Oilers 11th: THN jumps the gun

Robin Brownlee
August 10 2009 10:53PM

premature-hockey-news

Apparently, being first means being best because with training camp still several weeks away, The Hockey News is picking the Edmonton Oilers to finish 11th in the Western Conference.

Now, I'm not convinced the Oilers are a playoff team this coming season, but picking them, or any other team for that matter, to finish in a particular spot seems just a tad premature, don't you think? Maybe wait until, what, the first week of September? Or until preseason? What's the hurry, THN?

Anyway, here's what they've written about the Oilers:

11. Edmonton Oilers

"Why: One old goalie has been swapped for another, but it’s the same cast of skaters who’ve missed the playoffs for the past three seasons after the ’06 Cup run. The new two-headed coaching monster in Pat Quinn and Tom Renney could provide gains, but the Oilers are still far off the West’s A-list."

This dire projection is part of a Western Conference preview in which THN pegs Phoenix 15th, Colorado 14th, Minnesota 13th and Los Angeles 12th. The top 10 is yet to come.

There, you have it.

What’s the rush?

I used to think it was nuts when my sports editor would inform me that the deadline for the obligatory pre-season NHL supplement -- that's newspaper talk for an attempted advertising cash grab that always stiffs at the till -- was three days before teams made their final cuts. While convenient for the ad guys, it did nothing for accuracy, especially in seasons when there were a number of players on the bubble and difficult decisions to make.

The way I see it, THN takes that to an even more extreme degree by picking the Oilers to finish 11th, or fifth or sixth for that matter, before the middle of August.

What, GM Steve Tambellini can't substantially change the face of this team in the next month? I'm not saying he will -- Dany Heatley isn't about to change his mind and there's nothing on the table with anybody else right now -- but to preclude the possibility he might seems goofy to me. No?

Just asking

What kind of shape will Dustin Penner be in when camp opens? Will Pat Quinn and Tom Renney light a fire under him or will PDP be back at the buffet table and in the doghouse by mid-October?

Will Patrick O'Sullivan be better with a camp here under his belt? Where will Andrew Cogliano play? Who'll play together on the second line? Will Lubomir Visnovsky be healthy when the season opens? Tom Gilbert?

I don't know the answers to those questions right now and neither does THN, so how do they come up with 11th? Likewise, will Tambellini stand pat between now and the season-opener? Same answer.

If I recall correctly, THN had the Oilers finishing sixth last season, and they made that call about this time a year ago. How'd that work out?

If it's all the same to you, I think I'll wait a month or so until I get some answers to the questions we're all asking. Predictions are a guess at the best of times, but there's educated guesses and August guesses.

I'll take the former every time.

-- 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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#51 Librarian Mike
August 11 2009, 11:13AM
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cableguy wrote:

how much money did he save by switching his insurance to Geico?

It's so easy, even a Flames Defenseman can do it!

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#52 rindog
August 11 2009, 11:22AM
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@ Robin Brownlee:

I am just curious on your opinion of making predictions at anytime?

Do you just not like making them in August? If that is the case - is our team (or any team) going to have a much different look then after TC closes?

It is not like there are a ton of game-breaking UFAs still out there that are going to change the make-up of any club?

Barring any trades (which can happen at anytime - not just in August) making a prediction now seems just as safe as making in in early October? Doesn't it?

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#53 cableguy
August 11 2009, 11:23AM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

It’s so easy, even a Flames Defenseman can do it!

seriously though, gregor should throw a curveball at shawn "king of the cliche" horcoff.

he would probably pull out the "gimmie a sec to put a shirt on" line

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#54 rindog
August 11 2009, 11:30AM
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@ Rick: Rick wrote:

I don’t know Robin, last year when Tambellini came in he said he would evaluate the team in November, then he did nothing. The trade deadline came and granted he made a couple moves but it the context of no follow up moves they have to be classified as head scratchers. The draft came…nothing, free agency…nothing, August is here…nothing

It's not for lack of trying....

How many of the UFAs that signed elsewhere do you think even considered coming here?

I don't think it is for you (or anyone) to determine if Tambellini is just sitting back and content with his roster.

Unless you have his cell phone bill and know that he hasn't been shopping around - I think you should give him the benefit of the doubt?

He addressed 2 of our 3 biggest concerns (coaching and goaltending). It's not his fault Heatley messed up one of the greatest trades in Oiler history....

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#55 Wainwright Dan
August 11 2009, 11:51AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Mother Pucker Hockey wrote: Wow I had a dream last night that in the first game of the season, happened to be against the hawks, the Oilers got destroyed… and the trend continued for months. Thankfully I’m awake now and realize that it was all bullsh….. wait, was it? Did 20-Cent have a big game for Chicago?

'20-Cent' ... classic.

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#56 Dominoiler
August 11 2009, 03:02PM
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Although you make a good, logical, point RB of specifying how the opinions stated in THN can only be partially developed, at best, and are oozing money grab for very little substance.. how can you argue with what they said... one old goalie for another.. same scrubs (and kids).. same results!?!... 'unless' the coaching magically pulls them outa the gutter...

This is a team that will do better when expectations are low, wheras last years over estimation left them feeling like failures. This team has been crap for three years counting (going by the standings), but these kids have been doing a heck of a job 'trying' to contribute good things and right the ship... This is what they will get credit for, when the time comes that they do step up and wipe their asses with the trash printed from the likes of THN (and the remaining previews that will undoubtedly follow suit)...

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#57 Robin Brownlee
August 11 2009, 06:40PM
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Dominoiler wrote:

how can you argue with what they said… one old goalie for another.. same scrubs (and kids).. same results!?!… ‘unless’ the coaching magically pulls them outa the gutter…

Or Penner shows up in shape. Or Tambellini makes a move. Or . . . Didn't argue with what little they said, but it's incomplete. Is the concept that there will be more information available a month from now, and that it'll be possible to get a better read once the team is actually on the ice, up to question? Is everybody so bored that we need to debate the obvious? Apparently.

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#58 White Ninja
August 11 2009, 09:55PM
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Hey Henny Penny, is the sky falling? Have patience. If the Oil play with more grit this year, they are a playoff team in my opinion. Last years roster was over rated and this years roster is under rated. We were a playoff team for 2/3s of the year last season. I don't want to put too much emphasis on the coaching change, but I heard it from Carl at work that Pat Quinn can walk on water. Division crown? Plus we got rid of the cancer Brodziak! That dude had a tude. Uppity Vegrevillians!

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#59 Rick
August 12 2009, 08:33AM
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rindog wrote:

I don’t think it is for you (or anyone) to determine if Tambellini is just sitting back and content with his roster.

Geez I don't seem to recall where I suggested that Tambellini was content.

I was pointing out that he has actually done very little and of the few moves he did make, there is ample room to question why.

You can come up with any reason you like for why it's difficult for him to do anything but then again isn't that exactly what separates some of the better GM's from the ones that leave you wanting? The ability to get past the difficulties and get done what has been determined a necessity?

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#60 rick
August 12 2009, 05:42PM
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11th place that is being nice to this laughable bunch 14th is about as good as it gets oh wait big news smid signed maybe 15th.

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#61 Quicksilver ballet
August 12 2009, 06:53PM
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Enough of this crystal ball stuffy......now that the Sharks have offended the Sens, can we please get back to talking about the possibility of Heatley being and Oiler again..:)

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#62 Quicksilver ballet
August 12 2009, 06:58PM
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Most seniors who go hiking, do so accidentally.

...so please be careful Robin.

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#63 Quicksilver ballet
August 12 2009, 07:00PM
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What happens if you get scared half to death twice?

It's been a long summer, please hurry Sept 15th

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#64 Robin Brownlee
August 12 2009, 08:47PM
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@ Quicksilver ballet: -- Resist the urge to say "I'm a retard" by using smiley faces. -- Don't imply I'm a senior because I'm about as scary as a 50-year-old can get. -- Don't post lame jokes. -- Don't make three straight comments as it represents verbal masturbation. Other than that, you're off to a flying start.

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#65 quicksilver ballet
August 12 2009, 09:54PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

@ Quicksilver ballet: – Resist the urge to say “I’m a retard” by using smiley faces. – Don’t imply I’m a senior because I’m about as scary as a 50-year-old can get. – Don’t post lame jokes. – Don’t make three straight comments as it represents verbal masturbation. Other than that, you’re off to a flying start.

Appologies Mr. Brownlee, thought it measured up well with our laughing stock hockey club.

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#66 Robin Brownlee
August 12 2009, 10:58PM
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You have the Oilers confused with Phoenix and Tampa Bay. I'm not sure if you're serious in terms of being so pessimistic, but I don't see a reason to be picking this team to finish lower than it did last season.

There are holes, to be sure, but to throw up your hands in frustration expecting 14th or 15th place is negative in the extreme. I don't see any improvement in terms of personnel, but even if the roster doesn't change between now and the start of the season -- it will -- I don't see the hopeless picture you do.

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#67 Quicksilver ballet
August 13 2009, 09:47AM
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Now that the San Jose deal appears to be off for now, is there any chance Heatley re-thinks his Alberta option rather than tuck tail and go back to Ottawa?

Not big on kicking this assumed dead horse but i'm going to anyways..... alot could happen to change the fortunes of this team even if he came here for two years of the 5 he has left on his contract (just assuming if things don't go well he'll want out of here too)

thank you for your time sir.

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