Pat Quinn: the truth? You can't handle the truth

Robin Brownlee
November 20 2009 05:18PM

So, I wonder how Pat Quinn's honesty will play in the Edmonton Oilers dressing room, given all the trouble former coach Craig MacTavish talked himself into last season by speaking his mind.

I'm not sure, but Quinn made some less-than-flattering remarks about Ales Hemsky and Mike Comrie today during his availability with reporters after practice at Rexall Place.

Last season under MacTavish, the kind of criticism Quinn offered up today was characterized time after time as "MacTavish throwing Penner under the bus" or "MacTavish throwing Nilsson under the bus" and blah, blah, blah.

People who latch on to catch-all phrases that mutate into inaccurate or meaningless jargon, people who say "at the end of the day" or "methinks," should be thrown under the bus or backed over by my Navigator, even, but I digress.

Telling it straight

Quinn was praising the practice habits and work ethic of journeyman Dean Arsene today. Then, he turned his attention to Hemsky in a question posed by Mark Connolly of CBC, who noted that associate coach Tom Renney had engaged in an animated discussion with No. 83 this morning.

Quinn said:

"Again, as a coach, you try to have... Our job is to help these guys get better. I mean, it really is. When you're putting in an effort to try to help them be better and some guys don't seem to value that effort that you're making because they have their own habits or maybe they don't need to practice that hard, they think in their minds game day is tomorrow, I'll turn it on tomorrow.

"They're the guys who often kid themselves. Yes, they've got great talent, but, you know what? We've missed the playoffs two bloody years in a row and five of the last eight, so, at the end of the day [oops], you've got to start saying, 'Well, wait a minute. Talent is what?' Talent is part of it, but we need a bigger package. How do you get the bigger package? Well, you ask people to work."

Of course, Quinn meant to say "three straight years" out of the playoffs, but that was probably just a slip on his part. I'm sure he knows it's three years -- I'll be sure to remind him in the hope of generating even better quotes. I'm also intrigued about getting that bigger package, but...

While Hemsky has been productive, albeit streaky, this season, he's no workhorse at practice. He's off the ice, showered and gone long before the grunts even get into the dressing room. In all the years I've covered the Oilers, only Joni Pitkanen got gone faster.

On Comrie

As for Comrie, who is out with mononucleosis, his name came up in a discussion about using Penner in shootouts. Quinn, to understate, wasn't impressed with a move Comrie made during the shootout in Ottawa -- Junior B stuff, where he tipped the toe of his blade down toward the puck before letting a shot go.

Quinn said:

"I don't feel uncomfortable using him [Penner] there. On that particular night, if I'm not mistaken, I'd watched Comrie turn his stick over and screw around in Ottawa. He wasn't going to get a chance again, I guarantee you that. If you want to clown around on my time, then, you know..."

For my money, Quinn calling it like he sees it is not only refreshing, but a godsend to reporters, who too often have to try to spin cliches and pat answers into something worth repeating.

While MacTavish was guilty of cutting the same cows out of the herd too often, namely Penner and Nilsson, and seemed to be doing so out of a mounting sense of frustration rather than as a way to get a meaningful message across, Quinn doesn't come across like that.

I'm guessing Hemsky and Comrie won't like what was said today, but too bad. It's not like they've been singled out time after time, as MacTavish fell into the habit of doing with Penner and Nilsson.

The Oilers are 9-10-3, so there's lots of criticism to go around. From where I sit, the old coach is calling it as he sees it and dishing out that criticism with an even hand.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and 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.
Avatar
#1 Shapeman
November 20 2009, 05:25PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

FIST ME! god this must be getting old......like Brownlee! ZING!!

*hastily builds a wooden makesift bombshelter in the hopes that it will stand up to a fly landing on it let alone Brownlee*

Avatar
#2 Eric Johnson
November 20 2009, 05:28PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Honesty is some times a tough pill to swallow...

Mr. Brownlee is there any word on the health of Moreau? And do you think Gilbert got the message last game that is soft play won't fly?

Avatar
#3 Jason Lee Norman
November 20 2009, 05:29PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I think you're absolutely right. It's so refreshing to hear Quinn speak that way. His experience is definitely giving him some more leeway with the media because if MacT said some of these things they would have roasted him over an open fire. It's as entertaining as it is bang on true, and the quicker the players get on board the more Ws we'll start putting up. Awesome!

Avatar
#4 hawks hawkey
November 20 2009, 05:30PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

So although MacT got into the habit of calling out the same names (Penner and Nilson)...you have to start asking the question if coaching really was the issue last year and even years past or are the so called "talented" guys on this team just not willing to put in the necessary effort to turn this team into a consistent winner. That doesn't come from coaching, it comes from with in the players themselves.

Avatar
#5 Shapeman
November 20 2009, 05:32PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

edit button is my saviour thank you Bingo! And good picture of pat quinn it really brings out the rage in his face.......

Avatar
#6 Tim S
November 20 2009, 05:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Who on this team is Quinn impressed with?? Gagner, Cogliano Nillson were all handed a job to early. Hemsky is lazy, Comrie is a hot dog. O'Sullivan is who knows but Quinn has voiced his disappointment multiple times. Brule can not get off the 4th line.

When does he come out and say Horcoff needs to work on his shot, passing, stickhandling, offensive awarness and on ice vision?? When does he question Moreau for everything he does or does not do? When does he question whether Strudwick even wears skates he is so slow??

If you are going to call out guys then go ahead and call them all out.

Avatar
#7 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 20 2009, 05:40PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

He's impressed with Visnovsky, Smid, Stone, J F Jacques, Penner, and to some extent Gagner. Seemed pretty obvious when everyone was healthy.

Edit: Add Reddox in there, too. Why he's still sitting on Brule is a mystery to me, too.

Avatar
#8 Sammy D
November 20 2009, 05:40PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

But is 83 the type of player to take what was said to him and elevate his game because of it, or does he continue to be the same old, same old player...

Don't get me wrong, I love his talent, but if he is working with a 'me first' attitude, then trade his a$$ outta here while his value is high and bring in someone else. Isn't that what a 'rebuilding' team is supposed to do? Bring in guys who want to play in order to improve and realistically challenge for... (I can't say 'the cup' cause that is too far gone) a playoff spot?

Avatar
#9 Gazmort
November 20 2009, 05:46PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Tim S

Good compilation. If we look at the common thread, doesn't it seem that Quinn is about effort and grunt work, and respects guys that are always grinding?

Teams are about a mix of talents, and guys like Strudwick, who may be short on skill compared to a Hemsky, but long on effort, are needed. You want and need guys to "leave it all on the ice" as the tacky cliches go.

At the end of the day (that's a good one too hey Brownlee?) I guess criticizing a guy for slow footspeed is like criticizing a guy for being too short - how would it help? I do recognize skating can be worked on; I'm just taking the clear example (height) and trying to wrap it with something else that is also somewhat out of a player's control.

Avatar
#10 Oilersordeath
November 20 2009, 05:51PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I really dont see Hemmer ever changing his ways, and I've all but given up on him. If he had the work ethic that Horcoff has he'd be dangerous. IMO I say trade him now while we can still get a decent return for him. Yeah he can dangle bla bla bla but gets knocked off the puck way to easy. I doubt he even hits the gym to try to get stronger physically.

Avatar
#11 Oilersordeath
November 20 2009, 05:56PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Why he's still sitting on Brule is a mystery to me, too.

What do mean by that? I think Brule's finally playing the way he was before he got sick. Unless I'm misunderstanding what you are asking.

Avatar
#13 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 20 2009, 05:59PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Oilersordeath

He's not getting prime minutes despite the fact that he proves himself night-in and night-out.

Avatar
#15 Lofty
November 20 2009, 06:18PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Jeanshorts and I were talking about Hemsky a couple of days ago. It seems like he either floats around the ice or creates chances and turns the puck over a lot.

So the question is which do you hope turns up each night? I vote for the floater

it's a shame he can't seem to play well without a bunch of turnovers.

Avatar
#16 Lofty
November 20 2009, 06:18PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Jeanshorts and I were talking about Hemsky a couple of days ago. It seems like he either floats around the ice or creates chances and turns the puck over a lot.

So the question is which do you hope turns up each night? I vote for the floater

it's a shame he can't seem to play well without a bunch of turnovers.

Avatar
#17 Jonathan Willis
November 20 2009, 06:42PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Robin Brownlee

IIRC, Quinn took a shot at Comrie in an earlier presser as well; he was asked why he moved him back to the wing and he responded by talking about how some guys figure they only signed to play the wing, and how centre requires more attention defensively and some guys aren't up for it.

Avatar
#18 David S
November 20 2009, 06:44PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I've made a point to listen to as many Quinn interviews as I can. The guy is a fascinating sport psychologist, whether he actually is or not. He levels out criticism across the board, and certainly "calls 'em as he sees 'em".

At the same time, he's very careful to couch his comments in the sense that his targets are examples rather than the focus. Quite frankly, I find his talks brilliant examples of athletic motivation. I suppose he gets away with alot of it because of his experience and tenor in the sport, but he uses every tool in his arsenal to get the point across.

My guess is his biggest challenge is getting each player to believe in the potential each one of them has inside. He's not blessed with a star-studded roster, so he's trying to squeeze the maximum out of everybody. He's simply trying to help every player be the best they can be and using his vast experience to do so.

Quinn is one of those coaches you remember long after you stop playing the game - in the good way.

Avatar
#19 Jonathan Willis
November 20 2009, 06:46PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Memo To Everyone Whining About Shawn Horcoff Over The Past Week:

He has three goals, three assists and is a +2 over the last six games.

Yes, he had a bad start. Get over it.

Note: everyone who subscribes to Terry Jones' "7-million dollar man" logic, feel free to disregard. It's too late for you anyway.

Avatar
#20 Eric Johnson
November 20 2009, 06:46PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Robin Brownlee

Thanks RB.

Avatar
#22 Jonathan Willis
November 20 2009, 06:52PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Tim S

Brule can not get off the 4th line.

Fact: In 19 games this season, Brule's played less than 10 minutes on one occasion.

Avatar
#23 Charlie N64
November 20 2009, 07:00PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Game day is tomorrow. He'll turn it on tomorrow.

Until than let's try not to sewer Hemmer.

Good talk,

Go Oilers.

Avatar
#24 Eddie Shore
November 20 2009, 07:01PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Jonathan Willis

That's not really saying much when you have a coach that rolls four lines basically from the start of the game until the end is it? Can you honestly say that Brule has been rewarded for his play with his icetime?

Avatar
#25 David S
November 20 2009, 07:07PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Jonathan Willis wrote:

Memo To Everyone Whining About Shawn Horcoff Over The Past Week:

He has three goals, three assists and is a +2 over the last six games.

Yes, he had a bad start. Get over it.

Note: everyone who subscribes to Terry Jones' "7-million dollar man" logic, feel free to disregard. It's too late for you anyway.

There's an interview with Horcoff on the Oilers site from a few days ago, where you can plainly see what he's dealing with right now. His shoulder is really bandaged up, with ice stuffed in to boot. I admit I was one of those guys down on him right up until I saw that video.

If that's the same type of bandage I had when I messed up my shoulder (and it sure looks like it), I'd bet money he's playing on the very edge of even being able to play. I can't imagine how deep that guy must be digging right now. Gave me a whole new respect for him.

Avatar
#27 Tim S
November 20 2009, 07:22PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Jonathan Willis wrote:
Brule can not get off the 4th line.

Fact: In 19 games this season, Brule's played less than 10 minutes on one occasion.

8 forwards average more ice time per game. I guess that is not 4th line but can you get any closer to it??

On a team that struggles to score I fail to see the logic in questioning Hemsky through the media. He will end up the leading scorer, probably by a fair bit. If he is lagging in practice then it should be addressed between coach and player. I was disgusted with MacT last year when he got on Nillson and Penner and I am just as disgusted with this.

I am not trying to attack Horcoff, but the fact that he works hard should not mean that he gets a free pass when it comes to games.

If a coach can come out and question his players is it fair for Hemsky to come out and question his coach??

Avatar
#28 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 20 2009, 07:26PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Robin Brownlee wrote:

Quinn likes a lot about Brule's game and is quick to compliment him on rounding into a good player.

Don't get fixated on ice time, it's just one indicator. You need to look at when and how a coach uses a player to assess how that coach views that player.

Brule was thrown in over his head too fast once in his career already with Columbus and it almost ruined him.

~Rob Schremp is a good choice for a power play late in the 3rd, you know.~

My point is that Brule deserves better linemates based on his play, just like Sam Gagner did earlier this year. Sam Gagner is also a player who was negatively affected by premature exposure to the big show.

Avatar
#29 Ogden Brother
November 20 2009, 07:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I love it, after all the whining the last couple of years about MacT being "too mean" to his players after years of frustration, it's entertaining to see that same faction quiet as Quinn lays into guys after 20 games.

Said it before but: Props to Chris for calling Quinns arrival being harder on the skill guys while the majority here were jumping up and down waiting for the grinders to get their lashes.

Sticking with my earlier call that Hemsky will be traded within the next 12 months (or I guess 10 now)

Avatar
#30 Ogden Brother
November 20 2009, 07:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ David S

I would bet the main reason Quinn gets away with it, is because he's only been here 6 months.

Quinn, like Sutter in Calgary will have a short shelf life. (which really highlights the teams wisdom in having the succesion plan already on board).

Avatar
#31 Lofty
November 20 2009, 07:46PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Anyone checked out what Eklund is vomiting on Hockey Buzz? He must be on crack

Avatar
#32 Harlie
November 20 2009, 07:59PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Robin Brownlee

It sounds like Hemsky thinks he is underpaid.

Avatar
#33 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
November 20 2009, 08:11PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Lofty wrote:

Anyone checked out what Eklund is vomiting on Hockey Buzz? He must be on crack

i would rather wear a "borat" swimsuit and lather my grandma up with lubriderm than waste a nano-second on that douchebags site.

you should kick yourself in the pills for even mentioning the name on this fine site

Avatar
#35 Shaun Doe
November 20 2009, 08:32PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Robin Brownlee wrote:

A kick in the pills is certainly warranted, but I'm struggling with the mechanics of how somebody would actually bag themselves with a solid size 12 in the nads.

Every play hackey sac... on weed?

Avatar
#36 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
November 20 2009, 08:37PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Robin Brownlee wrote:

A kick in the pills is certainly warranted, but I'm struggling with the mechanics of how somebody would actually bag themselves with a solid size 12 in the nads.

with enough beers, almost anything is possible

Avatar
#37 Milli
November 20 2009, 08:37PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I love the Quinn quotes. Was in Etown to watch the Coloardo game and had the car radio tuned to 1260, it's so sweet to hear all oilers all the time. I was listening to Quinn on Thursday talking about gilbert, but, once the media seemed to pile on, then Quinn gets into well it's not just one guy, there 5 other dmen and 4 centers that aren't doing it.....11 guys all together. He seems real good at knowing when to critizes, what to say, but also, when to back his guys up. Then, him talking about Arsene, about a guy who has worked so hard to get there, about some of the kids and there sense of entitlement. I think Quinn gets it, and has instant credibility because of what he has done over 20 years in the game, and hopefully our "skill guys" buy the Fork in!!!!

Avatar
#38 DangerMan
November 20 2009, 08:37PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I've said it before and I'll say it again:

Brule is the best option on this current team to be Hemsky's triggerman. He has decent velocity on his shot and a quick release.

That'll free up Penner to play with Gagner.

Either that or the Oilers can go back to the "Trojan Horse line" of Jacques-Horcoff-Hemsky. The line that every other team thinks they need to check, while the other lines produce. Ironically enough it seemed to work earlier in the year,

Avatar
#40 Jmask5
November 20 2009, 08:49PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I'm all for telling players to work harder but Hemmer and Penner are untouchable so far I think. You've got plenty of guys who play a lot worse out there. having said that I can see where ripping into Hemsky can send a message to the team that no one is immune. I just hope Hemmer gets the message the first time. I wouldn't want this to be a regular thing.

Avatar
#41 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
November 20 2009, 08:51PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Robin Brownlee wrote:

No, but I slapped around a guy for playing hackey sac on weed once when he bounced his little bag off my ride . . .

gregor?

Avatar
#43 Offthebandwagon
November 20 2009, 09:29PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I have to wonder if Hemsky is one of the "Morning Glories" Quinn referred to back in October. If so, then the context of his comments changes. He is centering out Hemsky no matter how you look at it. Whether or not this is effective, time will tell, but I suspect not. I doubt Hemsky is real happy with any aspect of his career right now--no playoffs, a small contract, a series of underperforming years, and no real changes in the cast around him. No upside for him really, except that he's on his way to a career year. Now to be criticized for it? Pphhtt! If I were him I'd want out--Maybe San Jose? I hear they have a sweet shooter to play on the left side.

Avatar
#44 dunciano
November 20 2009, 09:30PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I agree Brownlee, Quinn is just saying it like he sees it. He's not trying to be a jerk and definitely not playing games. He is what he is. I am loving the insight he gives to the team. Our team. I appreciate it as a fan and now always go to the website to see what he has to say.

Avatar
#45 common sense
November 20 2009, 09:36PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Quinn is very diplomatic about it but everything he says points to a team full of players that lack toughness, gamesmanship, experience. He pretty well says he's been dealt a weak hand but he's gonna try his best to improve this team. This guy is a breath of fresh air in a room full of horse manure media....

Avatar
#46 The Real Scuba Steve
November 20 2009, 09:38PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I still think a trade will breathe fresh life into the roster.

Avatar
#47 Librarian Mike
November 20 2009, 09:47PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Robin Brownlee

Hemsky is skilled (duh) and he's got plenty of jam and is willing to play in traffic, but he is not prone to untold hours in the gym or breaking a bead in practice. I don't see it changing.

~C'mon Robin. We're talking about PRACTICE...~

Avatar
#48 Reagan
November 20 2009, 10:05PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

My old English Prof used to say, "If you are not on the bus, you might as well be under it". I've myself have lived by that moto for quite sometime. Certain players should be doing the same on this team. Some not all players could use a swift kick to their proverbial and real butts. This is the big time league, some not all best be playing like it.

Avatar
#49 Mark
November 20 2009, 10:09PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I hope this is the beginning of the end of #83 as an Edmonton Oiler. The guy has done nothing to help the team win even thouigh he gets gravy time every game he plays. If the Oiler's management can send this lazy cancerous pretender packing before the end of the season I'll be the happiest person in Oiler land.

Avatar
#50 Librarian Mike
November 20 2009, 10:17PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

...and so the 'Hate Wheel' spins and comes to a rest on 83...

Comments are closed for this article.