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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#51 Harlie
November 30 2009, 03:17PM
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Gregor please add ice girl pic to end of story. Do not..and I repeat..Do not end a story with us having to picture Wanye getting his ass lashed. Gagzooks!

*runs in opposite direction of sink*

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#52 BarryS
November 30 2009, 03:18PM
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@Jonathan Willis

Hey, as a true Romantic, I never consider the odds of success or failure is selecting causes to die for, as it were. Every game is a new game, yesterdays game is over and needs to be forgotten, win or loose. Always something new to see. Long ago learned my lesson about players, never pick a favourite, he's soon to be traded, hurt, benched, or otherwise no longer be available for me to cheer.

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#53 Kaiser Wilhelm
November 30 2009, 03:18PM
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What does it say about our team and our mindset that we are now wishing for Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene, Curtis Glencross, and the rest of the third liners we ran out of town in the last three years? Sheesh. If things don't improve, it's gonna be a really, really, long season.

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#54 MattL
November 30 2009, 03:19PM
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JB wrote:

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!

Where were you for the first 20 games of the season when he was our best player? Way to pile on after the injury. Gotta love that hindsight, eh?

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#55 BarryS
November 30 2009, 03:23PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

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.

I expect Mr. Katz still views the oilers as a new toy, and not to concerned about what it isn't, only with what it is, a new toy. As long as it is still shiney, i.e. makes money, he is not likely to get involved.

As well, having taken over enough companies, he likely has a good idea how long it takes to cease being an EIG firm and becomes a Katz Group firm. He likely also knows, the bigger and older the company, the longer it will take.

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#56 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 30 2009, 03:25PM
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@MattL

Not sure it was even hindsight. Bulin has an injruy problem, lets just hope he is able to play 55-60 games a year througout the length of his contract.

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#57 BarryS
November 30 2009, 03:29PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

Not sure it was even hindsight. Bulin has an injruy problem, lets just hope he is able to play 55-60 games a year througout the length of his contract.

Of course it is hindsight, all O N seems to be is everybody trumpeting their version of hindsight. Except of course, for the claims every other team in the league has better players, no bad contracts, and otherwise is better. The term, small town - small mind, syndrome comes to town.

Guess what folks, every other town has fans just as small-minded as this one, just as many bad contracts, non-preforming players etc. etc.

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#58 Shifty203
November 30 2009, 03:32PM
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MattL wrote:

Where were you for the first 20 games of the season when he was our best player? Way to pile on after the injury. Gotta love that hindsight, eh?

Nobody said he wasn't good when he was healthy. Everyones issue when he signed the deal was the length of the contract, and his injury riddled history vs. what other players were available at the time. It was an unneccesary risk, and it's looking like it caught up to us. If the kids can play fine, then all will be well, but they aren't exactly looking solid.

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#59 Balf82
November 30 2009, 03:37PM
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I think we should move Pisani and Moreau to CBJ for their playoff run. Maybe in return we could get Commodore? Commodore would be great beside Smid.

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#60 TigerUnderGlass
November 30 2009, 03:41PM
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@BarryS

1. Did you even read their methodology before thrashing it?

2. Computing odds is not not just a random odds maker pulling a number out of a hat. It is a very strict process and is a far more accurate predictor than many other things people want to take for granted. (at least vegas odds are) -

I have no knowledge of the accuracy of the odds as determined by the site in question but I would at least see how they come to a number before ranting about how wrong their predictions are. I loved how you used the possibility of a 20-2 run as an argument against their odds. Can I assume then that you believe the Oilers have a better than 10% chance to go on a 20-2 run?

3. I have seen you repeatedly use the word on this site but I have yet to see you spell it correctly. The word is oxymoron. I would have assumed a typo but you spell it that way every time. I wish you would use it correctly sometime. That would be a nice change of pace.

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#61 TigerUnderGlass
November 30 2009, 03:43PM
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BarryS wrote:

Of course it is hindsight, all O N seems to be is everybody trumpeting their version of hindsight. Except of course, for the claims every other team in the league has better players, no bad contracts, and otherwise is better. The term, small town - small mind, syndrome comes to town.

Guess what folks, every other town has fans just as small-minded as this one, just as many bad contracts, non-preforming players etc. etc.

This is awesome too. You write that all ON seems to be is hindsight, but when people try to look ahead you criticize that as a waste of time.

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

My approach to management is that it requires a constant, realistic evaluation of the circumstances.

Sometimes the circumstances mean that the best course of action is simply to minimize losses and avoid pouring good money after bad.

For the Oilers, there's the question of short-term vs. long-term. I think we can all admit that this team isn't likely to contend for a Stanley Cup this year. Since the ultimate goal is to contend for a Stanley Cup, the best course of action is to weight all decisions to the long term. Sometimes this is more nuanced (i.e. there's value in making the playoffs) but other times it becomes simple. Right now, the Oilers look very bad; so bad that it isn't really worth mortgaging the future when the absolute best-case scenario is a low playoff seed.

In Tambellini's shoes, I'd give it 10 or 15 more games before making a move, something I'm sure he's capable of (not making moves doesn't seem to be one of his problems). But at the same time I'd calculate that the odds are when I do make am ove it's going to be with the future in mind. I have a good idea which teams will be buyers; I'd scout their prospects. I'd let them know that I'm likely to be interested in making deals they'll be interested in. I'd look at this summer's free agent crop and try to identify which guys might be willing to sign and which guys might help me. I'd be looking at my own team and asking myself 'who can help me win next year? who can help me win in five years?' I'd look at guys I'll need to make decisions on and make sure I have an accurate read on them.

If the miraculous happens and the team pulls things together, no harm done. If, on the other hand, things go badly I have all the groundwork laid and I can execute a well-thought out plan.

It's not about quitting. It's about making the most sensible decision for the team, and if that means a focus on more long-term stuff than short-term stuff, so be it.

Feel free to point out anything you disagree with; I'm really just floating this.

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#63 MoJo
November 30 2009, 03:48PM
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The one thing no-one seems to be linking in their "blow up the team" haste is the new arena development.

If the team tanks too bad over the next few years it will affect attendaces and make people nervous about investing in it (particularly if it includes public money). This season can maybe be explained away - but reality is they have to keep the team competitive, and Rexall full, for the next few years.

The other consideration is who we have that is a tradeable commodity? ATM I'd say only Penner and Khabi - maybe Comrie if he comes back and out performs his contract (which he's probably capable of doing). I don't think we win the trade with anyone else and we'd probably have to take on overpriced contracts/long shot prospects/non-first round picks in return.

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#64 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 30 2009, 03:52PM
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@Jonathan Willis

Seems pretty logical, haven't I been saying wait until after x-mas? That would be about 15 games or so.

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#65 Jonathan Willis
November 30 2009, 04:01PM
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RE: Khabibulin

For my part, there's not really anything personal for/against the player.

When I look at player decisions, I try to form an opinion based on risk and reward.

What were the likely rewards: 1. A middle of the road (10-20) NHL starter.

The risks: 1. Injury 2. Age

Given that combination of risk/reward, I'd pview Khabibulin as a worthwhile acquisition on a short-term deal for a team with a capable backup.

The Oilers went with a long-term deal and we all have different opinions on Deslauriers' compentence (IMO, he's not good enough that I'd want to rely on him). Given all this, I didn't like the deal.

It's nothing personal. It's just how I balance risk/reward.

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#66 Chris.
November 30 2009, 04:03PM
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Oiler84 wrote:

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.

I listened to a Doug Wilson interview recently where he talked about signing Malhotra and others as calculated compliament to the eventual Heatley deal... It seems that some General Managers (memo to Lowe regarding Visnovsky) like to find competent replacement players to fill holes in the roster created after making a two or three for one type deal.

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#67 Travis Dakin
November 30 2009, 04:06PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

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.

It can't be thought of as pulling the pin if you are systematically dismanteling a team to properly rebuild. Short term pain for long term gain.

To anybody who thinks there is still a chance....

why would you want them to barely get into a playoff spot with this team? That whole 7th to 9th mentality is what has ailed this team for years. It's leads to perpetul mediocrity. Not good enough to do any damage but too good to get a top draft pick. Sure they have a chance but really what's the point? Do you not realize that the Oilers are now 20 years into their Toronto west phase? They could REALLY use some marquee talent. Look at all the top teams in the league. They all have that. The best way to get it is through the draft. This is the year to get it with Hall and Seguin and that other guy coming up.

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#68 Travis Dakin
November 30 2009, 04:09PM
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BarryS wrote:

Of course it is hindsight, all O N seems to be is everybody trumpeting their version of hindsight. Except of course, for the claims every other team in the league has better players, no bad contracts, and otherwise is better. The term, small town - small mind, syndrome comes to town.

Guess what folks, every other town has fans just as small-minded as this one, just as many bad contracts, non-preforming players etc. etc.

Except every other team besides 3 are doing better than the Oilers.

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#69 Ogden Brother
November 30 2009, 04:14PM
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Chris. wrote:

I listened to a Doug Wilson interview recently where he talked about signing Malhotra and others as calculated compliament to the eventual Heatley deal... It seems that some General Managers (memo to Lowe regarding Visnovsky) like to find competent replacement players to fill holes in the roster created after making a two or three for one type deal.

Was Tambillini not hired a few weeks after the Stoll/Greene trade?

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#70 Chris.
November 30 2009, 04:21PM
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My biggest disappointment with Tambellini is his insistance that he is still "evaluating" the team (essentially the same team he had all last season)... and that this process has been hindered with all the "injuries".

IMO, the best way to truly evaluate an organization is to see it perform (or not) in the face of adversity. From a purley evaluatory standpoint, the injury situation has been rather advantageous. For starters, Tambellini has been able to see many key prospects play critical NHL minutes. Also, just by watching the complete lack of physical play following the Stone/JFJ injuries, it is clear that the Oilers lack depth in the grit department; and this problem is systemic throughout the entire organization. Finally, injuries highlight the impotence of our supposed secondary scorers. O'Sullivan, Cogliano, and others have been completely ineffective offensively... a fact that may have been somewhat masked by a healthy lineup.

C'mon Tambellini, stop with your "evaluation" comments... Fans here are smarter than that; and we aren't buying the horsesh!t you've been selling. It's been four years rebuilding and the entire Oiler organization has been found wanting: Capped out and in 27th place! Not good enough for a region once called the Heartland of Hockey.

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#71 oilman007
November 30 2009, 04:26PM
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Horcoff should be sat and allowed to heal properly. I'd rather have him miss 2-3 weeks than play at 75% all season. At least we somehow have 2 lines that seem decent in Penner-Gagner-Brule and Moreau-Potulny-Cogliano. Maybe the return of Stone will bring back some productivity to O'Sullivan?

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#72 Oiler in Purgatory
November 30 2009, 04:31PM
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"As frustrated as this organization and their fans must be today, it could always be worse: you could be a Rider fan or player."
~Yeah, as an Oiler AND 'Rider fan I had a grand old weekend~ (note: not Rider, that was the Ottawa team)

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#73 rubbertrout
November 30 2009, 04:50PM
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@ Gregor Right now this team is bringing a water gun to a gun fight. You have to be careful about using a line like this without a reference to "The Untouchables" because Brownlee (Mr. Humour himself so I'm told) will give you crap for it .

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#74 David S
November 30 2009, 05:00PM
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"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."

This should be the next sentence after "Pretend your mom is reading over your shoulder."

In 48 point, red, bolded, flashing and flaming Helvetica font. With arrows pointing to the sentence on either side. And exclamation marks for good measure.

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#75 Skidplate
November 30 2009, 05:12PM
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How much did Wanye pay for the 10 lashes?

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#76 Dominoiler
November 30 2009, 05:54PM
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HAHAHA,.. Mediocre.. Yeah Right!!! The Edmonton Falcons aspire to be an NHL team...

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#77 Harlie
November 30 2009, 06:00PM
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Skidplate wrote:

How much did Wanye pay for the 10 lashes?

and how come I wasn't twittered the audio?

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#78 Josh
November 30 2009, 06:08PM
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It is extremely disappointing to see the road this team is on. The beginning of the season was a tease!!! Totally agree with Gergor, Staal Jesus that's the dumbest thing I have ever heard. I can totally see us contending for the draft lottery and why the hell not, we are a bottom of the league team right now, tanking is not a goal its going to be the reality for the rest of the season. I would love to see us move some dead weight off this team come trade deadline we all know who I mean so I will spare you the list. I love this team no question but by facing facts it will make this giant sized pill that much easier to swallow.

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#79 BarryS
November 30 2009, 06:13PM
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Balf82 wrote:

I think we should move Pisani and Moreau to CBJ for their playoff run. Maybe in return we could get Commodore? Commodore would be great beside Smid.

First you have to know if Pisani will ever play again before you trade him, and then other teams have to believe his condition will never flair up again. For now, I think Pisani is not tradeable.

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#80 BarryS
November 30 2009, 06:17PM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

Except every other team besides 3 are doing better than the Oilers.

So what? At the moment the Wings and the Ducks are out of the playoff's. Anybody writing them off yet? Don't think the oilers being in the playoff is any more than a remote possibilty, though they have done it before, but this is no reason not to watch the rest of the season.

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#81 BarryS
November 30 2009, 06:25PM
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@TigerUnderGlass

1. Don't have to, all methodologies dealing with the future have to make assumptions, the matter is just to complex not to, so believe the predictions if you want to, just don't try to sell any system based on assumptions as anything more than a guess.

2. I don't actually care where they finish, its entertainment and as long as there is the occasional entertaining thing in a game, I'm happy, just like a comedy, not every joke works, but if some do, I tend to like it.

3. Last I heard, there were no marks for spelling on this blog. If spelling is a requirement, there will be very few postings here.

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#82 RossCreekNation
November 30 2009, 06:32PM
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@rubbertrout

LOLZ

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#83 BarryS
November 30 2009, 06:34PM
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Good points. Of course you might have to hide Horcoff's skates like the Esks did years ago with Kepley's helmet. Personally, I like seeing how the kids are playing, since it is a well known fact many players are stuck in the minors not on their play, but because of the financial necessity to players already on the big team. People should understand that even Detroit had people in the minors who could play on their team but can't because of the contract situation on the big team.

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#84 BarryS
November 30 2009, 06:36PM
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Dominoiler wrote:

HAHAHA,.. Mediocre.. Yeah Right!!! The Edmonton Falcons aspire to be an NHL team...

I sincerly hope the Falcons on the big team aspire and sweaT to stay here. If they don't I doubt they will even remain Falcons much longer.

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#85 Sam
November 30 2009, 06:38PM
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Mediocrity ?? That would be what we were smelling of our team was average. What we clearly should be smelling is pure crap. It takes longer to get rid of that smell.

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#86 BarryS
November 30 2009, 06:39PM
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@Chris.

Chris wrote:

My biggest disappointment with Tambellini is his insistance that he is still "evaluating" the team (essentially the same team he had all last season)... and that this process has been hindered with all the "injuries".

He might as well, given it seems at the moment the other 29 teams are neither buyers nor sellers.

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#87 Travis Dakin
November 30 2009, 06:40PM
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BarryS wrote:

So what? At the moment the Wings and the Ducks are out of the playoff's. Anybody writing them off yet? Don't think the oilers being in the playoff is any more than a remote possibilty, though they have done it before, but this is no reason not to watch the rest of the season.

Nobody is writing them off because they have each won a cup within the last 4 years and they each have at least 3 franchise players on their team and they have both demonstrated success.... And I never said don't watch the rest of the season. I think it would be good to watch the young guys develop and see how the rest of the team responds.

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#88 BarryS
November 30 2009, 06:54PM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

Nobody is writing them off because they have each won a cup within the last 4 years and they each have at least 3 franchise players on their team and they have both demonstrated success.... And I never said don't watch the rest of the season. I think it would be good to watch the young guys develop and see how the rest of the team responds.

Both are likely to have those risking injury and tiredness in the upcoming Olympics, so their chances of making the playoffs, so it is by no means clear they will make it year end.

Sorry I did not mean to imply you said don't watch the season, just flustration with the general negativity about of late.

So far I've been impressed with the general play of the callups. JDD's play is hard to judge, seem to be a lot of shots the shooter had all day to make. But I see progress and the taking of responsibility for his play, which is good. The number of under the crossbar goals might be a bit of an aboration, since I don't remember a high presentage of goals in the NHL being upper net goals, but without doubt he needs to work on the upper net stuff.

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#89 BarryS
November 30 2009, 07:09PM
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Cases in point with the difficulties in predicting the future or in believing them - Ovechkin, Volcoun, and Klesla, tonight.

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#90 Brocktw
November 30 2009, 07:50PM
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"As frustrated as this organization and their fans must be today, it could always be worse: you could be a Rider fan or player"

Oilers, Riders & Bluejays. My three favorite teams. It does not get any worse. It cannot get any worse, can it?

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#91 Reagan
November 30 2009, 08:16PM
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I honestly had a chuckle to watch the Riders go down in flames yesterday. Not to be mean, but this is the CFL and nothing is done until the last second has clicked off the clock. Silly Riders for squandering a 16 pt lead. That's something that the Eskies would do, or the Oilers for that matter.

Anyhow, I heard a rumour Staal was on the trading block? :)

I am kidding of course. It's too bad the Oilers didn't blow this team up after Lowe stepped down. Oh well, they have no choice now.

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#92 The Real Scuba Steve
November 30 2009, 08:28PM
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@Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

Don't forget the Rita experiment.

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#93 The Real Scuba Steve
November 30 2009, 08:30PM
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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.

Don't forget the Rita experiment.

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#94 Harlie
November 30 2009, 09:00PM
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The Real Scuba Steve wrote:

Don't forget the Rita experiment.

MacNeil?

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#97 roughneck
November 30 2009, 11:37PM
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Brocktw wrote:

"As frustrated as this organization and their fans must be today, it could always be worse: you could be a Rider fan or player"

Oilers, Riders & Bluejays. My three favorite teams. It does not get any worse. It cannot get any worse, can it?

raptors?

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#98 TigerUnderGlass
December 01 2009, 12:36AM
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BarryS wrote:

1. Don't have to, all methodologies dealing with the future have to make assumptions, the matter is just to complex not to, so believe the predictions if you want to, just don't try to sell any system based on assumptions as anything more than a guess.

2. I don't actually care where they finish, its entertainment and as long as there is the occasional entertaining thing in a game, I'm happy, just like a comedy, not every joke works, but if some do, I tend to like it.

3. Last I heard, there were no marks for spelling on this blog. If spelling is a requirement, there will be very few postings here.

Ridiculous. Assumptions are used to make ANY and EVERY prediction of ANY event. Virtually all science is predicated on developing assumptions to use in making predictions.

Furthermore you are pretending that all estimates are equal. That is idiotic at best. I am not claiming that the web site in question has any special claim to accuracy, but your sweeping generalizations are inane beyond belief.

By your logic there is no point to scouting, or to even having a draft. Why not assign players to teams alphabetically since we are only guessing and cannot possibly predict the chances of a players success.

Honestly though, your opinion lost all credibility in my mind when you cited the possibility of a 20-2 run as evidence for the unlikelihood of generating odds.

Oh and no, there are no marks for spelling, but if you are going to use a word as often as you apparently want to use that one you might want to actually learn how to spell it. Your posts reek of a desire to sound superior but then just come off as sad when you write things like "Oximoron," which I'm pretty sure is a carpet cleaner or something.

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#99 Ogden Brother
December 01 2009, 10:06AM
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Your posts reek of a desire to sound superior.

That's ironic.

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#100 TigerUnderGlass
December 01 2009, 11:06AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Your posts reek of a desire to sound superior.

That's ironic.

Not if you know what ironic means, but the point you are trying to make is obvious so I'll leave it at that.

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