Hemsky, Horcoff still out

Jason Gregor
January 08 2009 03:07PM

Playing the San Jose Sharks is a tough task any night, but facing them without your best player makes it even harder. Ales Hemsky will not play tomorrow night, but he did ride the bike last night and again today so he is slowly feeling better, and with Shawn Horcoff’s back still bothering him it could be a long night for the Oilers.

The Sharks played their worst game of the season Tuesday in Calgary, and with two days off since then, they will be looking to get back on track. But they’ll have to beat their nemesis, Dwayne Roloson. Roloson’s best games the past two years have come against the Sharks, and with the Oilers first line hurting, he better be ready for a barrage of shots from the Sharks.

The biggest problem with the Oilers last night was their inability to win a one-on-one battle. The first line PP unit was the worst. They had three consecutive power-plays in the first period and even with an extra man they never worked hard enough to get control of the puck. Outside of when Tom Gilbert missed the net from the slot and Andrew Cogliano missed on a one-timer, the PP generated nothing in the first period.

Your best players need to be your best players if you hope to win, excluding the rare games like the Islanders win where your fourth line makes a difference, so with Hemsky out and Horcoff hurting guys like Penner, Cole, Gagner, Cogliano and Nilsson needed to step up.

Nilsson was the best of that bunch, while the rest didn’t do much. Too often this season the players have been outworked by their opponents, and that falls squarely on their shoulders. The coach can only motivate so much -- the majority of preparation comes from the players, and this group doesn’t have enough guys that are ready to play on a consistent basis.

My other beef is what system do the Oilers play? They aren’t a puck-possession team, they don’t trap, they don’t dump and chase. They are a hybrid of nothing and that’s the problem. Either the players deviate too often from the system, or more likely they don’t truly know what it is and how to execute it.

It seems to me that most of the players don’t know. Every system should have a safe zone or starting point. When things start going wrong, or the momentum is lost, the players need to know what the basic starting point is and get back to it. To me that is one of the major issues with this team, and that falls on coaching.

Repetition is the only way for the players to understand this starting point. It has to happen in practice, in the film room, and essentially it needs to be beat into their brains. I don’t think they get a consistent enough message, and that needs to change.

The players and the coaches need to realize that both are at fault for the continual shortcomings of this team. The coaches need to deliver their message better, and the players need to be ready to play. If not, the never-ending-merry-go-round that has become the Oilers will continue to spin on the path of mediocrity.

Mac attack

Steve MacIntyre has been cleared to play and practiced without a visor today for the first time since Eric Godard busted his orbital bone in November. MacIntyre was giddy with the idea he would be exchanging bombs very soon. He won’t play tomorrow and probably not against St. Louis, but with Donald Brasher in Washington and the Bogeyman in Minnesota look for MacIntyre to lace them up early on the road trip next week.

Hemmer and Scorcoff improving

Ales Hemsky rode the bike last night and again this morning and is feeling better. He didn’t speak to the media, so it is tough to gauge how much better he is feeling, but his coach announced they are seeing progress.

“He’s feeling a little better. From what I understand talking to Kenny (Lowe) he made it through yesterday nicely and it looks good, but he is still a ways away.” So don’t expect to see #83 until the three-game road trip at the earliest.

Shawn Horcoff didn’t skate today, but said his back is feeling better. He doesn’t plan on skating on off days until he feels better.

“It’s getting better, but it’s not an injury you want re-occuring. It was bothering for a week until I hurt it last weekend. I’m not sure if I hurt it in the gym or during a game, but as long as we get it under control it won’t matter. Face-offs are the real problem right now. Skating doesn’t bother me, but hunching over seems to irritate it.”

The biggest problem for Horcoff is that there is no one else who can take the draws, so he will have to hope that the rest on off days is enough to make it heal.

LINES?

It was impossible to tell what the lines will be for tomorrow night based on practice. Horcoff didn’t skate, but Penner and Cole did skate together at times. MacTavish’s thoughts on his lines:

“I like Cole with Gags, and based on one bad game I’m not sure I want to switch them up just yet. Nilsson has been playing well as of late on that line so we will see.”

If Penner is ready to play that makes a major difference. He needs to be a difference maker, and he has to be one more often, especially with Hemsky out of the line-up.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 smytty777
January 08 2009, 03:32PM
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"My other beef is what system do the Oilers play? They aren’t a puck-possession team, they don’t trap, they don’t dump and chase. They are a hybrid of nothing and that’s the problem."

I think this hits the nail on the head, the PK is a perfect example of systematic ineptitude. No one seems to be sure who is doing what on the ice.

You can chalk up a couple of the Vancouver goals to "bad reads", but the defensive zone coverage has been far too inconsistent all year long for that to be an excuse.

The Oilers seem systematically confused in their own zone and that needs to change. I'll leave it to debate whether the bulk of the blame should fall on the personnel or the coaching staff.

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#2 CurtisS
January 08 2009, 03:39PM
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Can we just fire Mact yet???

It would answer all these questions.

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#3 sitting_at_my_desk
January 08 2009, 03:48PM
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will be really tough without horcoff and hemsky.... i think something has to be done we should trade nilsson, grebeshkov, draft pick for kovalchuk.. we need an impact player...

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#4 swany
January 08 2009, 03:55PM
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After one of the Oilers losses a lady phoned into 630 post game show, she played with the ladies team and stated that the Oilers pactises awful, she couldn't see what type of system they were using and that it was a gong show. They laughed her off, but from your blog Jason does it look like they practise a system or not?

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#5 King Mob
January 08 2009, 03:57PM
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@ sitting_at_my_desk: Don Waddell may not be a hockey mastermind, but try to give him SOME credit.

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#6 shakey
January 08 2009, 04:08PM
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When Lubo and to a lesser extent, Gilbert, isn't on the ice, our break-out from behind the net consists of taking 3 strides, turning back, passing behind the net and repeat until the other team goes for a line change or someone falls down. How may times has the play started up ice only to be turned over before center and right back into our zone. Staios is probably the worse for this and Grebeskov makes it look a lot harder than it should be. I will say he looks better lately but he has his moments still.

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#7 The Towel Boy
January 08 2009, 04:15PM
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King Mob wrote:

@ sitting_at_my_desk: Don Waddell may not be a hockey mastermind, but try to give him SOME credit.

...ok, AND a left shin pad.

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#8 Wanye Gretz
January 08 2009, 04:19PM
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I would like to propose a trade too:

To Pit: JDD, Grebeshkov and the rights to Petr Kilma

To Edm: Malkin

If we are going to try and fix this squad let's get a premiere player for free. That would seriously help the lineup immensely as the Oil wouldn't be forced to give much up in return.

*drool*

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#9 Bruthah
January 08 2009, 04:42PM
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Wanye Gretz wrote:

I would like to propose a trade too: To Pit: JDD, Grebeshkov and the rights to Petr Kilma To Edm: Malkin If we are going to try and fix this squad let’s get a premiere player for free. That would seriously help the lineup immensely as the Oil wouldn’t be forced to give much up in return. *drool*

That's a baaaaaaaaaaad trade from the eyes of a Pittsburgh fan.

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#10 Chris
January 08 2009, 04:52PM
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Didn't MacT bring in the trap during round one of the /06 playoffs? He had a cute name for it that escapes me...but it was a trap. I don't want the Oilers to trap, but it is clear that we lack the personnel/ commitment to be a puck possession team. Is it time to employ this EVIL system if it wins us more hockey games?

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#11 Travis Dakin
January 08 2009, 04:58PM
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Chris wrote:

Didn’t MacT bring in the trap during round one of the /06 playoffs? He had a cute name for it that escapes me…but it was a trap. I don’t want the Oilers to trap, but it is clear that we lack the personnel/ commitment to be a puck possession team. Is it time to employ this EVIL system if it wins us more hockey games?

You shut your damn mouth!

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#12 BUCK75
January 08 2009, 04:59PM
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Chris wrote:

He had a cute name for it that escapes me…but it was a trap.

I think what you are referring to is a Responsible Forechecking System.

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#13 Oilersordeath
January 08 2009, 05:03PM
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How about this trade:

To Atlanta- Horcoff, Shremp, Pisani, Grebs

To Edm. - Kovalchuk, Armstrong

I can dream right?

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#14 Chris
January 08 2009, 05:19PM
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I enjoy reading trade proposals written by upset fans desperate for some change/ excitement like for example:

Let's trade Schremp, Horcoff, Gilbert, and maybe Brule and a pick for Spezza....

Does anyone realize that an NHL team is only allowed to have 50 contracts on the books?

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#15 Jack Bauer
January 08 2009, 06:19PM
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Lets trade O'marra, Schremp, Garon, Mctavish, and Joey Moss for Lecavilier.

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#16 Wanye Gretz
January 08 2009, 07:17PM
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Jack Bauer wrote:

Lets trade O’marra, Schremp, Garon, Mctavish, and Joey Moss for Lecavilier.

I cannot agree with trading Joey Moss. That dude is hands down the hardest working mother trucker paid by the Oil. If I had half that dudes work ethic I would be way further ahead in life than I am today.

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#17 Jack Bauer
January 08 2009, 07:25PM
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Well hes easily the barganing chip to get Lecavilier you see. The other bums are just fodder to unload our "dead weight" Im sure the Bolts will want something of SOME substance, hence Joey Moss.

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#18 Pokie Reddik
January 08 2009, 07:43PM
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He called it the right wing lock, the old Red wings system , they now play a puck possession which MaCt has implemented at the begining of the season, this is why we are fighting for top spot in our division. MacT has no game plan. As "POO" said " I really don't know what I am supposed to do, Mac hasn't told me anything just what line I am on" Time to hire Bob Stauffer as G.M. and Barney Rubble as coach

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#19 Hockey Gods
January 08 2009, 07:54PM
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Jason, great work on your show ranting about the music at RX1. It is pathetic, being at the games there is nothing to get the fans fired up between whistles, if the fans are jacked then the players might add a little more jump.

Then during commecial breaks and intermission fans have to deal with that phony Mark chump and can't even enjoy some hot looking ice girls.

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#20 Dennis
January 08 2009, 08:11PM
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His salary might preclude his ability to be dealt but trading away Moreau would be a great move right now.

It would give this team a little shake-up and an eye opener and it would remove a fellow who honestly needs to be either bumped down the pecking order or extracted altogether.

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#21 The Warrior
January 08 2009, 08:13PM
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TW was listening and heard that the Oilers are talking trade and one name T W heard was Peca.

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#22 Pokie Reddik
January 08 2009, 08:15PM
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Moreau is not Captain Materail he should be gone, he has caused many rifts in the room.

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#23 Hockey Gods
January 08 2009, 08:21PM
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The Warrior wrote:

TW was listening and heard that the Oilers are talking trade and one name T W heard was Peca.

I am sure Peca would be happy to play in the west again. (Note my sarcasim) However, I say bring him in if the rumor has any weight. He would be our PK and face off guy, just hopefully Mact would handle his role properly this time. Just wonder what we would have to give up to get him... if this is indeed being discussed.

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#24 Jason Gregor
January 08 2009, 08:29PM
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swany wrote:

After one of the Oilers losses a lady phoned into 630 post game show, she played with the ladies team and stated that the Oilers pactises awful, she couldn’t see what type of system they were using and that it was a gong show. They laughed her off, but from your blog Jason does it look like they practise a system or not?

Practice is hard because after you watch everyday, or even once or twice a week, I don't pay that close of attention to be honest. I do see them work on things, but there are days I question whether they are really accomplishing anything.

It seems that there aren't enough as coaches say, "NON NEGOTIALBES" firmly in place. For instance, no matter what the forwards can't leave the zone early, or what the D-zone coverage is. The players have to know it so well it becomes old hat. It is hard to judge on practice whether that happens. I guess I will be more attentive to see if it is happening.

I will say this, rarely are fans at practice, so I'm not sure how she could say the Oilers practices are awful if she is never there.

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#25 Jason Gregor
January 08 2009, 08:32PM
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Hockey Gods wrote:

Jason, great work on your show ranting about the music at RX1. It is pathetic, being at the games there is nothing to get the fans fired up between whistles, if the fans are jacked then the players might add a little more jump. Then during commecial breaks and intermission fans have to deal with that phony Mark chump and can’t even enjoy some hot looking ice girls.

We are compiling a song list and will debut it on my show in a week or so...should be fun.

As for Schultz, he is a good guy. Trust me, there are some tight reins he has to adhere to or he would be much funnier. Look for some subtle changes in the game day presentation at Oiler games in the near future.

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#26 jeanshorts
January 08 2009, 08:46PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Look for some subtle changes in the game day presentation at Oiler games in the near future.

MORE T-SHIRT CANNON!!!!!!!

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#27 Jason Gregor
January 08 2009, 08:48PM
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The Warrior wrote:

TW was listening and heard that the Oilers are talking trade and one name T W heard was Peca.

Chances of Mike Peca playing in Edmonton again are as likely as Willis denouncing stats, Brownlee winning a Mr. Congeniality award, Pisani dropping the mitts, Deep Oil making sense, Pierre McGuire naming Robert Nilsson Monster of the game, The Blue Jackets making the playoffs, Amber McCormick agreeing to dinner with a Nation reader (okay, this might happen), Wanye buying a Grebeshkov jersey or me growing hair. Won't happen.

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#28 R-DAWG
January 08 2009, 08:53PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Look for some subtle changes in the game day presentation at Oiler games in the near future.

As in possibly changing "the song that never ends" by the Offspring. The Bear (100.3) plays that every frickin hour and now when I go to games I can't even stand it!!

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#29 R-DAWG
January 08 2009, 08:57PM
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Pokie Reddik wrote:

Moreau is not Captain Materail he should be gone, he has caused many rifts in the room

Really...do tell.

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#30 Jason Gregor
January 08 2009, 09:13PM
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R-DAWG wrote:

As in possibly changing “the song that never ends” by the Offspring. The Bear (100.3) plays that every frickin hour and now when I go to games I can’t even stand it!!

No the intro will remain the same. It would take a long time to change the entire intro. Look for new music, THANKFULLY, and a bit edgier schtick from Schultz. I'm not saying it will be swift and a complete 180, but over time look for subtle changes.

With the EIG there were lots of different opinions on this sort of thing, and 38 different people that could be offended by certain songs, gags, etc. Now there is only one, thus the odds of trying more approaches increases. I've had conversations with a few people in the gameday department(due mostly to me ranting on the brutal music) and they have said expect to see some differences.

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#31 Smokin' Ray
January 08 2009, 09:27PM
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I have been saying the music sucked for years. I swear if I hear Cotton Eye Joe on more time...

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#32 Smokin' Ray
January 08 2009, 09:35PM
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I would love to see local people put together songs that are hockey related. I have been recording songs for a few years and I made quite a few songs related to the Oilers.

www.mp3.com.au/smokin'rayburnt

I bet there is a lot of homegrown talent that can make some good music. Rap, Metal, Rock whatever. At least it's "ours". No one in the league would have the music. Or make an album of the collected songs and sell them for charity. Good publicity is still good publicity.

On a side note: Why would the team not ask the players what THEY want to hear? Really, it's to pump them up is it not?

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#33 Smokin' Ray
January 08 2009, 09:38PM
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ok. I forgot blogs stop after a '. Here is the same link. Only numbers.

http://www.mp3.com.au/artist.asp?id=20725

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#34 Hockey Gods
January 08 2009, 09:38PM
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The song escapes me right now, but the song they play when the oil score doesn't make me want to jump out of my seat and cheer, I makes me want to want to throw my $8 crack beer at the dude who hit play... if only I could find him.

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#35 rindog
January 08 2009, 09:52PM
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@ Jason Gregor:

But the real question is:

What has changed from years previous to this year?

Why is the coaching staff all of a sudden having problems???

OR....maybe it was always this way????

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#36 Dennis
January 08 2009, 10:34PM
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I saw Schultz when he got his start at BTV in Hali and the guy wasn't funny there either.

He's not funny.

It's not his fault, mind you.

But he's not funny.

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#37 Chris
January 08 2009, 11:02PM
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The Oilers are once again in transition. Thanks in part to Klowe who has repeatedly lied about having a five year plan... Unless his plan was to instruct Predergast to draft small players, overpay underperforming vetrans, back his friends, and then slowly disengage from the day to day operations leaving a big mess...

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#38 Thunder
January 09 2009, 02:19AM
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We have made many player changes over the last couple years, no difference. The only thing that has stayed the same is the coaching staff (Rob Dom not included, he was the only shining light) If we have 15 new faces since the cup run on the ice, I would like to se a different one wearing the tie!!

I hate to say it.....but I kinda hope the Oil go on a long losing streak so they really have no choice but fire MacT. That might be the only way we can truely get a fresh start. What is the sense in putting up with him for the rest of the year to at best sneak into the playoffs to be swept by SJ? 3 wins in 15 games should do it and then Tabmo will have no choice and and non of the brass could really question it.

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#39 Thunder
January 09 2009, 02:23AM
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@ Smokin' Ray: Great Tunes....throw some lyrics in there and we could have a winner or two. Loved the Goalie Hex!!

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#40 SeanS
January 09 2009, 07:23AM
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Thunder wrote:

I hate to say it…..but I kinda hope the Oil go on a long losing streak so they really have no choice but fire MacT. That might be the only way we can truely get a fresh start. What is the sense in putting up with him for the rest of the year to at best sneak into the playoffs to be swept by SJ? 3 wins in 15 games should do it and then Tabmo will have no choice and and non of the brass could really question it.

Sorry, but I never understood this for any team or sport. Do you watch the games? Do you really want to see us lose 12 of the next 15? And do you think if we go on a losing streak like that it would only be because of our coach? You have to think that at some point the players need to be held responsible for something. Its not like we bring in a new coach and go from 10th to 3rd in the West.

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#41 BUCK75
January 09 2009, 07:26AM
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Hockey Gods wrote:

The song escapes me right now, but the song they play when the oil score doesn’t make me want to jump out of my seat and cheer, I makes me want to want to throw my $8 crack beer at the dude who hit play… if only I could find him.

I went to the Chicago game - they must have played every song in the ir arsenal that night, but "We're Not going to take it" by Bif Naked does the same thing to me. At least they haven't played any Venga Boys (we like to party) at the couple of games I went to.

Smokin' Ray wrote:

On a side note: Why would the team not ask the players what THEY want to hear? Really, it’s to pump them up is it not?

I would hope that the players don't have any time to listen to the music. When they start playing better music, the fans will cheer more & hopefully the music needs to be turned up to an octave that a jet engine makes taking off from YEG.

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#42 BUCK75
January 09 2009, 07:32AM
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@ Hockey Gods - to answer your question:

Kid Rock's American Badass

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#43 Bruthah
January 09 2009, 08:54AM
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Ok, so now fans are blaming the music in between whistles for the bad performances and lack of energy on ice? Wow.

Where's the bottom of that barrel? It's gotta be around here somewhere.

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#44 SeanS
January 09 2009, 09:13AM
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Bruthah wrote:

I dont think they are blaming it for us playing bad, they are just saying the music sucks and should be better.

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#45 Hockey Gods
January 09 2009, 09:18AM
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@ Bruthah: I wasn't blaming the music for the players poor performance. I was blaming the music for the fans lack of performance.

Thanks Buck75.

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#46 Oilersordeath
January 09 2009, 09:46AM
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We just need to all come to terms that is team is NOT going to make the playoffs this season, and if we keep the same coaching staff and a few of the AHLer's we have in the lineup the Oil will be an easy two point for other teams. God damnit!! Why did this have to happen to our Oilers!! Why couldnt it be the Casucks or Flamer fags!!

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#47 Bruthah
January 09 2009, 10:02AM
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Too bad the Oilers brass can't learn from this team's.

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=262540&lid=sublink01&lpos=headlines_main

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