He can and should promise that his team will show up and work their ass off next game. Show me where he's said that he's not sure that will happen.

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#52 The Towel Boy
January 29 2009, 08:59AM
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RobinB wrote:

The Oilers took Hemsky 13th and Pittsburgh took Armstrong 21st.

Dodged a bullet there.

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#53 shakey
January 29 2009, 09:04AM
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@ OB: I usually am a Moreau supporter but out of all of the Oilers I at least expected him to get a little pissed off and show some emotion during Buffalo's practice the other night. He'll take a stupid slashing penalty at a bad time in a close game but he doesn't even make an effort to throw a body check or push a guy away from the net after a whistle? His comments after the game weren't as surprising as his lack of emotion. There used to be a tangible level of pride with being an Oiler and I'm just not seeing it lately. It's disappointing and frustrating.

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#54 Milli
January 29 2009, 09:07AM
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All I wanna know is where is the "PRIDE"???????

I didn't see any.

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#55 Thorn
January 29 2009, 09:21AM
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Does anyone else have a sick feeling in their stomach about friday's game against the wild? I think monday was more detrimental than just "the worst home loss in FRANCHISE HISTORY". As an outside observer, it feels like the locker room chemistry suffered a major hit. I just hope they can get motivated to play for each other tomorrow. And I sure hope the fans show up in their corner because we need all the help we can get right now!

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#56 swany
January 29 2009, 09:23AM
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Milli wrote:

All I wanna know is where is the “PRIDE”??????? I didn’t see any.

We will see what if any pride this team has Friday, if they come out like bulls in a china shop great BUT if they come out throw a little hit here and a little hit there I will be looking for answers somewhere. They must come out and set the pace of the game Mac NEEDS to get at the Boogieman right off the start, The Captain NEEDS to man up and throw a friggen hit, Cole should try and play with BOTH hands on his stick, and the D well try to stop some cross ice passes to give the goalies a chance, This is a middle of the road team, there are only 3 teams in the west that are pulling away the rest will battle it out till the end.

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#57 Rick
January 29 2009, 09:27AM
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shakey wrote:

I usually am a Moreau supporter but out of all of the Oilers I at least expected him to get a little pissed off and show some emotion during Buffalo’s practice the other night.

Last year when Moreau came back from the broken ankle I really thought that he did a fantastic job at injecting the needed emotion and leadership into the room through the right kind of physical play. I was thinking that if this was what he brought as the new captain then the team is in good hands.

What he brought last year in his 25 games just hasn't translated to this year though. I know that some of the stats they record are unreliable at best but given that they are the only ones available it's all we have.

Gregor has made mention of Moreau taking aggressive penalties and that those aren't necessarily a bad thing. Looking outside the minor penalties I find it interesting that in comparing the first half of this year and his 25 games from last year his hits per game is down by .4 and he has 1 less fighting major in almost twice as many games as last year.

He isn't nearly as aggressive this year on a team that needs a guy to play that way more than ever before.

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#58 Cam
January 29 2009, 09:31AM
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Milli wrote:

All I wanna know is where is the “PRIDE”??????? I didn’t see any.

I don't really care how much jam or emotion they have at the practice... or what they say with a Micrphone in their face.

The test of their pride and jam will be on Friday. If they go down to the Wild without a fight, then I will get on my soapbox and condemn them.

Until then I reserve judgement about their reaction to this thumping.

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#59 Cam
January 29 2009, 09:33AM
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@ swany: You beat me to the punch.

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#60 rindog
January 29 2009, 09:38AM
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I think the things I hear people saying have alot to do with the compete or emotional level that our team performs at.

I have heard MacT say numerous times, "Don't let your highs get too high and your lows get too low."

I think that might be part of the problem?

What is worng with smashing your body into the glass when you score a goal or breaking your stick over the crossbar when you get scored against?

It is funny how the television brodcasts always show MacT after we get scored on now. MacT better be getting paid a sponsorship deal from Disani. Every time we get scored on they show MacT calmly taking a sip of Dasini and showing no emotion what so ever!!!

Maybe if the coach showed a little intensity and fire - our players would follow suit???

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#61 Greg MC
January 29 2009, 10:06AM
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Ender the Dragon wrote:

Greg MC wrote: It looks like Coach doesn’t have a clue about how the team will perform day to day. A little unfair. No coach in the league today would bet his salary against his team winning that night (Rick Tocchet doesn’t count). While there are good teams and bad teams in the NHL, the talent spread isn’t as wide as people like to think. Parity and the salary cap have ensured that any team of professionals in this league can beat any other night to night. If you want to win at this level, you have to show up with every one of your guys ready to play hard. One unfinished check or one puck that you fail to clear out of the zone can spell the difference. MacT can’t promise wins. He can and should promise that his team will show up and work their ass off next game. Show me where he’s said that he’s not sure that will happen.

Pardon my wording. I don't expect guarantees on wins, just effort. My opinion, right or wrong, is that a majority of Edmonton Oiler players want a coaching change.

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#62 shakey
January 29 2009, 10:06AM
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@ rindog: That look on Mac T's face after we get scored against is like finger nails on a blackboard for me.

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#63 Kevin
January 29 2009, 10:21AM
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The coach should not have to motivate the team. It comes from the core leadership of the vets which maybe where the issue lies. Staois, Moreau, Pisani, Horcoft, Hemmer have been here as long as MacT. Anyone think maybe THEY have lost the room? Still think Souray would be the best choice for captain.

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#64 Sing A Song For SingSing
January 29 2009, 01:13PM
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MacT needs a bagskate more than anyone else.

I can't stand hearing or even looking at him anymore, his post game talks with his witty intellect blended with his dry and sarcastic sense of humor.

He's just an idiot and I'm sick of him running this team period.

Of course the players aren't helping his or anyone's (including their own) case for that matter, but really... I just can't wait for the moment this guy is gone from the team FOREVER. Haha

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#65 rindog
January 29 2009, 02:02PM
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@ Kevin:

It is the coach that decides who the leaders of the team are.

When the coach decides to make supporting players (except Hemsky) the leaders - he is indirectly responsible for the identity (or lack thereof) for the team.

Without question, Souray was the best choice for captain at the time - but MacT would never allow a proven (2-time allstar) come in and be a leader. He would need to make sure he had his type of guys put into the roles, that they are not capable of.

It's one thing to sit and face the media time and time again after disappointing performances, etc. Our leaders need to take the bull by the horns and actually DO something on the ice (like Hemsky did his first 2 games back).

The problem is - the guys that MacT has chosen to be the leaders DO NOT have that ability...

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#66 Oilersordeath
January 29 2009, 05:07PM
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Let me know if any of you agree with this:

Players to keep and players to trade or just waive

PLAYERS TO KEEP(not included goalies)

1.Hemsky, Cogs, Souray, Lubo, Gags, Brodziac, maybe Gilbert

PLAYERS TO TRADE(WAIVE)

1.ALL THE FRICKEN REST OF EM!!!

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#67 RobinB
January 29 2009, 07:47PM
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LOSER SONG NOT A HIT WITH OILERS . . . I think the Loser Song the Calgary radio station churned out to the Kinks "Lola" after the Sabres sliced and diced the Good Guys is pretty funny and well done, but the Oilers don't agree. While Jason Gregor and I were on the air today, we played the song and had a good laugh over it. Hey, if the Flames got lit up that bad and somebody here came up with a parody that slick, I'd laugh at it, too. Not long after, we got a call from producer Will Fraser at TEAM 1260 and he told us Allan Watt, the Oilers vice-president of communications and broadcast, had phoned to complain and that he'd also contacted several other stations demanding they not play it. Last time I checked, the Oilers didn't have a rightsholder agreement with Astral Media and have no right to try to dictate what goes on the air at TEAM 1260 and other Astral stations. Strike another blow for the Department of No Fun.

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#68 Wanye Gretz
January 29 2009, 08:33PM
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@ RobinB:

Holy crap that is beyond belief. It's like this kid I went to school with in elementary. His Mom called my Mom one time and told her to make our crew of buddies stop picking on her kid and his friends. Know what we did the next day? Rumbled with her kid and his weiner friends.

Just you wait for tomorrow Alan Watt.

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#69 rindog
January 29 2009, 08:46PM
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@ RobinB:

So does that mean you guys have to stop playing it?

This reminds of a time when Patrick Roy still played for Colorado.

The Oilers brass got all bent out of shape when Colorado designed a set play from a faceoff in their own zone (when the Oilers had their goalie pulled for the extra attacker) so they could try to get Roy an empty net goal.

The Oilers claimed it was disrespectful,etc.

I say if the oppostion is that weak - why not try something like that. We deserved it!!!!

My father always told me,if you don't want to lose (and be embarrased), PLAY BETTER!!!!!

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#70 RobinB
January 29 2009, 09:04PM
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@ rindog: I don't know who'll play the song and who won't. That's bickering between guys wearing suits that I don't get involved with. It just seems very thin-skinned. No?

The game is won and lost on the ice. Getting indignant enough to start calling radio stations and trying to lean on them over a gag song seems a little over-sensitive.

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#71 rindog
January 29 2009, 09:18PM
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@ RobinB:

I agree totally!

If nothing else the song is a wake-up call (as if it was needed) to the organization that all is not roses in OIL COUNTRY.

You don't win the Stanley Cup by winning 5 of 6 in January.

You're right! The Oilers management should be more concerned with the product on the ice. If they don't want to be fun of (off the ice) - PLAY BETTER!!!!

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#72 Jack Bauer
January 29 2009, 09:24PM
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I thought that sopng was hilarious and ironic. Ironic in a sense that it is a parady done about a team that is a parady of an NHL team. Our team is a joke, that song is a joke, both are equally laughable for all the wrong reasons.

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#73 Jas in Red Deer
January 29 2009, 09:26PM
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Do the Oilers really expect to shut down The Fan 960 from playing this bit? It was a very well done piece of comedy (as is alot of the bits they do), and for the Oilers to react this negatively makes me question this organization moreso than a 10-2 spanking.

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#74 Hockey Gods
January 29 2009, 09:41PM
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Jas in Red Deer wrote:

Do the Oilers really expect to shut down The Fan 960 from playing this bit?

Quiet you illiterate flame fan fool. Go back and read Robin's post again...

** Pause **

No that you read it again you can clearly see the Oilers were trying to stop Team 1260 from playing the song, an EDMONTON radio station, not the Calgary station that started to play it. Now I doubt the Oilers can truely stop any station from playing it, but they don't think they are god like enough to boss around Calgary stations.

Now Jas, go back to reading your comic books and wishing your ears were as big as Robin Regehr's. But thanks for reading the site.

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#75 rindog
January 29 2009, 10:10PM
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@ RobinB:

Robin,

Any truth to the rumor that MacT is thinking of using Gilbert on the wing on the PP?

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#76 Fortboy
January 29 2009, 10:14PM
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I haven't even heard parody yet so I can't comment on the song specifically. But I do find it ironic and embarrassing that the strongest reaction from any Oiler over their spanking from Buffalo comes from the guy who overlooks the Media Relations department. How weak!

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#77 Wanye Gretz
January 29 2009, 10:18PM
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Hockey Gods wrote:

Now Jas, go back to reading your comic books and wishing your ears were as big as Robin Regehr’s. But thanks for reading the site.

Holy Crap Hockey Gods. Bring the thunder! I like that kind of talk. Spicy!

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#78 Dennis
January 29 2009, 10:37PM
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The Oilers had the Zamboni block the CBC truck after Crawford told the straight dirt on the ice conditions at Rexalls.

So, crap like this doesn't surprise me in the least.

The Oilers have long been super sulks.

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#79 Fortboy
January 29 2009, 10:45PM
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p.s - a quick google search reminded me of some of Watt's foot to mouthing such as calling out Pronger on the crib burn fiasco and the banishment of certain bloggers from the Rex. Now he's calling radio stations and crying about songs. WEAK!!

http://communities.canada.com/edmontonjournal/blogs/hockey/archive/2008/01/18/pronger-s-agent.aspx

http://ballhype.com/story/it_s_not_the_oilers_against_the_bloggers_oilers_pr_man/

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#80 Jack Bauer
January 29 2009, 11:36PM
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And this organization wonders why its considered a joke throughout the league?? I think thats a question for our fair reporters/radio guys to ask "So Kevin, considering free agents would rather play in Bangladesh than play for your team, what do you think about your media relations people acting like school yard bullies? Dont you think that reflects on your management team?"

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#81 digger12
January 30 2009, 12:26AM
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"It's like Communism here..."

-Mike Comrie

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#82 Wanye Gretz
January 30 2009, 12:34AM
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Wanye Gretz wrote:

Just you wait for tomorrow Alan Watt.

Good call Wanye you sexy beast.

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#83 nullterm
January 30 2009, 01:21AM
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The Fan 960 is going to absolutely LOVE that they got under the skin of Oilers management. The whole point of making the song is to get attention. Rather than just letting the fire die down, the Oilers themselves just threw on a bucket of gasoline.

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#84 BUCK75
January 30 2009, 07:26AM
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@ nullterm:

No kidding - like Moreau said if they win nobody has REALLY negative things to say. Getting beat 10-2 you will get a bit of ribbing. Mr Watt is over the top.

I think you 'Stauffer Haters' get it now. He can't be old bob, he has to be vanilla Bob. My guess is that is part of the reason he is working for the Oilers now...

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#85 Greg MC
January 30 2009, 08:03AM
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Wow, I can see Oiler's management not being too happy with that little ditty, but they should be more focused about fixing the problems with the team than external shots to the organization. Look in the mirror, boys! Who in management is accountable right now to the ticket purchasers?

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#86 OvenChicken8
January 30 2009, 08:05AM
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BUCK75 wrote:

@ nullterm: He can’t be old bob, he has to be vanilla Bob.

How about Chocolate Bob, or Neapolitan... is it too early for ice cream?

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#87 BUCK75
January 30 2009, 08:40AM
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@ OvenChicken8:

It's never to early for a trip to DQ.

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#88 shakey
January 30 2009, 08:40AM
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I heard the song on my way home from work yesterday on Gregor's show. I thought it was pretty clever and funny. Big deal, someone else is picking on the Oilers because they got their ass handed to them. Boo Hoo!! I know very little about this Watt but he seems like a real whiner, even if this was the first time he tried to 'control' the message, which I understand it isn't.

You're the media relations guy and you should be trying to put a positive spin on the sh*t-show the other night. Have some fun with it because you look like a douche right now. If you can't laugh at yourself...get out of the way because someone else will.

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#89 swany
January 30 2009, 09:01AM
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One simple way of not having that song played or even made up, SHOW UP FOR THE FRIGGEN GAMES, if they stink tonight I hope the guy in the booth plays it, that would be priceless.

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#90 Alan Watt and Scientology - OilersNation
January 30 2009, 10:35AM
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[...] Robin Brownlee had a very interesting comment on his article “The Bucket List” yesterday: LOSER SONG NOT A HIT WITH OILERS . . [...]

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