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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#1 BigE57
August 10 2009, 11:23PM
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Maybe THN borrowed Maggie from TSN........

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#2 rindog
August 10 2009, 11:29PM
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I think it is reasonable for people to try and predict how teams will do based on the moves they have made thus far?

I would think that the large majority of personnel additions/deletions have been made; and any roster changes that occur as a result of training camps won't be earth shattering.

Afterall, I don't think Ryan Potulny grabbing the 13th forward positon or Theo Peckham making it over Taylor Chorney will change much in the standings, will it?

It doesn't mean I agree with THN's prediction...I just don't have a problem with them trying to figure out how teams stack up???

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#3 Hambone
August 11 2009, 12:30AM
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I visit this site on a daily basis, but I still don't know why we refer to Dustin Penner as "PDP." Will someone please enlighten me, because I'm sure it is quite witty and hilarious.

While we are on the topic, can someone please tell me why Gregor calls Pronger "The Human Rake?" I get that he isn't Pronger's biggest fan and it's probably an insult, but I just really want to know the explanation for the nickname.

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#4 Andrew W
August 11 2009, 12:35AM
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@ Robin Brownlee:

"Predictions are a guess at the best of times, but there’s educated guesses and August guesses.

I’ll take the latter every time."

Don't you mean that you'll take the former every time?

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#5 Hemmertime
August 11 2009, 12:47AM
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Hambone wrote:

Dustin Penner as “PDP"

Means Poor Dustin Penner, the whipping boy thing. RB coined it I believe, and Willis' stats running has earned sympathy for the fat bastard. Hell, even I'm rooting for him and expect him to be first line LW barring any major changes now.

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#6 yo
August 11 2009, 01:17AM
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R.B. - I think your assessment on the futility of THN's premature comments is right on. I am a little disappointed in Tambellini's apparent failure to make the improvements most think are necessary for this team to even make the level of also-rans for this coming season.

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#7 leavessuck
August 11 2009, 01:19AM
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The real travesty in that article is that it predicts the Leafs will do better than the Rangers.

The Leafs top 6 has to be the worst in the league, and the bottom 6 is worse, and they're only so-so on D and in goal.

And okay, I get that with Zherdev out the Rangers need to add a few players, but there are lots of UFA's that can fill in that line up. The Rangers have one of the best goalies in the league. Gaborik is instant offense. Drury is pretty good against tough comp. O

h, and news flash to the Toronto-based sports writers, the RANGERS MADE THE PLAYOFFS LAST YEAR! The Leafs were 12th and their team is much worse this year.

What a joke.

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#8 typol99
August 11 2009, 05:42AM
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seems to me there right on par...oil is brutal man.. no one wants to play there. get rid of dp and robert nilsson first of all they suck balls. jesus its painful to be an oiler fan these days

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#9 Jeremy
August 11 2009, 06:08AM
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@ typol99: You don't sound like much of a fan to me pal. Guess I'll be seeing you later on in the season when it's fashionable to be back on the bandwagon and drinkin the kool-aide.

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#10 Skidplate
August 11 2009, 06:09AM
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Hemmertime wrote:

Hambone wrote: Dustin Penner as “PDP” Means Poor Dustin Penner, the whipping boy thing. RB coined it I believe, and Willis’ stats running has earned sympathy for the fat bastard. Hell, even I’m rooting for him and expect him to be first line LW barring any major changes now.

I thought it was Pudgy Dustin Penner....

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#11 nwo4life
August 11 2009, 06:19AM
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Skidplate wrote:

Hemmertime wrote: Hambone wrote: Dustin Penner as “PDP” Means Poor Dustin Penner, the whipping boy thing. RB coined it I believe, and Willis’ stats running has earned sympathy for the fat bastard. Hell, even I’m rooting for him and expect him to be first line LW barring any major changes now. I thought it was Pudgy Dustin Penner….

Phat Dustin Penner

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#12 Robin Brownlee
August 11 2009, 07:27AM
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@ Andrew W: Yes. I'm a knucklehead. Thanks for pointing that out. Bingofuel is on it.

typol99 wrote:

seems to me there right on par…oil is brutal man.. no one wants to play there. get rid of dp and robert nilsson first of all they suck balls. jesus its painful to be an oiler fan these days

How insightful. Thanks for the contribution. Why not just cut the act with the inflammatory slang snd try to write something that makes sense? That or f*ck off.

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#13 Mother Pucker Hockey
August 11 2009, 07:44AM
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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?

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#14 The Towel Boy
August 11 2009, 07:48AM
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@ Hambone:

RE: Human Rake...

Have you seen his teeth?

Or it could also be from one meaning of the word "rake"...which is something to do with being an "immoral or dissolute person; a libertine."

Either way it fits really.

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#15 Robin Brownlee
August 11 2009, 07:48AM
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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?

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#16 BUCK75
August 11 2009, 07:59AM
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It does seem a bit premature to start picking where teams are going to finish with the cap problems many teams have. Philly & San Jose will have to make some moves, hopefully Tambellini can convince one of them to deal with him.

I am hoping that there is a move to be made before camp or the season begins to get me all excited. It will make it easier to cough up the other 80% or just about 5K of my season tix on Sept 4th.

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#17 scorecoff hemmercules
August 11 2009, 07:59AM
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Anyone know what THN's accuracy percentage is for their predictions??. The fact that they had us 6th last year and now 11th next season makes me wonder if they are any better than Eklund and making predictions (read: rumors or guesses).

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#18 Colin
August 11 2009, 08:01AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Did 20-Cent have a big game for Chicago?

Haha that's perfect. That's definitely his new nickname. I want to see signs that say that at the chicago games.

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#19 cheeks
August 11 2009, 08:03AM
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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?

I prefer 'Double Dime' or '20 Short' myself...

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#20 Clarkenstein
August 11 2009, 08:14AM
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You know we make predictions about the season ahead on sites like this all the time yet when a publication like THN does it we get our noses out of joint a little bit. Would it have made a difference if they had predicted the Oil to finish... oh say... 5th or 6th. Methinks so. From what I've seen so far since the end of last season I would say 11th is indeed out to lunch... I think maybe 14 or 15 is more likely. On a slightly different light it seems that this summer the interest in the upcoming Oil season hasn't been this low for a few years.... or is it just me??

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#21 Robin Brownlee
August 11 2009, 08:22AM
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Clarkenstein wrote:

You know we make predictions about the season ahead on sites like this all the time yet when a publication like THN does it we get our noses out of joint a little bit. Would it have made a difference if they had predicted the Oil to finish… oh say… 5th or 6th. Methinks so.

"We" being the fans? That's one thing. It's talk, it's banter, it's a time-killer. It seems reasonable to want a publication to have as much information as possible before making picks and a lot can change between now and the first puck drop. That's just common sense, but it's something that's overridden more and more often with the need to publish it first. Pretty straightforward concept. Personally, I don't care where they pick the Oilers or anybody else, but doing it in August with so much up in the air doesn't carry a lot of weight with me.

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#22 Rick
August 11 2009, 08:24AM
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"Likewise, will Tambellini stand pat between now and the season-opener? Same answer."

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

Seems to me that the safest August prediction that can be made right now is that Tambellini will stand pat between now and the season opener.

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#23 Robin Brownlee
August 11 2009, 08:31AM
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@ Rick: Standing pat and failing to complete a deal are two different things. If Tambellini sat back and said, "We're good enough. We don't need to make any changes," that's a philosophical stance that makes no sense. He hasn't done that.

He pitched for Heatley and was willing to give up three assets to make change. He's kicked tires on a third-line centre. He changed the coaching staff. That's not standing pat by design or otherwise.

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#24 viss.99
August 11 2009, 08:37AM
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Rick wrote:

“Likewise, will Tambellini stand pat between now and the season-opener? Same answer.” 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 Seems to me that the safest August prediction that can be made right now is that Tambellini will stand pat between now and the season opener.

Don't forget his speech after he fired MacT about making the team bigger, grittier, and to have a top line scorer.

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#25 Clarkenstein
August 11 2009, 08:38AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Clarkenstein wrote: You know we make predictions about the season ahead on sites like this all the time yet when a publication like THN does it we get our noses out of joint a little bit. Would it have made a difference if they had predicted the Oil to finish… oh say… 5th or 6th. Methinks so. “We” being the fans? That’s one thing. It’s talk, it’s banter, it’s a time-killer. It seems reasonable to want a publication to have as much information as possible before making picks and a lot can change between now and the first puck drop. That’s just common sense, but it’s something that’s overridden more and more often with the need to publish it first. Pretty straightforward concept. Personally, I don’t care where they pick the Oilers or anybody else, but doing it in August with so much up in the air doesn’t carry a lot of weight with me.

I would think that THN essentially was saying in unspoken terms..."if the season started today, here are our predictions"... No?

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#26 Rick
August 11 2009, 08:42AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

@ Rick: Standing pat and failing to complete a deal are two different things. If Tambellini sat back and said, “We’re good enough. We don’t need to make any changes,” that’s a philosophical stance that makes no sense. He hasn’t done that. He pitched for Heatley and was willing to give up three assets to make change. He’s kicked tires on a third-line centre. He changed the coaching staff. That’s not standing pat by design or otherwise.

I'm just ranting more than anything.

But, either way you slice it, he hasn't gotten the big deal done, markedly improved the team or even put his "stamp" on it in the year he has held his position.

I don't want to see him make deals just for the sake of making deals but I would rest easier if he could demonstrate that he has the ability to make a deal when he needs to.

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#27 Robin Brownlee
August 11 2009, 08:44AM
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@ Clarkenstein: The season doesn't start today, but you go with what they've written and I'll see how things shape up in September.

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#28 Ender the Dragon
August 11 2009, 08:44AM
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Not that THN has any more idea about where the Oil will finish than the readers here do, but I think it's mildly amusing that while they picked us to miss the post-season again, they also picked us to finish third in the NW.

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#29 Robin Brownlee
August 11 2009, 08:45AM
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@ Rick: No argument here.

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#30 Mother Pucker Hockey
August 11 2009, 08:52AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Did 20-Cent have a big game for Chicago?

Rather than being focused on who was scoring for Chicago, it was more how Khabibulin sucked, especially against his old team.

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#31 Robin Brownlee
August 11 2009, 08:54AM
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@ Mother Pucker Hockey: Cabbie-Bulin?

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#32 R O
August 11 2009, 08:57AM
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Robin,

I don't particularly like the way THN came by its prediction for any of the teams as they basically just presented a bunch of hand-wavy arguments of no real substance. However, it's not hard to imagine how the Oilers might finish out of the playoffs:

- Last season the Oil was one of the worst teams territorially, getting outshot by almost 4 shots per 60 minutes of even strength time. Your mileage may vary on how that translates into "outplayed" but I think you'd be hard pressed to suggest they weren't outmatched most nights. - The Oil had the benefit of luck on their side, shooting about 1% above league average and getting goaltending about 0.5% above league average (all at even strength). You might argue that the Oil still have above average goaltending but I'd like to see a reasoned argument on how the Oil offense could sustain a finish 1% above the norm. - They finished well out of the playoffs last year. - They haven't made any roster improvements and lost a useful player in Brodziak.

The Oil basically need to recover 15-20 goals from somewhere in order to make 8th. They must rely on one or more of the following factors to do this: 1.) Being lucky again in making their shots 2.) Improvements from the kids 3.) Improving special teams

1.) seems unlikely to me. 2.) is happening every year but given their age and performance last season I doubt Gagner and Cogliano will be positive difference makers next season (but that day is coming). 3.) might be the best bet, but is it enough to recover 15-20 goals? I'm not convinced.

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#33 onehitwonder
August 11 2009, 09:06AM
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I cancelled my THN subscription almost entirely because of their depth charts. I know we have quite a few ‘centers’ that play wing, but at least take 5 minutes to watch a game FFS.

I have also quit visiting HF all together. Having Gregor at the draft was amazing, and I think the next thing we should all pitch in on is getting Wanye an expense account to start courting BDHS and Lowetide to come to the dark side. Resistance is futile.

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#34 Robin Brownlee
August 11 2009, 09:07AM
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@ R O: Who says 15-20 goals? How do you come up with that number? They could have had five more regulation wins with five more goals in tie games. They lost a handful of blowouts that saw their GA swell. There are lots of questions, but I'm not sold on your premise in reference to the 15-20 goals.

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#35 R O
August 11 2009, 09:12AM
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Robin:

They were 6 points out of the playoffs, using the rule of thumb of 3 goals = 1 point, they need around 18 goals to recover an expected 6 points. 15-20 was a convenient range around that.

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#36 R O
August 11 2009, 09:15AM
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Also, Robin:

Blowouts happen, the distribution of goals scored is not even. I am a firm believe in "goals happen when they happen". Sure the Oil *could* have made the playoffs with just five more goals if they happened in OT/SO losses. As well they *could* have made the playoffs with less than 6 points if a win came against the 8th place team they were trying to supplant. But that's a lot of ifs, and, well, goals happen when they happen.

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#37 Wanye Gretz
August 11 2009, 09:20AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Did 20-Cent have a big game for Chicago?

Please tell me you invented this term Robin.

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#38 Robin Brownlee
August 11 2009, 09:20AM
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@ R O: Rule of thumb? More math? Look at the schedule from last season, particularly one-goal losses in regulation time, and you'll see plenty of opportunities (games tied through 40 minutes or late in regulation) where five more goals would have meant five more wins and 10 more points.

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#39 DonDon
August 11 2009, 09:26AM
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@ Robin Brownlee: Robin. By the time TC opens, do you think we'll have a pretty good indication of where this club is heading relative to competition in the West for the playoffs? If there aren't any changes that will positively impact on the team; then Tambellini's actions (or inactions) will indicate, without him actually stating: "We're good enough, we don't need to make any changes."

As to Tambellini's intentions of making changes, good intentions really don't count in hockey as in life. There is a saying that the road to Hell (or an 11th place finish) is paved with good intentions.

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#40 Reagan
August 11 2009, 09:32AM
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Yeah, it's always plagued me the Hockey News can brag about season predictions, and measures of teams without seeing a game.Do they have a budget to send guys to games? I put The Hockey News and Sports Illustrated of the most meaningless sources of Hockey news out there. Big front cover names, with out Hockey experience. They are not fooling anyone...

Funny thing is that I go to a Doctors office, or Dentist office, and these styles of magazines seem untouched, but I ask for the daily sports section from one of the papers, and someone has either removed it, The Doctor has it in his office, or by the time I get to look at the daily print, it is so badly tattered and torn, you have to reassemble the section. There journalism for ya... Monthly substriptions should be a waste of everyones time...

Jason Gregor used to hog the sports section at school. It drove some of us crazy when he used to fold it three ways from sunday... He used say get your own. Well I can't remember if he actually said that, but probably not far off of the truth. :)

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#41 Robin Brownlee
August 11 2009, 09:52AM
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DonDon wrote:

As to Tambellini’s intentions of making changes, good intentions really don’t count in hockey as in life. There is a saying that the road to Hell (or an 11th place finish) is paved with good intentions.

I'm not suggesting good intentions are enough, but standing pat is a choice and that's not the position Tambellini has taken.

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#42 Bob Cob
August 11 2009, 09:54AM
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This is a total douchy move by the Hockey news, I am going to make a prediction that the Oil finish 7th. I believe the Goaltending will be better, the D should be stronger with Visnovskys return, and as far upfront we should be able to score, after all didn't we score the 7th most goals in the West last year. The one thing this team lacked was a consistant effort, they were good in spurts but couldn't sustain it for a long stretch of games, or even for a full 60 minutes on most nights. A new coach and an improved PK and this team will be okay, I am taking the optomistic approach.

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#43 R O
August 11 2009, 09:58AM
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Robin:

Do you believe that an increase in the Oilers GD (or any team's GD for that matter) will happen in such a fortituous manner? That they will only score more goals in the games that they lose by 1 goal? If that's the case, that is a very optimistic view you hold.

And if you want more math on how goals translate into expected points, there is always the Pythogoran win percentage: W% = GF^2 / (GF^2 + GA^2). But OilersNation doesn't seem like a place that would accept a concept like this.

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#44 Ender the Dragon
August 11 2009, 10:11AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

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?

Actually, they predicted that on September 16th so they should have had even more insight. On top of that, they predicted that Vancouver had no playoff chance and would finish in 11th. Damn they're good.

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#45 Godzilla
August 11 2009, 10:31AM
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I understand it's way too early to make reasonable predictions, but the fact remains, that it's fun to get into predictions. THN understand that all too well.

Heck, I can't wait to read your predictions Robin!

If I had to make a prediction in august myself, I'd think THN predictions for the west kinda make sense. Sure Tambo will probably tweak his team a little bit, but is he really gonna make a dramatic move that will shake the foundation of the Oil? It's becoming more and more unlikely.

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#46 Mike
August 11 2009, 10:51AM
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Wanye Gretz wrote:

Please tell me you invented this term Robin.

Gregor had it yesterday on his show...but I think he credited an emailer for saying it.

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#47 Jason Gregor
August 11 2009, 10:56AM
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Hambone wrote:

While we are on the topic, can someone please tell me why Gregor calls Pronger “The Human Rake?” I get that he isn’t Pronger’s biggest fan and it’s probably an insult, but I just really want to know the explanation for the nickname.

I have nothing personal against the Rake, although throwing your wife under the bus isn't overly manly..

He is tall, lanky and the gap between his teeth is fitting with a rake. He also picks up all the garbage in his own zone...And as Towel Boy pointed out there is a the definition that just seems to fit.

Reagan wrote:

Jason Gregor used to hog the sports section at school. It drove some of us crazy when he used to fold it three ways from sunday… He used say get your own. Well I can’t remember if he actually said that, but probably not far off of the truth.

Hey cheap ass, buy your own..haha..I folded the crossword puzzle more than the sports section, but both were must reads on a daily basis.

Mike wrote:

Gregor had it yesterday on his show…but I think he credited an emailer for saying it.

Bang on Mike...Emailer, Nate had that beauty...I will be using it on a frequent basis, but Nate was the originator of it.

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#48 Jason Gregor
August 11 2009, 10:57AM
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ANd in case you are curious gents, and ladies, Shawn Horcoff will be on today at 5:35...Anything you want to know about?

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#49 cableguy
August 11 2009, 11:09AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

ANd in case you are curious gents, and ladies, Shawn Horcoff will be on today at 5:35…Anything you want to know about?

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

Avatar
#50 Mike Krushelnyski
August 11 2009, 11:10AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Robin Brownlee wrote:

@ Mother Pucker Hockey: Cabbie-Bulin?

I'm eagerly awaiting the first Hawks highlight pack on Sportscentre so I can hear Dutyschen say that Kane "beat him like a cab driver".

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