Tambellini Press Conference Live Blog (Updated!)

Jonathan Willis
April 15 2009 11:51AM

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Steve Tambellini is giving a press conference at 12:00.  Video is available at the Oilers official site .  This is the official OilersNation live blog for the conference, and material will be added as the conference continues.

[11:50] - Dan Tencer seems to be finished playing around with the microphone, so I'm assuming the sound is set up.  Since there's nothing else to discuss as of yet, he seems to be dressed pretty casually for this sort of thing - aren't reporters supposed to wear suits?

[11:52] - The back of Dan Tencer's head is all that I can see from this camera (aside from the two water bottles on either side of the microphone).  The back of his head appears to be itchy.

[11:54] - The zoom function on the camera seems to work.

[11:56] - The feed seems a little choppy.  Hopefully that doesn't continue.

[11:56] - As per the comment below and now confirmed on their official site, Sportsnet is reporting that MacTavish is finished.

[12:01] - The Spector article says that the decision was made by MacTavish to step down, as opposed to being fired.  Still waiting for Tambellini.

[12:03] - He's here.

[12:04] - The season was a disappointment, they aren't where they wanted to be.  Issues need to be addressed - they've had discussions internally.

[12:05] - Tambellini confirms that the Oilers will be pursuing a new head coach.  Tambellini says it was "the right thing for Craig and for the Oilers at this point".  He says the team needs a "new voice", but calls the decision a mutual one between Tambellini, Lowe and MacTavish.

[12:06] - There will be personnel changes; he is not letting the players off of the hook.

[12:07] - Tambellini says that a "commitment to win at any cost" was the hallmark of old Oiler teams.  He agrees that grit and size were issues this season, and says that the team will be identifying players who can add that internally and then acquiring what they need from outside the team.

[12:09] - The ownership, Kevin Lowe, and Craig MacTavish are the three reasons why Tambellini accepted the job.  He thanked MacTavish for his service.

[12:10] - Calls MacT "a quality coach and a quality person, but decisions have to be made for us to get better".

[12:10] - Tambellini leaves the door open, but doesn't expect MacTavish back in another capacity.  He thinks he will be coaching in the NHL next season for another team.

[12:11] - MacTavish's remaining year on his contract is "not an issue".

[12:12] - Tambellini still sees "an incredible amount of potential in this group".  He said that the pressure on this group to perform immediately is "what you want" and identifies how players react to that kind of pressure as a key evaluation of their value.

[12:14] - Tambellini "will not put up with" an "unemotional game".  He says the team needs more strength, energy, and grit, and again hints that trades will be made to acquire those qualities.

[12:14] - He keeps coming back to the theme that there "has been success at times".  He has a specific type of coach in mind, and says that a new coach will be in place "when we get the right guy".  It sounds like a decision won't be made until the options are clear; Tambellini hinted strongly that more options would be available once teams were eliminated from the playoffs.  The first name that comes to my mind when he says that is Brent Sutter.

[12:16] - Tambellini has yet to talk to the assistant coaches but expects to deal with them "within the week".

[12:17] - He wants at least one top-six player, and guys that are hard to play against in general.  He also reemphasizes the need to get more out of players that are currently in the organization.  I'd guess that means that not all of MacTavish's whipping boys are considered irredeemable.

[12:17] - Tambellini identified scouting and development as areas where there is "a lot of work to do", and rather heavily implied there will be changes.  Don't get too comfortable, Kevin Prendergast.

[12:18] - "It's time to stop looking back; we have to look forward."  I'd imagine that the Oilers glory days job offerings are going to become fewer under Tambellini's watch.

[12:20] - "It's important that we take our time right now and that we review all aspects."  No hasty decisions to be made, supposedly.  Tambellini also was asked if any players had expressed a desire to leave.  His response: "No."

[12:22] - Although I'm a little concerned that this team is going to go overboard to pick up size at the expense of other things, on the whole he's saying all the right things.  He seems reasonable and even-handed, and says that there are definitely some positives to the current group that need to be kept.  Change for the sake of change doesn't sound like it's going to be happening here, although I suppose time will tell.

[12:24] - Tambellini says that the coach doesn't neccessarily need NHL experience, but for an inexperienced guy he'd need to be "a special person".  Based on his reaction, I'm guessing the next guy has NHL experience - his face pretty much gave that away.

[12:26] - Tambellini says that he "needs to be wide open right now" with respect to where the next head coach comes from, but I'm rather cautiously optimistic based on what he's said so far that it won't be someone from inside the organization.

Well, that's it for the press conference.  On the whole, I think Tambellini said the right things and got the right message out; the team is in the midst of a top-to-bottom review of both players and management, and will set a course going forward to address areas identified as deficient.  Naturally, the G.M. isn't going to criticize ownership, but I really think that for the most part it's a non-issue, and that was the message Tambellini stressed in that regard.

Tambellini praised MacTavish and spoke about him accurately; it does sound like he will be leaving the organization entirely and continue to coach, just somewhere else.  I'm quite confident that there is another NHL job in the near future for MacTavish.  As for his replacement, all the signs were there that Tambellini already has a short list; he said that he had a "specific type" of coach in mind, and it sounds like that coach will both a) have NHL experience and b) come from outside the organization.  It also sounds like that coach is currently in the playoffs, and off the top of my head, my best guess would be Brent Sutter.

Obviously, time will tell, but based on this press conference I think this organization is in good hands.

On Second Thought...

I guessed Brent Sutter off of the top of my head, but Tambellini never specified that the coach had to have experience as a head coach at the NHL level; he just strongly hinted that the next coach would have NHL experience and was running a team with games left to play.  Looking at my short list from the other day (and excluding Sutter), there are four names on the list; three of whom I think are the likeliest bets.  Those three are:

  • Scott Arniel.  The Manitoba Moose coach is currently busy in the AHL playoffs, but given that Tambellini was the Vancouver Canucks executive responsible for overseeing their farm team, Arniel would be a known quantity for him.  Arniel has previous NHL experience as an assistant coach with the Buffalo Sabres.
  • Don Lever.  An assistant coach in Montreal, Lever's AHL record is distinguished and he's been an assistant coach in Buffalo and St. Louis as well.  Plus, it would be nice to pay the Canadiens back in kind for snatching up Claude Julien.
  • Paul MacLean.  Stealing Detroit assistant coaches could get to be something of a trend.  MacLean followed Babcock over to Detroit from Anaheim, and he was also previously an assistant coach in Phoenix.  He spent eight seasons as a minor league head coach, putting up a nice record in the IHL and a championship win with the UHL's Quad City Mallards.

Like I said, if I had to bet, I'd bet on one of those three.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 Jon
April 15 2009, 12:38PM
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Any reason why you think brent sutter? Did he hint to a head coach? as opposed to, for example, an assistant coach currently in the playoffs like Paul McLean and a few other probable candidates

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#52 Predicting the East (updated) - OilersNation.com
April 15 2009, 12:39PM
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[...] So with MacT out (praise to everything and everyone) it’s time to go shopping for a new Coach. With everything down in the dumps it sounds to us like whoever comes in here and does a decent job of coaching is going to be hailed as a genius. [...]

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#53 I'm a Scientist!
April 15 2009, 12:39PM
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*gets out the ghetto blaster and pops in his tape of Europe's 'The Final Countdown'" and starts to boogie down with Arch and Wanye*

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#54 RossCreek
April 15 2009, 12:39PM
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WILLIS - Brent Sutter will not be in Edmonton. Shots on me if it happens... 0%

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#55 Big Deal
April 15 2009, 12:39PM
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Bring on Ted Nolan.If he doesn't succeed, fire everyone and start again!

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#56 Scott
April 15 2009, 12:40PM
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AO, that is the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

Tavares is going to be the next Anze Kopitar, doomed to a horrible team, he'll have 80 points at most a season.

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#57 BarryS
April 15 2009, 12:40PM
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I expect certain veterins, not horkoff or pisani, could be playing in the minors next year after training camp if they can't be traded. The status of the assistants likely depends on the desires of the new coach and if Mac takes them to his new team.

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#58 I'm a Scientist!
April 15 2009, 12:40PM
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Hey JW...good work on typing fast! Thanks for that! my video feed was not working at all! I appreciate your efforts with this blog!

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#59 Phil
April 15 2009, 12:41PM
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Jack "FMNF" Bauer wrote:

I tell you. You can read into that as much as you want, but he sure looked like he had an axe to grind.

Grab 'em by the balls.

The way he was talking it sure didn't seem like MacT "tendered his resignation" as people so eloquently put it.

Sounded like a firing IMNSHO.

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#60 RossCreek
April 15 2009, 12:42PM
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Big Deal wrote:

Bring on Ted Nolan.If he doesn’t succeed, fire everyone and start again!

NO TED NOLAN

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#61 Archaeologuy
April 15 2009, 12:43PM
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I'm a Scientist! wrote:

*gets out the ghetto blaster and pops in his tape of Europe’s ‘The Final Countdown’” and starts to boogie down with Arch and Wanye*

How did your techno wizardry know that was the song in my head?

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#62 I'm a Scientist!
April 15 2009, 12:44PM
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Phil wrote:

Jack “FMNF” Bauer wrote: Sounded like a firing IMNSHO.

According to the oilers website "Oilers relieved MacT". That is a firing.

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#63 I'm a Scientist!
April 15 2009, 12:45PM
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@ Archaeologuy: Computers are amazing things. Besides, it was getting awkward watching you and Wanye dance with no music.

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#64 Jonathan Willis
April 15 2009, 12:46PM
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RE: My Sutter Guess

Just a guess, that's all. Certainly there are some assistants (MacLean was mentioned) still in the playoffs, and for that matter Scott Arneil was an NHL assistant for a while and his team is still in the AHL playoffs too.

I made the connection between "NHL experience" and "NHL experience as a head coach" automatically, without thinking, and that's probably wrong.

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#65 Archaeologuy
April 15 2009, 12:48PM
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WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO...

*Gets out of car and starts walking down the congested road. Camera pans back. Everyone is out of their cars and walking down the street.*

Sooooooooooooooommmmmme Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime, Sooooooooooooooooommmmmmmmmme Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimmmmmmme!

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#66 Jonathan Willis
April 15 2009, 12:49PM
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Also, here's my read on the MacTavish departure:

1) If MacTavish hadn't expressed an interest in moving on, the Oilers probably would have fired him. 2) If the Oilers hadn't expressed an interest in moving on, MacTavish probably would have left on his own.

So, in other words: MacT probably left under his own power, but if he hadn't the Oilers would have given him a hand out the door.

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#67 RossCreek
April 15 2009, 12:50PM
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How long til MacT's working for TSN's panel?

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#68 Archaeologuy
April 15 2009, 12:52PM
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My whoo was so heartfelt that it broke out the side of its comment box. That's the power of Hope, people.

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#69 West Coast Oil
April 15 2009, 12:52PM
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Wanye I think it is time to Ghost Ride the Whip!!

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#70 topshelf
April 15 2009, 12:53PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

1) If MacTavish hadn’t expressed an interest in moving on, the Oilers probably would have fired him.

I was wondering to myself if this was the case after I had heard that we was fired.

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#71 Bruthah - NNC
April 15 2009, 12:53PM
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Ok, so what's the deal with the captain of the team, is that a coach decided thing or what?

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#72 Phil
April 15 2009, 12:54PM
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I still can't believe it.

Honest to God I thought the man [MacT] was going to be stubborn, ask for the player personnel change, and tell management to give him one more year with the "necessary tweaks".

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#73 freeze
April 15 2009, 12:54PM
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@ RossCreek: or HNIC with Simpson?

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#74 Chris
April 15 2009, 12:55PM
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The biggest line to me: "It's time to stop looking back; It's time to look forward"

Amen. No more dwelling on the great teams of the past... let the past be the past. Let's stop organizing our season around another jersey retirement... It's time to move on. Also the end of nepotism. let's hire scouts who have a track record of being good scouts; instead of being good Ex-Oilers.

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#75 Rick
April 15 2009, 12:56PM
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That was a strong PC from Tambellini, he definately managed to say what needed to be said.

Now let's see if he has the aptitude to make the necessary changes.

Based on how he dragged his feet over the course of the season, I won't hold my breath.

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#76 shakey
April 15 2009, 12:56PM
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RossCreek wrote:

How long til MacT’s working for TSN’s panel?

It's the only way he's going to see the playoffs. I say he ends up on Sportsnet though. The best part is when they put his name on the screen it will read 'Former NHL Coach'.

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#77 topshelf
April 15 2009, 12:56PM
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topshelf wrote:

after I had heard that we was fired.

...that HE was fired. So excited I can't even type.

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#78 Chris
April 15 2009, 12:57PM
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Phil wrote:

I still can’t believe it. Honest to God I thought the man [MacT] was going to be stubborn, ask for the player personnel change, and tell management to give him one more year with the “necessary tweaks”.

Maybe Mact took a few days, thought about it, went fishing for just that... and was "Let Go"

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#79 RossCreek
April 15 2009, 12:59PM
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@ freeze: b>shakey wrote:

RossCreek wrote: How long til MacT’s working for TSN’s panel? It’s the only way he’s going to see the playoffs. I say he ends up on Sportsnet though. The best part is when they put his name on the screen it will read ‘Former NHL Coach’.

I say TSN because he is quotable & has some personality & TSN will pay him the most. Both could be options though.

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#80 roughneck
April 15 2009, 01:00PM
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and somewhere in time

mark crawford takes off his knee pads.

Darryl Sutter picks up phone with an evil smile and phones macTs agent.

Brian Burke laughs at his mastery of the english language

it had to happen and Im just glad MacT didnt tap out.....

Lowebellini.... we want you to resign and take another job in the org

MacT...... blow me

Lowebellini.... well crawford already took his knee pads off

MacT...... removes albatross from around neck and throws on rx1 ice, rolls eyes... laughs to himself... answers call from his agent.

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#81 MikeP
April 15 2009, 01:00PM
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baggedmilk wrote:

Why else would he not speak at the press conference?

Would *you*? Seems to me he already said everything he might have to say at locker cleanout day.

I expect it was a mutual thing.

When next year doesn't work out, who gets it in the neck?

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#82 Colin
April 15 2009, 01:02PM
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Wooooo!

Is it just me or did it sound a lot like Tambo has several things in place already; he sort of sounded like an evil puppetmaster to me.

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#83 nboilerfan
April 15 2009, 01:02PM
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I don't see this as a MacT decision, otherwise he would have held his own presser or said so at teh last one.

This was a firing by Tambs.

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#84 Weeping Tears Of Joy
April 15 2009, 01:02PM
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although you have to think mac t and principe could be pretty entertaining. gene's cheesy one liners with mac t's facial expressions......

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#85 The Towel Boy
April 15 2009, 01:03PM
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I like the Brent Sutter angle. I could live with that.

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#86 I'm a Scientist!
April 15 2009, 01:04PM
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*glances over at the bandwagon sitting in the corner...a little beat up and broken after this season, but, just as he is about to turn away, the sun glints off the windshied sending a shockwave of hope that one day...one day real soon...the bandwagon will rise again*

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#87 Archaeologuy
April 15 2009, 01:04PM
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Weeping Tears Of Joy wrote:

although you have to think mac t and principe could be pretty entertaining. gene’s cheesy one liners with mac t’s facial expressions……

How will Gene respond to being benched in the playoffs? Will he cry like Todd Harvey (worst decision ever)?

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#88 freeze
April 15 2009, 01:05PM
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The Towel Boy wrote:

I like the Brent Sutter angle. I could live with that.

Sutter would be awesome but I just don't see it happening. I would think he'd go to Calgary before Ed.

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#89 topshelf
April 15 2009, 01:05PM
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That picture is AWESOME!

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#90 RossCreek
April 15 2009, 01:07PM
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The Towel Boy wrote:

I like the Brent Sutter angle. I could live with that.

Brent Sutter will be in Calgary. And when it happens, I got 4 words for ya... WHO SAW THAT COMING?

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#91 Bruthah - NNC
April 15 2009, 01:08PM
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I'm a Scientist! wrote:

*glances over at the bandwagon sitting in the corner…a little beat up and broken after this season, but, just as he is about to turn away, the sun glints off the windshied sending a shockwave of hope that one day…one day real soon…the bandwagon will rise again*

{slow clap}

Way to paint a picture. I can see it now. BUT, you forgot all the spider webs on it too.

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#92 Chris
April 15 2009, 01:09PM
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Send Moreau packing too...(for an appropriate return). I don't like Capatin's who are against the Coach publicly voicing high expectations... Guess what douche: it's not too much to expect your team to play as a group, win some games at home, and (as a cap team) finish above 20th in the league. If you think it's unfair to deal with high expectations...GO TO TAMPA.

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#93 alon
April 15 2009, 01:09PM
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@ RossCreek:

Brent Sutter will end up in Red Deer, and if it doesn't I would be surprised

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#94 MikeP
April 15 2009, 01:10PM
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Listening to the audio now, what he said about ownership and "plans for the city" - new stadium? Glad I won't be paying for it, sorry Edmontonians.

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#95 RossCreek
April 15 2009, 01:10PM
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Moreau & Staios next?

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#96 Reggie
April 15 2009, 01:10PM
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@ freeze: Here's my take on Brent Sutter. I think it would be awesome to have him here, but here's why I don't think it will happen.

He signed a 4 year deal with NJ. He is under contract. I could see Lou letting him out of his contract to go back to coach the Rebels or to go to Team Canada, 2010, but I cannot see Lou letting him take on another NHL coaching job in the next 3 years (the remainder of his contract).

That's my two cents worth.

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#97 shakey
April 15 2009, 01:11PM
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@ RossCreek: Does TSN have a big enough studio for all they guys they have now? Maybe MacT can take out his Penner-rage on Pierre Maquire.

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#98 Dan from Wainwright
April 15 2009, 01:11PM
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BarryS wrote:

I expect certain veterins, not horkoff or pisani, could be playing in the minors next year after training camp if they can’t be traded. The status of the assistants likely depends on the desires of the new coach and if Mac takes them to his new team.

Spelling anyone?

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#99 Archaeologuy
April 15 2009, 01:12PM
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alon wrote:

@ RossCreek: Brent Sutter will end up in Red Deer, and if it doesn’t I would be surprised

If I were Katz, I would make an offer for the Red Deer Rebels and threaten to disband the team if Sutter wont coach the Oilers. But that's just me.

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#100 RossCreek
April 15 2009, 01:12PM
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alon wrote:

@ RossCreek: Brent Sutter will end up in Red Deer, and if it doesn’t I would be surprised

Agreed, that is definately likely. But in regards to him coming to E-town ahead of Calgary... NO CHANCE PEOPLE!

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