Time With Ales Hemsky/Alexander Ovechkin – Debunking the Liam Reddox Myth

Jonathan Willis
July 30 2009 08:24AM

This is a pretty straight-forward post, inspired by some discussion in Jason Gregor’s post yesterday: a list of minutes played with Ales Hemsky by Oilers forwards over the course of the season.

All raw data courtesy of HockeyAnalysis.com.

Ales Hemsky’s Linemates

The chart lists first total minutes, followed by what percentage of the time each player was with Hemsky. Ales Hemsky played 1030 minutes and 23 seconds at even-strength last year. Only players with more than ten minutes are counted.

  • Shawn Horcoff - 745:02 (72.3%)
  • Dustin Penner – 353:46 (34.3%)
  • Ales Kotalik – 161:37 (15.7%)
  • Sam Gagner – 152:09 (14.8%)
  • Ethan Moreau - 134:49 (13.1%)
  • Erik Cole – 97:57 (9.5%)
  • Robert Nilsson – 94:47 (9.2%)
  • Patrick O’Sullivan – 89:42 (8.7%)
  • Andrew Cogliano – 72:34 (7.0%)
  • Kyle Brodziak – 55:59 (5.4%)
  • Liam Reddox – 28:01 (2.7%)
  • Marc Pouliot – 17:44 (1.7%)

Alexander Ovechkin’s Linemates

Meanwhile, for fun contrast, here’s the same type of chart for Alexander Ovechkin over in Washington. Ovechkin played 1316:11 at even strength last season.

  • Nicklas Backstrom – 1009:52 (76.7%)
  • Viktor Kozlov – 557:09 (42.3%)
  • Alexander Semin – 365:22 (27.8%)
  • Sergei Fedorov – 184:29 (14.0%)
  • Michael Nylander – 130:50 (9.9%)
  • Eric Fehr – 79:46 (6.1%)
  • Chris Clark – 59:59 (4.6%)
  • Brooks Laich – 52:20 (4.0%)
  • Boyd Gordon – 40:45 (3.1%)
  • David Steckel – 40:30 (3.1%)
  • Matt Bradley – 40:02 (3.0%)

The New MacT Sucks Meme

Because Lord knows we need one.

I give you a new stick to beat MacTavish with: Craig MacTavish is a lousy NHL coach because he didn’t play Liam Reddox with Ales Hemsky enough.

Matt Bradley got 3% of Alex Ovechkin’s ice-time, and he only scored 11 points in 81 games. Liam Reddox scored 12 points in only 46 games – clearly, a better offensive record. Bruce Boudreau probably would have given Reddox 5% of Ovechkin’s ice-time.

Seriously, though, I think this is definitive: Liam Reddox’s single game on the top line was an aberration – exactly the same kind of aberration that happens on every team in the NHL.  To beat Craig MacTavish’s record with it after comparing these charts is indescribably stupid; unless the consensus is that Bruce Boudreau is also a lousy coach – in which case it only takes a five second look at players like Rick Nash and Henrik Zetterberg to know that this is a common NHL occurrence.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, 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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#1 smytty777
July 30 2009, 08:30AM
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This is the problem with compiling stats vs. actually watching the game. No one is saying Reddox spent every shift with Hemsky. The complaint is that MacT sent Reddox out with him (and Moreau out with Hemsky), while having Penner nailed to the bench when Penner was clearly the best option.

Ovechkin double shifts reguarly so he plays with nearly everyone on the team. These numbers don't provide any context to the situation so have limited value in my view.

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#2 Ender the Dragon
July 30 2009, 08:30AM
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Thank you for putting numbers to it, JW. Maybe we can all just take a chill-pill on the 'Reddox is dangerous mind-controlling mutant' theories for awhile.

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#3 OvenChicken8
July 30 2009, 08:33AM
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Liam Reddox scored 12 points in only 46 games – clearly, a better offensive record. Bruce Boudreau probably would have given Reddox 5% of Ovechkin’s ice-time.

Now watch Quinn actually do something like this :P And if he does we will all blame you JW hahaha.

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#4 Jonathan Willis
July 30 2009, 08:36AM
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smytty777 wrote:

This is the problem with compiling stats vs. actually watching the game. No one is saying Reddox spent every shift with Hemsky. The complaint is that MacT sent Reddox out with him (and Moreau out with Hemsky), while having Penner nailed to the bench when Penner was clearly the best option. Ovechkin double shifts reguarly so he plays with nearly everyone on the team. These numbers don’t provide any context to the situation so have limited value in my view.

You'll recall that some of Reddox's time came with Hemsky double-shifting as well (and I'm fairly sure all of Pouliot's time came that way).

It doesn't matter which forward on which team you look at - they all spent some time with 4th line wingers. What was Brodziak doing with Hemsky? Moreau?

This has been beaten to death around these parts and it's incredibly stupid how much nonsense has been generated over 20 minutes.

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#5 smytty777
July 30 2009, 08:42AM
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@ Jonathan Willis: I agree there is no reason to hate Reddox for it, it has nothing to do with Reddox. But it is a valid critique of MacT in my view. Moreso, for the numerous Moreau games on 1LW than with Reddox.

Others have discussed the effectiveness of Penner ad naseum so I won't go any further on that point. What I am saying is that to throw down Ovechkin's numbers beside Hemsky's does not take into context the underlying situation.

MacT seemed to dislike Penner on a personal level and it made the team less effective. Reddox and Moreau were symptoms of that dislike and were put in a position they were not suited for (through no fault of their own).

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#6 Ogden Brother
July 30 2009, 08:48AM
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I've never seen that sight before "swoons" it's my new favorite.

JW, I salute you.

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#7 Robin Brownlee
July 30 2009, 08:57AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

This has been beaten to death around these parts and it’s incredibly stupid how much nonsense has been generated over 20 minutes.

So, the best way to address the nonsense is to write more about it? I admire a stubborn streak, Jon, but some people aren't going to come around no matter how sure you are about what you've seen, what you know or what the numbers show.

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#8 Ogden Brother
July 30 2009, 08:59AM
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Another interesting number:

GF/20 Hemsky/Horc

When together: 1.047

Hemsky without Horc: .496

Horc Without Hemsky: .755

GA/20 Hemsky/Horc

When together: .725

Hemsky without Horc: 1.133

Horc without Hemsky: .907

So goals for with Hemsky on the ice goes WAY down if he doesn't have Horc with him (in fact far lower then if it's Horc without Hemsky).

And goals against when Hemsky is out without Horc are FAR higher if he doesn't have Horc with him.

Maybe Horc is actually good for Hemsky??? Arch, I defer to you.

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#9 Ogden Brother
July 30 2009, 09:01AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Jonathan Willis wrote: This has been beaten to death around these parts and it’s incredibly stupid how much nonsense has been generated over 20 minutes. So, the best way to address the nonsense is to write more about it? I admire a stubborn streak, Jon, but some people aren’t going to come around no matter how sure you are about what you’ve seen, what you know or what the numbers show.

You have to admit this is one of (if not the first) times theirs been hard evidence posted on the topic.

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#10 Jonathan Willis
July 30 2009, 09:02AM
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@ smytty777:

I think it's fair to critique the lack of Penner, but in that case Moreau's minutes are the ones that should be used.

The one game with Reddox has entered the lore of MacTavish - and I just don't understand picking one very limited and at least partially excusable (the lineup was in very bad shape that game) choice when there's other, more valid stuff, to choose from.

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#11 oilguyry
July 30 2009, 09:03AM
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We need some news so we can stop beating these stats to death

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#12 Jonathan Willis
July 30 2009, 09:04AM
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@ Robin Brownlee:

I'm beating horss to death, Robin, and last week has been the Khabibulin show so it's time for a change ;)

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#13 Jonathan Willis
July 30 2009, 09:04AM
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oilguyry wrote:

We need some news so we can stop beating these stats to death

Although, in fairness, the offseason gives us a chance to do more detailed analysis than we get to during the season.

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#14 Robin Brownlee
July 30 2009, 09:05AM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Good idea. I'll carve Heatley again, then.

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#15 smytty777
July 30 2009, 09:11AM
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@ Jonathan Willis: I was under the impression that most fans were aware it was a 1 game tryout for Reddox on 1LW. Perhaps that's not the case.

If the point was simply to prove that Reddox did not play a lot with Hemsky then you've obviously accomplished that, but I didn't think that it was a widely held belief.

I think what your numbers more interestingly describe is the revolving door nature of the Oilers first line LW winger. Cole didn't work, Penner wasn't in favour, Kotalik filled in the last few games, Moreau got an unreasonable amount of time there and the rest of the team filtered through.

I'm not a proponent of the Heatley trade, but looking at the numbers its not a surprise they are trying to fill that spot is it?

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#16 Souby
July 30 2009, 09:12AM
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All I know is, the Oilers still do not have a viable long term solution at 1st line LW. It would have been good if Heatley would have accepted the trade back when it was offered, but that is not the case.

My question is, if the Sens were willing to accept Penner-Cogs-Smid for Healtley, is there another team that is willing to accept this or a similar package for a scoring LW? It would great to think we could land a guy like Ovechkin (never going to happen), but is there a realistic trade partner out there?

thoughts?

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#17 OvenChicken8
July 30 2009, 09:13AM
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@ Robin Brownlee: Please do, I haven't been able to b*tch about Heatley for a few days now.

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#18 OvenChicken8
July 30 2009, 09:15AM
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smytty777 wrote:

Moreau got an unreasonable amount of time there and the rest of the team filtered through.

Moreau at the beginning of the season was leading our team in goals and actually deserved the ice time. Later in the season there was no excuse for it imo.

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#19 forsoothed
July 30 2009, 09:24AM
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JW I salute your stubborn streak. However, last season Reddox became the embodiment of silly coaching decisions by MacT.

Reddox played while Brule & Schremp got limited auditions. Reddox was praised whilst Penner & Schremp were thrown under the bus and the sight of Reddox on the 1st line or powerplay was infuriating!

I (and many) like Reddox in a third/fourth line role and i think that the others will come around when they see he actually performed/ performs well there.

PS - I'm not a huge Schremp fan, just think MacT's treatment of him was repugnant.

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#20 Fish
July 30 2009, 09:32AM
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I have no idea why they would sign Reddox again. He is shite. Whenever he went to hit someone he made damn sure to hit the boards in front of the actual body. I dont think I have ever seen him hit anybody.

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#21 smytty777
July 30 2009, 09:41AM
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Fish wrote:

I have no idea why they would sign Reddox again. He is shite.

JW: Nevermind my point above about it not being a widely held belief, I didn't realize this type of view was out there.

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#22 Fish
July 30 2009, 09:53AM
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I also dont like the fact that he eats alone and goes to bed early on the road. The guy p!sses me off to no end.

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#23 sittingatmydesk
July 30 2009, 10:07AM
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WTF is going on.. i'm tired of all these useless stats.. can't wait to get some real news....

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#24 me
July 30 2009, 10:18AM
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@ Robin Brownlee:

And well you should, it has been so quiet on the Heatley soap opera lately:)

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#25 TonyT
July 30 2009, 10:38AM
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WORST OFF-SEASON EVAAAAH!

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#26 daveeed
July 30 2009, 10:38AM
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I also scratch my head at the people who rag on Reddox, yes he's not a first-line or PP player, but anybody who watched him played last year saw that he was always giving a solid effort every shift. Often one of the few who seemed to battle consistently. I think he kept getting thrown over the boards by the coaches for that reason alone. Hell maybe it's worth a shot for the coaches to teach him faceoffs, because he will at least try to work at them from what I've seen.

JW, I know you've thrown out the stats on Penner's effectiveness while playing with Horcoff/Hemsky on the top line. In your opinion, with the current roster the Oilers have, is he the best fit or does a shooter like O'Sullivan make sense for an audition?

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#27 TonyT
July 30 2009, 10:46AM
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To actually throw out an opinion out there: I don't think people actually have a problem with Liam Reddox, everyone outside of MacT realizes he's a good worker when playing on the bottom two lines. My personal problem Reddox, is the fact that the Oilers have done nothing this off-season. After Tambellini's rant at the end of the season to get bigger, other than an attempt to get Heatley, he's addressed nothing. Why is that? If it's because of contracts, than why sign Reddox? Willis, Gregor, and Brownlee have presented viable options that would at least attempt to address some issues (faceoffs, defensive play, etc.) this team has. Signing Reddox is sticking to status quo, which for the last 3 years has not been very good.

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#28 smiliegirl15
July 30 2009, 10:47AM
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Wasn't the Hemsky/Horcoff duo more effective at even strength with Penner than without? I think we can all agree MacT misused Penner this last season and I think we can all agree is that Penner didn't try very hard to prove him wrong either. I like Penner and I hope he will come to camp with a new attitude because of the new coaching situation.

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#29 smytty777
July 30 2009, 10:52AM
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smiliegirl15 wrote:

I think we can all agree MacT misused Penner this last season and I think we can all agree is that Penner didn’t try very hard to prove him wrong either.

I think that statement succintly summarizes the Oilers issues at LW last year.

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#30 Jonathan Willis
July 30 2009, 10:54AM
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daveeed wrote:

JW, I know you’ve thrown out the stats on Penner’s effectiveness while playing with Horcoff/Hemsky on the top line. In your opinion, with the current roster the Oilers have, is he the best fit or does a shooter like O’Sullivan make sense for an audition?

I think Penner's the best choice, but I do like O'Sullivan and I'm feeling confident that he'll make Tambellini look quite bright for acquiring him.

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#31 rindog
July 30 2009, 10:57AM
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@ OvenChicken8:

OvenChicken8 wrote:

Moreau at the beginning of the season was leading our team in goals and actually deserved the ice time

Moreau got a bunch of dumbass fluke goals (or empty netters) early and you think he earned his spot on the first line?

If that is the case - Stortini should have been up on the first line during his little hot streak??

The fact is - Moreau did nothing to generate any offense for the line when he was up there. Anyone would get the odd assist or even goal when playing with Hemsky.

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#32 jeff
July 30 2009, 11:07AM
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Instead of all this useless stats that I have no idea why Oiler fans are the only ones that talk about, why don't we actually watch the games and comment on play?

Stats sometimes are useless and mis-counted. I.E. Last year Stortini had a shift where he had 4 solid hits, yet at the end of the game ended up with only 3 hits. In the same game one of the smaller guys Cogs or Gagner, ended up with 4. Does this mean that smaller guy is more physical and hits more?

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#33 OvenChicken8
July 30 2009, 11:09AM
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@ rindog: Fluke or not a goal is a goal and Moreau did generate a little offense early on in the season. Not a ton, but more than the other LW's at the time.

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#34 Ogden Brother
July 30 2009, 11:11AM
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jeff wrote:

Instead of all this useless stats that I have no idea why Oiler fans are the only ones that talk about, why don’t we actually watch the games and comment on play? Stats sometimes are useless and mis-counted. I.E. Last year Stortini had a shift where he had 4 solid hits, yet at the end of the game ended up with only 3 hits. In the same game one of the smaller guys Cogs or Gagner, ended up with 4. Does this mean that smaller guy is more physical and hits more?

Translation: "Lets all argue about unprovable opinion rather then talk about facts"

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#35 Ogden Brother
July 30 2009, 11:13AM
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rindog wrote:

@ OvenChicken8: OvenChicken8 wrote: Moreau at the beginning of the season was leading our team in goals and actually deserved the ice time Moreau got a bunch of dumbass fluke goals (or empty netters) early and you think he earned his spot on the first line? If that is the case - Stortini should have been up on the first line during his little hot streak?? The fact is - Moreau did nothing to generate any offense for the line when he was up there. Anyone would get the odd assist or even goal when playing with Hemsky.

Interestingly enough the team was less productive with Moreau and Hemsky on the ice together then it was with Moreau on the ice without Hemsky.

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#36 Shifty203
July 30 2009, 11:13AM
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forsoothed wrote:

JW I salute your stubborn streak. However, last season Reddox became the embodiment of silly coaching decisions by MacT. Reddox played while Brule & Schremp got limited auditions. Reddox was praised whilst Penner & Schremp were thrown under the bus and the sight of Reddox on the 1st line or powerplay was infuriating! I (and many) like Reddox in a third/fourth line role and i think that the others will come around when they see he actually performed/ performs well there. PS - I’m not a huge Schremp fan, just think MacT’s treatment of him was repugnant.

To be fair, Brule and Schremp didn't show anything to deserve bigger roles. One of our biggest problems last year was laziness, and lack of effort to compete. I believe this is why Reddox cleary deserved the shot at first line time over either of these two. Now thats not to say that either of them were overy lazy during their limited time, but neither showed the willingness to compete at a level that Reddox displayed. And when you are a team as lazy as we looked last year, then it makes the most sense to put the guys who were actually going to try their hardest on the lines that get the most minutes. Now don't try and look to hard into this, I don't by anymeans want Reddox on the first line again next year, but if he is trying harder than everyone else again then he most likely will get another shot.

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#37 jeff
July 30 2009, 11:15AM
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@ Ogden Brother: Well instead these numbers are brought out that make Dustin Penner and Shawn Horcoff look like bonafide 1st liners, yet we can't understand why we can't make the playoffs.

Everyday there are stats defending some under achiever, but for whatever reason we as fans are try to make so and so sound like and all-star. Why?

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#38 Tull
July 30 2009, 11:16AM
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I dont quite understand the % breakdown. Shouldn't you breakdown the percentages using Hemsky's minutes as the base number? 2.7% of Reddox's minutes played with Hemmer tells me nothing. I wanna know the % of Hemsky's minutes Reddox used - so your %'s should all add up to 100% then.

@ Smytty: Totally agree with your post. Statistics vs. watching the game are two massively different things. Stat analysis seems like a whole new sport altogether - and one where you can make the numbers tell you whatever it is you want to spin.

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#39 jeff
July 30 2009, 11:21AM
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@ smytty777: I should've read the first comment.

I 100% agree with you.

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#40 OvenChicken8
July 30 2009, 11:21AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Interestingly enough the team was less productive with Moreau and Hemsky on the ice together then it was with Moreau on the ice without Hemsky.

I'd believe that, their styles clashed horribly. Moreau is at his best when they play dump and chase / bang and crash hockey where Hemsky is much better when playing a puck possession style.

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#41 DanMan
July 30 2009, 11:22AM
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jeff wrote:

Instead of all this useless stats that I have no idea why Oiler fans are the only ones that talk about, why don’t we actually watch the games and comment on play? Stats sometimes are useless and mis-counted. I.E. Last year Stortini had a shift where he had 4 solid hits, yet at the end of the game ended up with only 3 hits. In the same game one of the smaller guys Cogs or Gagner, ended up with 4. Does this mean that smaller guy is more physical and hits more?

Right you are, Jeff. Remember the shift where Cal Clutterbuck suposedly had 6 or 7 hits? Just shows you how useless the "hits" stat is.

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#42 DanMan
July 30 2009, 11:25AM
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We've been roasting the rookies and 2nd year players for the last few days, what do you say we start in on the veterans.

That will bring some wide variety of opinions.

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#43 Jonathan Willis
July 30 2009, 11:29AM
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Tull wrote:

I dont quite understand the % breakdown. Shouldn’t you breakdown the percentages using Hemsky’s minutes as the base number? 2.7% of Reddox’s minutes played with Hemmer tells me nothing. I wanna know the % of Hemsky’s minutes Reddox used - so your %’s should all add up to 100% then.

I did, but the percentages should add up to roughly 200% (he's on the ice with two forwards at a time). It's roughly because sometimes during line changes, penalties ending, etc. Hemsky's on with 1 or 3 forwards or whatever so there will be some variance. Plus I've cut out the guys with less than ten minutes with Hemsky.

The above percentages add up to 194.4%, btw.

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#44 Jonathan Willis
July 30 2009, 11:32AM
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jeff wrote:

Instead of all this useless stats that I have no idea why Oiler fans are the only ones that talk about, why don’t we actually watch the games and comment on play? Stats sometimes are useless and mis-counted. I.E. Last year Stortini had a shift where he had 4 solid hits, yet at the end of the game ended up with only 3 hits. In the same game one of the smaller guys Cogs or Gagner, ended up with 4. Does this mean that smaller guy is more physical and hits more?

Question: what does your comment have to do with this post?

Ice-time isn't subjective; a player is on the ice or he isn't. There may be an error of a second or two here or there, but this isn't remotely similar to the real-time statistics.

It's like arguing that physics is a flawed science because you disagree with an astronomical finding. Or that TV analysts are all useless because you disagree with Don Cherry.

It's flawed logic.

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#45 Jonathan Willis
July 30 2009, 11:34AM
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jeff wrote:

Well instead these numbers are brought out that make Dustin Penner and Shawn Horcoff look like bonafide 1st liners, yet we can’t understand why we can’t make the playoffs.

How about because Dustin Penner spent a good chunk of the year as third-line RW? Or how about because the penalty-kill was one of the worst in the league last year? Or how about because all too often this team couldn't find it's arse in the defensive zone with both hands and written instructions?

There are plenty of reasons this team didn't make the playoffs. Was the 1st line part of the equation? Yes, but it wasn't the whole thing - and it wasn't the first item on the list either.

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#46 jeff
July 30 2009, 11:36AM
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It's more useless stats, what are you really trying to prove that Brodziak, Reddox and Pouilot don't play with Hemmer and that Horcs and Penner play too much with him.

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#47 Jonathan Willis
July 30 2009, 11:41AM
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And a quick question for everyone who dislikes looking at the performance of guys like Pouliot, Reddox, etc.:

Are you hardcore fans or not? You're camped out here at OilersNation at the middle of July (and we appreciate it, believe me) talking hockey. I get frustration with the lack of news, but these sort of articles are new information; we haven't put them up before.

Now, if this were NHL '99 I'd just swap Dean McAmmond for John LeClair and we'd have our shooter, but unfortunately that isn't an option.

What kind of information do you want, exactly?

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#48 Jonathan Willis
July 30 2009, 11:42AM
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jeff wrote:

It’s more useless stats, what are you really trying to prove that Brodziak, Reddox and Pouilot don’t play with Hemmer and that Horcs and Penner play too much with him.

Every TV talking head is useless because Don Cherry is wrong. More useless TV talking heads.

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#49 DanMan
July 30 2009, 11:43AM
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I think it's pretty sad that in the one game Horc missed, Brodziak was given the #1 C spot with Hemmer. Gagner hasn't played one full game on the top line in the last 2 years, for a team that has missed the playoffs 3 years in a row, that is inexcuseable.

Look at Stamkos, his rookie year wasn't very different from Gagner's. He was on the big line for at least the last 1/3 of the year. That can only help his development.

Avatar
#50 MovingForward
July 30 2009, 11:44AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

jeff wrote:

It’s more useless stats, what are you really trying to prove that Brodziak, Reddox and Pouilot don’t play with Hemmer and that Horcs and Penner play too much with him.

It looks to me like he is trying show Oiler fans (not just you) that Reddox's ice time isn't out of line with anyone else in the NHL in a similar position. Also its seems like he is trying to tell Oil fans to give it a rest with the Liam Reddox/Toby Peterson/Insert Next Years whipping boy here. It was one game and over the course of the year ice time was in line. Seriously Mact is no longer coach, so quit whinning about this stuff is what he appears to be saying if I am picking up what he is laying down. Here Here Jonathon!

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