Mark Messier on Working for the Oilers

Jonathan Willis
August 18 2009 08:42AM

We talked a few days ago about a report by the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, a report which stated that Messier was interviewed this summer for the coaching position that eventually went to Pat Quinn.

According to Messier, that report wasn’t entirely accurate. Here in part is what Messier told CanWest News Service about finding a job in Edmonton:

" [Brooks’ report]’s not necessarily true. I talked to Kevin about working in the Oilers organization in some regard . . . not just this summer but for the last few years. We never really talked about the coaching, per se. We explored every possibility… "I had an ongoing dialogue with Kevin about coming back to Edmonton, but wasn't able to make any sort of commitment to them."

Messier goes on to explain that his family lives in New York, and that his son is going to start school there in the fall.

There isn’t anything overly surprising about the Messier quote; it often seemed during Kevin Lowe’s tenure as general manager that he was trying to recreate the glory-days Oilers, except in the front office instead of on the ice. Even ignoring Craig MacTavish, former Oilers employed by Lowe included Craig Simpson, Charlie Huddy, Kelly Buchberger, Dave Semenko, Frank Musil, Kent Nilsson and Mark Lamb. While I think that many – even most – of the men on that list are or were good at their jobs, it’s difficult not to be a little suspicious of the sheer volume of Lowe’s former teammates.

It would have been a strange break from Lowe’s common practice had he not been in touch with Messier.

It’s also worth noting that it wasn’t Lowe who couldn’t make a commitment to Messier – on the contrary, it was Messier who was unable to commit to working for Lowe. As for what “every possibility” entails, last summer there were rumours (reported by both Robin Brownlee and Joanne Ireland) that Craig Simpson was a strong candidate for Scott Howson’s vacant Assistant G.M. position. Lowe emphatically denied those, saying “that's craziness, total craziness. One minute he's going to be president, the next minute he's going to be assistant general manager. I don't know who started that, but there's nothing to it whatsoever.” I can’t find the link, but as I recall Brownlee stood by his report despite the denial.

I wonder if Messier was ever considered for that post.

And as much as I’d like to close with that line, I also want to be clear about something after the way the comments section reacted to the Messier as coach article: there’s nothing wrong with considering where a guy might fit into the organizational hierarchy. Problems only arise if he’s hired for something that he’s not yet qualified to do.

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Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#1 Robin Brownlee
August 18 2009, 08:48AM
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"I can’t find the link, but as I recall Brownlee stood by his report despite the denial."

Still do. It only became "craziness" when Simpson said "No thanks" because he wanted to stay in the broadcast booth.

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#2 Fiveandagame
August 18 2009, 08:49AM
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I seem to recall a lot of talk about Messier staying in the game after he retired. His interest in this isn't new and I for one think if her approached management with the tenacity he approached the game of hockey, the "moose" would be a valuable employee on any NHL team. Maybe not coach, but in some capacity. Director of Player personnel? I am sure there are a bunch of people on this site that would gladly swap out Prendergast for Messier.

Nepotism and favoritism are in every industry. For some reason people here hate that it happens. Look around the league, every team has former players in new roles.

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#3 Fiveandagame
August 18 2009, 08:51AM
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@ Robin Brownlee: Can't argue that Simpson isn't great in the booth. Probably a little more job security for him there as well.

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#4 Librarian Mike
August 18 2009, 09:01AM
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I'd love to see NHL logic in the real world:

Someone goes to university and spends years learning how to be a great teacher, but his job gets filled by a kid who aced his diploma exams last year. The justification given is that "he obviously knows what it takes to succeed at the diploma exam level".

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#5 jeff
August 18 2009, 09:02AM
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Wow Larry Brooks wrong, who would've thunk. Insert smile with eyes rolling.

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#6 jeff
August 18 2009, 09:07AM
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As for Messier. Didn't Tmabo or Lowe say that they wanted someone with experience? I never once considered Messier for the job as he was no where near a top candidate.

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#7 Jonathan Willis
August 18 2009, 09:12AM
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jeff wrote:

Wow Larry Brooks wrong, who would’ve thunk. Insert smile with eyes rolling.

Well, look how carefully Messier phrased is denial; it isn't even really a denial, just a "well, there's more to it than that".

I don't think Brooks was wrong, based on what Messier said.

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#8 Jonathan Willis
August 18 2009, 09:14AM
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jeff wrote:

As for Messier. Didn’t Tmabo or Lowe say that they wanted someone with experience? I never once considered Messier for the job as he was no where near a top candidate.

Not exactly. Tambellini said that for him to hire someone without NHL coaching experience it would have to be a "special person".

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#9 Ogden Brother
August 18 2009, 09:15AM
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Here we go.....

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#10 Wyseguy
August 18 2009, 09:21AM
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@ Fiveandagame: Fiveandagame wrote:

@ Robin Brownlee: Can’t argue that Simpson isn’t great in the booth. Probably a little more job security for him there as well.

I kinda think Simpson has been improving quite a bit in the booth. Not like he had years of training, but he's way better than listening to Marc Crawford. He'll get better too. I could be biased though, Simpson was my favourite player growing up after Moog got traded. But I bet in a couple of ye

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#11 oilersinsider
August 18 2009, 09:28AM
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The favortism is everywhere and not just with Kevin Lowe. It sucks that people are often given jobs they don't deserve when they're not qualified to do them, but even when they are qualfied -- or at least an argument can be made for their qualifications, "those you know" are often pushed ahead of others.

Quinn and Renney are Tambellini's boys. He's worked with them before, he knows them and there were quite a few other options this summer that the Oilers could have explored.

I have no issues with the coaching tandem, but I'm no fool in believing it's based solely on qualifications.

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#12 Librarian Mike
August 18 2009, 09:34AM
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oilersinsider wrote:

Quinn and Renney are Tambellini’s boys. He’s worked with them before, he knows them and there were quite a few other options this summer that the Oilers could have explored.

True enough, but the difference is that Quinn and Renney have coached at at least a couple of levels. It's not quite the same as a Tony Granato/Wayne Gretzky situation.

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#13 OvenChicken8
August 18 2009, 10:03AM
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I'm happy Messier landed a front office job, but more so because it is in NY instead of here.

Off topic: I'm guessing Thorton will be the next captain of the Sharks now that Marleau has been stripped.

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#14 Librarian Mike
August 18 2009, 10:12AM
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OvenChicken8 wrote:

I’m guessing Thorton will be the next captain of the Sharks now that Marleau has been stripped.

Precursor to a Marleau/Heatley deal, perhaps? I wonder if Thornton will take this as a challenge to shed the 'No-Show Joe' label once and for all.

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#15 oilersinsider
August 18 2009, 10:13AM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

True enough, but the difference is that Quinn and Renney have coached at at least a couple of levels. It’s not quite the same as a Tony Granato/Wayne Gretzky situation.

Understandable for sure. There are many examples for more obvious than Edmonton. Colorado and Joe Sacco, Joe Nieuwendyk and Dallas...

It's kind of what hockey is, an exclusive club where by if you follow the organizational rules, stay in the game, express your interest in hockey jobs just sort of become available despite your qualifications.

Edmonton at the very least can finally say they having a coaching core with more experience than maybe anything else.

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#16 Jonathan Willis
August 18 2009, 10:29AM
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oilersinsider wrote:

There are many examples for more obvious than Edmonton. Colorado and Joe Sacco, Joe Nieuwendyk and Dallas

Although Sacco's coached (admittedly a crappy team) in the AHL, and Nieuwendyk actually has more front office experience than Lowe did when he was hired.

Plus, Nieuwendyk may have studied something related (business, law?) when he was at Cornell.

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#17 OvenChicken8
August 18 2009, 10:36AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Plus, Nieuwendyk may have studied something related (business, law?) when he was at Cornell.

~So you're saying that Andy Bernard should have been a candidate for the position in Dallas?~

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#18 MrOiler
August 18 2009, 11:07AM
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I don't know what the big deal is. Hockey people hire the people they know just like business people hire the people they know.

All sports teams are "stuffed" with past players. So, what?

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#19 Moses
August 18 2009, 11:29AM
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MrOiler wrote:

I don’t know what the big deal is. Hockey people hire the people they know just like business people hire the people they know. All sports teams are “stuffed” with past players. So, what?

Exactly, this is how the world goes round!

Librarian Mike wrote:

I’d love to see NHL logic in the real world: Someone goes to university and spends years learning how to be a great teacher, but his job gets filled by a kid who aced his diploma exams last year. The justification given is that “he obviously knows what it takes to succeed at the diploma exam level”.

Of those who went to university there are good teachers and bad teachers....the university doesnt weed out the bad ones, they end up with jobs too. Same goes with any field from what i've seen..........

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#20 Fiveandagame
August 18 2009, 12:13PM
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@ Wyseguy: I love Simpson in the broadcast booth. Hughson and Simpson are the tops on TV if you ask me.

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#21 Jonathan Willis
August 18 2009, 12:22PM
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OvenChicken8 wrote:

So you’re saying that Andy Bernard should have been a candidate for the position in Dallas?

I just rewatched "Branch Closing" from Season 4 last night. I hear Cornell has a very good alumni association - they look out for each other.

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#22 Rob
August 18 2009, 12:35PM
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There you have it. A concise list of reasons why the team and organization suck today and will for years to come. Hiring people only because you know them is nepotism. But hiring people you know who have acquired knowledge and experienced success through a lengthy apprenticeship in coaching or managemebnt is quite another. Whoever is making the decisions in head office seems to have missed the distinction.

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#23 jeff
August 18 2009, 12:41PM
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Just curious if not Quinn and Renney who should've been named the coach.

And I don't think Sutter or Lemaire were options.

Did we want Crawford?

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#24 OvenChicken8
August 18 2009, 12:44PM
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@ jeff: We got rid of MacTavish and brought in the best of who was available at the time. Sutter was still technically under contract / negotiating with the Flames when Quinn and Renney were hired.

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#25 Librarian Mike
August 18 2009, 12:53PM
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jeff wrote:

Did we want Crawford?

If only to witness the daily head-to-head with Brownlee.

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#26 Jonathan Willis
August 18 2009, 01:22PM
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jeff wrote:

Just curious if not Quinn and Renney who should’ve been named the coach. And I don’t think Sutter or Lemaire were options. Did we want Crawford?

There were options; Scott Arniel for one.

That said, I don't have any beef with who Tambellini hired; Quinn and Renney aren't exactly new to this.

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#27 Robin Brownlee
August 18 2009, 01:44PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

jeff wrote: Just curious if not Quinn and Renney who should’ve been named the coach. And I don’t think Sutter or Lemaire were options. Did we want Crawford? There were options; Scott Arniel for one. That said, I don’t have any beef with who Tambellini hired; Quinn and Renney aren’t exactly new to this.

I know you pumped his tires plenty, but Arniel was never close.

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#28 oil fan
August 18 2009, 02:14PM
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Tambo will he gone in three years. Lowe gave him the job so he never got fired for being " Black CHECK Lowe". In every job people get hired for who they know not what they know. I like Quinn and Renney but think Tambo hasnt done much to help them in the first year of there contract. IMO

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#29 vern
August 18 2009, 02:41PM
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The NHL is not a video game. GMs are not stupid. Teams are not going to give up assets for overpaid spare parts. A team needs cap space to make deals and signs free agents. We, as fans, have no way of knowing what deals Tambo has tried to make. I'm going to give him a few seasons for some of the bad contracts to expire before I rush to jugement on the job he is doing.

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#30 oil fan
August 18 2009, 03:25PM
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Remember K Lowe brought us Pronger and a cup fianl. So far Tambo has brought in O'Sullivan, and Bulin. We will have to see the results in the next few years. Its hard to judge what a GM has done in only one year

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#31 Robin Brownlee
August 18 2009, 03:28PM
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oil fan wrote:

Remember K Lowe brought us Pronger and a cup fianl. So far Tambo has brought in O’Sullivan, and Bulin. We will have to see the results in the next few years. Its hard to judge what a GM has done in only one year

Really? Wasn't the Cup final the same season Pronger arrived?

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#32 Jonathan Willis
August 18 2009, 03:30PM
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vern wrote:

GMs are not stupid.

With certain obvious exceptions *coughDougMacLeancough*.

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#33 vern
August 18 2009, 03:45PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: true

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#34 Ogden Brother
August 18 2009, 04:03PM
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oil fan wrote:

Remember K Lowe brought us Pronger and a cup fianl. So far Tambo has brought in O’Sullivan, and Bulin. We will have to see the results in the next few years. Its hard to judge what a GM has done in only one year

oil fan wrote:

Remember K Lowe brought us Pronger and a cup fianl. So far Tambo has brought in O’Sullivan, and Bulin. We will have to see the results in the next few years. Its hard to judge what a GM has done in only one year

He also turned MAP/Salo/Greene/Stoll into Grebs/Gilbert/Vish.

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#35 The Menace
August 18 2009, 04:16PM
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oil fan wrote:

Tambo will he gone in three years. Lowe gave him the job so he never got fired for being ” Black CHECK Lowe”.

What the hell is a Black CHECK, and how do I get one?

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#36 The Menace
August 18 2009, 04:17PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

He also turned MAP/Salo/Greene/Stoll into Grebs/Gilbert/Vish.

And Cole into O'Sullivan.

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#37 The Menace
August 18 2009, 04:18PM
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@ The Menace: Re-reading that, I guess Sully was already accounted for. love that deal though.

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#38 Dominoiler
August 18 2009, 04:21PM
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Ah.. Long live the Moose...

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#39 Eklund
August 18 2009, 05:45PM
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I'm hearing Kessel to Edmonton will happen soon, Also the Oilers have been looking hard at Tanguay. Names that I am hearing leaving Edmonton are Schremp, Nilsson, Moreau, Souray and Jacques. This will be a big week for the Oilers

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#40 Tayranchula
August 18 2009, 06:00PM
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@ Eklund: Im not totally stoked on that idea. The getting rid of Schremp, Nilson Moreau would be nice because we could find some value in them. But I like Souray and he is good and Jaques is a mean Mother F'er and I think he fits perfectly on the 4th line. Tanquay and Kessel would both be sketchy pick up, Keseel preformed very well in his conract year (not saying he isnt going to be good or anything) and Tanquay wouldnt be a good fit in EDM and he is Injury prone. I wish the Oilers would go after players like Ganger from Philly

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#41 vern
August 18 2009, 06:28PM
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I don't see Philly making anymore moves. They have a solid team as things stand.

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#42 Sandra
August 18 2009, 06:50PM
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vern wrote:

I don’t see Philly making anymore moves. They have a solid team as things stand.

They are also over the cap.

hey Eklund e1?

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#43 Dominoiler
August 18 2009, 07:03PM
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpQ–58ZdE0

Once again, long live the Moose…

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#44 Librarian Mike
August 18 2009, 07:05PM
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This is unrelated to anything, but today at work I saw a kid who looked like a Sedin. Man...talk about creepy looking. I couldn't decide whether to laugh, cringe, or slap him and say 'Stop it!'

@ Eklund: It'll be interesting if it's true. Looking forward to a big Oilers week coming up to training camp.

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#45 charlieangels
August 18 2009, 07:22PM
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Wow, I hope Eklund is right on the people on the move. We still haven't shaken up the team yet. Look what SanJose just did, they do not have a captain or any assistants as of today. Bold move to shake things up.

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#46 David S
August 18 2009, 07:35PM
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Guys. At the very least, the real "Eklund" would have had a link to his site, meaning his name would have been blue. Not to mention that he's signing off now with that ridiculous "E#" thing. I call fake on this one.

You'll be just as well served going here...

hxxp://www.geocities.com/crazy_weatherman/randoms/rumourgen.htm

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#47 vern
August 18 2009, 07:39PM
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@ Sandra: Acording to capgeek.com they are just under the cap. However, If they need a little room they would make moves in the 3rd or 4th line. Not their star players

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#48 SkinnyD
August 18 2009, 07:50PM
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I was laughing when I read 'Eklund's' post (nice work btw, fake E4)...then feeling horrified when people thought it was real.

I need to shower to wash away the shame.

*insert Crying Game song*

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#49 Librarian Mike
August 18 2009, 08:32PM
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Frankly, I find fake Eklund to have about as much credibility as the real one. (J6)

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#50 roadrunner
August 19 2009, 06:27AM
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What I find funny about the whole thing is how some of these writers think that they're well connected in the business and go on and write such garbage in order to stir a pot somwhere. It's comical really.

Obviously there had to have been some conversations between Brooks and Messier at one point which were "off the record", but does that give Brooks the right to further investigate the issue and then pass off an artcile as fact?

Be thankful we have a gem here in Edmonton with Jim Matheson. He's had his share of "misses" but the HHOF honours writers for their commitment and integrity. Not alot of them in the business can hold one of those attributes let alone two.

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