WHY NOT A COACHING TANDEM?

Robin Brownlee
May 13 2009 11:27AM

If two heads really are better than one, why does Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini have to settle on a single candidate to replace Craig MacTavish behind the bench?

The short answer is, he doesn't. While most fans and interested onlookers have been satisfied with the assumption Tambellini will hire a head coach, who will in turn appoint his own assistant coaches, I suspect Tambellini is considering going a different route. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see Tambellini hire a head coach and an associate coach in tandem, then fill out the bench roster by adding an assistant or two.

Why not Pat Quinn as head coach and Tom Renney as his associate? Both have long resumes as NHL head coaches. Both have history with Tambellini. Both have been interviewed by Tambellini and president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe.

While Tambellini and Lowe could certainly pick one or the other -- I'd give Quinn the nod if I had to choose one -- there's nothing preventing a package approach that would see Quinn and Renney run the show together.

Why not?

DOUBLE UP

The concept of using a head coach-associate coach set-up isn't exactly new. Eight of the NHL's 30 teams went that route this season -- Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Dallas, Montreal, Nashville, Phoenix and Vancouver. The difference between an associate and an assistant coach is more than terminology.

Generally, an associate is more experienced and has more input into decisions. Mike Keenan had Jim Playfair in that role in Calgary. Alain Vigneault had Rick Bowness in Vancouver. Quinn, who has a regular season career coaching record of 657-481-154-26 (.567) and has won the Jack Adams Award twice, is certainly on Tambellini's short list of candidates.

Quinn has interviewed for the GM's job in Minnesota, but beat writer Mike Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune doesn't see him being on the short list in Minny, and big Mike always has the dope. Renney, working as a TV analyst after taking the pipe from the New York Rangers, boasts a career mark of 203-170-9-46 (.539) and stands to be on the short list. So, likely, is Marc Crawford, who has the personality of a shit sandwich but does have a Cup ring and an Jack Adams on his resume.

RIGHT HAND MEN

two3

There are several other names who could fill the associate's role in a two-man set-up, but I'm not sure about the language in the contracts they have with their current teams. Teams have out-clauses in their contracts that allow coaches to take a job with another team if it's a step up, usually to a head coaching position, but I don't know if moving from an assistant's job to associate spot is considered the same thing.

Brent Peterson has history with Tambellini, but he's an associate to Barry Trotz in Nashville. I can't see the Predators letting him make a lateral move. Boston assistant Geoff Ward is highly thought of by the Oilers after several seasons in the organization. Would the San Jose Sharks allow Todd Richards to take an associate's gig here?

Would Mark Messier, who joined Tambellini and Lowe in Europe at the World Championships, take a job in Edmonton as an associate or is he destined to go the management route? And, would plugging Messier into that role with no experience be a good idea? I'm not sure.

What I am sure of is that you can't have too many good hockey minds in an organization. Detroit has proven it for many years by adding sharp people to middle-management positions, and in my mind the same approach can hold true with a coaching staff.

From where I sit, it makes sense.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. 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 RBK
May 13 2009, 11:37AM
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First! LOL

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#2 baggedmilk
May 13 2009, 11:38AM
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Quinn and Renney as a tandem would be the cats pajamas IMO. Nice work Brownlee.

And to Wanye, how hard was it for you to not put siamese twins instead of frogs and snakes?

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#3 Twitted by OilersNation
May 13 2009, 11:41AM
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[...] This post was Twitted by OilersNation - Real-url.org [...]

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#4 Wanye Gretz
May 13 2009, 11:41AM
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@ RBK:

Wow. Let's not turn into a site that does that nonsense. What is this a Jonas Brothers fan site.

*secretly wishes it was*

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#5 myteammytown
May 13 2009, 11:41AM
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who has the personality of a shit sandwich

that little nugget right there made my day

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#6 baggedmilk
May 13 2009, 11:42AM
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@ Brownlee:

Actually, doesn't Quinn usually have a systems guy as one of his assistants? How's Renney with systems play? How would he mesh with his defense first mindset to Quinn who is generally offensive minded?

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#7 Wanye Gretz
May 13 2009, 11:43AM
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@ baggedmilk:

I felt bad for those conjoined sisters in the US that are famous for being essentially a "two headed person." I saw a documentary on them one vulnerable hungover Sunday and I vowed that I wouldn't ever mock them like the mean kids at their school did.

Those heartless bastards.

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#8 baggedmilk
May 13 2009, 11:48AM
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@ Wanye Gretz:

I watched the exact same show, in the exact same stage of "mind hurtingness." They learned how to drive a car, which was impressive.

When did TLC stop being about Learning and start being about fat people, and other unfortunates? *manly tear*

Ughh... Hmm... New coach hey? Quinn? Steak?

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#9 Ducey
May 13 2009, 11:50AM
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Can't say I would be happy with Quinn. He has been out of work for too long, is old, and got soft in Toronto. He is all about veterans and is not the harda** the Oilers need.

Is there really much difference between Renney and MacT ? If the Oil are just looking for a new voice, Renney might be the man. But my impression is that they are looking to shake things up in terms of attitude and approach.

Patrick Roy would be perfect - if he wasn't Patrick Roy.

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#10 jdrevenge
May 13 2009, 11:52AM
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@ Wanye Gretz:

LOL... that didnt happen to be this past hangover day did it? I watched the same thing with my gf and i kept eyeballing her and wondering what she would be like with a second head. Also i wondered who did the peeing thing and what would happen if they were indecisive on when to let fly....I heart TLC.

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#11 Archaeologuy
May 13 2009, 11:52AM
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Maybe if the Oilers hire BOTH Messier AND Buchberger to be the next Head Coach of the team ALL of their shortcomings will be made up by the other! Sold.

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#12 RossCreek
May 13 2009, 11:52AM
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I've thought the same approach could work, but would be surprised to see someone like Renney take that position. I guess you could pay him as a head coach, no? Originally I was thinking Huddy could be the Associate Coach. Some other candidates that I've mentioned for the big job could fit in that role as well - Habschied & Pearn. Lorne Molleken (sp?), Mike Johnston, etc.

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#13 Chaz
May 13 2009, 11:52AM
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I only want two coaches if they're the conjoined twins from the documentary Wayne mentioned. If anyone can instill teamwork and unselfishness upon a team, it's her...oops I mean them...

* Regrets comment and starts to fear the Kharmic implications of it.

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#14 jdrevenge
May 13 2009, 11:54AM
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@ Archaeologuy:

Like male pattern baldness. Im with you guys though a two headed monster behind the bench ALA Renney and Quinn would make me sh*t my pants.

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#15 RossCreek
May 13 2009, 11:56AM
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@ Robin If the Canucks end up firing Alain Vigneault, do you think he becomes a candidate in Oilerville given the Vancouver connection?

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#16 Wanye Gretz
May 13 2009, 11:59AM
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@ baggedmilk:

The other night TLC had this crazy marathon of rare medical conditions and featured the people that live with them. I can't decide if this is a good thing or if it is insensitive by putting these people on display. It is certainly interesting TV though - particularly when it is 230 AM and you have to work in 5 1/2 hours.

Oh and yeah, this is what we are talking about underneath this interesting articles.

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#17 Wanye Gretz
May 13 2009, 12:01PM
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@ jdrevenge:

It was indeed. That's rich that we were both watching it at the same time.

@ Chaz: So you are suggesting that the Oilers limit their coaching seach to conjoined twins? I think it is a bold new direction and it is exactly what Robin was thinking when he wrote this.

WE CRACKED THE CODE DaVINCI

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#18 Archaeologuy
May 13 2009, 12:02PM
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Wanye Gretz wrote:

The other night TLC had this crazy marathon of rare medical conditions and featured the people that live with them.

I honestly start to gag when i see the "tree-man" on TLC. I yell at whoever is in control of the TV to change the channel. It doesnt even matter if it isnt in my own house. I have a violent reaction to that freak show.

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#19 Zdeno Ciger
May 13 2009, 12:03PM
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"Shit sandwich" Hahahahhaha

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#20 Wanye Gretz
May 13 2009, 12:12PM
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@ Archaeologuy:

Remember the Wolf family from Chile that TLC used to feature that had hair all over everything? One time I was at the U of A Emergency room with a concussion and I sat next to one of the Wolf Guys - who lives in Edmonton now - and was with his wife and infant daughter who was ill.

He was super nice and a concussed Wanye couldn't decide if this really was the Wolf Man or I was suffering from a level 47 concussion.

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#21 r59
May 13 2009, 12:14PM
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Wanye Gretz wrote:

He was super nice and a concussed Wanye couldn’t decide if this really was the Wolf Man or I was suffering from a level 47 concussion.

I would seriously read a blog of yours if all was was you talking about this kind of bizarre stuff you have done and seen.

LOL

And I feel bad for that poor tree man. He looked so happy when he was finally able to punch the keys on his cell phone after his surgery.

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#22 Blazing Ace
May 13 2009, 12:21PM
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r59 wrote:

I would seriously read a blog of yours if all was was you talking about this kind of bizarre stuff you have done and seen

Seconded. And I am a Flames fan

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#23 Phil
May 13 2009, 12:29PM
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"Personality of a shit sandwich"

I laffed.

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#24 Archaeologuy
May 13 2009, 12:30PM
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@ Wanye Gretz: did you fall off of the car while trying to ghost ride the whip?

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#25 jeanshorts
May 13 2009, 12:32PM
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@ Archaeologuy:

I was just going to ask that. GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!!!!!

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#26 Ducey
May 13 2009, 12:32PM
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Between all the drinking and brain injuries he has suffered, I am just impressed Wayne can string a couple of sentences together!

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#27 Rusty Shackleford
May 13 2009, 12:41PM
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@ Wanye Gretz: I agree with the Wolf Boys being extremely cool guys. I only met the Edmonton one. His lady lived in my area, and I'd see them and their kid all the time. Really nice guy, and the kid didn't get the hairy gene. That would be interesting if they had more kids and Edmonton could become a hotbed for Wolfmen. I'd be down.

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#28 Colin
May 13 2009, 12:41PM
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I'm not sure I like the renney/quinn combo but 2 coaches might make sense. Besides if they start losing they can always blame a split in the room :p

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#29 Chris
May 13 2009, 01:04PM
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The Oilers already have two GM's, so why not two coaches? Heck, they could have nine coaches, three goalies, fifteen trainers, and 50 valets's for all I care...As long as they WIN.

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#30 swany
May 13 2009, 01:13PM
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Ducey wrote:

Can’t say I would be happy with Quinn. He has been out of work for too long, is old, and got soft in Toronto. He is all about veterans and is not the harda** the Oilers need. Is there really much difference between Renney and MacT ? If the Oil are just looking for a new voice, Renney might be the man. But my impression is that they are looking to shake things up in terms of attitude and approach. Patrick Roy would be perfect - if he wasn’t Patrick Roy.

Pat Quinn has been out of the NHL for a while but not out of work. JR Gold winning coach, u18 winning coach, gold medal mens coach, is very aggressive minded likes to forcheck and take it to the other team, for an old man he seems to communicate well with younger players. And my friend he is a hard ass he demands respect and won't take any shit from his players. Pat Quinn would make a big diffrence in the way the Oilers play it would be a very up tempo forecheck the crap out of the other team style. Renney is a players coach and RB is onto something Pat Quinn can be the guy to crack the whip and Renney can be the guy to smooth things over. Like a good cop, bad cop approch

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#31 Rick
May 13 2009, 01:18PM
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I suppose it could work to have associate coaches, one motivator and tactician.

That said, there still has to be some resemblance of a hierarchy so wouldn't it be a mistake for Tambellini to autonomously hire two guys and then forcing them to go to work together?

The guy hired as the official head coach should atleast be involved in deciding who he feels he can work with as an associate.

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#32 Oilman
May 13 2009, 01:21PM
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Wanye Gretz wrote:

@ jdrevenge: It was indeed. That’s rich that we were both watching it at the same time. @ Chaz: So you are suggesting that the Oilers limit their coaching seach to conjoined twins? I think it is a bold new direction and it is exactly what Robin was thinking when he wrote this. WE CRACKED THE CODE DaVINCI

It's like you guys were on a date or something!

Two girls sharing one body being watched by two guys sharing one brain! Ba dump ching.

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#33 surshot
May 13 2009, 01:24PM
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How does Robert Tychowski have a media job and Brownlee does not, despite being a superior journalist? Don't always agree with Brownlee but he is head and shoulders above most writers in this town except for maybe two or three. Get a real job Brownlee but please keep your blog going as well. Keep up the good work.

Oh wait i have a couple skill testing question for Brownlee.

How old is Linus Omark?

True or false has Garon ever played for the Ducks?

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#34 Robin Brownlee
May 13 2009, 01:31PM
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surshot wrote:

How does Robert Tychowski have a media job and Brownlee does not, despite being a superior journalist? Don’t always agree with Brownlee but he is head and shoulders above most writers in this town except for maybe two or three. Get a real job Brownlee but please keep your blog going as well. Keep up the good work. Oh wait i have a couple skill testing question for Brownlee. How old is Linus Omark? True or false has Garon ever played for the Ducks?

Go ahead, name three writers in town better than me . . . seriously, though, thanks for the compliment.

Colin wrote:

I’m not sure I like the renney/quinn combo but 2 coaches might make sense. Besides if they start losing they can always blame a split in the room :p

You're right. Quinn and Renney have ties to Tambellini, but they might not be the best combination with a head-associate coach set-up. The main point is the structure and there's a number of names who can be plugged into it.

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#35 baggedmilk
May 13 2009, 01:32PM
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@ surshot:

What kind of glue removing solution will you be using to remove your lips from Brownlee's a*ss? Will it be something commercial? Industrial?

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#36 baggedmilk
May 13 2009, 01:34PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Go ahead, name three writers in town better than me . . . seriously, though, thanks for the compliment.

Dan Barnes, Jim Matheson, Baggedmilk. <3

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#37 surshot
May 13 2009, 01:35PM
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@ baggedmilk:

Robert is that you. Don't be mad.

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#38 jeanshorts
May 13 2009, 01:36PM
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baggedmilk wrote:

@ surshot: What kind of glue removing solution will you be using to remove your lips from Brownlee’s a*ss? Will it be something commercial? Industrial?

Says the guy who shines Brownlee's shoes with his tongue. Pot calling kettle black my friend. POT CALLING KETTLE BLACK!

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#39 Robin Brownlee
May 13 2009, 01:40PM
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baggedmilk wrote:

Robin Brownlee wrote: Go ahead, name three writers in town better than me . . . seriously, though, thanks for the compliment. Dan Barnes, Jim Matheson, Baggedmilk. <3

Danny's a columnist so he doesn't count, even if he whipped my ass a few times back when he was a beat man. Matty? That's cheap using a guy who I single out in my bio and a friend, to boot, but he showed me the ropes here and I can't argue. Baggedmilk? Fack, gimme a break, or are we discounting experience, credibility, grammar and coherent thought?

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#40 baggedmilk
May 13 2009, 01:47PM
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@ Robin Brownlee:

My lack of grammar skills, spelling skills, work related skills have no place in this argument. Funniest part is that you answered to my ramblings.

Back to my other question. Would Renney work with old man Quinn?

Unless you want to retract, and admit to my skills, bowing to kiss my shoe.

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#41 baggedmilk
May 13 2009, 01:50PM
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@ Robin Brownlee:

Oh and also Jim's wife was my Marketing teacher. Great lady.

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#42 surshot
May 13 2009, 01:52PM
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baggedmilk wrote:

@ Robin Brownlee: My lack of grammar skills, spelling skills, work related skills have no place in this argument. Funniest part is that you answered to my ramblings. Back to my other question. Would Renney work with old man Quinn? Unless you want to retract, and admit to my skills, bowing to kiss my shoe.

Wit is not your strong suit. The fact that you are actually trying is whats funny.LMAO

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#43 Robin Brownlee
May 13 2009, 01:56PM
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baggedmilk wrote:

@ Robin Brownlee: Oh and also Jim’s wife was my Marketing teacher. Great lady.

"Marketing teacher" suggests some formal education. Are you claiming to have done some actual book learning?

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#44 baggedmilk
May 13 2009, 01:58PM
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surshot wrote:

Wit is not your strong suit. The fact that you are actually trying is whats funny.LMAO

Are you upset that I'm not acknowledging you, after calling you out on your willingness to fellate Robin Brownlee?

I offer my most sincere apology for ruining your surshot chance of becoming buddy buddy with the hot stud, writer man.

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#45 baggedmilk
May 13 2009, 02:01PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

baggedmilk wrote: @ Robin Brownlee: Oh and also Jim’s wife was my Marketing teacher. Great lady. “Marketing teacher” suggests some formal education. Are you claiming to have done some actual book learning?

I learnededed a few things from a book or two. She actually keeps in touch fairly often. Shame she's not teaching anymore, but understandable. For reasons, I'm sure you're aware of.

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#46 surshot
May 13 2009, 02:12PM
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@ baggedmilk:

There you go being unfunny again. Congrats on that.

Was not really kissing his but, Just pointing out the obvious that there's some journalist that just do not belong. The fact that he is a excellent writer is also obvious. Other than that i could give two shats if you ever acknowledge me. But keep thinking like your somebody DB.

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#47 RossCreek
May 13 2009, 02:12PM
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@ baggedmilk Jim Matheson's wife was my marketing teacher as well. She is a great lady and occasionally talked a little hockey.

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#48 Archaeologuy
May 13 2009, 02:16PM
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@ surshot: @ baggedmilk:

This sounds like it can only be solved with the age old contest of ghost riding the whip. The one who can go the longest sans falling off and getting a level 47 concussion wins.

Or we could go by Seniority and baggedmilk wins, but i want to see baggedmilk ride his 92 tempo down Whyte ave.

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#49 jeanshorts
May 13 2009, 02:21PM
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@ Archaeologuy:

I want to see baggedmilk crack his head open.

LET THE GHOST RIDING BEGIN!

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#50 Wanye Gretz
May 13 2009, 02:30PM
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@ jeanshorts: @ Archaeologuy: @ surshot:

This is good stuff. If I left my basement long enough to see the light of day more than once a week I would find you guys and make you fight to the death. Luckily I don't.

(yells upstairs)

MORE JUICE MOM!!!

And for the record: no one is better than Brownlee.

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