The lowdown on Lowtide

Robin Brownlee
April 28 2009 01:58PM

ronlow

I got a kick out of Jason Gregor's interview with Ron Low on TEAM 1260 Monday. It brought back some great memories. There were a lot of laughs working the beat when Low was coaching the Edmonton Oilers, even when he didn't have great talent to work with.

Lowtide is one of the good guys in the game -- as Tommy McVie once said, "If you can't get along with Ronnie, you're the asshole" -- but he's been off the hockey merry-go-round since being let go by the Ottawa Senators.

Whenever I see or hear Low, I flash back to Feb. 19, 1999 at the Airport Marriott in Los Angeles and to an incident that marked the beginning of the end for Boris Mironov and Andrei Kovalenko as Oilers.

It was the night before that spawned the infamous "I was out looking for Kovy" line from Mironov, who never did admit he'd been out on a big-time bender with Kovalenko. And it also produced one of the most memorable WTF moments from Low when he realized I had the scoop and the details were destined to wind up in the pages of the Edmonton Journal.

Fun with Bobo

I'd checked out of the hotel the morning after a 3-2 loss to the Kings and stepped out front to wait for the team bus to the airport when I spotted Mironov in a cab.

I assumed he was getting ready to leave, so I walked over to ask if I could catch a ride. It turns out a blotto Boris wasn't leaving the hotel, he was just getting back from a night out. Mironov got out of the hack and started walking, in a manner of speaking, toward the lobby with the cab driver in hot pursuit.

"Hey, buddy, you've got to pay the fare. Hey, buddy..." Boris kept veering toward the door without looking back. Just before the cabbie put the arm on Bobo, which wouldn't have led to anything good, I stepped in. "How much?" I asked. "Twenty-two bucks," the driver said. I gave him $30 US. "No problem, keep the change."

It was at that point Low walked out. I said, "Did you see Boris?" Low hadn't, so I explained what happened. "You didn’t see that," says Low, who headed back into the hotel in pursuit of Mironov.

In explaining to Low what happened, Bobo hatched the "I was out looking for Kovy" angle. Suffice to say, Mironov, thinking Kovalenko had, ahem, gone missing, obviously stopped in every bar in town "looking" for his winger.

At the airport, a still-gooned Mironov thanked me for stepping in and pressed $30 into my hand. At that point, it looked like everything would stay on the bus. Problem is, Kovalenko missed the flight. It became news.

I wrote the story, complete with front-page photo of a dishevelled Kovalenko arriving in Edmonton later the same evening. Mark Spector wrote a column. Spec and I absolutely killed The Sun. As the credit card commercial goes, the cab fare was $30, but the look on Low's face that morning was priceless.

Tough call

I don't have a feel for which way Steve Tambellini is going to lean in picking a successor to Craig MacTavish, but no matter who gets the job it's going to be the biggest hire of Tambellini's brief tenure as GM.

Does he go with who and what he knows and favour experience in Pat Quinn or Marc Crawford, or will he take a look at Geoff Ward, Todd Richards, Rob Daum or Scott Arniel, none of whom have been NHL head coaches?

I have an inkling -- and that's all it is -- Tambellini will opt for experience, and think Quinn tops the short-list in that category because of the history he has with him.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I can't see a coach without an established NHL record of success walking into that dressing room and commanding the respect of the veterans.

Then again, whether Tambellini opts for experience or a new face, he should make it clear to the players in no uncertain terms the next guy is his guy and they'd better fall in line. Those who don't will be moved along.

For what it's worth, count me among those who think a systems whiz like Daum, should he not get the head coaching position, would complement Quinn as an assistant.

I'm telling you...

Oilers fans who take consolation in watching the Calgary Flames take the pipe in the first-round of the playoffs yet again -- that Schadenfreude thing -- lack self-esteem and need to get a life. "Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha, stupid Calgary, lost to the Blackhawks. Nice job, Jarome, you loser." The way I see it, Oiler fans razzing their Flamer buddies for biting the first-round weenie is a bit like two guys with diarrhea racing for one seat in the outhouse. The first guy soils himself two steps from the one-holer but takes solace in watching the second guy lose his stuff with one hand on the door. In the end, they both stink.

From a selfish point of view, I'd like to see Low throw his hat in the ring for the Oilers coaching job. He's a great quote. He coaches a puck pressure, up-tempo style. Alas, it isn't going to happen.

Daum could end up back behind the bench in Springfield, but that's not a conversation he's had with Tambellini yet and one that won't happen until the boss decides which way he'll go with the candidates for the big job.

Nice of the San Jose Sharks to spit the bit in the first round again. That'll free up Richards for his interview with Tambellini.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 topshelf
April 28 2009, 02:10PM
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While I usually agree with most everything you say Robin, I have to disagree with you today. I very much enjoyed watching Calgary lose last night. I don't feel guilty in slightest for feeling that way either. Oilers fans should hate the Flames and vice versa.

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#2 topshelf
April 28 2009, 02:13PM
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What is Ron Low doing for work these days? Also, is there any idea of the time frame for which Tambellini has or hasn't set in regards to hiring a new bench boss?

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#3 Archaeologuy
April 28 2009, 02:17PM
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topshelf wrote:

Oilers fans should hate the Flames and vice versa.

It's the natural order of things. If we didnt snipe at each other, a la Willis' Flames Eulogy, it would be like watching a Cheetah snuggle a wounded Gazelle; cute for a minute but unsettlingly wrong.

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#4 The Towel Boy
April 28 2009, 02:23PM
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I like Robin's flashback stories. Always classics.

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#5 misfit
April 28 2009, 02:29PM
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The first guy soils himself two steps from the one-holer but takes solace in watching the second guy lose his stuff with one hand on the door. In the end, they both stink.

If I'm the guy who fills his fruit of the looms first, having the other guy do the same moments later is much better than sitting there with a load in my shorts watching the guy waltz out moments later fresh as a daisy laughing at my inability to keep my sphincter tight for one more minute. Especially if I hate the guy to begin with.

I'm not one to go out and rub it in, but I'm definately glad to see the Flames lose in the first round once again.

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#6 Chris
April 28 2009, 02:32PM
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Your analogy is flawed Brownlee. It's perfectly logical to laugh loudest at the guy who crapped his pants with one hand on the door of the outhouse; IF he took the time to turn and laugh at you first.

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#7 OvenChicken8
April 28 2009, 02:51PM
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LOL!!! I cannot stop laughing at that ANALogy

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#8 douggy
April 28 2009, 03:04PM
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flames suck! they may have made the playoffs, but at least we dont have 30million cap hit tied up in 5 players! flame on you crazy cowboys, flame on.

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#9 Petr Klima's Helmet
April 28 2009, 03:04PM
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Long time listener, first time caller who always enjoys Robin's tales of the road. Question to the panel, would you rather be a fan of a team that doesn't make the playoffs by a narrow margin (oilers)or a team that continually makes a mess in the bed every first round (flames)?

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#10 West Coast Oil, $Version=1
April 28 2009, 03:06PM
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So word is Tom Remmy (sp) is being interviewed I guess this lends creedence to the theory of having an established NHL coach behind the bench.Im also wondering if this coyld be a prelude to getting Jagr on the team.

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#11 scorcoff hemmercules
April 28 2009, 03:09PM
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@ Petr Klima's Helmet:

The second one obviously.

Oilers = 82 games

Flames = 88 games

I'll take 88 over 82 any day of the week.

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#12 West Coast Oil, $Version=1
April 28 2009, 03:24PM
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Myself personally I dont give the Flames a second thought because you know they will be gone by first round. Perhaps we can get Darryl Sutter as our coach now :)

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#13 Harlie
April 28 2009, 03:36PM
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I enjoyed the Lowtide interview as well. I always liked him and it was good to hear his honesty regarding the decisions he made behind the bench and that he still sticks by what he did. On another note, I also enjoyed Calgary's exit from the playoffs. Being a fan and not a media type we are allowed to vent emotions on both sides of the coin, are we not? And I never once said Jarome is a loser. I got mad respect for that guy but I still hate the jersey he plays for!

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#14 Uncle Geoff
April 28 2009, 03:37PM
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I haven't heard much about Tom Renney since a number of comments shortly after MacT and the Oil split company. I think Renney would be a really good fit because, like Brownlee says, he has that "tactician" quality about him. The current crop of Oilers aren't like, say, Ryan Smyth. They aren't all guts and heart and no brains. There is a (dare I say it about a hockey player?) cerebral element to this team that we haven't seen in a while.

So Renney (Memorial Cup winner, Olympic medal winner, good history with younger player development) might work out perfectly, even if he hasn't the same "hard ass" reputation as some others.

Any chance he would work with Quinn as an Assistant or "Co-Coach" (a la Oilers '82 - '89)?

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#15 n00b1an
April 28 2009, 03:38PM
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Why is tambellini going to have a brief tenure as a gm? is my question.

Brownlee?

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#16 5Cups without another in sight
April 28 2009, 03:44PM
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scorcoff hemmercules wrote:

@ Petr Klima’s Helmet: The second one obviously. Oilers = 82 games Flames = 88 games I’ll take 88 over 82 any day of the week.

Sorry, but who would have wanted 88 games of the crap the oilers were serving up this year! It was pure mercy they fell short.

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#17 GSC
April 28 2009, 03:46PM
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If you look at the fans in the background, you can tell that they must be announcing the 50/50 raffle winners. They're all looking at their tickets, LOL.

That is all, carry on...

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#18 Gerryd
April 28 2009, 03:48PM
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Love that Flames were doused. Looks good on them. Please not Quinn!! Too old and old school. How about Peter Laviolette? He has a cup ring. Does Quinn?

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#19 willy fisterbotom
April 28 2009, 03:54PM
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n00b1an wrote:

Why is tambellini going to have a brief tenure as a gm? is my question. Brownlee?

dont be an idiot. RB said his tenure HAS been brief NOT is going to be brief.

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#20 alphah
April 28 2009, 03:55PM
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I think for the most part Laviolette was out coached by Mac T. I think we need an upgrade if we are going to justify canning Mac T. I have warmed up a touch to the idea of Quinn but I'm still slightly in the negative column. Too bad Pete DeBoer isn't available, he has really turned out well. We can't have a coach that can guide a missile to its target, we need a coach experienced in alchemy that can turn coal into gold.

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#21 West Coast Oil, $Version=1
April 28 2009, 03:56PM
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I wouldn't object to Quin if he had a strategist asst coach. A good combo I think, a fire em up type of guy with a smart stratitician. Renney I think is missing the fire. Say what you will about MacT but he had a solid mind for strategy during the play offs

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#22 kingsblade
April 28 2009, 03:57PM
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n00b1an wrote:

Why is tambellini going to have a brief tenure as a gm? is my question. Brownlee?

It meant he hasn't yet been GM for very long, ie. his brief tenure to date. It was not a prediction of the future length of his tenure.

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#23 Word
April 28 2009, 04:00PM
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Wow, with glass that low Tortorella wouldn't have needed to grab a stick.

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#24 Quinn
April 28 2009, 04:00PM
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I don't think I am interested in the coaching position.

Oh, wait, you DIDN'T mean me?

Mea culpa.

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#25 West Coast Oil, $Version=1
April 28 2009, 04:01PM
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@Geoff

The Copper n Blue has something up saying the Journal is reporting that the Oilers have asked the Rangers for permission to talk to Renney

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#26 Robin Brownlee
April 28 2009, 04:01PM
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n00b1an wrote:

Why is tambellini going to have a brief tenure as a gm? is my question. Brownlee?

Uh, the most important hire during his time as GM so far . . .

topshelf wrote:

What is Ron Low doing for work these days? Also, is there any idea of the time frame for which Tambellini has or hasn’t set in regards to hiring a new bench boss?

Working in the oilpatch business. He should be coaching somewhere.

Gerryd wrote:

Love that Flames were doused. Looks good on them. Please not Quinn!! Too old and old school. How about Peter Laviolette? He has a cup ring. Does Quinn?

Quinn's a mix. He's a progressive thinker with an old school foundation. Don't write him off, I'm just saying .. .

douggy wrote:

flames suck! they may have made the playoffs, but at least we dont have 30million cap hit tied up in 5 players! flame on you crazy cowboys, flame on.

A Flamer might ask: much is tied up in Horcoff, Penner, Gilbert, Souray and Visnovsky, and where did that get the Oilers?

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#27 alphah
April 28 2009, 04:02PM
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@ alphah: For the record, by this line of analogy I consider MacT to be a carpenter. He can build you something decent but hes no Frank Gehry. You can live in it comfortably but unless you put an engine in it, its not going to take you anywhere.

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#28 n00b1an
April 28 2009, 04:05PM
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willy fisterbotom wrote:

n00b1an wrote: Why is tambellini going to have a brief tenure as a gm? is my question. Brownlee? dont be an idiot. RB said his tenure HAS been brief NOT is going to be brief.

Wow I misread it and you come out swinging.....don;t be an ignorant idiot and try to be the final boss of the internet...loser..

On another note:

Go oilers Go.

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#29 Robin Brownlee
April 28 2009, 04:12PM
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West Coast Oil, $Version=1 wrote:

@Geoff The Copper n Blue has something up saying the Journal is reporting that the Oilers have asked the Rangers for permission to talk to Renney

No surprise there. The Oilers will be approaching seveal teams to get permission to talk to people: Boston (Ward), Vancouver (Arniel), San Jose (Richards) etc etc. Renney is a natural to be considered, and he's got history with Tambellini. I'm not so sure he's that much different than MaccTavish in terms of his approach, so is he a fit?

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#30 n00b1an
April 28 2009, 04:13PM
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got misread it sorry.lol

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#31 roughneck
April 28 2009, 04:16PM
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Clearly when we speak of a coach having credibility with the vets we mean Souray... the rest of our vets are either very coachable (ie play the simplest of games) or very forgettable (ie play the simplest of games). Hemskys play would indicate "not mature" and thus not a vet in the true sense of the word. still doesnt help me make a choice from the list provided, in fact it makes it worse as Im really not sold on any of them "especially" the experienced ones.

Did anyone else see that Calgary fans were gonna pay 706 bucks a stool for round 4? Zoiks! Kinger and the boys had the truck backed up. No gold bricks on this load im afraid. Ah the best laid plans of mice and men.

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#32 RossCreek
April 28 2009, 04:26PM
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West Coast Oil, $Version=1 wrote:

So word is Tom Remmy (sp) is being interviewed I guess this lends creedence to the theory of having an established NHL coach behind the bench.Im also wondering if this coyld be a prelude to getting Jagr on the team.

I’d have to think Tom Renney would be a better fit with the Flames than the Oil. Just my opinion.

Renney’s completely different than Keenan, Playfair & Darryl, and might bring a breath of fresh air. I know I’ve constantly said Brent Sutter will be their next head coach, but if the thought process is that he would be more of the same and the club wants a different type of voice, I’d say Tom Renney is as good a place as any to start. They’ve tried the young up-and-comer with Playfair with little success, so I can’t see them going that way. Marc Habschied may be an acception, but that may be my personal bias as I like him.

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#33 West Coast Oil, $Version=1
April 28 2009, 04:26PM
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@Robin

I believe MacT was as good as Renney so I agree its not much of a coaching change in terms of style. Do you think Tambo feels the kids just locked MacT out after his treatment of players and that a strategic coach is still the best optionV

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#34 Archaeologuy
April 28 2009, 04:29PM
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roughneck wrote:

Clearly when we speak of a coach having credibility with the vets we mean Souray… the rest of our vets are either very coachable (ie play the simplest of games) or very forgettable (ie play the simplest of games). Hemskys play would indicate “not mature” and thus not a vet in the true sense of the word.

What? So you think that Souray was the only vet that had a problem with MacT? This past season would suggest that NONE of our vets were very coachable, considering the way the Oilers were outshot and outworked every night. Hemsky is immature all of a sudden? Why? Because he made a comment about MacT trying to turn him into a checker? My brain is exploding at these comments. I know this will turn into an argument, but I have a feeling it would just be 30 posts going back and forth leading to only more frustration.

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#35 Robin Brownlee
April 28 2009, 04:36PM
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@ West Coast Oil, $Version=1: A strategic component on the coaching staff is a must-have. That can be the head coach's forte or the specialty of a trusted assistant.

As for the stepping in an righting the ship and taking control, having an established, veteran coach is one way to make sure that happens, but so is a clear message from Tambellini that what happens is on the players now and that, as I put it, the new guy is his guy and people better listen up or be prepared to move out.

I like Quinn as a fit, but he'll have his choice of jobs. Minnesota, for one, is interested in him.

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#36 Rice
April 28 2009, 04:42PM
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Does anyone else think that Ron Low looks like Dennis Farina? (Avi from Snatch)

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#37 Rice
April 28 2009, 04:45PM
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http://tbn1.google.com/images?q=tbn:UDB5ksMhZo6NDM:http://media.monstersandcritics.com/galleries/1099835/0127676050085.jpg

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#38 DonDon
April 28 2009, 04:55PM
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As an Oiler fan living in Calgary, the Flames are facing almost exactly the same problems as the Oilers: GM has made lots of mistakes as the Flames are at the very top of the salary cap with the cap moving down, long-term untradeable contracts for at least 5 players. Too many mediocre players that are overpaid. Coach probably gone. As for the Oil, God help us if Tambellini selects Quinn, even as a stop-gap replacement. Look at the terrible job he did coaching the Leafs. Let Quinn enjoy his retirement and save the fans further embarrassment.

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#39 RossCreek
April 28 2009, 05:01PM
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Willis, I take acception to your “eulogy”.

First, what was “so convenient” about Rhett Warrener’s injury. It’s not as though he faked an injury so he wouldn’t count against the cap. He was waived and would’ve played in Quad City and not been a cap hit anyways. Am I missing something?

Secondly, (I’m not even gonna comment on “It’s alright, Jarome — not everyone can be Ryan Malone”), the 17th pick they traded for Cammalleri was replaced with another 1st rounder (25th) & a 2nd rounder in the Tanguay trade. They upgraded the player and only moved down 8 spots.

Thirdly, “Matthew Lombardi, Brandon Prust and a first-round pick? Hah! Don Maloney never knew what hit him. “. Well Maloney only months earlier moved highly regarded D Keith Ballard (and solid veteran D Nick Boynton) to land Jokinen. Given the option, I’d take Ballard over what they now have.

Fourth, Dion Phaneuf is 24 years old. So he had a bad year. Does that mean he’ll be terrible forever now? I doubt it. He played with broken ribs since February! Why Keenan insisted on overplaying an injured guy, I don’t know.

Fifth, wouldn’t you love Regher on YOUR team?

Sixth, does every 1st round pick have to be a mass point-producer? Does it typically, statistically speaking happen? Are you seriously making fun of the Flames pick the SAME year the Oil took the esteemed Jesse Niinimaki. Well that was a great pick, your right what were the Flames thinking when they took Nystrom over Niinimaki?

Seventh, the ol’ training bra joke? Seriously? Ahhhh…..Oil fan….. so predictable.

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#40 Chris
April 28 2009, 05:17PM
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Just to further beat a dead horse,

I know I hold a minority opinion when I argue that the Oilers rush their top prospects into NHL duty way too soon. It's like there has been an organizational philosophe to try and recreate the magic of the early eighties by bringing a whole group of young men into the big show all at once... To try and let them develop and grow together and become a tight knit unit. Repeated attempts at this have met with futility. The league has changed. Systems play is more complex. The business side of hockey is more complex. Media scrutiny is higher, as are expectations...

Gregor had an eye opening interview on his show today with Jim Nill of the Detroit Red Wings. Jim Nill is, amoung other things, in charge of amateur scouting. Jim contends that one of the great strenghts of the Detroit player development system is their ability to give their prospects lots and lots of time to develop in Europe, the minors, or the NCAA ranks before pressing them into NHL service.

I sincerely hope that the Oilers under Tambellini pay more than mere lip service to the stated goal of becoming more like Detroit. Rushing players can hurt their longterm success. Jason Arnott may have been ready to score 30 goals in his rookie season at just twenty years of age... Unfortunately he wasn't mentally or emotionally mature enough to be a go-to guy the following season.... Then this city just ate him up and spit him out. This is the modern age. A coach no longer holds sway over young players like in the early eighties... If you give a twenty year old kid a one way contract good for piles of cash, and the keys to the city; it shouldn't be a big surprise when the players on-ice commitment suffers... I just hope Gagner gets off to a good start next season. It would be a shame if he became another Arnott thanks to Lowe's insane decision to "build on the fly"...

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#41 Jeff B
April 28 2009, 05:20PM
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When Conklin let in that terrible goal in game one of the 2006 finals, Calgary radio stations replayed the play-by-play constantly. Ever since then I will always enjoy the Flames failures.

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#42 RossCreek
April 28 2009, 05:27PM
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@ Jeff B: And Edmonton radio replayed the "how does that feel Kiprusoff" over & over in 2004. Payback's a bit ch

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#43 Robin Brownlee
April 28 2009, 05:46PM
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Chris wrote:

Gregor had an eye opening interview on his show today with Jim Nill of the Detroit Red Wings. Jim Nill is, amoung other things, in charge of amateur scouting. Jim contends that one of the great strenghts of the Detroit player development system is their ability to give their prospects lots and lots of time to develop in Europe, the minors, or the NCAA ranks before pressing them into NHL service.

Teams like the Red Wings, in the upper tier of the Western Conference, have the luxury of being patient. The Oilers don't have nearly the same depth of prospects. If there's a slow down by the Oilers in terms of bringing players along now, it will more because they don't have that many Grade A prospects, not because of a change in philosophy.

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#44 Archaeologuy
April 28 2009, 05:54PM
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RossCreek wrote:

Willis, I take acception to your “eulogy”.

acception isnt a word. I think you mean exception.

carry on.

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#45 Robin Brownlee
April 28 2009, 06:41PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

RossCreek wrote: Willis, I take acception to your “eulogy”. acception isnt a word. I think you mean exception. carry on.

If you want to play cloakroom monitor and turn this into a grammar site there's going to be a lot of people in trouble.

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#46 Archaeologuy
April 28 2009, 06:58PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

If you want to play cloakroom monitor and turn this into a grammar site there’s going to be a lot of people in trouble.

Tomorrow's post will be about Their, There, Then, Than, Your, You're, and the Oilers' Goaltending situation. A tantalizing expose by Archaeologuy, newly appointed Cloakroom Monitor of ON.

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#47 yo
April 28 2009, 07:20PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Teams like the Red Wings, in the upper tier of the Western Conference, have the luxury of being patient.

RB: Do you think the Oil have hampered the growth of players like Gagner but having them play at 18-19 and exposing them to impatient fans and speculation about their readiness to play?

Further how does any NHL management team try to put on the brakes to allow these young players to mature at a lesser rate over a longer term?

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#48 Robin Brownlee
April 28 2009, 07:29PM
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@ yo: In the case of Gagner, no. He wasn't going to learn anything more going back to London and he was too young to play in the AHL.

I'm sure all teams try to bring prospects along at a reasonable pace, but the definition of reasonable changes depending on your circumstances. Detoit has the luxury of waiting on guys. Teams in the middle of the pack and the bottom of the standings don't have the depth, so younger players are pushed along faster than they might be with a set line-up. There's also far more turnover with lower tier teams.

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#49 Archaeologuy
April 28 2009, 07:36PM
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@ Robin Brownlee: Robin, I'm trying to think of an instance where keeping a guy in junior or the AHL was a detriment to a guy's development but I cant think of one. There has to be someone. Do you know of any?

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#50 Harlie
April 28 2009, 07:49PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

As for the stepping in an righting the ship and taking control, having an established, veteran coach is one way to make sure that happens, but so is a clear message from Tambellini that what happens is on the players now and that, as I put it, the new guy is his guy and people better listen up or be prepared to move out.

I've always wondered why a threat of a trade from a GM would be scary. These guys spend most of their playing lives on the road so does it really matter where they hang their hat? You'd think that if the player was underperforming and getting crapped on he would welcome a move. Some guys have wives and kids but a lot of them don't, so moving shouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

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