GDB XXV: Coping with Kopitar

Jason Gregor
November 25 2009 01:14PM

If the Oilers can keep Anze Kopitar from lighting the lamp they will have a good chance the win. Kopitar leads the NHL in scoring, with 14 goals and 33 points, but when he scores a goal the King’s chance of winning is exceptional.

The Kings are 47-23-8 when Kopitar scores, including 8-2 this season. Kopitar is big, strong, highly skilled and he skates exceptionally well, but it will be interesting to see how he plays without Ryan Smyth.

Smyth’s style complimented Kopitar and he opened up a lot of ice for the Slovenian, but his new left-winger Alexander Frolov doesn’t play the same way. Frolov has more natural skill than Smyth, but he is very inconsistent.

Terry Murray benched Frolov for one game after eight unproductive games, and Frolov responded with eight points in his next six, and now he has one goal in his last eight games. He has played two games with Kopitar and has a goal, but it will be interesting to see how productive Kopitar is with Frolov instead of Smyth.

Talking with the media and management of the Kings, Smyth is responsible for a lot of Kopitar’s success. Oiler fans are well aware of Smyth’s consistent work ethic, and that, combined with Kopitar’s improved conditioning has Kopitar off to such a great start.

Assignment

I asked Pat Quinn on which defensemen he plans on playing against the Kings top line of Kopitar, Frolov and Justin Williams, and it sounds like he will rotate between Steve Staios/Sheldon Souray and Ladislav Smid/Lubomir Visnovsky.

Quinn is very comfortable with the play of Smid and he was happy with how Smid matched up against Rick Nash earlier this year. While Staios and Souray are a more physical pairing and should be able to negate the size of that line, Quinn and Tom Renney will give Smid and Visnovsky some time against them as well.

Coming off a 4-0 shutout win, there will be no lineup changes and no new lines. For one of the few times this season we will see the identical lineup in consecutive games.

Penner — Gagner — Hemsky
Jacques — Brule — Horcoff
Moreau — Potulny — Cogliano
Reddox — O'Sullivan — Stortini

Stone to return

Ryan Stone was put through the paces for an extra 20 minutes after practice today, to see where he is at. When I spoke to him after practice, he was a bit frustrated with his recovery. He is still feeling pain in his knee, and he is only doing skating drills at this point. They won’t put him in one-on-one drills until the pain subsides. He ruled himself out for this weekend, and said he is looking at possibly the final three games of the upcoming six-game road trip as a possible return date.

Robert Nilsson skated and he will have another neurological test this afternoon, and if he passes that then he should be cleared to play for Friday. He said he is feeling better and his headaches have disappeared. Even if he is cleared, I think it will be hard for him to get a spot in the lineup.

Marc Pouliot skated alongside Stone and Nilsson after practice, and it looks like he is about two weeks away. If Potulny and Reddox continue to play well it will be very interesting to see what Steve Tambellini does with his roster in two weeks, when Stone, Nilsson and Pouliot are ready to go.

The Oilers are being very cautious with Nikolai Khabibulin’s back, and it doesn’t look like he’ll be ready for this weekend’s back-to-back games v. the Sharks and the Canucks. Devan Dubnyk (Doob-nick) is itching to play and I’m curious if the Oilers will give him a game or two.

Dubnyk will have to clear waivers next season, and it is doubtful that he would get through, so will the Oilers give him a game or two? And what is the point of only a few games? If he plays well, is that enough proof that they could move Deslauriers, and if DD struggles in two games is that reason enough to give up on him? I think he will get a game or two, but I don’t think those games, regardless of how he plays, will be the deciding factor in what they do with him this summer.

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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 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 25 2009, 03:17PM
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As for the game itself I am excited that I can finally watch a game and have no distractions around me. I think LA has dropped off as of late and we need to put the pressure on them early, maybe get that first goal so JDD can get comfortable and not worry too much.

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#52 I'm a Scientist!
November 25 2009, 03:22PM
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Game Day Prediction: 4-2 Oilers. Goals from Horcoff, O'Sullivan, Brule and Hemsky. Kopitar gets two for the other side, with assists from Doughty (this will help out my hockey pool)

Obvious Game Day Prediction: Zach Stortini will have troubles spitting the gatorade out of his mouth tonight because his movember moustache is getting much too long. Watch for his jersey to show evidence of excessive drooling.

Not So Obvious Game Day Prediction: After tricking the fans of OilersNation.com in to believing that he is in Europe, Wanye will show up in the rafters of RX1 wearing a phantom of the opera mask and a Pronger jersey. Shutting off all the lights but one and commandeering a smoke machine, he comands the attention of the audience while singing the Log Driver song over a loud speaker. Young girls and Tom Gilbert faint while other fans panic.

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#53 Dan the Man
November 25 2009, 03:24PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

Does that apply to guys over 35 though, that is the problem with some of the stuff at nhlscap.

Yeah it doesn't really specify anything about age for the supension exclusion but because he was over 35 when he signed he would still count against the cap if he did play in the minors.

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#54 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 25 2009, 03:25PM
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I'm going to go with 6-3 Oilers. Goals from Penner (x2), Gagner (x2), Souray, and... I don't know... how about Reddox? Yes. Reddox.

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#55 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 25 2009, 03:31PM
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@Dan the Man

See I would like to know what Jersey did. I really don't think they suspended him, I don't even remember him being assigned to the minors.

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#56 Ogden Brother
November 25 2009, 03:39PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

See I would like to know what Jersey did. I really don't think they suspended him, I don't even remember him being assigned to the minors.

I think they just agreed he would retire.

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#57 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 25 2009, 03:41PM
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@Ogden Brother

So why no cap hit?

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#58 freeze
November 25 2009, 03:48PM
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@Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

This is what I could find: http://www.nj.com/devils/index.ssf/2009/10/brendan_shanahan_a_free_agent.html

http://www.nj.com/devils/index.ssf/2009/10/where_is_nj_devils_winger_bren.html

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#59 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 25 2009, 03:52PM
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@freeze

Still clear as mud.

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#60 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 25 2009, 03:53PM
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@freeze

Ha! I love the response: "It's within the rules."

Wasn't that what Chicago was saying with their Hossa contract when they were taking heat for it?

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#61 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 25 2009, 03:53PM
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@freeze

Ha! I love the response: "It's within the rules."

Wasn't that what Chicago was saying with their Hossa contract when they were taking heat for it?

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#62 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 25 2009, 03:56PM
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@ bingofuel:

If you click 'reply' on multiple posts before writing your response, it appears to duplicate the post. My double-post above was a result of clicking 'reply' to OBJr's post, then clicking reply to freeze's.

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#63 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 25 2009, 03:58PM
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@Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

I think you are thinking about what Pronger says after an elbow to the head.

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#64 Ender
November 25 2009, 04:03PM
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I'm a Scientist! wrote:

Not So Obvious Game Day Prediction: After tricking the fans of OilersNation.com in to believing that he is in Europe, Wanye will show up in the rafters of RX1 wearing a phantom of the opera mask and a Pronger jersey. Shutting off all the lights but one and commandeering a smoke machine, he comands the attention of the audience while singing the Log Driver song over a loud speaker. Young girls and Tom Gilbert faint while other fans panic.

If I miss that because SportsNet cuts to commercial, I am going to be soooo angry . . . at least until I remember that it'll be on YouTube within 10 minutes of Scientist's observing it.

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#65 Dan the Man
November 25 2009, 04:03PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

I think they just agreed he would retire.

I looked in to that a bit and I believe Shannahan first had to clear unconditional waivers and after that the Devils were able to terminate his contract. On a multi year contract the Devils would have still been on the hook for the cap hit due to his age but it appears there is a provision for a 1 year deal so Shanahan's 1 mil salary does not count against the cap.

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#66 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 25 2009, 04:05PM
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@Dan the Man

Wasn't Shanahan's contract multi-year? When I was looking, I thought I saw 2011 numbers.

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#67 Jonathan Willis
November 25 2009, 04:06PM
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Khabibulin's cap hit is going to be a tough one to get rid of if the Oilers ever decide they want to.

It's a moot point for now, though: they didn't sign him to a four-year deal to dump him after one season. Like it or dislike it, Khabibulin's the Oilers' goalie for the forseeable future.

The backup position is the only one open, and the Oilers must decide this summer if they want to use Dubnyk or Deslauriers, because neither can be sent to the minors without clearing waivers next season.

If it were my call, I'd go with Dubnyk. JDD has more immediate trade value, and Dubnyk projects slightly better, and Khabibulin's the established starter.

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#68 Dan the Man
November 25 2009, 04:08PM
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Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things wrote:

Wasn't Shanahan's contract multi-year? When I was looking, I thought I saw 2011 numbers.

It was a 1 year 1 Million dollar deal.

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#70 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 25 2009, 04:11PM
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Dan the Man wrote:

It was a 1 year 1 Million dollar deal.

Ah - totally makes sense, then. If the intent is to avoid the front-loading contracts for players that don't intend to see them to completion, 1-year contracts shouldn't be regulated because you can't use them to get around the cap no matter which way you spin them.

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#71 Dan the Man
November 25 2009, 04:12PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Shanahan never even finished camp, he wasn't asked to go to the minors. He retired, and since he never played a game his contract never counted. Very unique situation.

@HansBaurMesserschmittWatson

A contract is a contract, getting traded doesn't change any aspect of the contract. Khabibulin's contract will count against the cap on whichever team he plays for. He can retire at any point, and the team who has his rights won't have to pay him, but he would still be a $3.75 million cap hit for that team.

According to this article Shannahan was at camp playing with Parise and Zajac.

http://www.nj.com/devils/index.ssf/2009/09/brendan_shanahan_on_nj_devils.html

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#72 Dan the Man
November 25 2009, 04:16PM
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Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things wrote:

Ah - totally makes sense, then. If the intent is to avoid the front-loading contracts for players that don't intend to see them to completion, 1-year contracts shouldn't be regulated because you can't use them to get around the cap no matter which way you spin them.

Yeah that's what I gathered from what I read. I'm not 100% on it but that was my interpretation of the info in the CBA.

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#73 Skidplate
November 25 2009, 04:26PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Yep should be a great trip... Go to www.grandescapes.ca

That trip looks great, but 28 hun seems a little high, no?

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#74 Senator Theo
November 25 2009, 04:35PM
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Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things wrote:

I'm glad to finally see a timeline on Stone. It definitely will be a pickle when he's off the IR, but from a cap-standpoint, waiving Nilsson would look awfully tempting...

That's the kind of pickle I'm looking forward to being up against.

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#75 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 25 2009, 04:37PM
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Senator Theo wrote:

That's the kind of pickle I'm looking forward to being up against.

I'm not usually one to toss around a "that's what she said", but it's awfully tempting...

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#76 Dan the Man
November 25 2009, 04:37PM
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Senator Theo wrote:

That's the kind of pickle I'm looking forward to being up against.

That's what she said.

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#77 Senator Theo
November 25 2009, 04:40PM
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@Dan the Man

How about, "that's the kind of pickle I can't wait to have on my hands."?

Any better?

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#78 Ender
November 25 2009, 04:46PM
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Senator Theo wrote:

How about, "that's the kind of pickle I can't wait to have on my hands."?

Any better?

That's what Brendan Burke said.

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#79 Librarian Mike
November 25 2009, 04:52PM
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Ender wrote:

That's what Brendan Burke said.

And so it begins. Haha.

You know, I mostly think Brian Burke is an arrogant blowhard, but I have a lot of respect for him in terms of his acceptance of his son. It's nice to see, particularly in such an environment as pro sports.

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#80 David S
November 25 2009, 04:54PM
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Skidplate wrote:

That trip looks great, but 28 hun seems a little high, no?

Meg Morrison is going on the trip. Have you seen her at the JAG website? *drool*

TOTALLY worth the dough.

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#81 Senator Theo
November 25 2009, 05:02PM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

And so it begins. Haha.

You know, I mostly think Brian Burke is an arrogant blowhard, but I have a lot of respect for him in terms of his acceptance of his son. It's nice to see, particularly in such an environment as pro sports.

x2. about him being a blowhard, and the part about it being nice to seem him stand up for his son.

I'm not joining the BB fanclub yet though.

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#82 Ender
November 25 2009, 05:08PM
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@Librarian Mike

I don't know if that necessarily merits a ton of respect. What are Burkie's options?

1) Publicly support his son and put up with a few shots from people who are anti-gay; those people will get shouted at anyway in this day and age, so Burke doesn't even have to respond to them.

2) Publicly alienate his son and put up with a storm of protest from every gay-rights activist in the country, along with any journalist looking for a free shot.

Do you think Burke had any choice here? I'm not saying he's wrong; just that a choice that's made for you does not reflect on your character. As far as that goes, what Burke really thinks in private and what he says to his family in his own home we may never know.

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#83 TigerUnderGlass
November 25 2009, 05:09PM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

And so it begins. Haha.

You know, I mostly think Brian Burke is an arrogant blowhard, but I have a lot of respect for him in terms of his acceptance of his son. It's nice to see, particularly in such an environment as pro sports.

I for one am already tired of everyone applauding a person for doing what he is supposed to do.

It's his son. He is supposed to accept and support him. Anything else from him would make him a bad father. Why are people falling all over themselves to congratulate him for not being terrible. Great. Good for you. You are not in the bottom 12% of fathers.

Besides, even if he wanted to do otherwise what the hell do you expect him to do? He is a public figure, is he really going to get away with saying "screw him he's not my son anymore?"

He had no choice, either as a father, or as a public figure, so please everyone stop pretending he deserves some kind of award for doing exactly what he is supposed to do.

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#84 Senator Theo
November 25 2009, 05:18PM
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I don't think anyone is saying that he deserves an award, but he has publicly thrown his support behind his son for doing something that almost every other gay hockey player has been afraid to do - go public.

Even though that's what he's supposed to do, We've all seen lots of parents with much less to lose that don't support thier kids when they come out.

Brian Burke has never been afraid of what other people or the media thinks of him - otherwise everyone wouldn't think he's such a tool! I don't think all of a sudden he would think, "my only choice is to act like I support my son". I'm sure it wasn't easy for him either.

Yes, he did what he's supposed to do, but people don't always do that, and I have a tiny piece of respect for him for that.

But that's as far as I'll go.

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#86 jeanshorts
November 25 2009, 05:40PM
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@TigerUnderGlass

What you want, a cookie????

*sorry I watched Bring The Pain the other day*

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#87 LeVar Burton's Rainbow
November 25 2009, 05:47PM
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Who's the glossy-eyed stoner in the picture? He should read more.

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#88 Colin
November 25 2009, 05:53PM
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David S wrote:

Meg Morrison is going on the trip. Have you seen her at the JAG website? *drool*

TOTALLY worth the dough.

Sorry to spoil your fantasy, but she's wearing a wedding/engagement ring in the pictures from what I can tell.

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#89 Dr_oil
November 25 2009, 06:16PM
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Off topic but does anyone know if the game is blacked out here in Calgary? I see the Flames are on TSN at the same time, which usually means a blackout of the sportsnet feed here.

Curious.

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#90 David S
November 25 2009, 06:48PM
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Colin wrote:

Sorry to spoil your fantasy, but she's wearing a wedding/engagement ring in the pictures from what I can tell.

What? Man, that's usually the first thing I look for too. Friggin' losing it.

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#91 BarryS
November 25 2009, 06:49PM
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Jmask5 wrote:

Its going to be an interesting weekend to say the least. I think Deslaurier will play both games and then they can give him a day off on the road. Starting a new goalie at home is never a good idea.

I doubt it. JDD has been forced to sit on his butt for the better part of two seasons. The only way they pry him from the net is when Kabbi comes back or it looks like Kabbi will be gone a month, or he does the elfoldo in the net with no help doing so by he defence.

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#92 Senator Theo
November 25 2009, 06:50PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Have you guys actually read the article on espn.com about the situation? If not, you have no idea what you are talking about. Go read it and then have an educated opinion on it. Otherwise you sound like someone who doesn't like Burke the GM, this has nothing to do with that.

I'm not sure what you're getting at here Jason - I heard Buccigross discuss the article and how it came about, and I made clear that my opinion was *despite* of what I felt about Burke the GM.

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#93 TigerUnderGlass
November 25 2009, 07:20PM
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jeanshorts wrote:

What you want, a cookie????

*sorry I watched Bring The Pain the other day*

Thank you for noticing. I was worried nobody would.

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#94 Smokin' Ray
November 25 2009, 07:30PM
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GAME DAY!!!

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#95 jeanshorts
November 25 2009, 07:30PM
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THE MOREAU OF THE STORY!!!!

*rips his ears off his face*

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#96 Eddie Shore
November 25 2009, 07:31PM
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Let's dooooo this!!!

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#97 jeanshorts
November 25 2009, 07:33PM
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Anyone remember when Horcoff was the reason this team was losing?

Yeah.

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#98 Eddie Shore
November 25 2009, 07:34PM
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Sidebar:

Heavy Metal 2 is on and it is f*cken rad.

Carry on....

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#99 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 25 2009, 07:35PM
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jeanshorts wrote:

THE MOREAU OF THE STORY!!!!

*rips his ears off his face*

Ughhh, I heard that too...

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#100 Eddie Shore
November 25 2009, 07:40PM
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Jonathan Quick --> .897 save percentage

I like our chances.

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