Wake up and smell the mediocrity

Jason Gregor
November 30 2009 02:10PM

The Oilers woke up this morning in 14th place in the West, one point ahead of the Wild with a five-game road trip on the horizon. As frustrated as this organization and their fans must be today, it could always be worse: you could be a Rider fan or player.

For the past few weeks fans have been demanding the Oilers tank it and position themselves for a lottery pick. News flash people: They are in 27th spot today, Ales Hemsky is done for the season, Nikolai Khabibulin still isn’t practicing and their top-two centres didn’t skate today.

If you wanted the Oilers to get a top-five pick, then be prepared for a long 55 games. But don’t expect them to trade away all of their veterans for prospects or picks. Steve Tambellini will make a move or two as the trade deadline nears if they're out of it, but don’t expect him to completely gut this team. I’m guessing they will try to mirror more of a Carolina rebuild, compared to the lengthy rebuilds of teams like Chicago and Pittsburgh.

Right now this team is bringing a water gun to a gun fight. Their goaltenders have combined for 15 NHL starts, they have one forward who has scored more than 25 goals in a season, and only Carolina and Columbus have given up more goals so far.

Sam Gagner and Shawn Horcoff didn’t skate, while Robert Nilsson and Ryan Stone were on the ice, and Stone took part in every drill. Both have been cleared to play and should be in the lineup on Thursday. Horcoff is resting his shoulder, while Gagner had a non-hockey related meeting that he couldn’t get out of. Both will be ready for Thursday.

Khabibulin isn’t close to returning so the JDD and DD tandem will start the trip. Mike Comrie and Denis Grebeshkov aren’t even in the conversation as far as returning.

The Oilers had a fast-paced practice, filled with lots of line rushes, a big hit from Dean Arsene on J.F. Jacques and it ended with some four-on-four time. The problem was in the entire four-on-four scrimmage there was only one goal; a top-shelf slapper by Ethan Moreau on Devan Dubnyk. Then they practiced their shoot-outs. Andrew Cogliano and Lubomir Visnovsky were the best scoring three straight.

I suggest we here at OilersNation try to maintain a level head the remainder of the season. Please don’t waste anyone’s time by posting or linking to ridiculous trade rumours. I know you all want Shawn Horcoff traded, but it won’t happen this season, and it probably won’t happen for a few more years.

If you read that Eric Staal is coming here, make sure you count to 50 and ask yourself, “Will I look like a complete fool if I even mention this?” If you reach 50 and still are tempted to bring it up, then be prepared to be mocked. Staal is not being traded.

I am all for suggesting fair or realistic trades, or scenarios that you would like to see the Oilers take. The next few months might be painful for the Oilers and their fans, but let’s not make it anymore painful by being subjected to asinine and ridiculous rumours.

Speaking of rumours, I got a text from Wanye today. He is alive, but rattled by Hemsky’s injury, stunned at the Riders gag job and frustrated because they have no BLs in his travels. No truth to the rumour that he was in jail. He got a slap on the wrist and ten lashes on his ass, but no criminal record.

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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 BarryS
November 30 2009, 02:17PM
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The season is long, our fans can't spell patience little lone use it, nobody in the league wants to trade anybody of interest to anybody, the team is loosing, Calgary is winning, boy this season sure is boring.

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#2 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 30 2009, 02:17PM
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It's way too soon to make deals anyways. There is still that slight chance that this team could win without Hemsky. I don't think anything major happens until the new year and even then it won't be blockbuster deals.

I guess the question is if you are Katz how do you handle hearing every year that injuries hurt us again?

I still have a feeling that one of Pouilot and Nilsson will help this team when they comeback, then again I have been drinking quite a bit in November.

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#3 OvenChicken8 - Team JSBM
November 30 2009, 02:18PM
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This piss poor season is exactly what we need. The young guys will get some more experience and the best case scenario is they play poorly enough for a Hall or Seguin. At the very least we may find out if JDD can bounce back or if his confidence is shot worse than Jim Carrey (RE: Capitals)

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#4 Propjay
November 30 2009, 02:22PM
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am I crazy or is there something wrong with the word bubble above? Shouldn't day be crossed out instead of miserable?

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#5 Rigger
November 30 2009, 02:24PM
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I've not been fond of the idea of purposely tanking. It doesn't make for fun hockey to watch, even when it's free on tv. I'm hoping that our injury parade stops and we can get healthy, truly healthy again. We've not been healthy since the first couple games in, despite getting some players back. Even when they come back, their not healthy, and we all need to remember that.

*wonders about what a non-hockey related meeting could entail* LOL, yes I'm that bored at work. Sigh!

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#6 DK0
November 30 2009, 02:25PM
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@Propjay

bahaha, i totally missed that

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#7 BarryS
November 30 2009, 02:26PM
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OvenChicken8 - Team JSBM wrote:

This piss poor season is exactly what we need. The young guys will get some more experience and the best case scenario is they play poorly enough for a Hall or Seguin. At the very least we may find out if JDD can bounce back or if his confidence is shot worse than Jim Carrey (RE: Capitals)

Nothing like hard times to seperate the men from the boys, applies to fans as well as players. O N seems to have lots of boys posting.

To the men amongst us, this season, more than the last two, offers great opportunities for us to see guys stuck in the minors make or break their careers. At the moment, several seem to be making real NHL careers possible, either here or somewhere else.

At the moment, it looks to me like we have more real assets than it looked last year.

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#8 JB
November 30 2009, 02:26PM
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Really stoked we signed a 36-year-old injury prone goalie who only puts it together in contract years to a rich 4 year deal. Bravo Tambo! Next signing: Jagr to a 3 year $15 million contract!

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#9 Jonathan Willis
November 30 2009, 02:26PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. wrote:

It's way too soon to make deals anyways. There is still that slight chance that this team could win without Hemsky.

The odds of this team earning a playoff spot currently sit at less than 10%.

Thus, I'd suggest it's not way too early; it's more likely way too late.

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#10 BarryS
November 30 2009, 02:27PM
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Propjay wrote:

am I crazy or is there something wrong with the word bubble above? Shouldn't day be crossed out instead of miserable?

Not crazy, the photoshopper obviously had a hard weekend.

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#11 Oiler84
November 30 2009, 02:28PM
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This season might be a tank job without trying!! But there are positives. Eberle will be here next year. And man does he look good. MPS might be here and he is having a fine season in the Swedish elite. And we will have a marginally better looking cap situation I think. No Grebeshkov, cause I think he will be traded or let walk. No Pisani, love the guy but cost to much. Nilsson will not be back. Right there is a minus of 7.5 mil. or so. I can see good things in the future.

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#12 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 30 2009, 02:28PM
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As for some trades. I don't mind the Cogliano for Dubinsky trade that was thrown out there. I just don't know if the Rangers do it and not sure how Dubinsky fits into our center situation.

If Coglaino isn't moved I wouldn't mind seeing O'Sullivan moved. And one of Grebs/Gilbert. Try get a another defensive d-man and try add some size to our skilled player pool.

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#13 tricksnard
November 30 2009, 02:30PM
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Well at least we're bringing some kind of gun to the fight, right? .....right? ugh.

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#14 bingofuel
November 30 2009, 02:30PM
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Propjay wrote:

am I crazy or is there something wrong with the word bubble above? Shouldn't day be crossed out instead of miserable?

Yeah, guess who else missed it? Frick, I need more coffee in my whiskey.

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#15 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 30 2009, 02:31PM
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@Oiler84

As much as Eberle seems ready to make the jump, does another small forward really make this team that much better?

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#16 Chaz
November 30 2009, 02:34PM
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Catch 22, Oilers Style:

I want the team to do well everytime I watch them, yet I know realistically the best thing for them might well be to finish near or at the bottom of the league so we get a top 3 pick. Therefore, do I cheer for them to win each game to satisfy my short-term fandom, or do I cheer for them to tank thus ensuring a top pick in next year's draft?

Answer: As hard as I try, I can't cheer against them, so damn the pick and Go Oil Go!! They are for sure going to turn things around starting Thursday in Detroit...

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#17 BarryS
November 30 2009, 02:35PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Ogden Brother Jr. wrote:

It's way too soon to make deals anyways. There is still that slight chance that this team could win without Hemsky.

The odds of this team earning a playoff spot currently sit at less than 10%.

Thus, I'd suggest it's not way too early; it's more likely way too late.

Like to know how you figure the odds? Lets see, 700 some players, 2000 some games, 50 - 60 on ice officials, a hundred some coaches, all making an unknown number of decisions a game, a billion and a half or more possible player combinations, 30 ice surfaces with 2000 some opportunities to affect the game, unfactorable injury possibilities. Like to find a computer with the possibilities to factor all that.

What you mean, you guess/hope the odds are less than 10%.

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#18 jeanshorts
November 30 2009, 02:35PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

As much as Eberle seems ready to make the jump, does another small forward really make this team that much better?

Once again, just because he's not 6'3, 220lbs doesn't mean he's going to get slaughtered out there. And if the Stone's and Jacques and McDonald's/O'Marra's can find a way to stick, this team won't have a problem matching a big, physical presence with the smaller guys to help even the lines out.

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#19 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 30 2009, 02:38PM
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@jeanshorts

All I'm saying isn't I wouldn't bank on any of our prospects making an impact. This is all to similar to the Schremp situation.

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#20 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 30 2009, 02:40PM
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@BarryS

There is a website that does calculate that, but at the same time you win a game and the guy ahead of you loses and you jump up.

It's funny we are 7 points out wtih 55 or so games to go and we are a complete write off.

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#21 jeanshorts
November 30 2009, 02:40PM
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@BarryS

Considering they've gone 3-10 this month and are one point out of being last place in the west, are missing more than a handful of regulars including their number one goalie, and haven't been able to string together any sort of consistency all season, I think it's safe to say the odds of them making the playoffs are slim. It doesn't take a complicated algorithm to figure that out.

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#22 Oiler84
November 30 2009, 02:41PM
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I agree we need to get bigger but Jacques, Stone, Storts, and whoever else is brought in will help with that. But can we keep Eberle out of the line up? Comrie won't be back he's small. I honestly think Cogs won't be back. I think Quinn and Tambo realize we need to be bigger and we will see that start happening later this season at the deadline.

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#23 tricksnard
November 30 2009, 02:41PM
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BarryS wrote:

Like to know how you figure the odds? Lets see, 700 some players, 2000 some games, 50 - 60 on ice officials, a hundred some coaches, all making an unknown number of decisions a game, a billion and a half or more possible player combinations, 30 ice surfaces with 2000 some opportunities to affect the game, unfactorable injury possibilities. Like to find a computer with the possibilities to factor all that.

What you mean, you guess/hope the odds are less than 10%.

Probalby something along these lines :

http://www.sportsclubstats.com/NHL/Western/Northwest/Oilers.html

(Yes, I'm aware that this is not an actual calculation and rather just randomly generated game outcomes)

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#24 BarryS
November 30 2009, 02:42PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

All I'm saying isn't I wouldn't bank on any of our prospects making an impact. This is all to similar to the Schremp situation.

I love it how some people judge other people by how some other people react to a situation. Eberle is not Schremp, wouldn't want to be if he could, and has had a different route to get where he is. First major difference, Eberle almost made the team his first pro-training camp. In any event, Eberle makes or breaks on his talent and luck, not Schremps.

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#25 jeanshorts
November 30 2009, 02:43PM
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@Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

Fair enough, and I see your point, as this team is already too small for it's own good on most nights, but I just think we should move away from thinking that just because a guy isn't Penner size that he's not going to be able to take the team on his shoulders.

Although it could just be my NAMBLA-esque crush on Eberle talking.

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#26 Oiler84
November 30 2009, 02:45PM
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@BarryS

Schremp was one of the final cuts at his first training camp too. But I am still not sure how that happened. And Eberle can skate. Schremp was always an average skater.

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#27 swany
November 30 2009, 02:46PM
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Gregor, cna you see the Oil making a trade to get another 1st round pick. It would be nice to get ours and one more in the top 20. If the Oil end up with the 1st pick overall would they take Hall or Seguin? I don't know much about them.

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#28 Ogden Brother
November 30 2009, 02:46PM
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"For the past few weeks fans have been demanding the Oilers tank it and position themselves for a lottery pick. News flash people: They are in 27th spot today, Ales Hemsky is done for the season, Nikolai Khabibulin still isn’t practicing and their top-two centres didn’t skate today.

If you wanted the Oilers to get a top-five pick, then be prepared for a long 55 games. But don’t expect them to trade away all of their veterans for prospects or picks. Steve Tambellini will make a move or two as the trade deadline nears if they're out of it, but don’t expect him to completely gut this team."

We certainly are well on our way to a lotto pick, but trading one of (if not both) Souray/Vish makes some sense. Both likely have 1-3 good years left in them, Baring a miricle this team is further then that from Cup contention. Get some pics for them... or even some 25 - 27 year old role players (A Jarret Stoll type if you will)

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#29 Oilitsinyoutogive
November 30 2009, 02:48PM
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lets take a break here and look at the plus side, more people will be selling their tickets below face value, again like last year which means more coke beers for me and more games to have coke beers at.

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#30 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 30 2009, 02:48PM
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@BarryS

So did Schremp his first year and again his second year.

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#31 John K
November 30 2009, 02:49PM
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Everyone should temper their venom with the knowledge that the Oilers lead the league in man games lost, and it certainly seems like barring a miracle run from another team, will lead the league in that category by a long shot.

No, it's no excuse, yes, every team has to deal with them. But no team will reach its potential when guys like Zack Stortini are getting PP minutes, and when Strudwick is forced to play against top lines.

At this point as an Oilers fan what I primarily want to see if the kind of effort they put forth versus the Sharks. Gritty, hard-nosed, hard-working play. If they can deliver a more gutsy brand of hockey, at least we will be entertained as we float around in the mid-twenties.

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#32 OvenChicken8 - Team JSBM
November 30 2009, 02:51PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

So did Schremp his first year and again his second year.

It looks like he might be the Isle's last cut this year as well lol.

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#33 BarryS
November 30 2009, 02:52PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

There is a website that does calculate that, but at the same time you win a game and the guy ahead of you loses and you jump up.

It's funny we are 7 points out wtih 55 or so games to go and we are a complete write off.

Actually, there isn't, and there isn't likely ever to be. Just like weather models, hockey outcome models only succeed by disregarding most of the possible variables. Last I heard, a computer to compute all the variables in the weather would need to be the size of the known universe, the hockey one would likely be not much smaller. While many variables do cancel each other out, knowing before hand which, is impossible. Garbage in, Garbage out. You can not forecast either a 20 - 2 run or 2 - 20 run in advance, sorry. All this stuff, is assumption/hope in assumption/hope out.

You takes your guess, you bets your money, you win or loose. No skill needed.

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#34 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 30 2009, 02:54PM
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@jeanshorts

I'm just saying banking on someone that has zero nhl experience might not be the best idea regardless of his size.

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#35 Jonathan Willis
November 30 2009, 02:54PM
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@ BarryS:

No, what I mean is that one website calculated those odds at less than 10%. I could have said "93 points (which looks to be a decent estimate of the cutline as there are more three point games this year) would require a 104 point pace over the remaining 55 games" like Tyler did, but instead chose to present it that way.

The odds are very bad. Players and coaches should ignore the odds, because they aren't being paid to make team decisions, they're being paid to win games. It shouldn't matter to them. Managers should look at the odds, because they are being paid to make team decisions and those odds factor in.

As for fans, they have options. They can be realistic all the way, or they can live in their own little bubble of faith. I prefer realism. Your mileage may vary. I frankly don't care.

But suggesting that I'm actively hoping the Oilers miss the playoffs is just asinine.

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#36 Jonathan Willis
November 30 2009, 02:58PM
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BarryS wrote:

You takes your guess, you bets your money, you win or loose. No skill needed.

For an uneducated guess, yes. But by such measures there's no point at all to, say, professional scouting either. You can't possibly calculate all the variables to predict the next 20 years of a 17-year-old's career. Yet there's no getting around the fact that some guesses are better than others.

And right now, the smart money says that the Oilers are very, very unlikely to make the playoffs.

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#37 carson
November 30 2009, 02:58PM
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There's a lot of silver lining here:

This time can lose productively. Entertainment value can be derived from these games (look at last Friday's game). This is a bad team, and they will lose, but this could really be a season of small victories.The wheat, the chaff, etc...

Let the UFA's walk (Comrie, Pisani, Strudwick - I think Strudwick, anyway). You're not going to unload all of the unnecessarily big contracts (Horcoff, Staios, Moreau, Nilsson), but guys like O'Sullivan and one of the 4 big ticket d-man could be traded (I still believe in Cogliano and am loving him trying to redefine himself as more of a sparkplug type player. Pull the trigger on him and it will come back to bite us).

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#38 Rigger
November 30 2009, 03:00PM
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John K wrote:

Everyone should temper their venom with the knowledge that the Oilers lead the league in man games lost, and it certainly seems like barring a miracle run from another team, will lead the league in that category by a long shot.

No, it's no excuse, yes, every team has to deal with them. But no team will reach its potential when guys like Zack Stortini are getting PP minutes, and when Strudwick is forced to play against top lines.

At this point as an Oilers fan what I primarily want to see if the kind of effort they put forth versus the Sharks. Gritty, hard-nosed, hard-working play. If they can deliver a more gutsy brand of hockey, at least we will be entertained as we float around in the mid-twenties.

This is what I think as well. We haven't been a fully healthy roster since almost the beginning of the season, and even when our players are "coming back" they're still covering up injuries or illness. At times this year, we've iced a largly AHL line up. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that we didn't do super well.

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#39 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 30 2009, 03:00PM
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@Jonathan Willis

While that may be true it is too early to blow up the team and call it quits. If we when say 5 in a row what are the odds of us making the playoffs? I don't think I have ever seen a team blow up their roster before the all-star break.

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#40 BarryS
November 30 2009, 03:02PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ BarryS:

No, what I mean is that one website calculated those odds at less than 10%. I could have said "93 points (which looks to be a decent estimate of the cutline as there are more three point games this year) would require a 104 point pace over the remaining 55 games" like Tyler did, but instead chose to present it that way.

The odds are very bad. Players and coaches should ignore the odds, because they aren't being paid to make team decisions, they're being paid to win games. It shouldn't matter to them. Managers should look at the odds, because they are being paid to make team decisions and those odds factor in.

As for fans, they have options. They can be realistic all the way, or they can live in their own little bubble of faith. I prefer realism. Your mileage may vary. I frankly don't care.

But suggesting that I'm actively hoping the Oilers miss the playoffs is just asinine.

Sorry, I did not mean it as a personal attack on you, rather the person making the program. There is no science to odds. The bookmaker sets a line he thinks will attract betters with small risk of loosing money, then the betters guess who will win, loose, cover, and place their bets. The odds are then adjusted in line with how many bets on each side. But since I don't bet, I put no faith in odds.

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#41 jeanshorts
November 30 2009, 03:02PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

I'm just saying banking on someone that has zero nhl experience might not be the best idea regardless of his size.

Tell that to the 2005-2006 Pittsburgh Penguins!

Imagine if Crosby would have turned out to be a bust? Canada would have imploded into itself! Or, well everything East of Manitoba would have anyway.

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#42 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 30 2009, 03:05PM
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@jeanshorts

Lets re-phrase that. We shouldn't be banking on anyone as we don't have any Crosby's, Ovechkin's or Malkin's in our prospect pool.

Edit: I was pulling for Crosby to be a bust.

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#43 BarryS
November 30 2009, 03:05PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

BarryS wrote:

You takes your guess, you bets your money, you win or loose. No skill needed.

For an uneducated guess, yes. But by such measures there's no point at all to, say, professional scouting either. You can't possibly calculate all the variables to predict the next 20 years of a 17-year-old's career. Yet there's no getting around the fact that some guesses are better than others.

And right now, the smart money says that the Oilers are very, very unlikely to make the playoffs.

Not trying to pick a fight but smart money in the context of odds is an oximoron. Smart Money never bets.

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#44 Oiler84
November 30 2009, 03:06PM
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If we want to compete nest year we need a few role players. We traded ours away so we need new ones.

1. A Jarret Stoll type player is exactly what we need. Wins face offs kills penalties and blocks shots. And pitches in some offence. A REAL 3RD LINE CENTER

2. A big tough defenceman A.K.A Matt Greene. No need to get points just block shots and be tough to play against.

3. A good shooting second line winger. Maybe Patty O can be this guy but he just don't seem to be the guy. I see Eberle taking this spot.

4. A real grinder with some ability. Glencross ring any bells. He was exactly what we needed but we were to busy trying to get Hossa.

Thats just a few things I think we need. But this season is not a write off yet. Lots of games. If these guys can come together we have a shot.

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#45 Jonathan Willis
November 30 2009, 03:06PM
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@ Ogden Brother Jr.

No, I agree with you (and Gregor) there. All I'm saying is that I'm pretty sure they're done.

There's no sense blowing the team up just yet, but Tambellini & Co. should be planning now for that eventuality.

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#46 jeanshorts
November 30 2009, 03:08PM
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@Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

Either way I've got my Eberle jersey with the "C" on the front pre-ordered.

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#47 BarryS
November 30 2009, 03:10PM
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@Oiler84

Everybody please give up on Glencross. The undenible fact is he did not want to be here. Get over it.

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#48 Jonathan Willis
November 30 2009, 03:10PM
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@ BarryS:

No worries ;)

The point I'm trying to make (and maybe I'm making it badly) is this: the odds are against the Oilers.

I'm not a gambler (with money) but every decision I make can be viewed as a gamble. And right now, if the Oilers brain-trust needs to gamble (on a trade or whatever else) they should be gambling with the knowledge their team is probably out of it.

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#49 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 30 2009, 03:11PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@jeanshorts

LOL. What's your address, I'll pull the C off my Schremp jersey and mail it to you.

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#50 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 30 2009, 03:14PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ BarryS:

No worries ;)

The point I'm trying to make (and maybe I'm making it badly) is this: the odds are against the Oilers.

I'm not a gambler (with money) but every decision I make can be viewed as a gamble. And right now, if the Oilers brain-trust needs to gamble (on a trade or whatever else) they should be gambling with the knowledge their team is probably out of it.

I guess the question is will Katz put up with a quiter? Or does he want Tambo to at least fight as long as he can. If you told your boss after a 1/4 of the year that you won't be able to finish the other 3/4 of the job, what would he say?

Not sure billionaires like guys that pull the pin without giving it a fair shake.

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