How Do You Solve A Problem Like Cogliano?

Jonathan Willis
August 02 2009 06:00AM

Andrew Cogliano is an excellent young hockey player with a bright NHL future ahead of him. What that future holds is still uncertain – can he fit in Edmonton long-term? If so, where?

It needs to be said that Cogliano is a tremendous talent, and has done a lot to grab attention at a very young age. Drafted 25th overall by the Oilers in 2005, he ranks fourth in his draft class in points – behind only Sidney Crosby, Anze Kopitar, and Paul Stastny. In that respect, he represents a very real and tangible win for an Oilers’ scouting staff that has often been blamed for the team’s failings. They gambled on the small, speedy offensive forward playing in a lower level league (OPJHL) and to date it’s paid off richly.

He’s an incredibly fast skater; quite possibly the best on a team that has some good ones. Despite Sportsnet’s rather stupid scouting report (“Is more of a playmaker than scorer and needs to work on his shot”) he has an excellent shot that he uses judiciously; he’s had very good shooting percentages two years running and has scored 18 goals in each of his NHL seasons.

He’s still a young player, so his defensive game (which does have promise) isn’t where it should be yet and he’s just coming into the years where he’ll be a real positive difference maker for his NHL team. There are a few things working against Edmonton being that team though, starting with his inclusion in a package that would have brought Dany Heatley to the Oilers.

Do The Oilers Want To Trade Cogliano?

The short answer is simple: “No”. There’s been some talk since Cogliano’s name was first leaked that it may be difficult to mend fences with him if the Dany Heatley deal doesn’t take place. I don’t see it that way at all.

Frankly, despite Cogliano’s excellent upside, it’s pretty unlikely that he’s ever going to score 50 goals. This is a simple case of the Oilers being interested in one of the best goal-scoring wingers in the NHL, and having to give up something valuable for him. Certainly Cogliano should be smart enough to realize that the abortive trade shows how much value he has around the league, rather than viewing it as the Oilers giving up on him.

Where Does Cogliano Fit On The Roster?

Despite Cogliano’s obvious value, I do wonder if he’s a fit at centre in the short- to long-term.

The first problem is his inability in the faceoff circle. Last season, Cogliano went 37.2% on faceoffs – the worst season by any frequently used centre since 2000. Personally, I don’t view this as an insurmountable obstacle – the Oilers already have at least two wingers (Dustin Penner and Marc Pouliot) who can win draws and then switch back over to the wing after the faceoff.

The real problem is that the depth chart at centre is clogged right now. Sam Gagner is quite clearly the future of the franchise up the middle; a phenomenal talent who has two NHL seasons under his belt despite being under the age of 20. Aside from Gagner, veteran centre Shawn Horcoff is signed for the next six years, and even if he weren’t giving both top-six centre spots to a pair of players as young (and still undeveloped) as Gagner and Cogliano is not a recipe for success.

That leaves the third line spot, a role that doesn’t seem a fit for Cogliano’s skill-set; he’s too good offensively and not good enough defensively to fit there right now. He’ll certainly need more minutes in the next few years than that position would allow him.

The obvious, and possibly inevitable, answer is to convert Cogliano to left wing. Unfortunately, Jason Gregor has repeatedly stated that Cogliano is uncomfortable in that position, and in addition the depth chart is pretty crowded there already (Penner, O’Sullivan, Moreau). Still, I think that Cogliano may need to get used to the idea, and room can be made either via trade or by moving Penner over to RW - perhaps creating a top-six something like this:

  1. Cogliano/O’Sullivan – Horcoff – Hemsky
  2. O’Sullivan/Cogliano – Gagner – Penner

The other alternative in the Oilers’ unending (since the Smyth trade) search for a top-line LW is to dangle Cogliano as trade-bait for a legitimate game-breaker; something the Oilers have already done once.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 Oil4Life
August 02 2009, 05:24PM
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This is the same team we had last year, minus Bodziak and with the Bulin wall. I am, and always will be, a oilers fan but I have to say I am on the fence going into next season. There are to many variables.

- Will Gags get thing going like he was supposed to last year? - Will Penner make an impact under the new coaches? - How well does Bulin play? - Can they improve in the face off? - Will someone step up and be our go to guy? Anyone, Anyone, Gagner, Anyone? - Can they play a more physical game? - Are they going to have some drive and ambition at the start of games? - Will I be able to turn a game on TV and know within 5 min of the opening face off that the Oilers are going to lose? - Will I want to make the 3hr drive into Edmonton to watch the Oilers? - Will Horcoff step it up and earn his pay? - Will Quinn drive me just as crazy as MacTarded and put line 4 on when the Oil are down by a goal with 2 min to play?

So many questions

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#52 rindog
August 02 2009, 06:43PM
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Jon,

Could you please explain why you disagree with Sportsnet's quote regarding Cogliano?

I watch all the warm-ups and I would venture that almost half of Cogliano's shots in warm-up are flutterballs. Furthermore, most of the goals he scores (on shots) are "offspeed" efforts that seem to fool the goalie.

In this instance, I would agree 100% with Sportsnet's evaluation of Cogliano not being a good shooter. It doesn't mean he isn't a good scorer - it just means he needs to work on his shot at this level.

As far as Cogliano moving to the wing - I would remind everyone of how Gregoer chewed my a$$ out last year for suggesting that Cogliano move to the wing (even for a short time as an injury replacement).

I never understood how people can argue that an NHL forward can not play a certain forward position? These are the best players in the world. While Cogliano may have told Gregor that he would prefer not to play wing (not sure if that is the case) he has the skillset to be an excellent winger.

Even the average fan can observe that Cogliano's strength is his speed while his puck handling skills most definately hold him back. To me, I would think a guy like Quinn will quickly realize that using Cogliano's best asset (his speed) to get open and then recieve the puck at full speed would be a far better option then having Cogliano try to bring the puck out of his own zone (let's try leave that to a capable puck handlers). Playing the wing would be a great option for Cogliano (especially at his young age). I would also note the having speed on the wings really pushes the opposition back allowing your puckhandlers more room in the offensive zone.

Just some food for thought???

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#53 roger
August 02 2009, 06:50PM
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you refer to sportsnet's scouting report as being poor. i use faceoff.com they seem to have taken their scouting report directly from tsn, who have eliminated their's all together, but they still have the mlb reports up for some reason. is their another website that offers any insightful scouting report, thanks.

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#54 Darren
August 02 2009, 06:57PM
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A thought about Nilsson...and no, it's not a poem or a limerick.

I think he has a place on this team. When everyone draws up their line-up sheet it usually is shown where everyone should be playing next year, of course. The kink in that plan is than in nearly every year there are a couple injuries to start the year, mid-way, and throughout the entire season. So, even though I agree that if you're using Cogs, and Gagner a lot another small player is redundant I don't think that we can count on all three of them staying healthy the entire year, given their size.

So, whether it's any of those three, having all three around for when any of them, or more than one get injured is actually a pretty good idea, in my opinion. That doesn't mean I don't think we need to upgrade our size and nastiness quotient, however - we do...

Here's a question I would like to pose to you all:

How do we upgrade our size and strength for THIS YEAR given what we have done so far this offseason???

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#55 Dallas
August 02 2009, 06:59PM
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Does anyone think that cogs could be a theo fleury type or I know it's real early but how about Eberle being that type?

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#56 Lofty
August 02 2009, 07:05PM
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Darren wrote:

How do we upgrade our size and strength for THIS YEAR given what we have done so far this offseason???

Cheechoo, love to have him

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#57 Darren
August 02 2009, 07:06PM
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@ Dallas:

I don't think so, Dallas. He's tenacious and all but not physical. Gilbert Brule has the skill-set and more importantly, the mentality to be that type of player. Now I don't think he will be that type of player, per se, but he is overly physical for his size, and man, his skill-set is sweeet!

Curious why you were asking about a Fleury type player, to be honest. You don't get a lot of those requests around these parts - lol!

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#58 Dallas
August 02 2009, 08:44PM
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@ Darren: Don't get me wrong I hated fleury when he played for the big headed idiots to the south but would have loved to have him on our team and I agree Brule was an awsome pick up by tambo there was a reason he went in the first round and lord knows why Howson gave him up for torres but we will gladly have him. Just wish Tambo would hurry the hell up and sign him if he wants a 1way give it to him I think he's ready for the big show that goal he scored last year was sweeet.

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#59 Kingsblade
August 02 2009, 08:55PM
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rindog wrote:

Could you please explain why you disagree with Sportsnet’s quote regarding Cogliano? I watch all the warm-ups and I would venture that almost half of Cogliano’s shots in warm-up are flutterballs. Furthermore, most of the goals he scores (on shots) are “offspeed” efforts that seem to fool the goalie. In this instance, I would agree 100% with Sportsnet’s evaluation of Cogliano not being a good shooter. It doesn’t mean he isn’t a good scorer - it just means he needs to work on his shot at this level.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Cogliano has taken over 200 shots now in the NHL and still has a shooting percentage of 16.8. I have a hard time believing somebody with a poor shot keeps that up over 164 games and 214 shots.

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#60 Archaeologuy
August 02 2009, 09:17PM
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Lofty wrote:

Cheechoo, love to have him

Why not go with Nilsson over Cheechoo? They both had 29 points last year and Nilsson makes 1 million less.

Now get a time machine and trade for Cheechoo from 2005-06 and its a deal. Too bad he's literally 1/3 as productive as he was in that season these days.

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#61 viss.99
August 02 2009, 09:31PM
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@ ScubaSteve: What is scubasteve talking about scoring was not a problem with the Oilers last year, maybe he should look at the stats some more

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#62 Westcoastoil
August 02 2009, 09:33PM
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TSN was reporting that SJ may take Heatley but they need a 3rd team to sweeten the deal. If you're Tambo do you try and get in simply for the sake of moving a contract and some salary?

Would you deal Nilsson for a pick? What round would it have to be?

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#63 rindog
August 02 2009, 10:12PM
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@ Kingsblade:

I never said that he wasn't a good scorer. I simply said that he doesn't have a very good shot.

There is a BIG difference between the two.

I can think of another guy that scored lots of goals but had a horrible shot (which he admitted himself).....

Ever heard of a guy who used to play here? He wore #94...

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#64 Hemmertime
August 02 2009, 10:21PM
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Lofty wrote:

Cheechoo, love to have him

With his 68 pts in 135 games over last 2 years?

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#65 Hemmertime
August 02 2009, 10:29PM
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@ rindog: Smytty had a decent shot. The same shot everytime from the LW boards but wasnt bad.

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#66 ScubaSteve
August 02 2009, 10:30PM
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viss.99 wrote:

@ ScubaSteve: What is scubasteve talking about scoring was not a problem with the Oilers last year, maybe he should look at the stats some more

Ok Viss, what stats would you like me to look at?

That we only scored 3 less 5 on 5 goals than Washington? Or that we scored more 5 on 5 goals than San Jose?

Our problem wasn't scoring, it was defense and special teams. One of those has been addressed by the coaching change, the other is still a weakness.

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#67 rindog
August 02 2009, 11:23PM
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@ Hemmertime:

Smytty had a scored 3 goals in his career (all in the same season) that went top corner.

If not for his patented "hack" shot - he would have never raised the puck...

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#68 DanMan
August 03 2009, 12:29AM
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Oil4Life wrote:

- Will Quinn drive me just as crazy as MacTarded and put line 4 on when the Oil are down by a goal with 2 min to play?

lmfao!

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#69 Kingsblade
August 03 2009, 12:39AM
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rindog wrote:

@ Kingsblade: I never said that he wasn’t a good scorer. I simply said that he doesn’t have a very good shot. There is a BIG difference between the two. I can think of another guy that scored lots of goals but had a horrible shot (which he admitted himself)….. Ever heard of a guy who used to play here? He wore #94…

Did you actually read what I said before responding with this?

At what point in my post did I mention goal totals?

Where did I even come close to implying that scoring meant having a great shot?

I would love for you to point that part out to me, because it never happened except in your mind.

What I said, was that I believe it would be extremely difficult to manage his SHOOTING PERCENTAGE over two seasons with a bad shot. Smyth's career number is 11.7%. Is that really your argument?

Me: Good shooting% seems to suggest Cogliano has a pretty good shot.

You: You're wrong. Smyth scored lots of goals with a bad shot.

Brilliant. Do you have something to say that actually applies to my post or did you just feel like spouting drivel?

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#70 Darren
August 03 2009, 04:57AM
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Dallas wrote:

Does anyone know what position Eberle plays I know he is real small and needs to get alot stronger but the kid has a great nose for the net and a ton of heart

Hockeys Future has him listed as a RW, and the Oilers site has him listed as a center. I think he will play on the wing in the big league. That is something that we will have to see, and is likely to debated about, as well.

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#71 Soup
August 03 2009, 06:55AM
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Still think the team struggles with two things: too many contracts and too many hobbits. Tambo's hands are forced to make trades rather than sign UFAs based on sheer numbers of bodies on the books. He really needs to make a 3 for 1 deal (or maybe a couple) to help right the ship. Question is, is there a team out there that will take a couple of smurfs giving a side of beef in return?

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#72 cableguy
August 03 2009, 07:39AM
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ScubaSteve wrote:

Ok Viss, what stats would you like me to look at? That we only scored 3 less 5 on 5 goals than Washington? Or that we scored more 5 on 5 goals than San Jose? Our problem wasn’t scoring, it was defense and special teams. One of those has been addressed by the coaching change, the other is still a weakness

to an extent, i would agree.

but, how many 20 goal scorers did the oilers have?

and how many, of the 8 teams that made the playoffs, had a similar number or less 20 goal scorers?

is having lots of guys getting 12 goals better?

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#73 ScubaSteve
August 03 2009, 09:39AM
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@ cableguy:

Yeah, I'll concede that we weren't a scoring machine last year, but it's not an area I'm worried about this coming year. Hemmer should get 25, Horc 25, and Penner (used correctly) should get 30. If the kids can take a step foward, we'll be fine scoring-wise.

I would love more scoring, but would rather have the team address the bigger needs.

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#74 RossCreek
August 03 2009, 10:18AM
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The Fourth Period claims the Oil may land Zherdev from the Rangers via trade. And its been mentioned that if the Rangers decide not to accept the one year 3.9 mil arbitration awarded that the Oil would pursue Nik as a UFA. I may be late to the party with this as I've been away from the site for a few days.

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#75 justin
August 03 2009, 10:31AM
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If Kessel is on the market, I have no idea why Tambo is not persuing this kid. Regardless if he is a RW, this is a major upgrade for our 2nd line RW, and we can see which of POS, Cogliano, or whoever can make the adjustment to playing the leftside. Zherdev is good, but he's lazy at times and we dont need another contract burden if the guy only shows up to every second game. Go after Kessel, and if the size is an issue, then make a trade for another big winger or sign Bertuzzi.

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#76 fasteddie
August 03 2009, 10:50AM
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Lets change subject to the new rink. I have a business close to the existing rink and game day is my xmas. People need to consider what will happen when and if the rink gets a new home. My business will suffer and I suspect no one will compensate me for this. I say leave the building where it is.

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#77 ScubaSteve
August 03 2009, 11:00AM
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fasteddie wrote:

Lets change subject to the new rink. I have a business close to the existing rink and game day is my xmas. People need to consider what will happen when and if the rink gets a new home. My business will suffer and I suspect no one will compensate me for this. I say leave the building where it is.

~I agree, lets sacrifice millions of dollars of revenue for the Oil each year so fasteddie can keep liquor store(?) in the black.~

Oh, and you don't need to suspect, I can GUARANTEE that you will not be compensated, nor do you deserve to be.

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#78 RattsSSV
August 03 2009, 11:29AM
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Why would you move Cogliano to LW and then move Penner to RW. Instead of putting them where they should be?

O'Sullivan - Horcoff - Hemsky Penner - Gagner - Cogliano then the jumble that is our bottom 6.

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#79 David S
August 03 2009, 11:32AM
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fasteddie wrote:

I say leave the building where it is.

So if fans suffer because your business is no longer close to the rink, maybe you owe them compensation.

Man I hope this is a joke, because this level of self-entitlement is laughable.

I say move your business.

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#80 Oilersordeath
August 03 2009, 11:59AM
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@ rindog: Even the average fan can observe that Cogliano’s strength is his speed while his puck handling skills most definately hold him back. To me, I would think a guy like Quinn will quickly realize that using Cogliano’s best asset (his speed) to get open and then recieve the puck at full speed would be a far better option then having Cogliano try to bring the puck out of his own zone (let’s try leave that to a capable puck handlers).

I couldn't agree more ringdog, if the guys main weapon is his speed why not utilize it. Could you imagine if he had hands like Gagner!!

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#81 jeff
August 03 2009, 12:02PM
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Well if Cogs could ever learn to win a draw we wouldn't have a problem, but he can't right now so we only have a couple options.

1. He learns to play on the wing. 2. We have a winger take the draws and then they switch out.

Not sure option #2 is the best of options, seems to be alot of bending over just to accomadate one player who as of right now isn't a game breaker.

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#82 David S
August 03 2009, 12:09PM
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While I would agree that Cogliano receiving the puck in full flight is a wonder to see, every game I was at last year there was at least a couple of times a game when he stepped on the loud pedal at the Oilers blue line and drove it all the way down the ice. Puck handling is something you can work on. If he applies himself, this might be an area he could make huge improvements.

I hope he's spending the summer watching Sam's goal where he stripped the puck, danced around the entire Vancouver team end-to-end and scored that beauty. Over and over and over and...

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#83 David S
August 03 2009, 12:13PM
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jeff wrote:

seems to be alot of bending over just to accomadate one player who as of right now isn’t a game breaker.

Put him with guys better than Moreau and Pisani and you'll have your game breaker.

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#84 David S
August 03 2009, 12:17PM
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David S wrote:

I hope he’s spending the summer watching Sam’s goal where he stripped the puck, danced around the entire Vancouver team end-to-end and scored that beauty. Over and over and over and…

Reference: hxxp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I58PtmB6IC0

Best Oilers goal of the year.

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#85 Hemmertime
August 03 2009, 12:17PM
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RattsSSV wrote:

Why would you move Cogliano to LW and then move Penner to RW. Instead of putting them where they should be?

Penner SHOULD be a RW. He is natural Right

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#86 cableguy
August 03 2009, 12:29PM
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fasteddie wrote:

Lets change subject to the new rink. I have a business close to the existing rink and game day is my xmas. People need to consider what will happen when and if the rink gets a new home. My business will suffer and I suspect no one will compensate me for this. I say leave the building where it is.

sarcasm?

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#87 Dallas
August 03 2009, 01:54PM
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jeff wrote:

Well if Cogs could ever learn to win a draw we wouldn’t have a problem, but he can’t right now so we only have a couple options. 1. He learns to play on the wing. 2. We have a winger take the draws and then they switch out. Not sure option #2 is the best of options, seems to be alot of bending over just to accomadate one player who as of right now isn’t a game breaker.

Isn't a game breaker I agree option 2 is stupid but to say Cogliano is not a game breaker is crap I guess scoring 3 straight overtime goals in 3 straight game in his rookie year is not game breaking potential lmao

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#88 DanMan
August 03 2009, 01:59PM
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Im gonna shoot a 75 today, gino

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#89 gdawg
August 03 2009, 01:59PM
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@ fasteddie: even if the city gets a new rink the product on the ice will more likely stay the same. but maybe the rink should stay where it is. we dont want to take business away from all the hookers on 118th avenue. that wouldn't be fair.

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#90 Hemmertime
August 03 2009, 02:09PM
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How long until the new rink area turns into a ghetto (or since it is downtown, Even MORE of a ghetto)? 2 weeks?

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#91 DanMan
August 03 2009, 02:17PM
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Hemmertime wrote:

How long until the new rink area turns into a ghetto (or since it is downtown, Even MORE of a ghetto)? 2 weeks?

In case you haven't noticed your surroundings during the last 5-7 years, THE ENTIRE CITY is turning into a ghetto

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#92 Dallas
August 03 2009, 02:20PM
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DanMan wrote:

Hemmertime wrote: How long until the new rink area turns into a ghetto (or since it is downtown, Even MORE of a ghetto)? 2 weeks? In case you haven’t noticed your surroundings during the last 5-7 years, THE ENTIRE CITY is turning into a ghetto

Lmao maybe that's why no player wants to come here I think it's time for a new police chief

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#93 gdawg
August 03 2009, 02:20PM
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@ Hemmertime: The vision that the rink committee gave was some magical, fairytale land where people will always have a reason to be at the new facility. Little shops all around, condos aplenty and a general utopia in the air. Great sell job, but I think your right on the money hemmertime. Look at all the other nice facilities in and around the downtown core. They are nice places to go during certain hours, but then they too seem to be festering with all the bums and addicts. Eg: Churchill Square. What will make the new rink any different?

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#94 ronaldo
August 03 2009, 02:22PM
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@ gdawg You're not giving the hookers enough credit. They're not going sit on their asses looking to receive handouts. They'll move to where the business is, looking to give handj#@*. You can learn something from these entrepeneurs fasteddie.

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#95 Dallas
August 03 2009, 02:22PM
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Dallas wrote:

DanMan wrote: Hemmertime wrote: How long until the new rink area turns into a ghetto (or since it is downtown, Even MORE of a ghetto)? 2 weeks? In case you haven’t noticed your surroundings during the last 5-7 years, THE ENTIRE CITY is turning into a ghetto Lmao maybe that’s why no player wants to come here I think it’s time for a new police chief

Mind you you can't tell me Detroit or even Chicago is not a ghetto slum city it's all to do with winning

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#96 gdawg
August 03 2009, 02:26PM
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@ ronaldo: I dont know if they would like to commute downtown though. I think they like being close to home (or van). But then hey, on their way home they can visit their pimp/boyfriend at the remand. Tough choice

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#97 gdawg
August 03 2009, 02:28PM
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Dallas wrote:

Dallas wrote: DanMan wrote: Hemmertime wrote: How long until the new rink area turns into a ghetto (or since it is downtown, Even MORE of a ghetto)? 2 weeks? In case you haven’t noticed your surroundings during the last 5-7 years, THE ENTIRE CITY is turning into a ghetto Lmao maybe that’s why no player wants to come here I think it’s time for a new police chief Mind you you can’t tell me Detroit or even Chicago is not a ghetto slum city it’s all to do with winning

I still remember a couple of years ago Bob Stauffer said if the Oilers had an indoor parkade for players that might sway a free agent or two to consider Edmonton. Winning is the main thing for most just like you said.

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#98 ronaldo
August 03 2009, 02:46PM
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@ gdawg They have options man. Bus, LRT, car pool in pimp's ride, steal a car, etc. What I'm saying is they'll take care of their business, not look for help from taxpayers. This is the type of small business our fine country was built on.

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#99 Sandra
August 03 2009, 03:48PM
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Is it on Bellamy Hill?

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#100 gdawg
August 03 2009, 04:39PM
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Maybe a rink downtown could generate some jobs in the core area. Bums could be valets, hookers could be usherettes,and pimps could sell programs. Also maybe the high end escorts downtown could attract free agents.

So what does everybody think about the new guy on the morning show on the Team 1260? Quite a few comments on Brownlee's posting from last week. I know the interest is there.

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