Mike Comrie: do over?

Robin Brownlee
August 19 2009 07:52AM

comrie-and-duff

Not once since Mike Comrie left this city after the Edmonton Oilers traded him to the Philadelphia Flyers in December 2003 have I thought to ask him if he'd ever consider playing for the Oilers again.

I didn't think to ask during his tenure in Philadelphia, or during his time with the Phoenix Coyotes, the Ottawa Senators or the New York Islanders in the six seasons since he played here.

I didn't think to ask in any of the off-seasons along the way. Or the other day, when I ran into Mike down the street from my place at brother Paul's house. It didn't dawn on me at the K of C Arena during an interview we did Monday. And why would it?

Given all the ill-will I remember in the months leading up to Comrie being traded -- a nasty bit of business involving Mike, agent Ritch Winter and then-GM Kevin Lowe that came to an ugly head when Lowe queered a deal with Anaheim by asking for $2.5 million to complete the trade -- you'd have to be nuts to even ask, no?

Well, apparently not. The question of whether Comrie might be a fit for the Oilers right now was discussed by Dan Tencer and Bob Stauffer on 630 CHED Tuesday night. Really.

God Almighty, Steve Tambellini, in the name of sweet mercy make a move of some kind before everybody is completely insane. I can hear Hillary Duff screaming at the top of her lungs now, "Noooooooooooooooooo."

I hear you, girl.

Second time around

I'd be the first to suggest Tambellini be fitted with a rubber mouthpiece and a jacket with extra-long arms if he even considered inking Comrie, who is a UFA and is bunking at his brother's house while awaiting a contract offer.

I'm not sure if Tencer, who I'm guessing was barely out of high school when the Comrie fiasco unfolded, was just filling air time, floating a trial balloon or fell down the stairs and hit his head before going on the air, but there's nothing about the first time around I didn't understand.

Now, there's no indication whatsoever from anybody I know the Oilers are even considering talking to Comrie. I'm taking the discussion to be nothing more than a what-if bit of radio filler.

While Comrie, now 29, is good enough to play in the Oilers top six and could be had for a discount rate, like maybe $2 million in a one-year contract, it's a profoundly bad idea on so many levels I don't even know where to start. But, hell, let's try.

Let’s get real

-- Comrie didn't enjoy the attention he got as a home town boy while playing for the Oilers his first time around, and he's not going to be spared the spotlight now on a team that's missed the playoffs three straight years.

-- While Lowe has been bumped to the background in favour of Tambellini, the fact that he's president of hockey operations means he still has a say in player personnel. He's the head of hockey ops.

Forget what made it into the papers back in 2003 when things got ugly -- the best stuff that conveyed the depth of the bad feelings between Lowe and Comrie never made it into  print, and I can tell you that because I knew most of it. I don’t see the passing of six years healing that wound.

-- Comrie and Winter never did go public with the reasons they wanted out of Edmonton, despite suggesting the "real story" would come out at the appropriate time and fans would understand their position.

While I don't see a need to sift through that pile of dirty laundry, Comrie and Winter never did deliver the dirt. All fans know, without the reasons why, is Comrie took a pile of bonus money and turned his back on his hometown. They haven't forgotten.

-- The last thing the Oilers need right now is another five-foot-something forward to join the ranks of Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, Robert Nilsson and Patrick O'Sullivan. Where's the fit? Where's the cap room?

No cigar

Look, I've got no beef with Comrie. As you might recall, I was accused by some of being in Comrie's camp throughout the whole mess back in 2003. Maybe, in some ways, I was.

I never thought he owed it to fans here to stay if he was unhappy, whether he went public with his reasons or not. I was sympathetic to his position. It was criminal how some people tried to smear Comrie with the allegation he slept with Tommy Salo's wife. That was bogus.

For those who don't know, when it looked like the deal with Anaheim was done -- before Lowe asked for some bonus money back -- the Oilers had a going away party at Comrie's house. Salo was there. So was captain Jason Smith, who, according to somebody's fantasy, had roughed up Comrie for bedding Mrs. Salo. Again, bogus.

Be that as it may, any flights of fancy about Comrie returning here will crash and burn when he signs with Ottawa, Philadelphia or New Jersey, Maybe even Los Angeles, if Ms. Duff has any pull around the Staples Center. But here? No way.

I'm not even going to ask him.

-- 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 Racki
August 19 2009, 08:04AM
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Not interested either. There is nobody I'd push off of our top six to make room for Comrie, not even Penner. And I don't see any possible way he fits in our bottom six either. Plus as you mentioned, he's too small.

And really, the level of obsession for Oilers past baffles me sometimes.

If this team picks anyone up at this point, it should be a big offensive weapon, a shutdown d-man, or a faceoff/PKer (or all of the above if Tambellini wants to completely win me over). Comrie has no greater potential than any one in our top six.

I think Dan Tencer just really like Hillary Duff. I'll e-mail him some google image search results.

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#2 JeffG
August 19 2009, 08:07AM
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I don't even think he makes the top 6 in Edmonton.

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#3 Colin
August 19 2009, 08:13AM
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Comrie couldn't hack it the first time, don't see why it would be any different this time.

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#4 Cam
August 19 2009, 08:21AM
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Edmonton has a habit of trying to push 2nd line players into a 1st line role and then scratching their heads when it doesn't work. Playing with those expectations against the toughest opposition on the opposite team has been to much for many young players, and when the fans and management are expecting more than can be delivered the player gets frustrated and leaves.

If they just played the players in roles and in expectations that are reasonable it could have been a different story.

Lupul Cole Comrie Arnott Peca Penner

Every time someone says to move Gagner or Cogs to the top line I shudder. I thought people liked those players? Why set them up to fail like that.

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#5 Fish
August 19 2009, 08:40AM
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The guy is a good player. It didn't work here. Big deal. He wasn't the type that relished all the attention he received in is hometown. You can hardly blame the guy for wanting to leave.

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#6 humantorch
August 19 2009, 08:40AM
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the best stuff that conveyed the depth of the bad feelings between Lowe and Comrie never made it into print, and I can tell you that because I knew most of it.

I know you probably can't or won't, but GOD I'd love to hear more about this.

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#7 Robin Brownlee
August 19 2009, 08:46AM
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humantorch wrote:

the best stuff that conveyed the depth of the bad feelings between Lowe and Comrie never made it into print, and I can tell you that because I knew most of it. I know you probably can’t or won’t, but GOD I’d love to hear more about this.

Things said in confidence and off-the-record from both sides have to stay that way. There's no statute of limitations on that. I'm not trying to be cute here, but if you recall from 2003, I was writing Comrie out of town for good when others were assuming it was just a spat or a contract negotiation. I didn't need to guess on that front.

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#8 jeff
August 19 2009, 08:48AM
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I remember that Comrie was built up to be the best player the Oilers had drafted for years. Like Schremp now he was built up so much and then when the results weren't what we thought fans got made.

I never could stand Comrie when he was here, but soon as he left I really liked the guy. He really was a shifty little bugger who could make plays happen out of no where.

As for him coming to edmonton. What would he bring? His faceoff abilities have seemed to drop every year over the past few years. He is another small player. He doesn't play the PK. Do we really need a 40ish point player at this point?

I say no.

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#9 Librarian Mike
August 19 2009, 08:49AM
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humantorch wrote:

the best stuff that conveyed the depth of the bad feelings between Lowe and Comrie never made it into print, and I can tell you that because I knew most of it. I know you probably can’t or won’t, but GOD I’d love to hear more about this.

Seconded.

The thing that annoys me about Comrie/Pronger/Heatley is that they made a big production about 'Oh, you would think differently if you heard my side of things', but they refuse to give their side.

Sure, there's always another point-of-view, and if Lowe has demonstrated one thing as an executive it's that he can be hard to deal with. That said, if you're not willing to be clear about your beef, then don't be surprised if people fill in the blanks for you.

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#10 Downright Fierce
August 19 2009, 08:50AM
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humantorch wrote:

I know you probably can’t or won’t, but GOD I’d love to hear more about this.

Seconded.

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#11 OvenChicken8
August 19 2009, 08:51AM
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Just to be a sh*t disturber...

I would rather have Comrie at 2M than Nilsson. Just saying.

Colin wrote:

Comrie couldn’t hack it the first time, don’t see why it would be any different this time.

33goals and 60pts says he could hack it. Be honest you would cream yourself if we could pick up a 30 goal scorer for 2 mill or less, I know I would lol.

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#12 jeff
August 19 2009, 08:51AM
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@ Cam: I agree with you. And Peca, why would KLowe think that he could get Peca back to his scoring levels from 10 years ago?

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#13 Downright Fierce
August 19 2009, 08:51AM
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Ha, damn. Thirded then, but I guess Brownlee's already nipped that in the bud.

You should know better then to drop a shred of meat amidst starving jackals. I can barely type for all the drool on my keyboard...

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#14 Ogden Brother
August 19 2009, 09:01AM
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jeff wrote:

@ Cam: I agree with you. And Peca, why would KLowe think that he could get Peca back to his scoring levels from 10 years ago?

He really had no choice, at that point Horc/Stoll were completly unproven.

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#15 jeff
August 19 2009, 09:11AM
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@ Ogden Brother: This is gettin back to the whole putting guys in spots that they should be.

Not sure if Horcoff was completly unproven, but agree on Stoll.

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#16 humantorch
August 19 2009, 09:12AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Things said in confidence and off-the-record from both sides have to stay that way. There’s no statute of limitations on that.

Oh, for sure. Exactly why I said "you probably can't or won't."

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#17 Fish
August 19 2009, 09:14AM
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OvenChicken8 wrote:

I would rather have Comrie at 2M than Nilsson. Just saying

Agreed.

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#18 sittingatmydesk
August 19 2009, 09:25AM
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It looks like fans are getting desperate to sign someone, anyone...Look the oilers are $200 k, under the cap, no one is signing this is the team thats is going to start the season, get use to it, if a trade does happen it will be during the season.We are a bitter team than last year, we got a goalie upgrade ( not a fan of the length of the contract), and 2 new coaches... Pouliot will be #3 center and Brule #4, get use to it...

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#19 Robin Brownlee
August 19 2009, 09:30AM
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Fish wrote:

OvenChicken8 wrote: I would rather have Comrie at 2M than Nilsson. Just saying Agreed.

You could write that sentence and leave blanks where you have Comrie and apply it to countless players. That doesn't address the cap or a glut of small forwards that there's not enough room for now. Remember, you're not trading for Comrie so you're adding his contract and his dollars. As for the top nine, if Horcoff, Hemsky, Gagner, Penner, O'Sullivan and Cogliano are locks, you've got Comrie, Nilsson, Moreau, Pisani and Brule/Pouliot for three spots.

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#20 Cam
August 19 2009, 09:32AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

jeff wrote: He really had no choice, at that point Horc/Stoll were completly unproven.

Ont he contrary, KLowe was the only guy that had a choice. He traded for Peca and then put him on the spotlight to be number one. Then everyone was all over Peca for not living up to that expectation. It was a shame since Peca was a great player, but not a first line guy.

Luckily for the Oilers Horcoff had a great season and stole that role from him (73 points)... then they went to the final. Now if we could just get a LW we wouldn't need to put our developing players under stupid expectations.

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#21 jeff
August 19 2009, 09:34AM
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@ sittingatmydesk: Cap geek shows 1.2 and nhlnumbers shows 1.4. So we do have some money. Plus are we going with the 14 forwards we currently have listed or are one or two of them going to the minors?

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#22 Tyler
August 19 2009, 09:34AM
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It kind of looks to me like a sitution in which both sides might have been right. Comrie isn't a top two line guy on a team that goes anywhere. Lowe is otherwise pretty shitty at building hockey teams and it is a lot like communism in Edmonton.

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#23 jeff
August 19 2009, 09:35AM
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@ Robin Brownlee: Is there any possibility that Moreau or Pisani play on the 4th line?

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#24 OvenChicken8
August 19 2009, 09:37AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

You could write that sentence and leave blanks where you have Comrie and apply it to countless players. That doesn’t address the cap or a glut of small forwards that there’s not enough room for now. Remember, you’re not trading for Comrie so you’re adding his contract and his dollars. As for the top nine, if Horcoff, Hemsky, Gagner, Penner, O’Sullivan and Cogliano are locks, you’ve got Comrie, Nilsson, Moreau, Pisani and Brule/Pouliot for three spots.

I totally agree, I was just trying to stir the pot to get a conversation going. As for the above mentioned for the 3 spots, other than Brule the rest have 1way deals are we going to see a couple players sent down or get put on waivers? Possibly a Nilsson, Schremp or even JFJ (assuming he even has to clear).

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#25 Wanye Gretz
August 19 2009, 09:43AM
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@ Brownlee

"I hear you, girl."

If I had a nickel for every time you and Hillary Duff agreed on something and giggled amongst yourselves I would sign Comrie to a one year deal for $2 million using all my new found money.

Then, having Comrie under contract for a year I would tell him to report to a Day Care on 142 street because that's where we keep babies 'round these parts.

Then I'd slap him across the face - just cause I could.

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#26 oil4life
August 19 2009, 09:55AM
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@ Wanye Gretz:

Why so many haters? He's not the first guy to ask for a trade due to personal circumstance and he won't be the last.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying we should sign him. Because I don't think we should. What I am saying is that if someone traded me and then at the 11th hour asked me for $2.5m to make it happen I'd tell them to stuff it, too. When has this ever been an acceptable strategy by a GM? In my opinion, you can add this to the growing list of K-Lowe F&^% ups.

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#27 Rob
August 19 2009, 09:58AM
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Based on the stupid and inane questions Tencer asks during interviews I don't think he is out of high school yet.

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#28 Travis Dakin
August 19 2009, 09:58AM
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oil4life wrote:

In my opinion, you can add this to the growing list of K-Lowe F&^% ups.

Well actually that is a double F&^% up because apparently it was Corey Perry coming back the other way....

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#29 Travis Dakin
August 19 2009, 09:59AM
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Rob wrote:

Based on the stupid and inane questions Tencer asks during interviews I don’t think he is out of high school yet

Barely. He's 23.

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#30 Tyler
August 19 2009, 10:00AM
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I actually thought that asking Comrie for $2.5MM was perfectly defensible. I defended Comrie when he used his leverage when he signed initially. Nothing wrong with Lowe doing the same.

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#31 J-Bird
August 19 2009, 10:01AM
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As Robin says, it ain't gonna happen.

And from where I sit, I don't think the fans would ever jump on board with him again after what he did here, and the way he left town.

Folks can say we chew up our own in Edmonton. That's BS. Comrie was a god around here until he said he wanted out. You say you want out, hold out forever, hurt the team in the process, Oiler fans are justified. We cheer on the team first, period. Players come and go. And some go in a classless, childish fashion. Like Mike Comrie. Go play for the Islanders Mikey.

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#32 Tyler
August 19 2009, 10:05AM
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Re: the leverage. It is, however, unforunate that that's the only time in his eight years as GM that Lowe recognized he had some leverage and tried to use it. Oh well, at least Tambo can't be that ba...wait, how Khabi got how much?!?

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#33 Cam
August 19 2009, 10:09AM
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J-Bird wrote:

Folks can say we chew up our own in Edmonton. That’s BS.

Tell that to Lupul.

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#34 Fish
August 19 2009, 10:12AM
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@ Wanye Gretz: Sour Grapes.

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#35 OvenChicken8
August 19 2009, 10:26AM
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Cam wrote:

J-Bird wrote: Folks can say we chew up our own in Edmonton. That’s BS. Tell that to Lupul.

Lupul actually deserved it. He was inconsistent and lazy the only thing that differs between him and PDP is 40lbs of donair meat.

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#36 oilersseasonticketholdersince99
August 19 2009, 10:28AM
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Maybe one of the reasons that no one wants to play in Edmonton is what transpired between Lowe,Comrie and Winter,I am pretty sure other agents and players know the truth.

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#37 Robin Brownlee
August 19 2009, 10:35AM
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Tyler wrote:

I actually thought that asking Comrie for $2.5MM was perfectly defensible. I defended Comrie when he used his leverage when he signed initially. Nothing wrong with Lowe doing the same.

I agree asking for the money was defensible, but the timing of it was hinky. Wanting $2.5 million back is a significant and uncommon caveat to a trade and is something that should be up front, not slipped into the mix so late that Winter and Bryan Murray thought they had a deal. You can't offer something as vague as "Before we sign off on this, there's something we have to discuss" and call it fair ball. That's what Lowe did.

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#38 Chris.
August 19 2009, 10:36AM
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Rich Winter should "man up" and follow through on his promise to tell the full story. If he had, maybe the Oilers would have had better management in place through this last rebuild. (Someone who can deal with more than two or three rival GM's)

I loved Lowe as player; competative, and mean... These qualities, however, don't necessarily translate well to management. Managers need to be cool, calm, and willing to stricly adhere to a sound development strategy... Lowe paddled the HMS Oilers in circles for years.

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#39 Travis Dakin
August 19 2009, 10:37AM
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OvenChicken8 wrote:

the only thing that differs between him and PDP is 40lbs of donair meat.

HAHA is it wrong that reading the words 40lbs ot donair meat made me salivate? mmmm... I'll take the crispy greasy stuff at the bottom please.

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#40 Librarian Mike
August 19 2009, 10:38AM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

OvenChicken8 wrote: the only thing that differs between him and PDP is 40lbs of donair meat. HAHA is it wrong that reading the words 40lbs ot donair meat made me salivate? mmmm… I’ll take the crispy greasy stuff at the bottom please.

*stomach growls*

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#41 J-Bird
August 19 2009, 11:01AM
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Cam wrote:

J-Bird wrote: Folks can say we chew up our own in Edmonton. That’s BS. Tell that to Lupul.

Lupul is one. (I think there were lots of reasons he wasn't well liked here, the team sucking after going to the finals, him being the return on Pronger, Mac's use of him, etc.)

But Messier did fine. Fuhr wasn't too bad. Strudwick is well liked. Brodziak's from Veg. Souray from Elk Point. But NOOOOO. All we here from a lot of media is how Edmonton eats their own and spits them out. BS.

Comrie created it. Much like Heatley has done in Ottawa. Much like Pronger did here. It had nothing to do with being a local boy. Zip.

Lupul, and this is another of Kevin Lowe's bungles, is judged as the return on Chris Pronger. And we all know that isn't enough, and he bore the brunt of Oiler fans angst. I mean FFS, Anaheim got the same thing back for Pronger after 3 years of use, a Cup, and only one year remaining on his contract. That's how bad of a deal K-Lowe made. Unfortunately, Lupul took the heat for K-Lowe's terrible, absolutely terrible deal on Pronger.

And with the shape Kevin Lowe left this team in, with the big money, LONG term contracts he handed out, trying to get away with something cap on players that aren't proven (Penner, Gilbert, Bobby, Horcoff, etc.), it's going to be a while before Tambo can turn this ship around IMO.

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#42 Tull
August 19 2009, 11:03AM
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As far as I'm concerned Lowe was perfectly within his rights to do what he did to Comrie. Why are there limits on a GM's negotiation tactics? Why do GM's have to be fair and transparent but players and their agents can go to any lengths?

It's about time GM's use the leverage they have against the players. Gillis should have forced the Sedins to sign late last season, or else trade one of them. No different than the Sedin's using their leverage during the offseason.

Pronger should have been forced to play in Edmonton or be suspended.

Heatley should be forced to come to camp and play in whatever position Clouston tells him.

Avery should be flipping burgers.

Its about time the GM's use any tactic necessary to play hardball with the players. The salary cap was supposed to turn the balance of power, but somehow the GM's managed to screw that up too.

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#43 Chris.
August 19 2009, 11:15AM
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@ Tull:

As long as all 30 GM's play "hardball" at the same time... Otherwise you create a situation where free agent players and players with NMC's refuse to play for your organization.

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#44 forsoothed
August 19 2009, 11:22AM
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I, of course, don't know any details but it sounds like Lowe's mistake with the Comrie deal was making it personal. Lowe tried for a "give us the money Lebowski" screw-job on the way out. It back-fired. And the Oil have been paying for it ever since.

That being said, I'm with RB. No more small forwards!

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#45 Zaxonking
August 19 2009, 11:24AM
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I am confused. Did the relationship between Comrie and Lowe break down before or after the alleged "Salo" incident.

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#46 Colin
August 19 2009, 11:44AM
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OvenChicken8 wrote:

Just to be a sh*t disturber… I would rather have Comrie at 2M than Nilsson. Just saying. Colin wrote: Comrie couldn’t hack it the first time, don’t see why it would be any different this time. 33goals and 60pts says he could hack it. Be honest you would cream yourself if we could pick up a 30 goal scorer for 2 mill or less, I know I would lol.

Not saying he couldn't put up points, but that he can't deal with the fan pressure here.

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#47 Chris.
August 19 2009, 11:49AM
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@ Zaxonking: There was no "Salo incident". I don'tknow the full story but I do know that Lowe came unglued on Comrie for a poor playoff performance (Berating him in public and calling him at inappropriate hours at home)... Also there were rumors that Comrie was at the heart of a dressing room mutiny against MacT... Any of this sound familiar? The more things change, the more things stay the same.

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#48 Wanye Gretz
August 19 2009, 11:56AM
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Fish wrote:

@ Wanye Gretz: Sour Grapes.

That's all you've got?

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#49 Tyler
August 19 2009, 11:58AM
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Chris. wrote:

@ Zaxonking: Also there were rumors that Comrie was at the heart of a dressing room mutiny against MacT…

Assuming that's true...does anyone think that the Oilers lost out by ditching Comrie and sticking with MacT? Comrie stars on a lot of bad hockey teams.

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#50 Travis Dakin
August 19 2009, 12:04PM
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Tyler wrote:

Assuming that’s true…does anyone think that the Oilers lost out by ditching Comrie and sticking with MacT? Comrie stars on a lot of bad hockey teams

And MacT coached a lot of bad ones.

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