PDP: say it ain't so

Jason Gregor
October 18 2009 10:33AM

How many of you here in the Nation woke up today, looked at the point leaders in the league and did a double take? Dustin Penner on the first page... WTF?

No one and I mean no one; thought Dustin Penner would be the Oilers best, and most productive player seven games into the season. If you are still struggling getting a grasp on the NEW Penner, don’t fret you aren’t alone.

Penner’s nine points has him tied for 13th, and his five goals are top ten in the league. Not only is Penner scoring, he is killing penalties and is consistently moving his feet. Penner looks quicker, and while he is loathe to admit it, he’s in better shape.

It doesn’t hurt that Pat Quinn is his coach, and not Craig MacTavish, but I won’t lay all the blame on MacTavish for Penner’s underachieving last two seasons. Penner hasn’t been dedicated enough since signing his twenty-one million dollar deal, until this past summer.

Penner’s off-season conditioning program is paying off, but there’s more than just hard work happening here.

Penner was humiliated and embarrassed last season. Being the coach’s public whipping boy stung him, and I’m sure the Fat Penner references got to him. Penner is quick-witted, with a dry sense of humour, and likes to keep thing light-hearted, but it looks like he took all the pot shots to heart, and set out to prove people wrong.

Penner spent over a month of his summer working out and wondering if he’d be an Oiler or a Senator come September. Do you think that might have motivated him?

Regardless of what motivated him, Penner is living up to his contract so far this year.

First Mike Comrie comes back to Edmonton, and rather than hearing boos, he has his name chanted from the Rexall rowdies, and now Penner is winning over Oiler fans, who for the past two years would have traded him for a bag of pucks and 50 donairs.

Do you think it is possible that we hear chants of "Penn-er, Penn-er!" before the season is over?

If Comrie can win over the fans, why can’t Penner? Seven games won’t erase the memory of the past two seasons, but in sports “what have you done for me lately” reigns supreme, and it seems that many Oiler fans are teetering on the brink of becoming “Dusciples” of the “Pennecostal” church.

BRULE BUSTING OUT

While Penner continues to be the story in Oilerville, very quietly Gilbert Brule has gotten off to a great start. Four goals and seven points has the 6th overall pick in 2005 playing like a top ten pick.

Brule seems to have found the game that the Blue Jackets liked when they called his name four summers ago. He is hitting, using his speed to generate chances and most importantly he has re-discovered his offensive flair.

I said it all summer that Brule was better option than Marc Pouliot as the 4th line center, because Brule plays with the edge necessary to be part of an energy unit. I didn’t think he’d find is offensive game so quickly, in fact, I wasn’t sure if he’d ever find it again.

It is very early to suggest that Brule will come close to producing like this all season, but Quinn loves how he plays, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him finding ways to use Brule even more.

Considering that Brule, Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner all need new contracts at the end of the season, I can’t see how all three of them stay in Edmonton. One of them will be moved. Who would you move? From where I sit it seems likely that one of them will be moved, but I wonder if the organization would allow Steve Tambellini to trade Sam Gagner?

WIN OILERS TICKETS

Currently on Just A Game we are running a contest where the winner wins a pair of Oiler tickets to see the Red Wings Oct 29th, the Sharks Nov 27th and the Predators on Dec 17th. One winner, three Oiler games.

A few weeks ago I came across this article on Spike.com showcasing the ten most annoying sports fans.

What we are looking for is the three most annoying hockey fans. In a short paragraph for each team, submit why they annoy you. Be witty, cut deeply, display your annoyance with words, but it has to be readable on air. Sir Brownlee, I and Dan Barnes are the final judges. Deadline is Wednesday at 6 p.m. Submit your entry to justagame@theteam1260.com. Good luck. Winner will be announced on air on Thursday.

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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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#51 Crash
October 18 2009, 04:30PM
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@Jason Gregor

Hi I've been reading the articles and posts on this site now for over a year and have been meaning to get involved for some time now...finally this has broken my silence. I've been a fan of Gregor on 1260 and really enjoy the inside stuff. I've been another quiet Penner supporter since day one. It's well documented that Gregor is less than enthused with Penner both on his radio program and here in the nation almost to the point where I'd swear he is related to MacT. I think what MacT hated most about Penner was that he is such a laid back guy...doesn't seem to take things too seriously. While I agree that Penner may not have been in tip top shape when he arrived here the numbers speak for themselves.

Cmon Gregor, there was a lengthy article which was posted on some of these sites spelling it out quite well the virtues and successes that this team has had when Penner is on the ice. I can't remember who wrote the article but it spelled out quite clearly the Oilers success with him on the ice in 5 on 5 situations and on the ice when they are on the PP. So maybe Penner could have been doing better over the past couple of years but let me ask all you Penner haters...how much would you say a player is worth that is going to lead your team in scoring goals?...which is what Penner did in year one...then last year for some reason after all that success MacT in his infinite know all wisdom takes him off the PP, places him on the checking line on his off wing and can't understand why he isn't having success...yet he still scores 17 goals and is the top +/- forward on the team. Yet he continues to get crapped on by the know all MacT...and of course a bunch of you jump on the MacT bandwagon and crap all over Penner continuously...like I said maybe there is more for him to give but given the anchor he was saddled with in MacT and the treatment from the fans here even with the numbers showing the success with him on the ice I'd say he's handled things quite well...

I only hope Penner himself knows there are some of us fans out there that are on his side...chock me up as one of those.

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#52 dragon
October 18 2009, 04:42PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

There is always the behind-the-scenes discussions and some think Gagner is the future face of the franchise. He has always be trumped as that, but what if Cogliano is valued higher as this season progresses.

I haven't spoken with anyone in the organization that would lead me to believe that Tambellini wants to trade Gagner. Just to clarify.

It is hard to predict who will be a better player in the future, but I think it would be a great debate as to which player will be better; Cogliano or Gagner?

Gagner, Cogliano or Brule? I thought we're trading Hemsky at the end of the season. ;-) That should provide sufficient cap room to sign all three youngsters.

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#53 CurtisS
October 18 2009, 04:46PM
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I totally forgot how small Oiler Fans memories really are.

My bad!

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#54 The Towel Boy
October 18 2009, 04:48PM
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"... and it seems that many Oiler fans are teetering on the brink of becoming “Dusciples” of the “Pennecostal” church.

Gregor, have you been hanging out with Gene Principe? haha

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#57 Crash
October 18 2009, 05:21PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Crash,

Glad to see you get involved. I respect that you are a fan of Penner, but can you honestly say his effort was where it should have been the previous years.

Yes, MacTavish's public spat was over the line, but they also had multiple behind-closed-door meetings. Mactavish's display was one of a desperate coach.

If he hadn't mentioned the contract I wouldn't have had any issue with what he did. He said Penner needed to work harder, because as he has shown so far this year, when he puts for the proper effort he can be a force.

I rip a player when I don't feel his play is up to par, and when he is playing well I will give him credit. I ripped Penner because of his lack of effort. Clearly he has skill, I've never doubted that, but his effort last year was not close to where it should have been.

And do you think that 47 points is worthy of $4.25 million? Sure he led a horrible team in goal scoring two years ago, I'm not sure that is what he should be hanging his hat on.

Glad to see you get involved.

Jason,

I haven't really done the research to find out what 4 million dollar players do as far as overall stats go...I suspect quite often a persons stats go hand in hand with how well the team plays as a whole...if the team is a good team and is coached well then I suspect the numbers would be better than if the team is a good team and is not coached well (ala a MacT coached team)....you said it yourself, he lead a horrible team in goal scoring. So if they were a horrible team how can you really expect anyone to have top notch numbers. Of course I am of the opinion that the coach himself has been responsible for many years of this team being a horrible team...even the Stanley cup run year was almost a non playoff season...I've sat in the stands and questioned MacT mulitple times since I became a season ticket holder in 2005. He boggled my mind on numberous occasions...maybe we could discuss it over a pop someday, lol.

In addressing Penner's effort last year. I believe that when you're in a work environment whereby you don't feel you're being treated as an equal to everyone else on the payroll that it would be difficult to maintain focus and desire. Yes the players make lots of money but they're still just people. I've seen many of MacT's favs get free passes for multiple errors and bone headed penalties only to continue to be rewarded. I know it would drag me down yet still Penner was tops in +/- on the team and still managed 17 goals even though he was 7th amongst forwards in PP ice time last year and I believe he was also 7th amongst forwards in 5 on 5 time...as I mentioned before I think given the anchor Penner had as a head coach and the treatment he's received from so many fans in Oil country that he held it together quite well...you can see how much fun he is having this year without MacT around and when you feel like an equal to everyone else I can see how that would motivate you to give more...it's human nature.

Thanks for the welcome...Crash in Red Deer

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#58 jeanshorts
October 18 2009, 05:36PM
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CurtisS wrote:

I totally forgot how small Oiler Fans memories really are.

My bad!

Says the guy who thinks MacT was ripping on Penner since the early 90's, and apparently hasn't watched a single game since this season, and completely missed those 2 years where Penner skated around lackadaisically on his best day.

Like I said, I've been a fan of Penner since day one, and have been willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but there is absolutely no way you can blame the entire thing on MacT. Penner is the one on the ice. Penner is the one who gets paid to use his size and skill to help lead the way offensivly. And Penner is the one that "magically" lost 15-20 pounds in the off season and now skates his ass off every shift.

I hate to say it because I think MacT was out of line in the way he handled the whole thing, but it looks like all that crapping on Penner lit a fire under him. Now's he out there to prove everyone wrong and I'm as excited as anyone to see it.

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#59 Crash
October 18 2009, 05:39PM
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@Jason Gregor

Well seeing as how I'm on a role now, lol...the talk of trading Ales Hemsky is another one of those things that boggles my mind...why are we even talking about this? Why are so many always so quick to want to move our best skill guys just coming into their primes? Why is everyone so short sighted and wanting to do things like this based on the way it is at the moment instead of looking long term. How would everyone feel if we somehow landed Ilya Kovalchuk in a Hemsky lead package only to have Kovalchuk bolt for Russia after this season?

Hemsky is clearly the most skilled guy we have and I guess you could say maybe he's off to a tad slow start...and that's a big maybe...everyone keeps saying he needs a LW who can score but I think that what he needs is a more offensively skilled C in order to improve his overall numbers....I'd like to see Comrie center that line or Gagner or Cogliano or O'Sullivan although I do like the Gagner/O'Sullivan/Penner line and wouldn't change it.

As far as trading one of Gagner/Brule/Cogliano...well I don't see why we would trade any of them but if we have to I'd keep Gagner (his skill level is not and won't be matched by the other two in the long run). I like Brule's combination of hockey sense and grit so I'd keep him so by process of elimination I trade Cogs only if I have to.

Lastly so Hemsky has only 5 pts in 6 games so the call comes to trade him...so maybe these teams should consider trading these players given this thought process:

Ryan Gelzlaf 3 pts in 7 games Tomas Vanek 3 in 4 games Jarome Iginla 4 in 8 games Eric Staal 2 in 7 games Jonathan Toews 5 in 8 games Pavel Datsyuk 2 in 5 games Jason Spezza 4 in 7 games Simon Gagne 4 in 6 games Sidney Crosby 7 in 8 games Patrick Marleau 7 in 8 games Vincent Lecavalier 6 in 7 games

Strangely enough they are all under a point per game...same as Hemsky

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#60 Crash
October 18 2009, 05:39PM
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Ooops just learning how to use this site...the last one wasn't supposed to be directed at Jason...sorry about that

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#63 Crash
October 18 2009, 05:49PM
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I'm obviously sitting at my computer today with nothing to do...

I think what it comes down to is Gagner's skill level and hockey sense as to why....

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#64 Crash
October 18 2009, 05:56PM
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And once again...Penner's effort couldn't have been that bad given the results. 17 goals and the top +/- forward on the team with limited ice time....

He may at times look that way due to his size...he isn't going to fly around like Cogliano. Skill players need ice time.

Just my opinion

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#65 IvyEyezPK
October 18 2009, 06:17PM
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Gregor, how 'bout them J-E-T-S Jets, losing? haha. Good.

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#67 Ogden Brother
October 18 2009, 06:45PM
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CurtisS wrote:

I totally forgot how small Oiler Fans memories really are.

My bad!

What? you're the one that thought MacT ripped him before he didn't play a game....

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#68 Ogden Brother
October 18 2009, 06:48PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

What? you're the one that thought MacT ripped him before he didn't play a game....

*before he had played a game*

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#69 RossCreekNation
October 18 2009, 08:31PM
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Gagner v. Gogliano

I've flipped back and forth on this one here. In year 1, I would've said Gagner, Gagner, Gagner! It wasn't until the 2nd half of last season that I began wondering if that was a mistake. It looked to me Gagner was getting a free-pass by MacT, but not long after, Gagner once again started putting up some points. Then the Heatley trade eRRRR non-trade, and I wondered if they were making the right decision. Ultimately, I thought I'd probably keep Gagner. Throughout training camp & pre-season, I started thinking that not only might Cogliano be better, but Gagner could probably fetch more on the trade market. So is the gap between the 2 players greater than the gap between the returns via trade either would bring?

The thing is, IMO its not if one of them gets traded, its when - and that, quite obviously, is the key. Bottom line - I'm not so sure this one is easy to predict. I think the question could be asked every 2 weeks with different results each time.

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#70 RossCreekNation
October 18 2009, 09:11PM
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Of the possible centers on this team, would the closest thing to Horcoff be O'Sullivan? Defensively reliable, good pk guy, kind of a hard-luck shooter.

So... is he defensively responsible enough, yet offensively creative enough to play with Hemsky? Could that free Horcoff up to play a key 2nd line scoring/shut-down role?

Comrie-O'Sullivan-Hemsky

Penner-Horcoff-Cogliano

Jacques-Brule-Stortini

Moreau-Gagner-Stone

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#71 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 19 2009, 08:16AM
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Not going to lie I thought Penner would do alot better under Quinn. I expected 25-25, but now it is clear he could go 30+. It's not only his point production that is impressive it's his all around game. He is now a penalty killer and is getting alot of PP time. Oddly enough he only has 6 hits this year.

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#72 Ogden Brother
October 19 2009, 08:39AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

Not going to lie I thought Penner would do alot better under Quinn. I expected 25-25, but now it is clear he could go 30+. It's not only his point production that is impressive it's his all around game. He is now a penalty killer and is getting alot of PP time. Oddly enough he only has 6 hits this year.

What a signing by Lowe!

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#73 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 19 2009, 08:47AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

What a signing by Lowe!

I wouldn't go that far yet.

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#74 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 19 2009, 08:53AM
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As for having to trade one of Brule, Cogliano or Gagner I don't think it is neccasary yet. I'd wait and see how things go, if none of those guys breaks 50 points how much are they going to get? At the same time if we do trade one of them what do you target in a trade?

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#75 Ogden Brother
October 19 2009, 09:07AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

As for having to trade one of Brule, Cogliano or Gagner I don't think it is neccasary yet. I'd wait and see how things go, if none of those guys breaks 50 points how much are they going to get? At the same time if we do trade one of them what do you target in a trade?

Agreed, especially for Brule. He's had a nice start to the season, but it's way to early to think he's going to need a big contract. As it sits right now I can't see Gagner/Cogs at more then 3/per or Brule at more then 1.75/per.

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#76 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 19 2009, 09:21AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Agreed, especially for Brule. He's had a nice start to the season, but it's way to early to think he's going to need a big contract. As it sits right now I can't see Gagner/Cogs at more then 3/per or Brule at more then 1.75/per.

I guess too Jdd, Stone and Jacques become wild cards next year when they have to be re-signed. At the sametime Nilsson's 2mil could be gone next year too.

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#77 Dan the Man
October 19 2009, 10:33AM
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Personally I really enjoy sticking it to people that have doubted me or have criticized me, it really gives me a great deal of pleasure. I don't know Dustin Penner personally but I can't help but think that every time he scores he's saying a big FU to MacT in his head.

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#78 MattL
October 19 2009, 11:43AM
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Dan the Man wrote:

Personally I really enjoy sticking it to people that have doubted me or have criticized me, it really gives me a great deal of pleasure. I don't know Dustin Penner personally but I can't help but think that every time he scores he's saying a big FU to MacT in his head.

More like, "I'm running out of excuses, and this contract won't last forever." Poor Dustin Penner.

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#79 Dan the Man
October 19 2009, 11:51AM
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What is the over/under on how many goals Luongo allows tonight?

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#80 I'm a Scientist!
October 19 2009, 01:06PM
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Word on the street is that Horcoff is out tonight. That is really going to hurt our faceoff numbers...

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