MacT and the future of the Oilers

Jason Gregor
April 13 2009 03:57PM

backtothefuture

As the Oilers signed sticks, pictures, jerseys and said goodbye after another disappointing season, all of the buzz around the locker room was whether Craig MacTavish would resign or not.

I’ve said it all season that if they missed the playoffs he would step aside, and it seems that announcement will be made official later this week.

MacTavish opened his press conference saying he wouldn’t answer any question regarding his future. He will speak with Steve Tambellini tomorrow and Wednesday, but MacTavish did say that his future plans will be made public later this week.

The biggest statement, and the one that confirms he will step aside in my opinion, was when he stated, "The thing most disappointing for me was that our culture took a hit; in terms of our work ethic, our selflessness and the universal commitment that we had here for so many years. There were a lot of nights as a coach I had to ask for more and sometimes the tank was pretty empty. It was difficult year for sure."

That sounds like a coach who is wondering whether he can get the most out of his players. Whether you like or hate MacTavish, you can’t question his commitment to the team. When he leaves later this week, it will be because he feels that this group of players and him just don’t gel.

MacTavish has to shoulder some of the blame as well.

He didn’t throw any players under the bus. When asked about Penner, he said that he had already commented enough on Dustin this season and didn’t want to talk about it anymore.

Regarding Nilsson, he said he made strides at times, but once again fought inconsistency. Not really what I would call throwing players under the bus. I think a more direct message was when Penner, Nilsson and Brodziak were in the pressbox on Saturday. A final message or possible parting shot from the coach came in that move more than what he said today.

Tambellini’s in charge

While the optics make it fair to question how much control Steve Tambellini has, I was told today that he is the boss.

Does Tambellini ask Kevin Lowe for his opinion on certain matters? Yes. Does Lowe go to Tambellini with suggestions? No.

The plan, as I was told today, was to bring in Tambellini and let him assess the team for the year. It is clear now, that this team was not as good as the organization thought they were and now it is up to Tambellini to start the renovations.

Tambellini will put his fingerprints on this team ranging from the coaching, to veterans moving out and which youngsters will be coming in. It would be unrealistic to expect massive trades and a complete purging of the team, but don’t be surprised to see at least one, if not two, significant player moves over the summer.

Oilers at the worlds

The golf season will be delayed a few more weeks for certain members of the Oilers. Tom Gilbert and Patrick O’Sullivan will suit up for the USA at the worlds. Denis Grebeshkov will play for Russia, Ales Hemsky and Ales Kotalik will play for the Czech Republic and Dwayne Roloson has confirmed he will wear the maple leaf, with Shawn Horcoff committed to playing as well. Robert Nilsson hasn’t been asked yet and he hinted he has some injuries, so even if a call comes, which is doubtful, he won’t be playing for Sweden.

Stanley Cup and Regular Season tidbits

The Columbus Blue Jackets will finally play in a playoff game when they battle the Red Wings in round one. Will the Steve Mason v. Chris Osgood matchup allow the Jackets to pull off the major upset?

Only one team has ever won the Stanley Cup the first year they made the playoffs. The Leafs did it back in 1918. The Florida Panthers came close in 1996 when the lost in the Finals. The Habs (1918) the Bruins (1927) and the Blues (1968) are the other teams that lost the final the first year they made the playoffs.

Sixteen teams lost in the first round. Anaheim, San Jose (who beat Detroit in 1994), Washington, Phoenix, the Islanders, Pittsburgh and Dallas all won one round. The Wild won two rounds in 2003.

Don’t pick the Jackets to win the Cup, but 14 of the previous 29 teams have won at least one series during their first trip to the dance.

  • Claude Lemieux will try to become only the second player to win a Cup with four different teams. Jack Marshall is the other.
  • Olli Jokinen will play in his first playoff game after 799 regular season games.
  • The last time the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, they finished the season with 119 points. They had 116 this year, their highest total since 1972.
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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 Archaeologuy
April 13 2009, 07:18PM
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Jack "FMNF" Bauer wrote:

What does it matter man? Quit, fired, as long as hes done and gone who gives a crap how it happens.

It mattered this season didnt it?

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#52 Rice
April 13 2009, 07:21PM
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rindog wrote:

@ Rice: Rice wrote: Fair point…my judgment is clouded because it was a crappy end to another mediocre season. And the ONE common link to all of these crappy seasons is……

There isn't just one. MacT, Klowe, Hemsky, Horcoff, Moreau, Staios, Pisani, The Fans... Now don't think I am blaming the fans for any of this, I am again pointing out that there is not one issue, there is a lot of them. As Jacob pointed out, "the other six years of smelly ass pie-seasons"

Again, I am not saying keep MacT, I am saying don't get your hopes up that the next coach will save the team. It can't, however, hurt much more.

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#53 Rice
April 13 2009, 07:24PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Not at all. I think the negative fans are the vocal minority. Games are sold out, merchandise at places like the Sports Closet sell quickly.
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#54 Rice
April 13 2009, 07:25PM
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Rice wrote:

Jason Gregor wrote: Not at all. I think the negative fans are the vocal minority. Games are sold out, merchandise at places like the Sports Closet sell quickly.

Stupid fingers....

Anyway... I would venture a guess that even the negative fans are still going to games and buying merchandise.

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#55 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
April 13 2009, 07:28PM
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@ Archaeologuy:

My point was, its enough that weve wanted him gone, and now with that being likely were complaining about how he leaves?

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#56 Homie
April 13 2009, 07:31PM
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rindog wrote:

@ Jason Gregor: Jason Gregor wrote: For one of the rare times under MacTavish they were in a position where they controlled their won destiny. And yet we finished with the 2nd least amount of points in MacT’s tenure?? Why is management giving him the option of quitting? I know it’s semantics, but is there any value in management sending a message? It seemed okay for MacT to send messages??

The message is that we value loyalty. Sometimes its to the detriment of the team, like it can be for any business, but no one can claim that the Oilers don't take care of their own.

And back to one of your earlier points - what is the common link to the crappy seasons? Well, do you mean the years where the Oilers were hamstrung financially and still didn't have a winning season? Or since the lockout when they have made the Cup Finals 25% of the time, but missed the playoffs in the other 75%?

If you look at the post-lockout years, there are a bunch of common threads, both in management and on the ice. I would venture to say that none of them have lived up to their expectations, including Hemsky and Horcoff.

This summer is a chance for the Oilers to begin to change their identity and culture like they haven't had in a long time. But fans need to keep in mind that the team is a work in progress and changing the coach is not going to fix everything that is wrong with the team.

Hopefully there is more of an "under-promise and over-perform" mentality going forward.

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#57 Archaeologuy
April 13 2009, 08:06PM
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@ Jack "FMNF" Bauer: I understand your point. I just believe that not firing MacT was and is a mistake. Its a bad message to the Public and the Team.

It's a big middle finger to the paying fans, who dont run the club but are needed nonetheless. This club is stagnant and the veil was lifted this season. From very early on the average fan could see many of the problems as clear as day, yet nothing has been done to fix that. All we have are promises that things will get better. Tambellini (who apparently had more power than we assumed) not firing MacT when it was obvious the team wasnt responding was doing his best Nero impression, fiddling while Rome burned.

For the Team, not punting MacStifle doesnt exactly show the comittment to winning that guys like Hemsky and Souray are complaining about the direction of the team. How can those guys be expected to be accountable if the club isnt even willing to fire a guy who has never accomplished anything and came with questionable credentials?

Overall, I think HOW the team gets things done does matter. In the Oilers case, The Ends dont justify the Means. That is to say that if this club were a winner, then it wouldnt matter if they were so lax' with how they went about doing business. Too bad this isnt a winning organization.

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#58 Homie
April 13 2009, 08:33PM
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Homie wrote:

And back to one of your earlier points - what is the common link to the crappy seasons? Well, do you mean the years where the Oilers were hamstrung financially and still didn’t have a winning season?

That should read "losing season".

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#59 David S
April 13 2009, 10:45PM
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This is a crazy good interview. Jason, the sooner you guys start putting up these podcasts, the sooner alot of the crazy comments will go away.

hxxp://www.justagame.ca/audio/robin%20brownlee%20apr13.mp3

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#60 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
April 13 2009, 11:42PM
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It would appear that link has been disabled.

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#61 Mark
April 13 2009, 11:54PM
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@ Jack "FMNF" Bauer: Try www.justagame.ca/audio/robin%20brownlee%20apr13.mp3

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#62 Victoria
April 14 2009, 12:13AM
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Mmmm, ham and eggers.

The link works, Jack, I just changed the hxxp to http.

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#63 David S
April 14 2009, 12:19AM
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Jack - using "xx" avoids the dreaded red bar.

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#64 The Towel Boy
April 14 2009, 08:07AM
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You know what I just noticed? The standings scoreboard says we have 10 games to play yet. So can we still make the playoffs before tomorrow?

*bingofuel whispers something about technical difficulties with website and single handedly crushes dreams and hopes*

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#65 bingofuel
April 14 2009, 08:11AM
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I rarely whisper, Towel Boy. Quite often, I'm actually shouting.

But right you are. These chubby little sausage-fingers of mine apparently couldn't find the "3" key when I was inputting the losses. please continue mourning the loss of a playoff spot.

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#66 The Towel Boy
April 14 2009, 08:47AM
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@ bingofuel:

*sad*

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#67 Ogden Brother
April 14 2009, 09:01AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

RossCreek wrote: @ Gregor Tom Gilbert, Kyle Brodziak & a 2nd round pick for Simon Gagne Edmonton makes that deal in a heartbeat. The Flyers scoff and say try again. YOu picked the right team though. The Flyers have six forwards making $4.2 million or more a year, and they need a puck moving D-man. They need to shed salary and Gilbert and Brodziak combined won’t save them much. I think the Flyers will try to move Briere to anyone that will take him.Sick of bitchy Oilers fans wrote: Jason: I have a question for you. Do you think that part of the reason that Edmonton has challenges attracting free agents has anything to do with the fact that fans get all over the players after one or two bad games? The list of players that the fans have run out of town is fairly lengthy. Not at all. I think the negative fans are the vocal minority. Games are sold out, merchandise at places like the Sports Closet sell quickly. The reason that players haven’t signed here lately is more about the lack of success than anything else. Sure travel is an annoyance, but Detroit travels just as much, if not more than the Oilers, yet players sign there. Win and people might be enticed to come here. The Oilers did sign Souray. Some would argue they overpaid, but I don’t think anyone thought he wasn’t worth his contract this year. A losing atmosphere is much more of a problem than negative fans. Win in this city and the players are considered Gods by most fans. They would love it.

I'm sure winning doesn't hurt, but based on past player movements, it's far from top of their list.

Malone went from Pits (SCF) to TB (1st over all pick)

Brier went from Buff (presidents trophy) to Philly (last overall)

Drury went from Buff (presidents trophy) to NYR (15th overall)

Gomez went from NJ (2nd in the conference to NYR (15th overall)

Winning wieghts in, but $/taxes/weather/travel/location/media and yes, psycho fans all wieght in as well.

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#68 Ogden Brother
April 14 2009, 09:31AM
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@ Mark:

Bingo, the coach should get his share of the flack. But to think this team was a slam dunk playoff team based on the roster is the hight of homerism.

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#69 Rob
April 14 2009, 10:24AM
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@ Mark:

I didn't mean to suggest that the players don't have to take some of the blame, they do absolutely. It just seems like in the past Lowe and Mact don't take any blame what-so-ever. It's time for this whole organization to take a hard look at itself and make the correct changes. That said, I'll bet anyone right now that Mact will get another crack at this team and no one is safe from trades this summer (Horc is for obvious reasons but I dont think anyone else is).

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#70 Jason Gregor
April 14 2009, 10:41AM
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rindog wrote:

And yet we finished with the 2nd least amount of points in MacT’s tenure?? Why is management giving him the option of quitting? I know it’s semantics, but is there any value in management sending a message? It seemed okay for MacT to send messages??

MacT sent messages to try and spark players to be better. And it worked a few times, so not a bad plan.

I don't see what message it would send other than, "Don't worry players you were all good, the reason we lost is because of the coach."

If a girl broke up with you. Would you want her to tell you she is breaking up because she cheated on you, or just break up with you?

Adding insult to injury is never a good move.

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#71 Jason Gregor
April 14 2009, 10:46AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Malone went from Pits (SCF) to TB (1st over all pick) Brier went from Buff (presidents trophy) to Philly (last overall) Drury went from Buff (presidents trophy) to NYR (15th overall) Gomez went from NJ (2nd in the conference to NYR (15th overall)

And how many of those guys are worth their contract? Only Malone. Do you think Drury and Gomez have been seven million dollar players? Not even close.

I've always said that signing the big ticket UFA hinders a team as much as it helps it. Sure Hossa has worked out, but three of those four you mentioned did not.

Signing a UFA for a big price is almost as risky as a 10-25 first round draft pick. Some work out, and just as many if not more never live up to the expectations.

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#72 Ogden Brother
April 14 2009, 10:51AM
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@ Jason Gregor:

?

I think we are different waivelengths here... I agree that UFA's rarely workout, I was relieved that Hossa turned down the offer.

The point I was discussing was: Your claim that the winning tradition is what attracts players, their is ample evidence that players will leave winners for losers, ie a winning orginization is no guarantee that you will attract players.

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#73 topshelf
April 14 2009, 10:55AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

their is ample evidence that players will leave winners for losers, ie a winning orginization is no guarantee that you will attract players.

Providing four names is hardly ample evidence.

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#74 topshelf
April 14 2009, 10:59AM
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@ Ogden Brother: But I would also agree that money talks.

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#75 Archaeologuy
April 14 2009, 11:00AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

If a girl broke up with you. Would you want her to tell you she is breaking up because she cheated on you, or just break up with you?

good point, but if you were in a long term relationship with somebody you werent interested in AND were already looking for a new partner, would you wait around for your current girlfriend to move out of the house on her own? Would she get the hint after you brought the new chick over for dinner? Awkward.

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#76 Cam
April 14 2009, 11:00AM
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What about Ted Nolan? When he had a decent team (Buffalo) he did very well, but then ten years later he surfaced with the islanders, who are an even more sorry lot than the oilers... I am not sure what Snow was trying to do there, but you can't blame Nolan for those issues...

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#77 RossCreek
April 14 2009, 11:01AM
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@ Jason Gregor: Any chance Randy Carlyle or Alain Vigneault lose their job if their clubs suffer 1st round losses? Would either be of interest to the Oil? (I'd think so)

Have you picked the man you'd like to see behind the bench yet, or are you waiting for MacT's decision?

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#78 RossCreek
April 14 2009, 11:02AM
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Cam wrote:

What about Ted Nolan? When he had a decent team (Buffalo) he did very well, but then ten years later he surfaced with the islanders, who are an even more sorry lot than the oilers… I am not sure what Snow was trying to do there, but you can’t blame Nolan for those issues…

A...NO. Next.

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#79 Archaeologuy
April 14 2009, 11:03AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

I agree that UFA’s rarely workout, I was relieved that Hossa turned down the offer.

Yeah, those 90+ point guys are over-rated, thank the hockey gods that we re-signed Horc for a Gagilion dollars over 300 years instead.

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#80 Ogden Brother
April 14 2009, 11:08AM
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@ topshelf:

I think we've seen enough players leave here to know it's not all about winning.

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#81 Ogden Brother
April 14 2009, 11:11AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: I agree that UFA’s rarely workout, I was relieved that Hossa turned down the offer. Yeah, those 90+ point guys are over-rated, thank the hockey gods that we re-signed Horc for a Gagilion dollars over 300 years instead.

What was the offer? 9 years 9 million/year?

Even on this years pace and next years $$ Horc would be producing at roughly the same $/point clip as Horc.

As soon as Hossa dipped back into the 70 point range, you'd be complaining about his 9 for 9 as much as you do about Horcs 5.5 for 6.

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#82 Ogden Brother
April 14 2009, 11:12AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Archaeologuy wrote: Ogden Brother wrote: I agree that UFA’s rarely workout, I was relieved that Hossa turned down the offer. Yeah, those 90+ point guys are over-rated, thank the hockey gods that we re-signed Horc for a Gagilion dollars over 300 years instead. What was the offer? 9 years 9 million/year? Even on this years pace and next years $$ Horc would be producing at roughly the same $/point clip as Horc. As soon as Hossa dipped back into the 70 point range, you’d be complaining about his 9 for 9 as much as you do about Horcs 5.5 for 6.

Meant to say "Hossa would would be producing at roughly the same point/$ clip as Horc"

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#83 David S
April 14 2009, 11:13AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Yeah, those 90+ point guys are over-rated, thank the hockey gods that we re-signed Horc for a Gagilion dollars over 300 years instead.

Haha! Noice!

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#84 David S
April 14 2009, 11:15AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Meant to say “Hossa would would be producing at roughly the same point/$ clip as Horc”

In what universe? Horcoff is barely qualified to wash Hossa's Lambo.

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#85 topshelf
April 14 2009, 11:18AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

I think we’ve seen enough players leave here to know it’s not all about winning

When were we winning here?

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#86 Ogden Brother
April 14 2009, 11:19AM
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@ David S:

Really? Hossa had 71 points this year (79 on an 82 game clip)for 7.5 million

Horc had 53 for 3.6.... even taking next years 5.5 hit and they are still comparable production for cap hit.

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#87 Ogden Brother
April 14 2009, 11:19AM
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topshelf wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: I think we’ve seen enough players leave here to know it’s not all about winning When were we winning here?

80's

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#88 RossCreek
April 14 2009, 11:22AM
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I know everyone's upset with the length of the Horcoff contract. I' sure he's got a solid 4 years in him (no, maybe not worth 5.5, but thats another topic), and at that point in time, buying out Horcoff would cost the team slightly over $1 Million a year for 4 years. Not ideal, but not a complete catastrophe. Its the same sort of scenario for the latter years of Franzen's contract.

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#89 Archaeologuy
April 14 2009, 11:23AM
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@ Ogden Brother: Ok, to be fair Hossa didnt score 90 points this season. But he has been right around a point per game or higher for almost as long as MacT has been regularly missing the playoffs. Somehow I think I would be more forgiving of a 40 goal scorer than I would Horc and his 17 measly goals. Just my bias.

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#90 Ogden Brother
April 14 2009, 11:28AM
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RossCreek wrote:

I know everyone’s upset with the length of the Horcoff contract. I’ sure he’s got a solid 4 years in him (no, maybe not worth 5.5, but thats another topic), and at that point in time, buying out Horcoff would cost the team slightly over $1 Million a year for 4 years. Not ideal, but not a complete catastrophe. Its the same sort of scenario for the latter years of Franzen’s contract.

The real complaint we should have is not tacking on an extra 3 years at 1 million per

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#91 Ogden Brother
April 14 2009, 11:30AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: Ok, to be fair Hossa didnt score 90 points this season. But he has been right around a point per game or higher for almost as long as MacT has been regularly missing the playoffs. Somehow I think I would be more forgiving of a 40 goal scorer than I would Horc and his 17 measly goals. Just my bias.

He also just passed the point where most elite goal scorers start to see their goal scoring dip... quickly and significantly.

Anyways, this has nothing to do with Horc vs Hossa.... the point was that a 9 year 81 million $$ deal to Hossa would have been just as bad or worse then any of the other deals we whine about daily.

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#92 Archaeologuy
April 14 2009, 11:32AM
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@ Ogden Brother: probably true, but at least it would force us to cut the fat on the team.

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#93 David S
April 14 2009, 11:34AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Ok, to be fair Hossa didnt score 90 points this season. But he has been right around a point per game or higher for almost as long as MacT has been regularly missing the playoffs. Somehow I think I would be more forgiving of a 40 goal scorer than I would Horc and his 17 measly goals. Just my bias.

Agreed. At the end of the day, we desperately need a guy who can pot 40 as much or more than a guy who offers great defensive upside. Hemsky was supposed to be that guy but alot of us are starting to wonder if that will ever happen.

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#94 Archaeologuy
April 14 2009, 11:40AM
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@ David S: Hemsky, despite his slowed production at the end of the season, still produced well on a point per game basis. He can make those dipsy doodle moves and take a wicked shot but he needs a true goal scorer. I think we're asking Hemsky to be both Adam Oates and Brett Hull. He had two anchors playing with him all season. How can Horc only score 17 goals while playing with the best playmaker on the team ALL season?

Im not even close to thinking Hemsky is to blame for scoring problems.

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#95 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
April 14 2009, 12:22PM
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@ Archaeologuy:

Hemsky wasnt to blame for the scoring problems, but he sure wasnt a help either. YOu want to publically call on the team to ride him and make them their franchise player then you need to score some freaking goals. Which he did next to nothing of.

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#96 Ogden Brother
April 14 2009, 12:24PM
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@ David S:

Unfortunatly their were only 9 of those guys this year and with the exception of Hossa, I doubt any of them change address anytime soon.

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#97 David S
April 14 2009, 07:15PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

@ David S: Unfortunatly their were only 9 of those guys this year and with the exception of Hossa, I doubt any of them change address anytime soon.

While that's true, just watch how hard we pursue a big name this summer. I bet it'll get to groveling.

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