Deep thoughts VI: the do-over

Robin Brownlee
February 10 2009 03:19PM


It's better that the Edmonton Oilers got it right late than never getting it right at all when it comes to putting Rob Daum back behind the bench where he belongs instead of schlepping around as a pro scout.

That's what the Oilers did today when they announced Daum would be taking over from Jeff Truitt as coach of the AHL's Springfield Falcons. It's a step toward undoing a series of events that happened last summer, and should go in the books as the first substantial move made by new GM Steve Tambellini.

It's a saga that began with the decision to promote Kelly Buchberger to the Oilers as one of Craig MacTavish's assistants, while Daum was bumped off the staff after one year.

The story, as we've all been told, was Daum was inked to a one-year deal as an assistant coach and he knew going into the gig that was the case. When his contract ended, that opened the door for Buchberger.

I'm not sure that's as much reality as spin. I'd suggest Buchberger wanting a promotion and his relationship with MacTavish is what prompted Daum to be told, "Thanks for coming."

At the very least, Daum should've been made the head coach in Springfield at that point. The problem is, Truitt had already been promised he'd get the top job on the farm if Buchberger moved to the Oilers. Daum's consolation prize was a position as a pro scout.

Bench boss

With Springfield dead-last in the entire AHL with a record of 16-27-7, there can be little debate Truitt was a failure and that Daum has his work cut out for him. While the Falcons aren't brimming with talent, Truitt had enough to work with for the team to be better.

It says here Daum, who spent two years with the Houston Aeros and compiled a record of 77-67-16 after a decade as bench boss of the Alberta Golden Bears, where he compiled a 345-79-32 record and won three CIS University Cups, has the coaching chops to turn things around.

Whether Daum's credentials meant anything at the NHL level in terms of keeping him ahead of Buchberger were a matter of great debate here and elsewhere last summer, I'm guessing there's not much question in the mind of Tambellini that Daum will do a good job.

It's also worth mentioning president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, GM at the time Buchberger was promoted, is a staunch backer of Daum, having gained an appreciation for his knowledge of the game over the course of this season as they've worked together.

What's interesting about how this unfolded in the last several days is that Daum was actually sent to Springfield to assess the situation -- in essence, to report to Tambellini on what he saw. That had to be difficult as Daum and Truitt are friends.

In any case, Daum is behind the bench where he belongs. As far as the possibility of him showing up back on the Oilers coaching staff at some point, let me spare you much guesswork and speculation. The longer Daum coaches in the system and the closer Tambellini, the only fresh set of eyes in the organization, watches him work, the better the chances are he'll end up on the Oilers coaching staff.

Fact is, Daum should never have been removed.

Let's play patty-cake

Those braying that fighting in hockey should be banned must be applauding the latest report that backs their stance, one that'll turn the game of hockey into patty-cake if the do-gooders have their way.

From the Canadian Press: "A London anti-violence expert is applauding recommendations from a panel on concussions that call for the elimination of fighting from all levels of hockey.

Peter Jaffe said the report could be the tipping point that changes the culture of the game.

"It makes a lot of sense. It is hard to argue with physicians when they talk about the short and long-term dangers of getting punched in the head," Jaffe said. "I think there are enough parents, enough fans and enough coaches who are concerned about the impact."

Reporters, as you'd expect, were at the Oilers skate today at Millennium Place looking for reaction. Zack Stortini and Steve MacIntyre got scrummed. Words cannot describe the look on Stortini's face after the mob had moved on.

Getting punched in the head carries a risk? Really? Here's a news bulletin -- so does getting checked in the boards, dodging frozen rubber pucks and playing a game where people have sticks in their hands and blades on their feet. Let's get rid of all that, too, shall we?

This and that...

MacIntryre got several grenades tossed his way in the form of questions about facing Georges Laraque when the Montreal Canadiens come calling tomorrow.

Reporters, as you'd expect, were looking for a scintillating sound byte or an inflammatory quote, but MacIntyre played it straight and spoke his mind without saying anything stupid.

"Absolutely," said MacIntyre, asked if he's looking forward to facing Laraque and the Canadiens. "We've got to win the game, first and foremost, whether I'm playing or not playing.

"I can't go in thinking of that (fighting Laraque) necessarily. If it happens, it happens. I just have to react and do the best I can."

  • This isn't Laraque's first trip back to Edmonton, of course. In previous times back he's done nothing in terms of bully-boy stuff against his old team that could spark a showdown. In simple terms, Laraque's been classy, even though he might have been tempted to make a point with MacTavish in games he played here before they talked things out -- when the Oilers were trying to re-sign Laraque last summer before he took Montreal's offer.
  • So, will Laraque and MacIntyre go? Maybe yes, maybe no. Maybe they have a date already. Would it surprise you if I told you Laraque and MacIntyre exchange text messages?
  • Lubomir Visnovsky out for the season because he'll need surgery on his right shoulder to repair a torn labrum? Aside from weakening the blueline corps, that puts a big kink in any plans Tambellini has between now and the trade deadline March 4. If there's any place the Oilers have -- make that had -- depth was on the back end in terms of offensive defencemen. With Sheldon Souray, Visnovsky, Tom Gilbert and Denis Grebeshkov, Tambellini had bargaining chips. Now, not so much.
  • Fernando Pisani skated with the team today and will accompany them on the next road trip. Expect him back in the line-up before the Oilers return from their four-game swing.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

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.
#101 Robin B
February 12 2009, 06:01PM
Trash it!

Tencer's Brain Cell wrote:

where RB threatened to fight Dennis

Never happened. You think you're going to get somewhere by repeating this fantasy? Say it often enough and it'll become the truth? Think again.

#102 Robin B
February 12 2009, 07:31PM
Trash it!

Tencer's Brain Cell wrote:

5. I’ll try to sound less pretentious in the future, if you answer my serious question from the “Going eye to eye with Dennis” comments, which was “What information, specifically, do you know that makes your analysis of hockey matters, e.g. prospect evaluation, what trades should be made, where the team is headed, is the coaching a problem- better than a blogger like JW or Lowetide or Dennis, etc? I really think you might have a good answer to this question, and I don’t mean to sound facetious or sarcastic when I ask it. Maybe you could give some examples.

I'll repeat this one more time because you obviously didn't read it in the other comments section. Yes, I might have a "good answer," but I don't need to establish my credibility. I don't need to explain myself to Dennis or to you. I write what I write. Agree or disagree, I don't care. I'm not here for Debate Club.

My mistake has been engaging Dennis -- to the point he's taken something I said and stretched it into the fallacy you referred to above. He wanted a reaction, he got one, even if it wasn't what he tried to make it out to be to anybody who would listen.

Dennis established his baseline position long ago: He'e envious of what I do, he believes he could do it better and he thinks I'm a Lowe ass-kisser. He's spent a lot of time taking shots at me and been quite happy to perpetuate the notion since I joined this website that I like kicking bloggers and non-MSM guys around, when it's him who fired the first shot.

An excerpt from a rant of his about a story I did on Joffrey Lupul three years ago:

"There are still a lot of stories to write on the '07 Oilers and some of them wouldn't even have to be puff pieces. That's probably not allowed in Oilerville mind you but Brownlee would've been better off writing a piece about how much JFJ misses his dog back in Quebec rather than raising the pen to defend a highly paid local who just isn't doing the job. I'd give my left nut to cover the Oilers or any NHL team for that matter and at the end of the day I'd still have one testicle left. That'd still be probably one more than Brownlee currently posseses. posted by Dennis-IOF at 12/14/2006 12:08:00 PM

A sampling of his insights since I joined ON:

"Dec. 18: "Anyway, RB and I will be at loggerheads and that’s cool with me. I took the initial shot when I said he’s been kissing Lowe’s can for lo these last 8 seasons and that wounds the big fella so he comes back with a whining allegation. And I’m sure I make the occasional whine:) and I’m certainly sure that Brownlee continues to pucker up!:)"

Jan. 22: "RB: You are right. I don’t have a clue because I don’t get to kiss butt in the bowels of Rexall. I am sorry."

Jan. 22, 7:26 pm: "RB: You have been assuming the position for years so your advice on this matter would be invaluable!"

So, forgive me if I'm not inclined to spend a lot of time explaining myself or answering your questions . . . If you want to come here and read what I write, fine. If not, that's fine, too.

But, if you do come here and start pitching the stuff Dennis has been hurling my way for three years or trying to agitate me, I won't engage you. I'll simply have the remarks removed. It's as simple as that. That's more than enough of my time.

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