Enough already

Robin Brownlee
February 03 2009 11:24PM

makeatrade

“You have to get better from the inside. We have to get better as a group (and) individually. That’s the only way you’ll be able to sustain something… it’s difficult. Teams are looking for energy players. Teams are looking for defencemen. They’re looking for top-six forwards." -- GM Steve Tambellini, Feb. 2, 2009

Tambellini doesn't need advice from me, but having watched yet another emotionless, flat stinker by the Edmonton Oilers that wasn't nearly as close on the ice as it was on score board in a 3-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, he's going to get some.

With 50 games in the books, getting better from the inside isn't working. It's time to go outside. It's time to get on the telephone. It's time to make a trade to shake up a team clearly incapable of generating the emotion and intensity it's going to take to secure a playoff spot in the next 32 games.

What? Rob Schremp is going to make a difference? Tim Sestito? How about the players in the dressing room now? Ethan Moreau? Shawn Horcoff? Tom Gilbert? Dustin Penner? Liam Reddox? Uh,no.

How much more of what the people who pay to get into Rexall Place have seen in recent days does Tambellini have to contemplate before he realizes this team isn't good enough to make the playoffs?

It doesn't need to be a blockbuster because that's probably pie-in-the-sky stuff -- unless Tambellini wants blow his wad and put everybody except Ales Hemsky on the table and see what happens -- but it needs to be a trade to inject some enthusiasm, balls, jam, brass, whatever you want to call it, into a team profoundly lacking in it. If some of those qualities come attached to a mean-as-hell shut down defenceman or a proven penalty killer, all the better.

Don't wait for the deadline. Do it now.

Tick, tick, tick...

The Oilers play seven of their next eight games on the road, they've lost three of their last four games and they're packing for stops in St. Louis, Detroit and Minnesota without Lubomir Visnovsky.

They're 25-22-3 and sitting in ninth place as they jump a jet for the Show Me State. They have absolutely no chance, none, of finishing these next eight games that high in the standings with this group of players.

For those who fancy firing coach Craig MacTavish as their default solution, let's get off that, shall we? That isn't going to happen right now. It isn't going to happen next week. It isn't going to happen until after a move's been made to shake this line-up from the comfort zone it’s clearly fallen into. How else do you explain another heartless effort against the Blackhawks?

So, let's dispense with the drama and make a move, or moves, now. With all of the time Tambellini's spent on the phone, he's got a pretty good picture of what's out there and who's available -- even if he isn't letting on. Can't get Jason Spezza out of Ottawa via the big deal route in a swap of bad contracts for Horcoff as part of a package? Fine. Add somebody who competes. Send a message. Shake it up.

I get it that patience is a virtue. I get it that it's better to make a deal from a position of strength. But with this group of players so obviously content with mediocrity, the only position the Oilers are destined to assume between now and the NHL trade deadline involves grabbing ones ankles.

It's time to make a deal.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm 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 David S
February 03 2009, 11:40PM
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Agreed!

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#2 Jack Bauer
February 03 2009, 11:42PM
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How long is Viso out for? All it took was a Glencross last year to make a difference, it doesnt have to be huge. I thought the effort was there tonight, we just got manhandled again by a superior team.

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#3 OvenChicken8
February 04 2009, 12:09AM
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Now if only someone in their organization would read this and act upon it.

I would suggest trading one of our four offensive d-men and pick up some new blood. Pending on who is traded we could get a top 3 or top 6 forward, for this team at least.

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#4 rindog
February 04 2009, 12:22AM
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Robin,

I know it is not going to happen in the near future, but if you were GM would you really give up on a roster that you thought was a division contender before you would try a coaching change?

I know you personally didn't think that our team was good enough to start the year - but the powers that be did (unless it was just lip service)???

If you were the GM and added the necessary pieces to the puzzle (another top flight Dman and some supposedly proven secondary scoring) wouldn't you want to see if they could get the job done with some different direction?

What if we make the moves you mention and we still don't see any results? Will we then have to look at the coach? By then we will have given up on (and got rid of)what we thought were the right ingredients.

If the GM brings in guys that he thinks are going to do the job (ie: Peca, Lupul, Sykora, Penner, Cole) and they don't do the job for us, but performed fairly well on other teams - what should the GM think?

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#5 rindog
February 04 2009, 12:28AM
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I am not big on trade speculation, but since it seems like Tambo's next course of action....

I am wondering what it would take to get Antropov out of Toronto (not that Burke would deal with us, but....).

He would give Hemsky someone to play with, is pretty cheap, could simply be a rental player.

If we could then get Vermette (while his value is low) we would improve our PK and have that utility guy we need. I would assume it would take Grebeshkov to get him. But worth it, I think.

We then see if we can't add guy like Paul Ranger, Marik Malik or Freddie Meyer on the back end???

Thoughts????

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#6 Elaine
February 04 2009, 12:38AM
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The Oilers need to get bigger and tougher and at the same time they need to have some skill handling the puck. Our best prospects are too small. We have a team full of third liners. There is nothing on the farm that can make an impact. We are destined to the 10th - 15th in the Conference with what we have. We also need a top notch goaltender.

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#7 Pokie Reddik
February 04 2009, 01:02AM
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I'm hearing Penner and Gigaure's name thrown around

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#8 dudeguy
February 04 2009, 03:12AM
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It's ok to have a comment.

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#9 B-rad
February 04 2009, 06:37AM
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I missed the game...did Penner play with anymore intensity? Maybe run into a guy or two? What about Brodziak?

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#10 wat
February 04 2009, 07:20AM
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@ B-rad:

Penner opted not to follow through on a check in the first period and was booed by the crowd.

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#11 Mike
February 04 2009, 07:30AM
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@ B-rad:

Penner also opted to coast around for mst of the game and not move his feet until the final 10 minutes of the game......and was booed by the crowd again.

Another thing I don't understand is why MacT would play Penner in the final 10 minutes when they are down 2 goals. He hadn't done anything all game to show that he could make a difference, so what was going through the coach's mind to make him think he would contribute?

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#12 BUCK75
February 04 2009, 07:30AM
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I TOTALLY AGREE - 140 sell-outs in a row. Please let us people who finance this team & the teams inPhoenix, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Florida, St Louis, etc see REAL HOCKEY GAMES. Real intensity, real heart, real grit.

This team is a total enigma to the coach, eastern writers (Hckey News - Win NW Conference), GM's of the Oilers. The fans are sick of it. Send a message to some of these players already!

We have lost our position of strength losing Vish for a while. We have nobody who is going to get us anything. Maybe Colby Armstrong wouldn't be such a bad fit anymore...he shows up.

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#13 Deep Oil
February 04 2009, 07:32AM
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Nonsportscaster Team 1260 Jake (Panic) Daniels suggests sitting Penner and calling up Robbie Schremp.. note it appears that Jake (just back from Mexico) is trying to become a scout with the oil emulating Barry Fraser traits.

Robin - great article but I disagree that you can jump up and down, scream and demand / beg for a trade, any trade, when the GM's have tubed thair own fate on two fronts. Most can't spend due to agressive salary numbers, and others have their self enforced budget. Trade deadline day is redemption when salaries are not an issue in some cases as some expire at the end of the year.

It appears by Katz' silence that he is perfectly happy with the 0.375 post season playoff attaining percentage after this season - so Oiler fans and sports writers don't be upset - the oilers made a profit, rexall has enjoyed the branding it desired and maybe next year, or the year after, or the next.... here is an observation that no one has the balls to bring up in the light of King Katz with his ivory tower (mortgaged).....

If you count the number of interviews or comments that Katz has made after his coming out pressor with bubbly Bob Stauffer.... it is less than out of town owner Dan Orlick (Crackercats).... now it appears that Rexall branding has purchased the Cats for $400k - face it Edmonton, you have a team, but the GM is running the show with no fear from his man crush owner or respect to the fans.... Lowe made $5mm as a player and has earned over $18 - $22 million as a Coach-GM the last 15 - 18 years (can you say gravy train) Oilers bonus all staff including the secretaries on post season performance (ouch).

Trade - yes..... but that is like taking an aspirin for a self inflicted (Lowe signings) gun shot wound.... face it - based on management decisions this is a sad bunch and no one is scared for their job - NO ONE, not Lowe, MacT, or the players.....

Thanks for reading my disdain for incompetence, is it fair to judge the players, coaches, management, and owners - YES as they acquire the revenue from the fans and the corporate community.

It appears that the cracks of full support and revenue streams from fans and sponsors are starting to shake their heads with indifference, frustration, and self doubt.

It now appears that Katz and company are running a circus with a sucker born every minute on the wall as the company's mission statement...

Have a great Wednesday!

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#14 Joe
February 04 2009, 07:36AM
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wat wrote:

@ B-rad: Penner opted not to follow through on a check in the first period and was booed by the crowd.

It's worse than that. He went in for the check but stopped dead once Seabrook(?) passed the puck away.

To be fair, the line played pretty good, but believe it or not, Penner was only feeding off Brodziak and Stortini. It was sad, really. I was rooting for the guy.

I hope the Giggy/Penner talk is true.

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#15 Smokin' Ray
February 04 2009, 07:41AM
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My vote is for Doug Weight. He could help out a little.

I wonder who we would have to give up to get Smyth back? I'd take him too.

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#16 RobinB
February 04 2009, 07:42AM
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@ rindog: First you add the pieces, which is the direction Tambellini hinted earlier this season he would go before considering a coaching move.

Then, if there's no response in terms of results, you have to look at the coaching. The problem is you need options for a change behind the bench. First, who do you get? Somebody from inside on an interim basis? Second, while there's often spurts of performance after a change, there can be an adjustment period as well. With 32 games to go, that's not a lot of time for a new coach to come in, assess talent and make his mark.

First things first. The immediate response now has to be to change the comfort zone this team is in, even with a minor deal. It's not about giving up on the entire roster.

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#17 Smokin' Ray
February 04 2009, 07:42AM
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oh... but great article Robin. My sentiments exactly.

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#18 matt
February 04 2009, 07:43AM
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I couldn't agree more in that the team needs a shakeup. GlenCross was perfect last year (still cannot believe we didn't resign him and went after never-going-to-happen-hossa isntead). I still think Brule can fullfill GlenX's role if they'd give him the opportunity. Brodziak-Brule-Storts is a good energy line with a bit of finish.

Above all, this team needs a pure sniper. Someone who can finish when the puck leaves Hemsky's stick and lands on theirs. I'd love to see Spezza or Kovalchuk in that role and would part with anyone not named Ales or Sheldon to do it.

Too bad Lubo is down, cuz that hurts our flexibility in trades.

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#19 BUCK75
February 04 2009, 07:44AM
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@ Joe:

Are you nuts? We would be getting a worse contract back & have another inconsistant goalie. I thought the management wanted to develop JDD. With hopes of play-offs he won't play anyhow.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere Cap Hit: $6 million. 2008-09: 5.5 million. 2009-10: $6 million. 2010-11: $7 million. 2011-12: UFA

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#20 mjsh
February 04 2009, 07:46AM
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I wonder if Colorado would part with Ian Lapierre

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#21 Reggie
February 04 2009, 07:46AM
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wat wrote:

@ B-rad: Penner opted not to follow through on a check in the first period and was booed by the crowd.

That is true, he was booed but if you watch the replay, if he hit him, it would have been a hit from behind.

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#22 Ssseth
February 04 2009, 07:56AM
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RobinB wrote:

But with this group of players so obviously content with mediocrity, the only position the Oilers are destined to assume between now and the NHL trade deadline involves grabbing ones ankles.

Don't hold back, tell us how you really feel.

Seriously though, I have really enjoyed your candor this season Robin. Keep it up.

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#23 Librarian Mike
February 04 2009, 07:57AM
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@ matt: Can you imagine if Kovalchuk came here to play for MacT? It would almost be worth it for the press conferences:

"Sure, he scored 2 goals last night playing 6:23 with Reddox and Stortini, but he wasn't showing enough jam in his own end."

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#24 Dr_oil
February 04 2009, 08:00AM
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@ RobinB:

I agree Robin that timing is now an issue for a coaching change, with so few games left. But, if there is an initial pop in the team and they play great for 10 - 15 games and then settle to normal, is that "pop" enough to get us in the playoffs? The pace we're going now means we're not making the playoffs anyway. So if we miss by one point or more does it matter?

I'm not saying MacT should be fired or not as I think he is a good coach, just a thought.

We always hear that MacT is a good coach, one of the best in the league. I agree with this thought most of the time BUT...... sometimes even good coaches are let go because a change is needed.

If Scotty Bowman can be fired, then yes, good coaches can be let go for the good of the team.

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#25 Chaz
February 04 2009, 08:01AM
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I guess the bright side of the Oiler's seemingly unwillingness to address their weaknesses, which are many and great (Obama-ism) is that perhaps we'll have a shot at Tavares. Great work Mac T, K Lowe and Tambo!

Also, with all of this talk about how GM's can't do anything due to salaries, cap issues, etc. maybe we can clear up some money by paying them less. They've all seemed to admit they can't do anything anymore, so compensate them as such. No wonder K Lowe went upstairs when he did.

Meh....

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#26 Dr_oil
February 04 2009, 08:03AM
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@ RobinB:

Just want to be clear, I'm on the fence as far as MacT goes, he's a good coach, but has the relationship gone stail?????

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#27 Deep Oil
February 04 2009, 08:11AM
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Ssseth wrote:

RobinB wrote: But with this group of players so obviously content with mediocrity, the only position the Oilers are destined to assume between now and the NHL trade deadline involves grabbing ones ankles. Don’t hold back, tell us how you really feel. Seriously though, I have really enjoyed your candor this season Robin. Keep it up.

I believe the Oilers cringe when Oiler Nation appears to be the only form of free written speech, noting Ched has a tape delay to erase any negative comments. I am sure that Robin has to hold back some in light of physically having to go to Rexall and be on their property.

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#28 OvenChicken8
February 04 2009, 08:12AM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

@ matt: “Sure, he scored 2 goals last night playing 6:23 with Reddox and Stortini, but he wasn’t showing enough jam in his own end.”

AHAHAHAHAHAHA!

But seriously, Reddox wouldn't be playing with Kovalchuk. He would be on the first line with Horcoff and Hemsky, DUH!

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#29 RobinB
February 04 2009, 08:16AM
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Dr_oil wrote:

@ RobinB: Just want to be clear, I’m on the fence as far as MacT goes, he’s a good coach, but has the relationship gone stail?????

It would be foolish not to consider that as a possibility. I'm not getting the sense there's a "We don't want to play for this guy" or a "he has no clue, so we're not listening to him" sentiment, but could there be some level of disconnect? Yes.

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#30 Boundz
February 04 2009, 08:24AM
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Robin, I agree 100%. I've been an advocate of keeping MacT for a while now and believe it is more a players issue than a coaching issue. After another listless, make me sick effort where the Oil are dominated, changes need to be made.

Moreau was directly responsible for the first two goals against. Once for stupid penalty (and with the PK sucking as bad as it does, he should know better) and one for not going hard into the corner to retrieve the puck, and then making a lame shot block effort.

Package a couple players for one. Package a bad contract and a player for a better player with a bad contract.

Just don't stand pat.

B

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#31 Colin
February 04 2009, 08:50AM
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I always get the feeling after reading a Deep Oil post that he would be a good read if only he would use proper punctuation/grammer and improve his writing a bit.

Good Article RB, Any players you think Tambo should be targeting? Perhaps on other bottom-dwellers like the Oil?

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#32 Rick
February 04 2009, 08:56AM
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The media scrum with Tambellini the other day left me more disillusioned than reassured.

I don't know if he is a guy that keeps everything close to the vest or if he was being honest but if it was the latter then there was nothing to suggest that he has a grasp on any sort of action plan moving forward nevermind actually having some irons in the fire.

It's now 6 months into his tenure and there is still no Tambellini stamp on this team. When is the last time a GM was hired and then sat pat for half a year doing nothing?

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#33 RobinB
February 04 2009, 09:10AM
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@ Rick: There are definitely irons in the fire -- not all of them on the player and trade front -- but Tambellini, any GM for that matter, isn't going to publicly show his cards. I wasn't surprised he didn't give anything up.

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#34 Rick
February 04 2009, 09:20AM
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RobinB wrote:

— not all of them on the player and trade front —

Oh man does this mean that the conversation is again going to shift to firing MacT?

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#35 bcjames
February 04 2009, 09:20AM
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This is a little off topic, but what p*ssed me off the most about last night's game is that Stortini hits Campbell and immediately there's a response from Chicago and Zack has to fight. Byfuglien hammers Hemsky into the boards and nothing. And this isn't the first time this has happened. When will the Oilers wake up and realize they have to protect their best player?

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#36 jeanshorts
February 04 2009, 09:25AM
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This looks to me like yet another case of this organization sitting back and resting on their laurels. How many more seasons can we go with the wait and see how things pan out attitude? A shakeup was needed 20 games ago. It's way past due. I know it's hard to make trades these days with all these ridiculous contracts, and almost every team has some sort of cap issue, but at this point I'm confident that any change in the room would be beneficial.

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#37 Terry
February 04 2009, 09:30AM
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I have to guess the majority of the people commenting here think MacT is a major problem. Why not run a poll amongst the Nation? This team is af'du and has been from training camp. It has never got back on it's feet. I think that falls to the issue of coaching. Changing one player may have an affect but I don't think the lack of a feisty fourth liner is what's wrong here.

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#38 MarcAndre Pooalot
February 04 2009, 09:34AM
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What exactly is Kevin Lowe's job? No really...what does he do? I don't know.

Thank you.

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#39 Milli
February 04 2009, 09:37AM
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This game was a few saves from being another blowout. How many times can you let yourself be completely dominated? Anyone see the shot clock? It was a discrace. The hit on Hemmer? No retaliation? What a surprise, the hit on him last game? Anyone man up? Coaches direction?

Robin, you are bang on, this team has no heart, no identity, and, right now, no hope.

I agree that last season, GlennX became the straw the stirred the drink. He hit everything, Zack and Brods followed. He skated like mad, where was the hustle lastnight? We are a 1 man show, and that man cannot get it done on his own.

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#40 RobinB
February 04 2009, 09:39AM
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Rick wrote:

RobinB wrote: — not all of them on the player and trade front — Oh man does this mean that the conversation is again going to shift to firing MacT?

I'll say this much -- Tambellini has a lot on his plate right now. First, obviously, is the situation here. With the team struggling, Tambellini has to take a long look at his roster and his coaching staff. His first inclination, as I said before, is to make a trade, even a minor one, to send a message to the players that the status quo is not OK. If that fails to spark the team, Tambellini has to look at the coach. Based on what I know today, I still don't see MacTavish being fired before the end of the season. The only caveat to that, and it's a longshot, is if the team continues to slide and Kevin Lowe decides to step back behind the bench. And if MacT goes, do the assistants stay?

Second, Springfield is an absolute mess right now and Tambellini has to keep tabs on that. I don't like Jeff Truitt's chances of keeping his job if things don't change. While that's not as pressing as getting things straightened out here, it's a concern. There's lots on the go.

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#41 Knobby
February 04 2009, 09:48AM
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For those who feel trading is the way to change this pig screw of a hockey team, how about Cole (UFA) and Grebeshkov (RFA ?)as a package. There is hopefully some GM out there who would find them an attractive pair. Cole is a good guy but this experience with the Oilers as a team and organization has to be his worst nightmare. If I was him I would want at least a continent between myself and MacT. He ikely won't want to come back. Grebeshkov will likely be too expensive next year. He's a commodity that may have real value right now.

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#42 Rick
February 04 2009, 09:51AM
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RobinB wrote:

Second, Springfield is an absolute mess right now and Tambellini has to keep tabs on that. I don’t like Jeff Truitt’s chances of keeping his job if things don’t change. While that’s not as pressing as getting things straightened out here, it’s a concern. There’s lots on the go.

The Springfield issue is an interesting twist but considering there is no salary cap on coaches and managers it begs the question of what kinda chicken outfit are they running that they have the GM of their parent club having to waste time on their minor league club when there are clearly more pressing issues up here.

Considering KLowe is supposed to be the guy over seeing all of the hockey ops, it would only make sense for there to be a dedicated guy for Springfield that can report to Lowe and leave Tambellini to deal only with the Oilers.

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#43 RobinB
February 04 2009, 10:37AM
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@ Rick: Given the circumstances, I'll just say there is an overlap between the situation there and the situation here.

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#44 Oilersordeath
February 04 2009, 10:48AM
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WOW! Once again the Oilers got taken to school, absolutatly dominated! Oh wait but MacT says we're turning the corner, YEAH MY ASS!! What a difference it would have made if we would have kept GlenX, Stolly, and Green. I really hate saying I hate this team but goddammit!! I hate watching this team! But I still watch every fricken game like a die hard Oilers fan.

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#45 Traktor
February 04 2009, 11:06AM
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Shawn Horcoff - Not playing up to potential

Erik Cole - Not playing up to potential

Sam Gagner - Not playing up to potential

Dustin Penner - Not playing up to potential

Robert Nilsson - Not playing up to potential

Marc Pouliot - Not playing up to potential

Kyle Brodziak - Not playing up to potential

Lupul - Did not play up to potential

Piktkanen - Did not play up to potential

Torres - Did not play up to potential

Stoll - Did not play up to potential

Brownlee's solution: We need more players! We need more player that wont live up to expectations! Brilliant!!

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#46 TDSM31
February 04 2009, 11:13AM
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bcjames wrote:

This is a little off topic, but what p*ssed me off the most about last night’s game is that Stortini hits Campbell and immediately there’s a response from Chicago and Zack has to fight. Byfuglien hammers Hemsky into the boards and nothing. And this isn’t the first time this has happened. When will the Oilers wake up and realize they have to protect their best player?

Amen, brother. I was coming unglued watching Hemmer get plastered not once but twice....then looking at everyone on the Oilers bench just wincing, like when you witness a guy getting a shot in the nards with a cannonball. I had my gear packed and was heading down to Rexall ready to jump on the ice...if only I'd been able to make it past security...

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#47 RobinB
February 04 2009, 11:16AM
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@ Traktor: Back for some more, eh? What an insightful contribution.

I've got a lunch date, so I can't light you up again right now. But, if anybody else around here wants to take a turn telling this Traktor knucklehead off, be my guest.

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#48 Traktor
February 04 2009, 11:51AM
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Common sense clearly indicates that the majority of forwards have underperformed. This is a inarguable fact.

We have 27 out of 30 students failing the class and Brownlee rather blame the students rather than the inept teacher.

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#49 Rick
February 04 2009, 11:51AM
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@ Traktor:

What are those guy's potential?

Could it be that some of them aren't talented enough, others don't work hard enough and some just aren't that good?

Mind you I am sure their pt/60 stats will show some of them as some of the besterest players in the league so I may be mistaken on that.

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#50 swany
February 04 2009, 11:58AM
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Traktor wrote:

Shawn Horcoff - Not playing up to potential Erik Cole - Not playing up to potential Sam Gagner - Not playing up to potential Dustin Penner - Not playing up to potential Robert Nilsson - Not playing up to potential Marc Pouliot - Not playing up to potential Kyle Brodziak - Not playing up to potential Lupul - Did not play up to potential Piktkanen - Did not play up to potential Torres - Did not play up to potential Stoll - Did not play up to potential Brownlee’s solution: We need more players! We need more player that wont live up to expectations! Brilliant!!

Plain and simple this team is Small, they can't play up to potential without some physical help, Brods is a good size but won't hit a flee, Penner same thing we have 6 small guys and Penner plays like he is 170lbs not 245, MAP is a bust trade him, Gagner if you could give Gagner a Ryan Smyth type player who can work the boards and make that pass off the wall he WOULD be living up to expectations, Nilsson has skill but no heart or determination, he had another chance to steal the first line LW last night and did jack Shit, blame the coach all you want but the Blame lies with Lowe just as much or more. Penner signing and when that didn't work he trades for Cole a RW that was brought here to play LW that's not Mact's fault. I never thought I would say this but this team is missing Ryan Smyth, he wasn't a flashy guy but we would bleed copper and blue worked his ass off everynight and scored goals when Hemmer set him up. Right now none of our players are playing hard listen to the post game they are starting to question each other, "some guys are PlAYING SOMENIGHTS AND SOME AREN'T" Cogs. It's easy to fall back on lets blame the coach but Robins right this team is to small and SOFT as butter changes need to be made. I would like to see Redoxx sent down and Stone brought up, plays the PK and likes to hit can fight can skate.

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