Can a new coach be a savior to the Oil?

Jason Gregor
April 20 2009 12:18PM

While the Oiler faithful waits patiently to see who will be their next head coach, the question that should be asked is how much will it matter?

Since Craig MacTavish was relieved of his duties/fired/resigned/time for a change, there is a sense that a new head coach will be the spark this organization needs to get back on track.

Will he be the savior?

No.

He will make a difference, but unless he's a miracle worker most of the changes will come from the players themselves.

The new boss won’t make Cogliano better in the faceoff dot, nor will he get Penner in better shape. That commitment and dedication will come from the players. The coach might communicate and interact with them better, which might help with their confidence, but the inner drive to succeed and improve will manifest from the players.

Case in point: Todd McLellan.

All season long he has been heralded as a great coach. He was the new voice that would finally make the Sharks live up to their potential. Yet, once again it is Groundhog Day in San Jose.

The Sharks are halfway to another big-time gag job. Have they suddenly tuned out Mclellan? Did he get stupid in the last week?

Of course not, but unless he can transplant some desire and will into Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau the Sharks aren’t going anywhere. Cheechoo, who struggled all year, has been their most effective player. He has battled hard v. the Human Rake all series, and yesterday scored a beautiful goal. He is in the game, going to the tough areas and has shown the competitive level that is necessary to thrive in the playoffs.

To date Thornton has not, but if you're McLellan your only choice is too keep going with Thornton and hope that if he gets a bounce that will spark his game.

McLellan and his staff will be watching tape to figure out what has gone wrong on special teams. The Sharks were top five on PP and PK in the regular season, but they have been brutal in both against the Ducks.

The Sharks are 0-12 on the PP, while the Ducks are two for six. The Sharks' lack of success on the PP has killed them so far. We’ll see if McLellan can come up with a few wrinkles that can get the Sharks back in the series, but if he doesn’t then once again the Sharks will remain regular season stalwarts and post-season weaklings.

Will a new coach help the Oilers?

Yes, but he won’t be a miracle worker. I think the new coach comes in at the right time. Gagner, Cogliano, Gilbert will be better just because of age and strength. And he will have a new message, system and personality that will automatically make all the players be more attentive.

But like McLellan is learning, if your best players get outplayed by the other team’s best players your chances of winning in the playoffs are minimal.

Other playoff tidbits

What a great game three in Philadelphia yesterday. That series has been the most entertaining by far. Hits, fights, goals and a true hatred amongst the teams. And how sweet is Scott Hartnell’s/Side Show Bob hair right now. That's the best salad in the league hands down.

I just can’t get into the Canes/Devils series. I tried watching game three yesterday, and that series does nothing for me. Although watching Bill Cowher get that excited to wind up the horn was comedy. I thought he was going to start spitting he was so fired up. You gotta think he will be back coaching in the NFL very soon. I don’t like to rip on broadcasters, but listening to Mark Lee is painful.

The atmosphere at the United Center is great, but it still doesn’t come close to Chicago Stadium. I remember when the Oilers and Hawks used to battle it out in the late '80s and early '90s, and the noise before the game even started made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The acoustics in that building were the best ever.

It sure sucks not having playoffs in Edmonton again. The city just isn’t the same.

Things that make you go 'hmmmmm'

Will Darryl Sutter get the axe if the Flamers go out in five? Or does he tie the can to Mike Keenan to save his own behind?

Is Malkin better than Crosby? He definitely is a better goal scorer.

Will there be a better hit during the playoffs than the one Chris Kunitz had on Kimmo Timonen? Kunitz has been a great addition for the Pens since coming over from Anaheim.

I said it at the deadline and I’ll say it again. The worst trade hands down was Daniel Carcillo for Scottie Upshall and a 2nd rounder. What was Paul Holmgren thinking?

And will any coach use this as a motivational tool to show his players anything is possible? I rarely check out YouTube, but I will admit this one was pretty got my attention. I always wanted to be a rockstar more than an athlete. I doubt she will live the rockstar life, but being able to sing like that might be better than sports.

I’m just saying.

This one kinda chokes a guy up... weird.

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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 The Menace
April 20 2009, 05:08PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Great blog, I’ve been thinking alot about the topic… I think Oiler fans are in for a bit of a let down.

Good thing Oiler fans have had a lot of practice to get prepared for letdowns.

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#52 Quicksilver ballet
April 20 2009, 05:08PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:I’ll take Ernest Borgnine in a dress with those kind of chops any day.

I'm not too ashamed to say i shed a tear or 2 in the many times i've watched this video. You could have used Ellen, Robin?

Earnest is my idol, and i fear i may need counseling now:(

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#53 The Menace
April 20 2009, 05:20PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I’ll take Ernest Borgnine in a dress with those kind of chops any day.

But would Ernest Borgnine be interested in a veteran sports-writer and sometimes sports-radio host?

You may have to romance him a bit first, RB. I hear likes short walks on the beach.

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#54 Chris
April 20 2009, 05:52PM
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Slurve wrote:

Another thought. What about trading for Pittsburg’s Malkin or Crosby.

How about Chris Kunitz? The Oilers will probably need a top six left winger, and though Kunitz may not be a huge points producer; He's an awesome player nonetheless.

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#55 Harlie
April 20 2009, 06:28PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote: . I’ll take Ernest Borgnine in a dress

is he that guy who plays the piano like Dorf on golf? I only know those guys through Time Warner infomercials.

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#56 David S
April 20 2009, 06:58PM
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Big Deal wrote:

Why won’t a new coach make Cogs better at the face off circle?? Should not the coach make players better at their postions? He is the ‘coach’ after all. Coach is fancy name for teacher. Maybe the new coach can try and teach his young players…..What a novel concept!

Maybe the player can take equal responsibility. It takes Herculean forearms and shoulders combined with 10,000 puck draws over the summer with somebody who knows something about the art. My guess is that both Cogliano and Gagner will be busting their tails in the gym over the summer and doing alot of work with somebody like Horcoff.

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#57 Jason Gregor
April 20 2009, 07:27PM
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shakey wrote:

Jason, When the new coach rolls into town lets say he leads us to the division title and they go into the playoffs and pull a ‘Dirty San Jose’. Is the season considered a failure at that point?

No because the Oilers haven't won a division title since 1987, so if he could do that they would rejoice. My point was the the Sharks were a top team before McLellan, so why everyone thought he was the best coach ever was a bit perplexing. I'm not saying he isn't a good coach, but until he gets this team past the third round how better is he than Ron Wilson.Big Deal wrote:

Why won’t a new coach make Cogs better at the face off circle?? Should not the coach make players better at their postions? He is the ‘coach’ after all. Coach is fancy name for teacher. Maybe the new coach can try and teach his young players…..What a novel concept!

Are any of the names you are hearing bantered about better faceoff men than MacT was when he played? Cogliano will improve, because it is near impossible for him to be worse next year. Also he will be stronger. Nowadays strength is one of the most important factors in draws. And Cogliano needs to focus better. He admitted that himself.

The new coach will not be the direct reason why he improves in draws, unless it is Adam Oates.

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#58 Joey Moss
April 20 2009, 08:24PM
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i fear the good ship Oil is destined for another failberg if they don't do some serious house cleaning and drop Lowe. promoting incompetence may be fine in the pharmacy business but it doesn't fly with hockey fans. people aren't dumb and they know a jock-sniffer when they see one and you're nose deep mr. katz. as much as i wanted macT to go i feel bad that he was made the goat for what Lowe gave him to work with.

the new coach might as well be a guy like Rob Daum so he can get some NHL experience for when the team is actually decent (a few years from now). the next few years should be seen as an opportunity not only to develop new talent on the ice but also behind the bench.

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#59 Jasmine
April 20 2009, 08:36PM
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Joey Moss wrote:

i fear the good ship Oil is destined for another failberg if they don’t do some serious house cleaning and drop Lowe. promoting incompetence may be fine in the pharmacy business but it doesn’t fly with hockey fans. people aren’t dumb and they know a jock-sniffer when they see one and you’re nose deep mr. katz. as much as i wanted macT to go i feel bad that he was made the goat for what Lowe gave him to work with. the new coach might as well be a guy like Rob Daum so he can get some NHL experience for when the team is actually decent (a few years from now). the next few years should be seen as an opportunity not only to develop new talent on the ice but also behind the bench.

I'm getting sick of this garbage. I'm fed up with the constant Lowe bashing. First people wanted MacT gone and now people are upset that MacT got fired instead of Lowe. Lowe is no longer the GM. Too bad most people don't believe it and think that Lowe is still the GM. MacT deserved to be fired. In case you don't know but MacT had a say in who he wanted as players. He was behind the Penner OS as well as the trades prior to this season. Enough of the Lowe bashing already.

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#60 Ogden Brother
April 20 2009, 09:46PM
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The Menace wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: Great blog, I’ve been thinking alot about the topic… I think Oiler fans are in for a bit of a let down. Good thing Oiler fans have had a lot of practice to get prepared for letdowns.

Typically from their own delusional expectations.

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#61 Archaeologuy
April 20 2009, 09:51PM
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@ Ogden Brother: Yeah, it was pretty carzy of us to expect to make the playoffs after barely missing it the year before then adding the likes of Visnovsky and Cole (and a healthy Souray) into the lineup. Totally Dillusional.

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#62 David S
April 20 2009, 09:57PM
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Jasmine wrote:

He was behind the Penner OS as well as the trades prior to this season. Enough of the Lowe bashing already.

Yeah OK. ~MacT was the real guy running the show.~

*Turns around, raises his left hand to his downturned forehead in disbelief while walking into the sunset and cursing the guys who built HF boards and EA Sports*

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#63 RossCreek
April 20 2009, 10:31PM
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Flames/Hawks looking fantastic too!

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#64 cheap diamond dental burs
April 20 2009, 10:42PM
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A colleague told me about this site. Glad I checked it out. Looks to be very useful. Lance

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#65 Ogden Brother
April 20 2009, 11:18PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: Yeah, it was pretty carzy of us to expect to make the playoffs after barely missing it the year before then adding the likes of Visnovsky and Cole (and a healthy Souray) into the lineup. Totally Dillusional.

Typically implies more then one year.

Expectations were also far higher then simply making the playoffs this year. An 8th place finish would have lead to a similar amount of complaining as we seen this year.

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#66 Sour in Van
April 20 2009, 11:41PM
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Great article Gregor - as Oil fans we have to keep it in perspective. A new coach will not be the saviour, but one that has a proven track record with young players would be more than welcome.

And guys, didn't Lowe already kinda lose his job? Was he not the GM before this? And isn't Tambelinni the GM now? Did Tambo not make two great deadline deals? Did we not just lose a coach that missed the playoffs 5 of 7 years? Lowe is a character guy and our organization is about character. He has more cup rings than any of us do. He is rewarded for that and is a very good hockey mind - although some lack of research might be his dowfall (Penner) as well as rewarding players with contracts AFTER they have performed, instead of attracting FAs that will help us NEXT year. Tambo is a freakin genius, give him some time and he will get the job done.

And Malkin??? Tavares??? This isn't a video game. You can't press the X button to force a trade through.

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#67 The Towel Boy
April 21 2009, 07:34AM
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I have to add...as a side note...that chick judge on Britain's Got Talent is hawt.

Thanks.

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#68 Robin Brownlee
April 21 2009, 07:38AM
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Jasmine wrote:

I’m getting sick of this garbage. I’m fed up with the constant Lowe bashing. First people wanted MacT gone and now people are upset that MacT got fired instead of Lowe. Lowe is no longer the GM. Too bad most people don’t believe it and think that Lowe is still the GM. MacT deserved to be fired. In case you don’t know but MacT had a say in who he wanted as players. He was behind the Penner OS as well as the trades prior to this season. Enough of the Lowe bashing already.

Please resist the urge to trot out the same tiresome template for debate you use over at that other website under a different name. "I'm tired of the FILL-IN-NAME bashing. Poeple should realize blah blah blah and stop bashing FILL-IN-NAME . . ." Ain't going to fly here, sister.

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#69 David S
April 21 2009, 08:19AM
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^ Jasmine = pwned

hxxp://fuse.superglue.se/pwned.jpg

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#70 Archaeologuy
April 21 2009, 08:22AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

An 8th place finish would have lead to a similar amount of complaining as we seen this year.

Somehow i doubt that. There would be complaints, but not even close to the same degree.

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#71 Archaeologuy
April 21 2009, 08:28AM
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On a completely unrelated note, does anyone else hate Doug Maclean as much as I do? Every time there is a body check he thinks someone should be suspended! At what point did the NHL become a women's league? I mean, if i wanted to watch Cassie Campbell angle Wickenheiser off of the puck without overt contact then I would buy my over-sized purse and go to a Chimo game or whatever ladies team it is that plays in E-town.

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#72 Zamboni Driver
April 21 2009, 08:28AM
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Jasmine wrote:

I’m getting sick of this garbage. I’m fed up with the constant Lowe bashing. First people wanted MacT gone and now people are upset that MacT got fired instead of Lowe. Lowe is no longer the GM. Too bad most people don’t believe it and think that Lowe is still the GM. MacT deserved to be fired. In case you don’t know but MacT had a say in who he wanted as players. He was behind the Penner OS as well as the trades prior to this season. Enough of the Lowe bashing already.

That's Right! And...and...and....it was...uhmmm....Billy Moores who said, "You know Kev, it's not your money and all, but I really think that cute guy with two different coloured eyes....you know the 'star' that no one in the league has ever heard of....

Seven mil. Trust me."

Damn you Billy Moores.

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#73 topshelf
April 21 2009, 09:34AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Expectations were also far higher then simply making the playoffs this year.

This team nearly snuck into the playoffs despite faltering for much of the year. If this team had played as good as it did some nights for the entire season, or even most of the season, those expectations would not have been so far off. This isn't that bad of a hockey club, when they decide that they want to play.

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#74 topshelf
April 21 2009, 09:36AM
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@ Archaeologuy: I hate him almost as much as I hate Mcguire. His constant pissing and moaning last night about how Iginla was getting chirped was unbearable.

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#75 Scott
April 21 2009, 10:18AM
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What about Maguire's huge man-crush on Phaneuf?

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#76 Archaeologuy
April 21 2009, 10:39AM
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@ Scott: I get uncomfortable when he gushes over that neanderthal

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#77 Ogden Brother
April 21 2009, 10:43AM
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topshelf wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: Expectations were also far higher then simply making the playoffs this year. This team nearly snuck into the playoffs despite faltering for much of the year. If this team had played as good as it did some nights for the entire season, or even most of the season, those expectations would not have been so far off. This isn’t that bad of a hockey club, when they decide that they want to play.

Ya, in my mind they were 3-4 wins below where they should have been... the smallest amount of consistancy (or clutch play) would have deemed the season a "meet expectations" in my mind. That's why all the "blow it up" and "this team has major issues" stuff is such non-sense IMO.

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#78 Archaeologuy
April 21 2009, 10:52AM
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@ Ogden Brother: So then you think that the goal should be to make 8th place? There are some fairly large issues on a team that cant score or defend on man-advantages, doesnt have more than 2 top 90 players (Willis Article), doesnt have a starting goalie (Roli not signed yet), and is near the Cap! I'm not saying its time to panic, but the people who say "blow it up" arent completely wrong. There is cause for concern on this team and personnel changes need to be made beyond picking up a Marty Reasoner and a top 6 LW.

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#79 Ogden Brother
April 21 2009, 11:10AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: So then you think that the goal should be to make 8th place? There are some fairly large issues on a team that cant score or defend on man-advantages, doesnt have more than 2 top 90 players (Willis Article), doesnt have a starting goalie (Roli not signed yet), and is near the Cap! I’m not saying its time to panic, but the people who say “blow it up” arent completely wrong. There is cause for concern on this team and personnel changes need to be made beyond picking up a Marty Reasoner and a top 6 LW.

I thought realistically based on what the team had on paper the team was a 6th to 9th place team.

You can make "the goal" whatever you want it...

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#80 Archaeologuy
April 21 2009, 11:18AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

I thought realistically based on what the team had on paper the team was a 6th to 9th place team.

Me too, but the team regressed and the "culture" died in the locker room. If the team plans to be near the cap for a long time then they need to shoot for higher than 8th. I'm ready for a change.

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#81 Joey Moss
April 21 2009, 11:32AM
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@ Jasmine:

do you think Lowe did a good job as GM? did he make good moves when he dumped smyth for nothing or signed horcoff to that ridiculous contract? come on. what about that awesome chris pronger trade, you know the one where we got a #4 D man and not much else?

i don't think the guy is still calling the shots but he should be culpable for the bad decisions he made, not rewarded.

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#82 Ogden Brother
April 21 2009, 11:44AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: I thought realistically based on what the team had on paper the team was a 6th to 9th place team. Me too, but the team regressed and the “culture” died in the locker room. If the team plans to be near the cap for a long time then they need to shoot for higher than 8th. I’m ready for a change.

You know the teams payroll was actually middle of the pack right?

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#83 Ogden Brother
April 21 2009, 11:45AM
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@ Joey Moss:

Wow is that ever a distorted view of reality.

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#84 Archaeologuy
April 21 2009, 11:50AM
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@ Ogden Brother: As I recall for most of the season they were within 3 million of the Cap. And either way, considering their lack of success and the fact that the Cap will drop after next year (by all accounts) the team needs to justify their spending. It should be hard to get everything that the club needs with the financial restrictions upon them.

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#85 Ogden Brother
April 21 2009, 11:57AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: As I recall for most of the season they were within 3 million of the Cap. And either way, considering their lack of success and the fact that the Cap will drop after next year (by all accounts) the team needs to justify their spending. It should be hard to get everything that the club needs with the financial restrictions upon them.

$$$ spent is constantly brought up, typically presented as if the team has a top end payroll and a bottom end performance, which just isn't the case.

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#86 Archaeologuy
April 21 2009, 12:06PM
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@ Ogden Brother: could you show me where your list of team salaries comes from. Because they were very close to the Cap all season long and I'd like to know from where you get this idea that they werent.

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#87 David S
April 21 2009, 12:48PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

I thought realistically based on what the team had on paper the team was a 6th to 9th place team. You can make “the goal” whatever you want it…

Making the playoffs should be the first goal, then having a plan in place for when you do - like in 06. I'd be OK with that for next year. It'll be a couple of years before we can do much more than that. Heck, with just the slightest bit more resolve, we coulda been there this year.

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#88 Ogden Brother
April 21 2009, 01:14PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: could you show me where your list of team salaries comes from. Because they were very close to the Cap all season long and I’d like to know from where you get this idea that they werent.

I didn't say they weren't close to the cap, I said most teams are also as closer (or closer) meaning the teams performance vs $$ spent isn't as out of whack as presented.

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#89 Ogden Brother
April 21 2009, 01:18PM
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@ Archaeologuy: Team Salary Anaheim Ducks 57,290,570 Atlanta Thrashers 44,123,984 Boston Bruins 56,719,391 Buffalo Sabres 51,146,328 Carolina Hurricanes 50,654,315 Calgary Flames 58,516,487 Chicago Blackhawks 57,687,237 Columbus Blue Jackets 50,286,025 Colorado Avalanche 53,110,950 Dallas Stars 58,481,757 Detroit Red Wings 57,383,924 Edmonton Oilers 54,722,262 Florida Panthers 54,632,020 Los Angeles Kings 43,700,186 Minnesota Wild 54,219,481 Montreal Canadiens 57,204,556 Nashville Predators 45,264,368 New Jersey Devils 55,234,680 New York Islanders 45,067,452 New York Rangers 56,365,530 Ottawa Senators 54,334,228 Philadelphia Flyers 65,673,947 Phoenix Coyotes 45,585,395 Pittsburgh Penguins 56,779,004 San Jose Sharks 57,236,434 St Louis Blues 53,698,948 Tampa Bay Lightning 50,226,389 Toronto Maple Leafs 49,994,341 Vancouver Canucks 54,238,097 Washington Capitals 60,557,220

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#90 Ogden Brother
April 21 2009, 01:21PM
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@ Archaeologuy:

13th highest payroll with another 5 teams within a million dollars.

Other then the extreme outliers like Nashville/LA/Atlanta everyone spent pretty much the same coin.

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#91 myteammytown
April 21 2009, 01:45PM
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@ Ogden Brother:

you and your damn google skills

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#92 Ogden Brother
April 21 2009, 01:51PM
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@ myteammytown:

*laughing emoticon*

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#93 Archaeologuy
April 21 2009, 04:04PM
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@ Ogden Brother: I cant remember what we were arguing about. Was I saying that the Oilers arent getting enough Bang for their buck? Even with your breakdown they werent. Top 13 payroll, bottom 10 production. Too much wasted cap space preventing the Oil from buying the holes on the team filled.

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