Vague is seldom good

Robin Brownlee
December 15 2009 04:08PM

As eloquent as Edmonton Oilers coach Pat Quinn usually is, he fumbled his words when reporters asked about the status of Nikolai Khabibulin's back today. That can't be a good thing.

As widely reported, Quinn offered something about Khabibulin undergoing a "procedure" when asked for an update on his starting goaltender. Pressed for details, Quinn said: "It has to do with spinal stuff that they do. Enough said. We don’t talk about injuries that much." That spinal stuff they do?

Now, I know Jason Gregor laid out a list of perfectly reasonable possibilities in today's GDB, but when a guy like Quinn, who is usually a straight-shooter, gets evasive, I get a bad feeling -- like when an air traffic controller or brain surgeon says, "Oh, shit."

Khabibulin's been out since Nov. 18, so being told he'd "tweaked" his back long ago started to wear thin. A tweak is a game or two. With Quinn's vague "spinal stuff" and "procedure" references, the natural questions that beg are, what spinal stuff and what kind of procedure?

Jim Matheson, Dan Barnes and I nagged Oilers PR man J.J. Hebert on that front again today after Quinn spilled the beans, suggesting fans might want some clarification. There's a chance we will get it in the next 24 hours, but there is no guarantee.

I've been wrong countless times before, but, as was the case when we were told Ales Hemsky was meeting with doctors before the team announced he'd need shoulder surgery, I'm not expecting good news.

The boss on JDD

Whether Khabibulin's 37-year-old back requires surgery or not, it seems likely Jeff Deslauriers streak of starts, which now sits at 11 straight, could hit 21 in a row and take him into the New Year.

Deslauriers, 25, faces the Los Angeles Kings tonight with an 8-4-2 record to go with a 2.60 goals-against average and a saves percentage of .916. It's been well-documented JDD has waited his turn to prove he's got the game to be a starter in the NHL.

I think he does, and that he'll prove it conclusively before this season is done, but what I think doesn't count for much. So, I asked Quinn for his take on Deslauriers.

"He's a No. 1 because that's where he is right now," Quinn said. OK, but is he playing like a No. 1?

"You know what? Yes and no," Quinn said. "There are times he's made some really big stops for us. Then, there's a couple that have gone in that you wonder about his mental toughness at the time. The last L.A. game (winner by Matt Greene). It was actually a decent shot, but late in the game up over the shoulder.

"You see a pattern there. There was a couple that happened like that. A couple from behind the net -- the opening goal in St. Louis the other night. Against San Jose, he should not be playing the puck. We had big errors on that by a number of people. He should've stood up and played goal instead of trying to play defence. He's learning those things

"Athletically, I think he's going to be a No. 1 for sure. He's just at the stage where he doesn't have that many games played here. As he's come along, he's shown us some big stops here. When the game was on the line in St. Louis he stepped up and made the big saves for us. You can see that it's there. It's going to be, like with a lot of our young guys, consistency that has to come into his play."

Put up or shut up

There's no question Khabibulin's injury has provided Deslauriers with the best chance of his pro career to prove he can carry the mail as a starter. Then again, that's not saying much, given the roadblocks thrown his way since draft day in 2002.

The sound of opportunity knocking obviously resonates with Deslauriers. I asked him about that.

"It's hard to get to the NHL, but it's harder to stay here," he said. "You have to give your best every night. My role at the start of the year is different than what I have right now.

"I trained this summer to get ready for this role, for more games in a row. Hockey is a role game and everybody has to do his job the best they can. I have a role that I want and I have to show what I can do.

"It's my first chance. I have to be focused and ready every night. We'll see what's up for me in the future. It changes all the time, but you have to do the best you can. My goal is to be the best, no matter what I'm asked to do."

-- 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.
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#1 Bucknuck
December 15 2009, 04:16PM
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I get the feeling that Khabby is out for a loong time. I wonder if they will eventually give Dubnyk a start.

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#2 RossCreekNation
December 15 2009, 04:18PM
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Spinal stuff, eh? Like Mike Tyson said in this oh-so eloquent interview (about 40 seconds in)...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rw47gXsDwjw

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#3 Travis Dakin
December 15 2009, 04:22PM
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That is a classic Nation Picture. Well done Bingofuel.

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#4 bingofuel
December 15 2009, 04:25PM
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@Travis Dakin

Thanks Dakes (can I call you Dakes?)!

I knew I had to do something with the Robaxacet guy. The only problem I have now is that whistly tune from the ad is in my head. :(

Regardless of the outcome (ie, if he plays soon or not), I hope Khabibulin recovers without any major complications. Back problems are the absolutely worst.

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#5 Lynda Steele
December 15 2009, 04:25PM
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Sorry to hear about the Bulin Wall...but i did get a chuckle out of your Robaxacet man graphic... :)

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#6 Librarian Mike
December 15 2009, 04:25PM
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Thanks for that picture Bingofuel. I wasn't planning on sleeping ever again anyway. haha.

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#7 Harlie
December 15 2009, 04:26PM
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uh oh, Tambi may have bought some damaged goods.

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#8 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
December 15 2009, 04:32PM
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Wowsers. Not too happy about the possible Khabibulin scenarios. On the other hand JDD taking the ball and running with it. If this is an injury that keeps Khabbi out long term, or worse forever term as some rumors have it, this is gonna be a real sore spot on this franchise's back and management team.

Now that the strive for five is done and the Oil set a new record, not to mention put to rest the DFF for most, what do we go for now?

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#9 Travis Dakin
December 15 2009, 04:35PM
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bingofuel wrote:

Thanks Dakes (can I call you Dakes?)!

I knew I had to do something with the Robaxacet guy. The only problem I have now is that whistly tune from the ad is in my head. :(

Regardless of the outcome (ie, if he plays soon or not), I hope Khabibulin recovers without any major complications. Back problems are the absolutely worst.

You can call me whatever you'd like.... as long as you call me.

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#10 bingofuel
December 15 2009, 04:36PM
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@Travis Dakin

Aren't you sweet! *shifty eyes, looking for an exit*

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#11 Aussie Phil
December 15 2009, 04:38PM
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being an observer from afar, i am just wondering why they haven't given dubnyk a start, his play at ahl level seems sound and what better chance to see if he can prove himself as well, why put all your eggs in one basket, deslauriers, when you could see what dubnyk can do aswell even if it is as a back up to jdd

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#12 Senator Theo
December 15 2009, 04:43PM
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Well, I don't think it's too early now to talk about the possible cap implications if this is a long term (more than just this season) injury to Khabbie.

Does anyone know for sure? I know there seems to be some disagreement if he has to retire due to injury whether or not his salary counts against the cap.

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#13 Chris.
December 15 2009, 04:56PM
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@bingofuel

Props for the Pic... Creeps me out though: it kinda looks like Khabibulin is in a Tool video.

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#14 jake
December 15 2009, 05:09PM
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Couple of things:

-Was there any previous back problems with this guy? Did they buy damaged goods?

-Wonder if Quinn riding Bulin before injury contributed to this, think it was a 70 game pace at one point for him...too many.

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#15 Skidplate
December 15 2009, 05:11PM
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Where can I get that bobblehead!

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#16 Smokin' Ray
December 15 2009, 05:12PM
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Lynda Steele wrote:

Sorry to hear about the Bulin Wall...but i did get a chuckle out of your Robaxacet man graphic... :)

Holy cow! A real celebrity.

Glad to see someone new fresh faces around here.

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#17 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
December 15 2009, 05:21PM
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Senator Theo wrote:

Well, I don't think it's too early now to talk about the possible cap implications if this is a long term (more than just this season) injury to Khabbie.

Does anyone know for sure? I know there seems to be some disagreement if he has to retire due to injury whether or not his salary counts against the cap.

the "best" case scenario if for 'bulin to stay on LTIR for the duration of his contract if this back thing is indeed career ending, which at this point is really stretching things.

'bulin taking this year to rehab, then deciding over the summer that things really arent progressing and he is retiring would be a cap disaster for the oilers.

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#18 HansBaurMesserschmittWatson
December 15 2009, 05:28PM
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deeper and deeper into the black hole.

why did we even sign khabi ?

we had no chance at the cup, not in the next few years that we have him.

i think the front office signs and tries to sign players just for the sake of keeping their fans on the optimistic side.

honestly, what was the purpose of signing khabi ?

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#19 Senator Theo
December 15 2009, 05:33PM
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@HansBaurMesserschmittWatson

We needed an NHL goaltender signed during the offseason. You may disagree with the term of the deal, but we needed to sign someone for that position, and is was widely thought that Khabbie was the best available player this offseason.

Are you serious, or is this just another one of your bad hans-jobs?

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#20 HansBaurMesserschmittWatson
December 15 2009, 05:35PM
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no, i was honestly being serious.

there was other goalies out there. given his age and the direction of our team. it didnt and doesnt make much sense.

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#21 Yakman
December 15 2009, 05:36PM
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you answered your own question... it was to keep the casual fans happy...

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#22 Robin Brownlee
December 15 2009, 05:39PM
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@jake

I don't know if Tambellini bothered to check, but Khabibulin's injury history is substantial and includes back problems.

November 21, 2009 Sore back, day-to-day. July 1, 2009 Signed as an unrestricted free agent by the Edmonton Oilers to a four-year contract. May 27, 2009 Missed 2 playoff games (lower body injury). May 24, 2009 Lower body injury, day-to-day. March 11, 2009 Missed 12 games (lower body injury). February 12, 2009 Lower body injury, day-to-day. December 12, 2008 Missed 6 games (lower body injury). November 28, 2008 Lower body injury, day-to-day. September 29, 2008 Placed on waivers by the Chicago Blackhawks. March 16, 2008 Missed 12 games (back spasms). February 23, 2008 Back spasms, day-to-day. February 20, 2008 Missed 3 games (sprained knee). February 14, 2008 Sprained knee, day-to-day. November 16, 2006 Missed 8 games (fractured finger). October 22, 2006 Fractured finger, early November. March 9, 2006 Missed 13 games (knee injury). January 21, 2006 Knee injury, late February. January 19, 2006 Missed 10 games (groin). December 29, 2005 Groin, sidelined indefinitely. December 28, 2005 Leg injury.

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#23 HansBaurMesserschmittWatson
December 15 2009, 05:39PM
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@Senator Theo

im not really a bad person or some kind of hatefull nazi. im not even white. i just picked the name one day from my cousin book he was reading, it had all these names of bad folk that associated with the third empire.

i just cant stand some of these penisriding hypocrits that post on here.

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#24 aussie phil
December 15 2009, 05:39PM
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wasn't there a guy named roli, who hasn't been to bad this year,

just saying

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#25 HansBaurMesserschmittWatson
December 15 2009, 05:40PM
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@Yakman

well, if thats the case. we need a fan for our next gm, instead of a lawyer pretending.

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#26 HansBaurMesserschmittWatson
December 15 2009, 05:46PM
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@Robin Brownlee

he probbaly didnt even care to. khabi had superstar status and that was good enough for him, good enough for us.

see guys if tambo and klowe dont care about stats, why should I ?

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#27 freeze
December 15 2009, 05:47PM
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Harlie wrote:

uh oh, Tambi may have bought some damaged goods.

yeah, a sack of magic beans.

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#28 jake
December 15 2009, 06:07PM
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@ R. Brownlee (post22)

That is certainly quite a list. Gee whiz man, this does not bode well for the future. 4 year contract...uggh.

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#29 michael
December 15 2009, 06:11PM
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The lid on information about Khabby's back is tighter than Butch Gorings helmet. As a fan I am dumbfounded by the lack of communication being offered up to the public by the team. Coverup? What are they not telling us? And why for goodness sake! Quinn did the right thing by not saying J.D is his number one guy. Double speak anyone? Quinn is usually pretty forthright. But it seems to me that when it comes to Khabby's back its like he suddenly has a brain cramp that impairs his ability to speak. What the bleep is going on? If he is done for the year tell us. If he is done as a player tell us. This ain't 1984. Is it. What is Big Brother doing?

teammate michael

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#30 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
December 15 2009, 06:16PM
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michael wrote:

The lid on information about Khabby's back is tighter than Butch Gorings helmet. As a fan I am dumbfounded by the lack of communication being offered up to the public by the team. Coverup? What are they not telling us? And why for goodness sake! Quinn did the right thing by not saying J.D is his number one guy. Double speak anyone? Quinn is usually pretty forthright. But it seems to me that when it comes to Khabby's back its like he suddenly has a brain cramp that impairs his ability to speak. What the bleep is going on? If he is done for the year tell us. If he is done as a player tell us. This ain't 1984. Is it. What is Big Brother doing?

teammate michael

big brother is stuck pondering how to side step the sh*tstorm that is coming when a 37 year old on a 4 year deal has back surgery 30 games into the contract.

this after multiple years of no playoffs...

oops probably wont cut it this time

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#31 RossCreekNation
December 15 2009, 06:20PM
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Khabibulin, damaged goods and all, signed to a long-term contract gets serious injury 30 games in...

WHO SAW THAT COMING?!

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#32 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
December 15 2009, 06:26PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

Khabibulin, damaged goods and all, signed to a long-term contract gets serious injury 30 games in...

WHO SAW THAT COMING?!

****raises hand and pats self on back***

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#33 RossCreekNation
December 15 2009, 06:39PM
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I will say this much and I'm sure most would concur. If you were told JDD would have 12 straight starts (and counting) at any point of the season, expectations would be lower than jeanshorts' at closing time in the local liquor establishment.

*cue the ol "Lowered Expectations" music from MADTV*

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#34 Dan the Man
December 15 2009, 06:39PM
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Is there a maximum period of time a player can sit on LTIR?

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#35 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
December 15 2009, 06:44PM
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Dan the Man wrote:

Is there a maximum period of time a player can sit on LTIR?

negative.

ie) mike rathje or derian hatcher

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#36 Harlie
December 15 2009, 06:45PM
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HansBaurMesserschmittWatson wrote:

im not really a bad person or some kind of hatefull nazi. im not even white. i just picked the name one day from my cousin book he was reading, it had all these names of bad folk that associated with the third empire.

i just cant stand some of these penisriding hypocrits that post on here.

listen here kid, my Grandfather who passed away last Christmas, was a decorated WW2 Vet as Pilot for the RCAF. I'm talking 40 successful missions with no loss of life. Your punk ass name makes me sick. Do yourself and us a favor by changing your damn name and starting fresh. TIA

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#37 RossCreekNation
December 15 2009, 06:47PM
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@Harlie

listen here kid, my Grandfather who passed away last Christmas, was a decorated WW2 Vet as Pilot for the RCAF. I'm talking 40 successful missions with no loss of life. Your punk ass name makes me sick. Do yourself and us a favor by changing your damn name and starting fresh. TIA

x2

Or... just 'take off eh'.

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#38 HansBaurMesserschmittWatson
December 15 2009, 06:51PM
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@Harlie

you dont like wal-mart or ibm?

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#39 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
December 15 2009, 06:54PM
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***dont feed the troll...dont feed the troll....dont feed the troll....dont feed the idiot troll....***

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#40 HansBaurMesserschmittWatson
December 15 2009, 06:56PM
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@cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

i wish your mother would have swallowed you.

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#41 Boundz
December 15 2009, 06:59PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

Spinal stuff, eh? Like Mike Tyson said in this oh-so eloquent interview (about 40 seconds in)...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rw47gXsDwjw

Classic! "Spinal"....

B

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#42 HansBaurMesserschmittWatson
December 15 2009, 07:00PM
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@Harlie

good for your grandfather, i dont care. taking another mans life is wrong, no matter what your sorry excuse is. nazis killed non nazis. non nazis killed nazis. whos wrong whos right ? who cares, this is a hockey site.

do your self a favour and comment on hockey not my name, you sad douche.

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#43 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
December 15 2009, 07:01PM
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HansBaurMesserschmittWatson wrote:

good for your grandfather, i dont care. taking another mans life is wrong, no matter what your sorry excuse is. nazis killed non nazis. non nazis killed nazis. whos wrong whos right ? who cares, this is a hockey site.

do your self a favour and comment on hockey not my name, you sad douche.

you sad douche

pot....kettle....black....

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#44 Heavyd
December 15 2009, 07:07PM
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I wonder if we could pull roli out of the island?

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#45 Hoodlum
December 15 2009, 07:35PM
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I need a website to watch the game guys, can someone help me??

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#46 obglim
December 15 2009, 08:23PM
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What kind of physicals do these guys have to to take? Maybe they should be a bit more rigorous? You would think that the insurance companies would be a little more interested in finding out whether these guys have any chance of actually playing through their contract. Do they have to take anything to be cleared to play at the begininning of the season or is that just something that happens for trades?

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#47 TigerUnderGlass
December 15 2009, 09:08PM
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HansBaurMesserschmittWatson wrote:

good for your grandfather, i dont care. taking another mans life is wrong, no matter what your sorry excuse is. nazis killed non nazis. non nazis killed nazis. whos wrong whos right ? who cares, this is a hockey site.

do your self a favour and comment on hockey not my name, you sad douche.

Can we please get a admin to deal with "Hans" once and for all.

His posts are the first legitimately offensive comments I have ever seen on this site I think I speak for just about everyone with complete brain function that we don't need that here.

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#48 TigerUnderGlass
December 15 2009, 10:25PM
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Is it just me or does Potulny really look like he belongs in the league?

He's been up for a while now and has been surprisingly consistent. I keep expecting him to look like a minor leaguer but as a whole he really looks ok.

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#49 Victoria
December 15 2009, 10:45PM
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That picture = gold! Also, I should add, it looks like my star and goat choice are pretty damn accurate right about now.

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#50 StrangePhD
December 15 2009, 11:07PM
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@TigerUnderGlass

Not just you. I've liked what I've seen as he's been able to provide a little bit of that elusive "secondary scoring."

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