Has Tambo eased Souray's fears?

Jason Gregor
April 16 2009 10:49AM

tambopewpew

Now that MacTavish is gone, the focus will switch to who replaces him and which players will not be part of the Tambellini era. Since being announced as GM last summer, Tambellini has been very bland. He was careful with his words, protective of his players and coaches and at times you needed to put a spoon under his nose to see if he was breathing. He showed no emotion until yesterday.

Tambellini opened his press conference with a five-minute statement that was thoughtful, well-planned, to the point and filled with raw emotion. I sat in the front row and saw a side of Tambellini we'd never seen since he landed in Edmonton.

After calmly telling a packed conference room that MacTavish wouldn’t be back, he quickly turned his focus to the players.

“One thing I want to make clear, is that because we are changing our coach and moving in a different direction this DOES NOT absolve the players from their performance, or lack there of. “Do we need to address some of our personnel? Obviously we do. When I think about the Oilers and what they represent and the things that are important to the Oilers, and why there has been success here at times lately, it’s because of a passion, because of a commitment, because of a sacrifice to do anything to win. That’s the part that was the hardest to compete against the Oilers. “People say that maybe we weren’t gritty enough as a team. I agree with that. Do we need to get stronger? Yes we do. The job now is to think about how much of that can we get from what we have now, make that assessment, and if we don’t have that internally then how do we acquire it. One thing I will not put up with is an unemotional game, where we can’t dictate the outcome of the game by energy. “We have some good pieces in place here. We have some good young players, and some good veterans, that hopefully want to be a part of this going forward. But I can tell you things are going to change as far as expectations and preparation from the player’s standpoint and from us (management) to get better for the next step.”

When Tambellini spoke these words and later about MacTavish, his voice and body language showed energy, fire, passion, and frankly a pissed-off attitude. It was refreshing. It was nice to see Tambellini show that finally he is the leader of the ship.

Make no mistake; yesterday it became clear to everyone that this is now his team. He will choose the coach. He will have a major say in which players stay, and who goes. And to me he challenged his veterans to get on board, but also accept that the young kids need to spread their wings and become more of a factor.

NHL experience behind the bench

Near the end of his presser, I asked Tambellini if the next coach needed previous NHL head coaching experience.

“Not necessarily, but he would have to be a special person that you are confident in to walk in the room and command the respect, and have the knowledge that you felt was ready to compete against NHL situations. I think there could be opportunities for some people to be able to do that.”

We have seen that occur recently with Brent Sutter, Bruce Boudreau, Todd Mclellan, Cory Clouston and Dan Bylsma, but I don’t see that happening here. Tambellini will want someone with previous NHL experience.

Pat Quinn, Marc Crawford, Peter Laviolette, Guy Carbonneau, Tom Renney and Bob Hartley are all available. From talking to some people within the organization I don’t think it is a must that Tambellini has a long, or short, standing relationship with his next head coach.

He knows what type of coach he is looking for.

“I have a good idea of the type of coach I’m looking for. It's going to be somebody that matches up with the type of play we want to see here. We want an aggressive type of play, an emotional team, a team that isn’t standing on their heels, we want a team to be proactive because we have people here with skill, and I want to see it.”

Cross Jacques Lemaire off the list.

The other previous six could all fit the mold. Quinn, Hartley and Crawford are all fiery behind the bench, and they coach an up-tempo style. They also like their teams to have an array of sheet disturbers who play with an edge.

MacTavish rarely liked his team to be in your face. Even when the Oilers outworked the opposition, they rarely imposed their will or initiated some tomfoolery. Most Oiler fans hated the Avs and Canucks when Hartley and Crawford were behind the bench because both teams had players who were hard to play against.

Outside of Souray, Stortini, Smid, Strudwick and Moreau at times, do the Oilers have any other players that intimidate or infuriate the opposition? You need forwards who will engage in a face wash, or give a cheap slash when the ref isn’t watching, or a cheap punch in a scrum.

Don’t tell me Detroit wins without those guys, because Holmstrom and Maltby are two of the most hated players in the league.

It is clear the Tambellini wants a coach who will bring a system that combines skill with speed, grit and most of all a willingness to dictate the flow of the game. The Oilers were consistently reactionary during MacTavish’s tenure and expect that to change next October.

Souray looking to leave?

Robin Brownlee first wrote that the rumours about Souray possibly asking for a trade might have some legs. Dan Barnes said on the TEAM 1260 that Souray had told him that this season was tough because he didn’t get to see his kids very often. I believe both of them, so I went fishing for more...

Souray didn’t outright ask for a trade. He stated to his agent that he was frustrated and disappointed with a few areas of the team. Losing was the main one. He had some concerns about the coaching. He missed his kids. A losing environment makes the little things seem bigger and it makes coming to the rink a chore at times.

But according to my source from within the locker room, Souray, through his agent, never demanded a trade. He just wanted his concerns noted. Mission accomplished.

His absence during the final media availability, the same day where his former coach was the hot topic, suggests Souray didn’t want to comment on it, similar to when MacTavish stated he wouldn’t discuss Dustin Penner anymore during his final presser on Monday. Was Souray as frustrated with his coach as the coach was with Penner? “No,” said my source.

But it is clear that coaching was one of his concerns, just not the main one.

Tambellini was asked if the any of the rumours about a player asking for a trade were true. One word, ‘No,” was his response. Of course, I wouldn’t have expected him to saying anything different.

But Tambellini’s comment regarding veterans who “hopefully want to be here,” suggests he heard some discontent. But according to my source it was not a blatant, “I want to be traded.”

A coaching change has given new hope for many here on the Nation, and you can bet that many players have the same renewed optimism. It's human nature. When a change is made you always believe it will lead to better things.

A new coach won’t make Souray miss his kids any less, and if his longing to see them becomes too much for him to handle, then it would be hard not to respect him for wanting out. But a new coach, a new system and some wins might make that separation easier to handle.

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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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#1 Ogden Brother
April 16 2009, 09:10AM
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"We have seen that occur recently with Brent Sutter, Bruce Boudreau, Todd Mclellan, Cory Clouston and Dan Bylsma, but I don’t see that happening here. Tambellini will want someone with previous NHL experience."

Too bad, I was kind of hoping for a young guy with lots of AHL success, and fire in his belly to take over.

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#2 topshelf -- NNC
April 16 2009, 09:16AM
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"We want an aggressive type of play, an emotional team, a team that isn’t standing on their heels, we want a team to be proactive because we have people here with skill, and I want to see it.”

I sure hope this is the type of team that takes the ice next fall.

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#3 sittingatmydesk
April 16 2009, 09:16AM
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its going to be an entertaining summer..... hey gregor do you think Tambo will wait until playoffs are done to name the coach or before that?

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#4 West Coast Oil
April 16 2009, 09:23AM
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Gregor what about Scott Arniel, he has NHL experience and a winning record in the AHL? I seem to remember when Souray came on board during the press scrum he was asked about his wife and kids and he made the comment that it was a family decision to move to Alberta. At the time I thought it was strange because I knew they were seperated but it sounded like they were giving it another go. Has this situation changed?

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#5 JRocks247
April 16 2009, 09:23AM
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I think we're in good hands with Tambo. A team that is aggressive, plays with grit and emotion?....what's that like? LET'S GO OILERS!....BTW they hate the chanting during their backswing

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#6 The Towel Boy
April 16 2009, 09:23AM
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I want a coach that will not hesitate to throw a garbage can or perhaps an entire stick rack out on the ice. That's what I look for in a coach.

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#7 jayoilfan
April 16 2009, 09:24AM
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If only I could skip the next 5 months to see what the End of September will be like and what kind of team the Oilers will have (not really but it would still be cool). Regardless, I will be cheering hard for what ever they look like come Sept-Oct.

I think Tambellini will be good for the Oilers, we need change and not any old boys club mentality. This is a new team, it is not the Oilers of old. While it is good to reflect on and respect those years and the people involved, it is also important to focus on the new and dynamic team we have and are developing.

To me, I feel the Oilers have been a stagnant team, too complacent in the way it has been doing business for the last while. Even though it has seen some succes, it hasn't had enough or even the right success, with the way things have been run.

Here's to a new era! Go Tambellini, Go Oilers!!!!!

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#8 Bob
April 16 2009, 09:28AM
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I have to say, I was impressed with Tambo. I dont think the team needs a major overhaul and I think they can get more out of what they have here.

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#9 Mr P
April 16 2009, 09:34AM
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Gregor or Brownlee, did the Mac T resign and the Oilers are calling it a firing so they still pay him for the upcoming season as a show of apreciation? Also, to apease the fan base and show Tabellini has more authority?

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#10 Lofty
April 16 2009, 09:42AM
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Good for tambo, but if people think getting rid of MacT is gonna fix this team they are sadly mistaken. Its gonna take some contracts being bought out and some action on the FA and trade markets. The big problems with this team are still yet to be addresed. We will have to wait for July 1 for any sort of progress.

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#11 Rob
April 16 2009, 09:42AM
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Love that pick Gregor! I thought Tambo was going to stand up at any moment and start ripping heads off! I have to say I wasn't overly impressed with him all year but after that presser it seems as if he was just sitting back all year assessing what he had to work with and forming a plan to fix it. Go Tambo!!!

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#12 yo
April 16 2009, 09:49AM
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MacT will likely get another coaching job somewhere...possibly in a parallel universe. Someone who can't stand winning will hire him. Next time though, he won't have 8 years to do it. No team management(KLowe)will cover for him like he was covered for here in Edmonton.

We often hear how small the professional hockey world is and I think maybe Tambo likely has a better idea of who he wants for coach than he is letting on. Clearly he'll keep his cards close to the vest until the announcement is made.

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#13 Ogden Brother
April 16 2009, 09:50AM
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Lofty wrote:

Good for tambo, but if people think getting rid of MacT is gonna fix this team they are sadly mistaken. Its gonna take some contracts being bought out and some action on the FA and trade markets. The big problems with this team are still yet to be addresed. We will have to wait for July 1 for any sort of progress.

"Its gonna take some contracts being bought"

Where on earth does this mind set come from? Their isn't one player on the team that is so bad that his simple removal from the squad makes it better. Their also isn't bonus points handed out to the team with the most "good contracts".

I'd go so far to say that Penner was the only guy on the team that "underperformed vs his contract" by more then 500K. And he could easily bounce back and be a 25 goal/50 point guy as a servicible 1st line, high end 2nd line LW.

Maturation of youth, two key role players and long term tending solution is what will bring this team to the next level.

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#14 Rob
April 16 2009, 09:55AM
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@ Ogden Brother:

Haha, I don't see any buy-outs happening either. Buying out contracts isn't a common practice from what I can tell. Trades for sure, RFA signings probably, UFA signings maybe. Buy-outs??? no way.

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#15 jeanshorts
April 16 2009, 09:59AM
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@ Ogden Brother:

You have to remember that a lot of people around here are still really butt hurt that Horcoff didn't score 40 goals this year. I'll agree his contract is well above what it should be, but he's one of our best defensive forwards and he took like 98% of the faceoffs this year. I guarantee that once they get in another guy that can shoulder some of the workload, and maybe get Cogliano or Gagner looking like Stoll on the dot Horcoff's game is going to look A LOT better.

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#16 Peter Pan
April 16 2009, 10:03AM
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Tambo needs to rebuild his 3rd and 4th lines. Keep Zack, Jaques, Mac, and Moreau. Can the rest of 'em.

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#17 jeff
April 16 2009, 10:10AM
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Now that is what I like to see a reporter getting the truth behind a rumor. Good job.

These so-called "Vets" on the team. Is it maybe time to bring a couple different role vets in? If there truly was some sort of split in the dressing room, what does keeping the same players do for us?

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#18 Ogden Brother
April 16 2009, 10:18AM
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@ jeanshorts:

It's time for people to suck it up and realize you don't get 40 goals on the open market for 5.5 million.

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#19 heavyd
April 16 2009, 10:18AM
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@ gregor. What will they do with Macintrye? And will they sign strudwick?

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#20 Traktor
April 16 2009, 10:20AM
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Tambo said: One thing I want to make clear, is that because we are changing our coach and moving in a different direction this DOES NOT absolve the players from their performance, or lack there of.

He should probably be looking in the mirror. A GM's responsibility is to create a positive work environment - it was clear very early in the season that a change needed to be made and nothing was done.

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#21 Jason Gregor
April 16 2009, 10:25AM
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sittingatmydesk wrote:

hey gregor do you think Tambo will wait until playoffs are done to name the coach or before that?

Unless he wants to interview an assistant coach from one of the four teams in the conference finals, I don't see why he waits that long.

He won't make a decision for at least a month I believe. He will take his time, and frankly there is no reason to rush his first hiring.

West Coast Oil wrote:

Gregor what about Scott Arniel, he has NHL experience and a winning record in the AHL? I seem to remember when Souray came on board during the press scrum he was asked about his wife and kids and he made the comment that it was a family decision to move to Alberta. At the time I thought it was strange because I knew they were seperated but it sounded like they were giving it another go. Has this situation changed?

Arniel is a possibility but his NHL experience was as an assistant. If Quinn ends up being the guy, I could see one of his assistants an Arniel-type. A guy who could groom for the job, because I don't see Quinn lasting five or six years.

Souray's extended family is from Elk Point, so he meant that family, not his kids. I didn't get to indepth in the family part with my source, because I try not to pry into that area of a player's life. Most of us who aren't in the public eye don't like to discuss our family publicly, so you can imagine how a player would want that side kept as quiet as possible. Mr P wrote:

Gregor or Brownlee, did the Mac T resign and the Oilers are calling it a firing so they still pay him for the upcoming season as a show of apreciation? Also, to apease the fan base and show Tabellini has more authority?

No. It was a mutual decision. If MacT resigns the perception for some is that he was a quitter. Both he and Tambellini realized that a change was necessary. He has a year left on his contract, so unless he gets hired by another team, the Oilers have to pay him the remaining year.

Nothing about Tambellini's press conference seemed rehearsed of designed to show power. He is the guy. They already had a 92% renewal base on their tickets, so I don't see why they would do this to appease the fans. Sure the fans were pissed, but they were still coming to the games. This decision was all about moving forward. And it is about time.

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#22 Jason Gregor
April 16 2009, 10:33AM
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heavyd wrote:

@ gregor. What will they do with Macintrye? And will they sign strudwick?

MacIntyre has one year left, but he is on a two-way deal. Yes he has to clear waivers, but if they choose they could send him to the minors and not pay his NHL salary.

I would start Jacques and Stortini as my wingers on the 4th line. Jacques is the best skater out of three and it seems he finally gets that for him to stay in the NHL he needs to crash and bang. MacIntyre could be one of the two extra forwards. His fate will depend on how many forwards on the top three lines get moved during the summer.

I expect them to re-sign Strudwick to another one-year deal. They loved him in the room, but I don't see him playing as many games, unless there are some injuries, next season.

I see them trading one of the top four, Souray, Visnovsky, Gilbert or Grebeshkov, and possibly Staios. That leaves three offensive guys, Smid, Strudwick, Peckham and one new D-man. If Strudwick is your 6th or 7th Dman, they will be happy.

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#23 topshelf -- NNC
April 16 2009, 10:40AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

That leaves three offensive guys, Smid, Strudwick, Peckham

Did you mean defensive guys?

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#24 topshelf -- NNC
April 16 2009, 10:40AM
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@ Jason Gregor: Nevermind. Haha

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#25 topshelf -- NNC
April 16 2009, 10:41AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

It’s time for people to suck it up and realize you don’t get 40 goals on the open market for 5.5 million.

But he makes 7 that's the problem isn't it?

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#26 442Junkie
April 16 2009, 10:41AM
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I think he meant, three offensive guys and Smid, Strudwick, Peckham

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#27 heavyd
April 16 2009, 10:42AM
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Thanks, gregor. Another question for gregor, Why do they keep bringing in these highend defensemen and top 6 forwards, and after one year keep trading them? And then you bring visnovsky in, and they might trade him. I can see why no free agents want to sign here.

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#28 jeff
April 16 2009, 10:43AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

heavyd wrote: @ gregor. What will they do with Macintrye? And will they sign strudwick? MacIntyre has one year left, but he is on a two-way deal. Yes he has to clear waivers, but if they choose they could send him to the minors and not pay his NHL salary. I would start Jacques and Stortini as my wingers on the 4th line. Jacques is the best skater out of three and it seems he finally gets that for him to stay in the NHL he needs to crash and bang. MacIntyre could be one of the two extra forwards. His fate will depend on how many forwards on the top three lines get moved during the summer. I expect them to re-sign Strudwick to another one-year deal. They loved him in the room, but I don’t see him playing as many games, unless there are some injuries, next season. I see them trading one of the top four, Souray, Visnovsky, Gilbert or Grebeshkov, and possibly Staios. That leaves three offensive guys, Smid, Strudwick, Peckham and one new D-man. If Strudwick is your 6th or 7th Dman, they will be happy.

Having Strudwick as a 7th was suppose to be the plan this year, it was nice to see that he could step in and fill a hole when needed. What are the odds someone else trys to scoop him?

Who do you target for defensive d-man? Is Zanon good enough?

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#29 baggedmilk
April 16 2009, 10:44AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

I see them trading one of the top four, Souray, Visnovsky, Gilbert or Grebeshkov, and possibly Staios. That leaves three offensive guys, Smid, Strudwick, Peckham and one new D-man. If Strudwick is your 6th or 7th Dman, they will be happy

This is a tough one. Trading almost any of the top four is basically a hit on Kevin Lowe's ability to GM. Gilbert has the new contract, Vish has 4 more years, Souray was a truck, and Grebs has more physicality by far than Gilbert. I agree that one of them will probably get packaged for a top six forward. Who's your money on as the one leaving town?

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#30 baggedmilk
April 16 2009, 10:45AM
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Oh and don't ever mention Staios in top-4 ever again.

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#31 Sandra
April 16 2009, 10:48AM
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IMO Tambo was not allowed to touch the team until the season ended. His emotion was due to the fact that MacT was finnaly gone. He was given the year to assess Lowes team and now it is his team. I see him trading the following players:

Gilbert.....to many give aways Cogs........ value in return package both of these for Spezza but Horcs deal will nullify that. Moreau....... Just because Brodziack.... can find a better 4th line center and last Eberle.... in a chance to move up in the draft to #2 along with # 10 and maybe Schremp.

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#32 Jason Gregor
April 16 2009, 10:50AM
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topshelf -- NNC wrote:

Jason Gregor wrote: That leaves three offensive guys, Smid, Strudwick, Peckham Did you mean defensive guys?

Not three offensive guys AND, Smid, Strudwick and Peckham...oh...Bingofuel and Wanye where is that EDIT button you keep promising...

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#33 Jason Gregor
April 16 2009, 10:50AM
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N0...Three offensive guys and.... F-ME

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#34 topshelf
April 16 2009, 10:52AM
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@ Jason Gregor: It's ok I get it. I read it wrong.

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#35 DonDon
April 16 2009, 10:59AM
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I believe that Tambellini knows exactly what is required to make the Oilers into the team he described and it will require a major overhaul. The biggest problem will be replacing close to half of the small, soft and mediocre forwards with bigger, tougher, grittier players and some scoring talent. This team didn't have a first line, a recipe for failure. The next difficulty is moving toxic contracts (Penner, Horcoff) to get some flexibility on the salary cap. He has some assets that he can move (Gilbert, Brodziak) to help with his needs up front. It won't be easy. He has to address the goaltender situation as well. Defence is easier. The last touch is getting the best coach available. This doesn't address other organizational deficiencies and the lack of talent in the farm system.

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#36 bingofuel
April 16 2009, 11:01AM
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@ Jason Gregor:

Edit button soon! This summer! Or something!

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#37 Nickler
April 16 2009, 11:01AM
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It was refreshing to see some passion from the front office/management. I feel confident that Tambo is the right guy to turn the situation around. As far as coaches go,.... Gregor, I like your comment about Quinn and Arniel, I don't like the idea of Renney or Hartley. Renney because I can't tell the difference between him and MacT, Hartley is mostly personal because he talks like a 14 year old girl, like you know like....and ofcourse there is always my dark horse, Ted Nolan.

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#38 jeff
April 16 2009, 11:04AM
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@ DonDon: Maybe it will be time to lose a trade and just get what we can for a couple guys, even if it means sweetening the pot with a pick. Trading Brodziak wouldn't be smart, I don't think we really have anyone else that can fill his void.

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#39 Bruthah - NNC
April 16 2009, 11:05AM
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Great writing Gregor.

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#40 Jason Gregor
April 16 2009, 11:06AM
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heavyd wrote:

Why do they keep bringing in these highend defensemen and top 6 forwards, and after one year keep trading them? And then you bring visnovsky in, and they might trade him. I can see why no free agents want to sign here.

Trading the Human Rake was not their idea. Lupul, Pitkanen, Cole...all traded for one another and all only lasted a year...A clear case of trying to make up for misjudgement...we'll see if O'Sullivan ends this trend.

I don't see Visnovsky as the guy they will move. But I should point out something about him. Many have stated that the Oilers PP stunk after he left...Not true.

With Visnovsky they were 38 for 221 for 17.2% Without him they went....22 for 133 for 16.5%

A small dip, but not a major drop off.

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#41 Jason Gregor
April 16 2009, 11:14AM
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jeff wrote:

Who do you target for defensive d-man? Is Zanon good enough?

Zanon is very good...But Nashville will lock him up for sure. They have 10 million wrapped up in Weber, Hamhuis and Suter...Zanon made $750,000 last year, so they could give him $2-2.5 and both sides will be happy. And that means their top four D still cost less than $13 million. baggedmilk wrote:

Oh and don’t ever mention Staios in top-4 ever again.

Sober up...I never said he was in the top four...I said they would trade one of the top four, and then possibly move Staios as well. Smid is a young Staios in my mind. He competes hard every shift, will block shot and fight, but Smid is a much better passer.

Tough question regarding which one of the four offensive guys they will move. Souray has more toughness in his five o'clock shadow than the other three combined, so he stays. To me it is either Gilbert or Grebeshkov. They only move one if they get a legit top six. Not a guy coming off a bad year, not a guy with one year left on his contract, but a legitimate 23-27 goal scorer. Will be hard to find.

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#42 Jonathan Willis
April 16 2009, 11:15AM
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Risebrough fired in Minnesota.

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#43 jeff
April 16 2009, 11:15AM
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@ Jason Gregor: Interesting stats, so what does that really tell us? Equals out to what 1 or 2 more goals using the percentage when Lubo was around.

Any idea what the shot difference was with and without Lubo? I wonder if having that another defensive guy made any difference.

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#44 Sandra
April 16 2009, 11:17AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Risebrough fired in Minnesota.

I guess there goes MacT's chance of going there, unles Lou is the new GM.

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#45 Sandra
April 16 2009, 11:19AM
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One great thing about MacT's firing is that Roli will not be back! If Desjarlais or Garon where given the chances that he was given by MacT, then they would have excelled too.

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#46 Rob
April 16 2009, 11:21AM
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Gregor, doesn't Lubo have a no movement clause in his contract?? He also expressed that he liked it here as well. Not that he wouldn't waive the clause if we asked him to go back to L.A. but just saying. I would think Gilbert would be the one moved, someone on here said "trade him before anyone knows how soft he is".

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#47 Oilersordeath
April 16 2009, 11:21AM
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I dont see Eberle moving, but I would package our #10 pick with Gilbert, and Shremp for the #3 or #4 pick and try to get Power Forward Evander Kane.

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#48 jeff
April 16 2009, 11:22AM
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@ Jason Gregor: I too think Zanon signs, anyone else via Free Agency. I'm thinking of trades, but not sure who will want what until after the playoffs. You keep hearing everyone wants a puck moving d-man, so one would think we could move one for a decent defensive guy.

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#49 Ogden Brother
April 16 2009, 11:22AM
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topshelf -- NNC wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: It’s time for people to suck it up and realize you don’t get 40 goals on the open market for 5.5 million. But he makes 7 that’s the problem isn’t it?

No, it's irrelavant.

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#50 DonDon
April 16 2009, 11:23AM
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@ jeff: Brodziak is one of the problems; a centre that isn't good in the faceoff circle and soft on the puck. He had a better season last year but didn't step up when the Oil really needed him. I didn't mention Hemsky as a valuable asset that could form part of a trade package. One of the posters mentioned Cogliano as trade bait. Remember, there is no player on this team that is indispensible after missing the playoffs three years in a row. As for some of the veterans who are now one step slower, is there a place on Tambellini's team for Moreau and Staois? The best part of the season for Oiler fans is just beginning. Hang on to your seat.

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