Hindsight

Jonathan Willis
July 22 2009 04:14PM

hindsight

I’ve had a horrible feeling of déjà vu this summer while watching the Oilers chase after Dany Heatley. I’ve been banging the drum for a veteran third-line centre for a while, most notably here. But I seemed to remember making a similar post last year…

And here it is: Fixing Actual Problems, September 2nd, 2008:

Let’s look at two statistics. I know not everyone believes in statistical analysis of the game, but these two are very simple and obviously connected to a team’s ability to win. Goals for, 5-on-5: 146 (11th in the league) Goals against, 5-on-5: 169 (27th in the league) Of those two statistics, where do the Oilers have the most room for improvement? They actually scored more goals than the Pittsburgh Penguins five-on-five, so at even strength offense really isn’t a huge problem. Defense, on the other hand, is. Only the Los Angeles Kings were a worse team at stopping goals at even strength than the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference last season. Healthy seasons from Shawn Horcoff, Fernando Pisani, Ethan Moreau and Sheldon Souray should help that number, as will an early reliance on Mathieu Garon, but at this point the playoffs are hardly a sure thing. The loss of three players who handled a bizarre amount of defensive work (Reasoner, Stoll, Torres) is going to leave players like Marc Pouliot and Kyle Brodziak in ugly positions. I’ve talked about this before, but Reasoner took 141 more draws in the defensive zone than he did offensive zone. Jarret Stoll took 181, and Raffi Torres was fifth among forwards by this number, with 35. Basically, these guys started in their own end a lot more, something that leads to goals against, and those faceoffs still need to be taken…. I am of the opinion that the Oilers will make the playoffs, but if they don’t, I doubt very much that it will have anything to do with a lack of offensive prowess. It will be because the team lacks players who know what to do in their own end, and that isn’t a role that rookie/sophomore players excel in. Marc Pouliot wasn’t an NHL player for the majority of last season. Kyle Brodziak finished -9 in relatively sheltered minutes, far easier minutes than Stoll/Reasoner played last season. Andrew Cogliano played the easiest minutes of the bunch, and still had 3 goals scored against him for every 60 minutes of even strength ice-time. This team doesn’t have a centre capable of playing tough minutes outside of Shawn Horcoff, and if they miss the playoffs, we’ll look back and see that this hole is a big part of the reason for it.

Some replies:

  • “The other team cannot score if the Oilers have the puck all the time.”
  • “Brodziak improved significantly over the year and Horcoff is returning from an injury. I’m optimistically hopeful this will be enough but otherwise bringing in a soon to be UFA player should be a feasible option.”
  • “Defense can be taught while offensive prowess is a talent.”
  • “You may score 3 goals on us every game, but we’re going to score 5. (A system that seemed to work pretty good in the 80’s).”
  • “I personally see a correlation between the Oilers of this year and Buffalo two years ago. Impressive amounts of offense and three lines that can score. Thomas Vanek was their 3rd line center and put in over 80pts and 40+ goals. We could be that type of team.”
  • “I also think you’ll see the Oil make a depth move come the deadline where they bring in a shut down forward for their 3rd or 4th line similar to the role Peca played for us in the 06′ cup run.”
  • “Most of the problems appear to arise from players moving into roles they aren’t comfortable with. Just because Brodziak was playing easy minutes doesn’t mean he’s going to be eaten alive each time he’s facing some serious talent. Weak competition does not mean weak players.”
  • “The Oil made huge strides in making themselves better compared to the rest of the conference, so sit back, relax, and watch us make 1st or 2nd in the division.”

The point of this isn’t to tell everyone how smart I am (although feel free to read that into it – I promise I won’t mind) but just to remind everyone that we’ve been here before. The usual objections have been raised – the kids will step up, Tambellini knows what he’s doing, there’s no need to stop goals if the Oilers score 5 every game – but I view those the same way I did last year.

The Oilers failed to address obvious defensive deficiencies last season and they paid for it with a miserable penalty-kill, poor defensive play five-on-five, bizarre coaching decisions (I’m quite sure MacTavish would have been happier to keep Pisani on RW), a poor record on faceoffs, and ultimately a season finish that didn’t include the playoffs.

Let’s hope they don’t care to repeat the experience.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 Ogden Brother
July 22 2009, 08:37PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Andrew W: I think that Cogliano probably gets moved at some point in the next three years, but we’ll see. Personally, I think that he’s the kind of guy you package up for a real star (ala Heatley) rather than in a one-for-one deal. There are still enough vet 3rd liners available via free agency that I’d be upset if the team moved a guy as valuable as Cogs for a similar player.

Damn, beat me to it.

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#52 charlie
July 22 2009, 08:52PM
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I was just looking at the Oil's depth chart... it's really not that bad. Our roster puts us in the middle of the pack, and who knows,..

A season without the Blender lines, a decent season from 'Bulin, a healthy Vish, bounce backs from the kids, this really isn't that bad of a team.

I'm just saying, take a look at our depth chart than compare to other teams, we're really not THAT far off. Like I've said all along, there just needs to be a system of play in place, once it's their it'll be easy to identify holes in the lineup, and/or holes to fix through the draft.

I think we have to take a breath, wait to see what Quinn does with the team, than see how we are come December. Who knows, he could put Nilsson / Cogliano / Hemmer together for all we know. Maybe we'll have four really even lines that can match up against anyone. Who knows?

The coaches aren't on the ice, but let's at least give them a couple months and lets see where this team is.

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#53 99thoilerfan
July 22 2009, 08:59PM
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charlie wrote:

The coaches aren’t on the ice, but let’s at least give them a couple months and lets see where this team is.

I second that.

I too have wondered how the boys will show up.. Penner, Shremp, Burlie ready to play? The once very young guns, have settled into the game?

Or will it more of the same ? ( Pen/Horc/Hem )

How many days to game one ? Really ? Nuts! * sigh*

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#54 Denis Grebeshkov
July 22 2009, 09:00PM
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you gotta admit...the Stormtroopers have the coolest armored sci-fi suit goin.

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#55 Victoria
July 22 2009, 09:15PM
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Speaking of hindsight. I wonder if Tambi is looking at Biron's new contract with the Isles and thinking 'huh...'

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#56 HOFFA
July 22 2009, 10:50PM
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Denis Grebeshkov wrote:

you gotta admit…the Stormtroopers have the coolest armored sci-fi suit goin.

Old School "Battlestar Gallactica" Ceylons where pretty cool also. Almost as intelligent as the Stormtroopers also. So when does Heatley have to decide his fate? By training camp? Or season Start? Just wonderin'.

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#57 Archaeologuy
July 22 2009, 11:57PM
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That Biron contract makes me wince a little thinking about Bulin's price tag, but I will get over it if he performs.

Prices are going down for the remaining UFAs everyday. Is this a game of Chicken with the likes of Malhotra or Moore or does Tambi really think that MAP or Brule can do the job? Ugh.

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#58 Priyanka
July 23 2009, 12:45AM
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Hi

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#59 Priyanka
July 23 2009, 12:47AM
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Priyanka wrote:

Hi This is Priyanka
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#60 Priyanka
July 23 2009, 12:47AM
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Priyanka wrote:

Priyanka wrote:

Hi This is Priyanka

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#61 jeanshorts
July 23 2009, 04:57AM
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@ charlie:

Seconded all the way my friend.

Denis Grebeshkov wrote:

you gotta admit…the Stormtroopers have the coolest armored sci-fi suit goin.

I've been saving up my dubloonies forever, hoping to one day finally be in possession of a true to life Storm Trooper costume. I would literally wear it to any kind of event imaginable. Weddings, funerals, birthdays, job interview, etc. EVERYTHING.

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#62 humantorch
July 23 2009, 05:28AM
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Priyanka wrote:

Hi

Hi.

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#63 OvenChicken8
July 23 2009, 07:50AM
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@ Priyanka: This is why you don't use the internet when you're drunk on a Wednesday night.

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#64 Zamboni Driver
July 23 2009, 08:40AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

NBOilerFan wrote: Tambs

Please PLEASE tell me we're not going to give the frickin' "GM" a brutal hockey nickname too? Have we learned NOTHING from the 'K-Lowe' fiasco?

Let's see...."Sutter" is not "Suttzie"; "Holland" is not "Holly" (though "Dutch" would be equally cool and WAY too cool for hockey nicknames).

How about Tambellini, yes we need to learn to spell, but we can find a way.

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#65 CHARLIE
July 23 2009, 08:47AM
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@ Zamboni Driver: Tambo? S-Tam? Tams? The Great Bellini? Tammy? Stevie-T?

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#66 Ender the Dragon
July 23 2009, 08:51AM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

yes we need to learn to spell, but we can find a way.

I know you're not new here, so I'm left to assume that you're a slow learner.

Spelling is not something we do well here. If you're after real syntax and grammer, you need to try McLean's or Alberta Report or something.

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#67 ronaldo
July 23 2009, 09:09AM
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According to Barnes, apparently the Oilers sent Heatley an "Oilervision gift basket on the offensive wizardry of Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff" as one more attempt to lure(?) him into accepting the trade. Horcoff has "offensive wizardly"? Also, who wins between a wizard and Vader (no storm troopers on the wizards side but he usually has a pointy stick)?

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#68 Jason
July 23 2009, 09:17AM
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Dont we have a gritty 3rd line center that can play tough minutes, take faceoffs, and play the PK??

Sure we do....his name is Shawm Horcoff and he is making 7 mill next year (with a nice cap hit of 5.5). He is also what we have to rely on as a number one center.

Id pay money for a reporter to ask Klowe the tough question of.....what exactly were you smoking when you made this deal?

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#69 Mike Krushelnyski
July 23 2009, 09:32AM
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ronaldo wrote:

Horcoff has “offensive wizardly”?

Watch me make this scoring chance...DISAPPEAR

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#70 Ogden Brother
July 23 2009, 09:44AM
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Jason wrote:

Dont we have a gritty 3rd line center that can play tough minutes, take faceoffs, and play the PK?? Sure we do….his name is Shawm Horcoff and he is making 7 mill next year (with a nice cap hit of 5.5). He is also what we have to rely on as a number one center. Id pay money for a reporter to ask Klowe the tough question of…..what exactly were you smoking when you made this deal?

I know, I know!

We just traded out 1st line LW over $$ without realizing that contracts were about to inflate at an astronomical pace, we also felt we shouldn't have to much trouble attracting a replacement because we had oodles of $$.

Now we had a guy that had put up .9+ PPG seasons two of the last three years so we decided to pay him, rather then lose him like we did with the #1 LW.

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#71 thashiznit
July 23 2009, 09:49AM
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Jason wrote:

Id pay money for a reporter to ask Klowe the tough question of…..what exactly were you smoking when you made this deal?

Me too... too funny bro.

Am I the only one that hopes this gift basket works and gets Heatley here?

It is kinda funny that they are refering to horcs offensive wizardry. Maybe they are talking about a couple years ago when he was an All-Star. I would like that Horcoff back and not the overpaid Horrible-coff we have now.

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#72 King Mob
July 23 2009, 10:07AM
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Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

ronaldo wrote: Horcoff has “offensive wizardly”? Watch me make this scoring chance…DISAPPEAR

funniest thing I've ever read at ON.

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#73 ronaldo
July 23 2009, 10:11AM
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@ Mike Krushelnyski: Nicely done

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#74 Bob Cob
July 23 2009, 10:48AM
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ronaldo wrote:

According to Barnes, apparently the Oilers sent Heatley an “Oilervision gift basket on the offensive wizardry of Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff

Thats funny, not all too enticing when you consider Heatleys been playing with Spezza and Alfredson all these years, and now with Kovalev. I would put $100 done that he has a change of heart and stays in Ottawa.

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#75 Bob Cob
July 23 2009, 10:49AM
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@ Bob Cob: I mean't "down" not "done"

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#76 Poo Czar
July 23 2009, 10:50AM
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Slow clap @ Mike Krushelnyski:

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#77 Milli
July 23 2009, 10:52AM
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I know this is totally off topic, but my buddy from that stinky city somehow hurt his ankle....so I emailed him what I believe really happened!!!!

Hey man. sorry about your foot. I hear that you attended the annual Flamers gala..... Rumor is, you where Neon Dion Phagneuf date....... He was twirling you around the dance floor...... when all of a sudden you broke your heel!!!!!

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#78 David S
July 23 2009, 11:09AM
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Ender the Dragon wrote:

Spelling is not something we do well here. If you’re after real syntax and grammer, you need to try McLean’s or Alberta Report or something.

Says one of the most articulate posters around the 'sphere. heh heh

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#79 oilersseasonticketholdersince99
July 23 2009, 11:38AM
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@ ronaldo: Why dont Tamballini and K lowe offer to do his laundry and house keeping if he comes to Edmonton,Maybe someone should tell Lowe,Tamballini and Katz that good old Danny boy DOES NOT WANT TO PLAY IN EDMONTON!!!!! move on and get some players who want to play here, quit wasting time, training camp starts in 5 weeks and this team is in worse shape than last year.

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#80 thashiznit
July 23 2009, 11:44AM
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Bob Cob wrote:

I would put $100 done that he has a change of heart and stays in Ottawa.

Morning show on 1260 says that there is a bigger chance of Heatley playing in Edmonton, than staying in Ottawa. Likely he will go somewhere else, if anyone bucks up

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#81 ronaldo
July 23 2009, 11:45AM
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@ oilerseanonticketholdersince99

Maybe a weekly footrub would seal the deal. Or a yearly supply of a coloured contact.

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#82 bcjames
July 23 2009, 11:47AM
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I'm so sick of hearing about Heatley. We should be discussing more important things, like what the hell that thing is on the table in front of the stormtrooper.

My guess is it's an Imperial vacuum cleaner sofa attachment.

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#83 Ogden Brother
July 23 2009, 11:50AM
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oilersseasonticketholdersince99 wrote:

@ ronaldo: Why dont Tamballini and K lowe offer to do his laundry and house keeping if he comes to Edmonton,Maybe someone should tell Lowe,Tamballini and Katz that good old Danny boy DOES NOT WANT TO PLAY IN EDMONTON!!!!! move on and get some players who want to play here, quit wasting time, training camp starts in 5 weeks and this team is in worse shape than last year.

Now how on earth is the team in worse shape then last year?

As an adamant ditractor of MacT his firing alone should put this team in the PO... should it not?

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#84 dyckster
July 23 2009, 11:54AM
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I'm two timing here everyone, I posted this on lowetide as well:

Sorry to get off topic, but I thought this was worth a mention.

"Hurricanes reward Ruutu for career season Physical, skilled left-winger signs 3-year deal worth $11.4M"

Courtesy of CBC - http://www.cbc.ca/sports/story/2009/07/23/sp-ruutu-contract.html

Ummmmmmmm did Jim Rutherford go to the KLowe school of GMing?

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#85 ronaldo
July 23 2009, 12:05PM
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@ bcjames It's obviously a spaceman vcr remote so he can watch episodes 4,5 & 6 instead of dvd's of the prequels. Hindsight.

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#86 Jack Bauer
July 23 2009, 12:13PM
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Why doesnt Tamililowe offer him every puck bunny this city has to offer. 1 night at Oil City and Danny will be relishing in Roloson's sloppy seconds till the cows come home.

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#87 dyckster
July 23 2009, 12:20PM
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Jack Bauer wrote:

Why doesnt Tamililowe offer him every puck bunny this city has to offer. 1 night at Oil City and Danny will be relishing in Roloson’s sloppy seconds till the cows come home.

Sean, is that you?

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#88 ronaldo
July 23 2009, 12:40PM
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@ Jack Bauer With Katz the penicillin (sp?) Can be covered as well.

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#89 oilersseasonticketholdersince99
July 23 2009, 12:46PM
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@ Ogden Brother: You know what our team is in better shape my apologies Penner Horcoff Hemsky Osullivan Gagner NEilson/cogliano Moreau Brule Pisani JF Jaques/Macintyre MAP Stortini

Souray Visnosky Gilbert Smid Peckham/Strudwick Staios

The Berlin wall and JD

Lets just hope they play as a team follow Quinns advice and dont sh*T the bed or else there will be alot of unhappy fans in good old E town.If they do not make the play offs this year I would expect nothing short of a total house cleaning starting with K Lowe and working down from there.

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#90 Charlie
July 23 2009, 12:47PM
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Just to add one last thought:

There was a time when the Canucks were in the playoffs on the shoulders of Morrison, Naslund, and Bertuzzi. The Sedin's were 2nd liners, and their goaltending was, well, Dan Cloutier. They ad a coach that they had to fire after missing the show (Crawford), and replaced him with some new blood and new systems (Alain Vine...ut).

There will be a time that our 2nd line youngsters are 1st line studs. Our Cloutier (Roli) has been replaced by our Lou (Bulin). We have a ton of kids hungry to play (Brule, Schremp...) who may actually have a roster spot under the Quinn-Renney game plan.

It took Mess & Gretz 5 years for their first cup. Is it too much to ask that Cogs and Gags get a few seasons under their belts before they get us to the playoffs? Not really. Lets just be patient and enjoy watching this team become what it can be.

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#91 oilersseasonticketholdersince99
July 23 2009, 12:49PM
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@ Jack Bauer: Was offered Danny was not interested, he preferers beach bunnys.Wait a second someone send him a video of the WEM waterpark that will close the deal!!!!

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#92 DanMan
July 23 2009, 12:57PM
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Charlie wrote:

Just to add one last thought: There was a time when the Canucks were in the playoffs on the shoulders of Morrison, Naslund, and Bertuzzi. The Sedin’s were 2nd liners, and their goaltending was, well, Dan Cloutier. They ad a coach that they had to fire after missing the show (Crawford), and replaced him with some new blood and new systems (Alain Vine…ut). There will be a time that our 2nd line youngsters are 1st line studs. Our Cloutier (Roli) has been replaced by our Lou (Bulin). We have a ton of kids hungry to play (Brule, Schremp…) who may actually have a roster spot under the Quinn-Renney game plan. It took Mess & Gretz 5 years for their first cup. Is it too much to ask that Cogs and Gags get a few seasons under their belts before they get us to the playoffs? Not really. Lets just be patient and enjoy watching this team become what it can be.

This poor guy is about to get slaughtered

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#93 DanMan
July 23 2009, 12:59PM
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@ Charlie:

Playing Brule and Schremp?

Don't you know every time those two step on the ice, it's an automatic goal against?

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#94 Jonathan Willis
July 23 2009, 01:00PM
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Charlie wrote:

Our Cloutier (Roli) has been replaced by our Lou (Bulin).

That's an inaccurate comparison. Horribly, horribly, inaccurate.

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#95 Jonathan Willis
July 23 2009, 01:02PM
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Charlie wrote:

It took Mess & Gretz 5 years for their first cup. Is it too much to ask that Cogs and Gags get a few seasons under their belts before they get us to the playoffs? Not really. Lets just be patient and enjoy watching this team become what it can be.

Yes, yes, let's watch Sheldon Souray, Lubomir Visnovsky and Nikolai Khabibulin become all they can be...

This isn't a team that's being built for five years from now. I'd be a big fan of a slow rebuild but this management group has never elected to take that route, and the moves they've made over the past three summers prove it.

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#96 yo
July 23 2009, 01:04PM
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I may be wrong but for me this was the summer where I hoped to see Tambellini make moves to get the organization back on track or at least headed in the right direction. I hoped to see the organization establish some semblance of order in a severely messed up outfit. Alas and alack no such luck. He appears to be consistently dithering.

The net effect so far this off-season is that the Oiler organization has sustained another black eye that to this point has more black eyes than eyes. How does the fan base react? They brew another jug of Kool-aid and hope Heatley relents. I have my doubts if Moses could lead this crew anywhere.

Yeah I know some Kool-aider will say 'whoa there' it's not even a month into the free agency season. Well, you can miss a bus by 5 seconds or 5 days...you still missed it and the Oil braintrust certainly seems to have missed or dismissed an opportunity to act.

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#97 Jonathan Willis
July 23 2009, 01:07PM
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Charlie wrote:

It took Mess & Gretz 5 years for their first cup. Is it too much to ask that Cogs and Gags get a few seasons under their belts before they get us to the playoffs?

Sam Gagner at 19: 76GP - 16G - 25A - 41PTS Wayne Gretzky at 19: 79GP - 51G - 86A - 137PTS

Andrew Cogliano at 21: 82GP - 18G - 20A - 38PTS Mark Messier at 21: 77GP - 48G - 58A - 106PTS

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#98 Charlie
July 23 2009, 01:11PM
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Wow, so much for trying to be positive about the team. Thanks for naming the five vets on the Oilers to counter my statement about giving the KIDS time to play under a new system and see what happens.

Gretz and Mess taking us to the cup is my equivalent to Gags and Cogs taking us to the playoffs.

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#99 Charlie
July 23 2009, 01:16PM
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All I'm saying is good things can happen when there is a coaching & goaltending change, and there are kids coming up in the system. Things aren't as bleak as they can seem.

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#100 scorecoff hemmercules
July 23 2009, 01:53PM
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@ Charlie:

I went into this summer optimistic after Tambo's fired up presser about Mact and the team. Since then I haven't really seen anything to be too optimistic about. Not that things are easy for our management right now, were close to the cap and we have players with contracts that nobody wants. We don't have much trade leverage or room to sign anybody, something I hoped Tambo could do something about but nothing yet. Bhulin has the experience but if he goes down with one of his nagging injuries JDD is our starter, thats insettling to me. I hope Quinn and Renney can work some miracles because thats pretty much whats expected of them. I really hope we can still get a centerman, and Brownlee seemed to think Tambo is still working the phones so I think something will happen.

And the whole sending videos to Heatley thing, omg, enough already. Prendergast must have been full of s**t the other day because the Heatly fiasco continues.

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