Oilers Hire Wayne Fleming As Assistant Coach

Jonathan Willis
August 25 2009 06:00PM

The Oilers have hired Wayne Fleming - last seen as the head coach of Avangard Omsk of the KHL (far right in the video above) - as an assistant to Pat Quinn.

Fleming, like virtually everyone who Steve Tambellini has hired since being named Oilers’ GM, has had extensive experience with Hockey Canada. Fleming served as the GM (and assistant coach) of Canada’s National Olympic Program from 1990-92. Under his watch, the Canadians won silver at the 1992 Olympics. The Canadian team featured (among others) former Dallas coach Dave Tippett, while current Oiler Nikolai Khabibulin was the third goaltender for the gold-medal winning Russians. Fleming also served as Team Canada’s head coach at the 2001 and 2002 World Championships (he coached Steve Staios at the latter event), and as an associate coach at the 2002 and 2006 Olympics and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.

Outside of his work with Hockey Canada, Fleming’s had an incredibly diverse career as a coach. He spent nine seasons as head coach of the University of Manitoba Bisons (he was an assistant coach and player before that) before joining Hockey Canada, and during those nine seasons he won two championships. After his time with the Bisons and his first stint with Hockey Canada, Fleming took a job coaching Leksands in the Swedish Elite League, a position he held for four seasons. He also coached in Switzerland and Germany before taking a job as an assistant to Islanders head coach Rick Bowness in 1997-98. He lasted two seasons, and worked with three head coaches: Bowness, Mike Milbury, and Bill Stewart. Oilers’ defenseman Jason Strudwick played some games for the 1997-98 team.

During his time with the Islanders, Fleming was responsible for coaching the powerplay. Over his two seasons with the team, the Islanders ranked 10th and 13th in the NHL in PP%; in overall scoring they ranked 16th and 22nd. It seems safe to say that Fleming got the job done. Fleming’s time on the Island ended with the promotion of Stewart to head coach; Stewart’s first move was to move Fleming into scouting.

After two years, Fleming was hired as an assistant coach to Bob Francis in Phoenix (future Bruins’ coach Mike Sullivan was on the roster) then. He left the Coyotes to work for Hockey Canada, before returning to the NHL. His next job was in Philadelphia, where he spent three seasons as an assistant to Ken Hitchcock (Hitchcock had previously worked with Fleming at the 2002 Olympics). During the NHL lockout, Fleming considered a position in Switzerland, and his agent talked a little bit about why HC Bern wanted to hire him:

"Wayne is a kind of hockey god overseas. He spent a lot of time in Europe. He is considered a teacher over there, not a yeller. They really like people like him."

After resigning in Philadelphia, Fleming joined Jim Playfair’s staff in Calgary in time for the 2006-07 season, and worked for both Playfair and Mike Keenan. He resigned his position in Calgary to make the jump to the KHL after being recruited by Jaromir Jagr.

Last year, Fleming was the head coach for Avangard Omsk, and things went badly. Rangers prospect Alexei Cherepanov died in October because of a heart condition, and ex-NHL’er John Grahame was released by the club because of alleged off-ice issues (Grahame denies the team’s allegations). In early January, Fleming was fired mid-game, but then asked to return; he stayed on until the end of the month before resigning.

All things considered, I’m a fan of this move: from everything I’ve read, Fleming brings in experience on special teams, he’s done a ton of video work (and with the Oilers video coach being shown the door, it’s a good bet he’ll be doing it again) and he’s worked extensively with younger players.  It's also worth noting that Fleming's departure from Phoenix, Philadelphia and Calgary was on his own terms - he wasn't fired but instead chose to move on.  He’ll be a nice addition to an already loaded coaching staff.

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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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#1 David S
August 25 2009, 06:02PM
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“Wanye is a kind of hockey god overseas."

Fixed.

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#2 J.L.
August 25 2009, 06:17PM
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That could almost be Tom Renney in the screen capture.

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#3 Jonathan Willis
August 25 2009, 06:19PM
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Incidentally, when Fleming says "that's a stupid question" on the video, he's responding to whether or not the team's win will help him keep his job.

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#4 sns2
August 25 2009, 06:23PM
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For all of us who wanted a clean break from the glory years this is another good hire. He's been around and experienced success, plus Tambellini has tons of aexperience with him through Hockey Canada.

My question is does this signal that Jagr is on his way here? I wouldn't be surprised one bit.

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#5 jeanshorts
August 25 2009, 06:47PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

In early January, Fleming was fired mid-game

In Russia, hockey plays you!

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#6 Clarkenstein
August 25 2009, 07:08PM
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How many candidates said "no thanks" to the Oil offer before they got somebody to say "....mmmm.... well...ok... I guess so..." When somebody gets hired this late in the summer, just before camp, I would have to assume that their first ten choices said "... I don't think I want to work for Kevin Lowe.."

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#7 Harlie
August 25 2009, 07:13PM
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it's like having 3 head Coaches. The triple header now known as "The Quenning"!

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#8 Robin Brownlee
August 25 2009, 07:25PM
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Harlie wrote:

it’s like having 3 head Coaches. The triple header now known as “The Quenning”!

Is that so? Nothing screams "I'm a nerd" like hatching one of these dorky name combinations. Quinn. Renney. Fleming. Buchberger. What's so difficult?

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#9 Nik
August 25 2009, 07:25PM
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Harlie wrote:

it’s like having 3 head Coaches. The triple header now known as “The Quenning”!

priceless...one 3 headed monster (goalies) to this - wonder which will be more entertaining

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#10 Harlie
August 25 2009, 07:28PM
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@ Robin Brownlee:

it was a joke.

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#11 ronaldo
August 25 2009, 07:30PM
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@ jeanshorts Not 100% sure what you meant but I still laughed snot bubbles. (Read it with russian accent.)

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#12 Jim Norton
August 25 2009, 07:32PM
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I was wondering where the gold would be in that video clip and then it hit - 5.14 in. The interpreter appears to ask Fleming about his 3 inch c**k. Those Russians are just crazy!

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#13 Antony Ta
August 25 2009, 07:40PM
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@ Robin Brownlee:

Quenningberger!

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#14 Harlie
August 25 2009, 07:41PM
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@ ronaldo:

Yakov Smirnoff!

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#15 Antony Ta
August 25 2009, 07:54PM
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Some were suggesting this is a "Jagr is coming next year" kind of move. I think this is more of a "Hockey Canada connections" kind of move.

Out with the Old Boys Club and in with the Older Boys Club.

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#16 Librarian Mike
August 25 2009, 07:58PM
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That video reminds me of the game show 'Uposkrabblenik', when SCTV joined up with CCCP1.

Well, if the team craps the bed this year we certainly can't blame it on bad coaching.

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#17 99thoilerfan
August 25 2009, 08:10PM
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Who?

For a gent that has been around(He's been everywhere) I have admit, I have never heard of him.

Thanks for the quick snap shot, JW.

For what it is worth, I think that Tambo has done a great rebuild job, with the club.

First rule of business, is to surround yourself, with quality people.Quinn. Renney. Fleming. Buchberger.

The team on the ice might not have shaken out the way we had hoped it would over this summer, but with the improvement to the farm club, and smart hockey people that are now at the helm, of our club.... Give them a chance to mold the club, Give them what... 3 years ?

Go Oil!

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#18 Tommy
August 25 2009, 08:19PM
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I haven't been around as much in the summer. Is Clarkenstein the new troll?

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#19 Bob
August 25 2009, 08:20PM
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Clarkenstein wrote:

How many candidates said “no thanks” to the Oil offer before they got somebody to say “….mmmm…. well…ok… I guess so…” When somebody gets hired this late in the summer, just before camp, I would have to assume that their first ten choices said “… I don’t think I want to work for Kevin Lowe..”

I think you totally misunderstand how rare these opportunities are. There are bout 1/5 as many coaches in the NHL as players. You simply don't turn down an opportunity when offered unless you are garanteed another position elsewhere. There are very very few people that would turn this down.

This hiring was largely Quinn, Tambi, and Renny taking the time to consider people, make a list, do interviews and then make the decision. Given that this is an assistant coach, it is normal for the coach to have a lot of say in the hiring. Tough to do when Quinn only got here 2 months ago.

Really, it was a silly comment.

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#20 mattyfinch
August 25 2009, 08:25PM
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there are numerous reports surfacing today suggesting that dh has warmed to edmonton on the idea we are bringing in a top center..

people are floating kessel with eberle being the cost..

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#21 Chris.
August 25 2009, 08:27PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Is that so? Nothing screams “I’m a nerd” like hatching one of these dorky name combinations.

Thanks Robin. You've inspired me to get more in touch with my inner nerd.

I now dub the assistant coaching tandem: Flemberger!

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#22 Chris.
August 25 2009, 08:47PM
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A guy on Lowetide said that Calagary's entire staff boasts a combined total of only 164 NHL games coached. I don't know if this is completely accurate but I'm pretty sure Quinn by himself has coached nearly 1400 games...

Advantage: Oilers.

Next stop: Rampant Jager rumors.

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#23 Chris.
August 25 2009, 08:51PM
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@ mattyfinch:

If the source is Eklund: disregard completely.

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#24 GSC
August 25 2009, 08:56PM
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Chris. wrote:

Robin Brownlee wrote: Is that so? Nothing screams “I’m a nerd” like hatching one of these dorky name combinations. Thanks Robin. You’ve inspired me to get more in touch with my inner nerd. I now dub the assistant coaching tandem: Flemberger!

If things go south with this staff, that moniker could prove quite useful...

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#25 Bob Cob
August 25 2009, 09:13PM
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@ mattyfinch: Where are these reports, Id like to see them, in less like said above its from Eklund?

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#26 Chris.
August 25 2009, 09:21PM
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@ Bob Cob:

There is a writeup on Hockey Buzz. It's a fairly elaborate fantasy involving Kessel to Edmonton; thus convincing Heatley to finally waive his NMC, and then Horcoff would go to Montral for Plekanec....and so on...

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#27 Bob Cob
August 25 2009, 09:22PM
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The Heatley to Edmonton rumor along with a high powered center was on Eklund's site. So in short its not gonna happen, Eklund isn't a credible source.

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#28 Bob Stauffer
August 25 2009, 09:30PM
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First off you guys might be surprised by the quality of candidates that expressed interest in the Oilers Assistant Coach position. Fleming is a suitable sort for this type of job, and is a good fit. Kelly Buchberger meanwhile is getting the mentoring experience of a lifetime. As an aside. No disrespect to Mr. Willis, but five JW stories on the front page of ON is at least three and probably four too many. Around July 1st there was some quality breking-coverage type stories getting done on ON. Given that JW has his own site do we really need all five lead stories on the ON site coming from someone who has no direct access to anybody that matters in hockey circles? Combine that with the fact that Jon resides in Mortheastern B.C., it can be argued he doesn't really have a pulse for what is happening in Edmonton either. I can see getting Jon's take once a week...but in this case I think less might be more.

Take Care Bob Stauffer

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#29 Chris.
August 25 2009, 09:31PM
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@ Bob Cob:

Yep.

*sigh*

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#30 Chris.
August 25 2009, 09:38PM
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@ Bob Stauffer:

...as compared to all the great content on the Oilers website?

...Oh WAIT. Squirrel crashes Oilers! Thrilling! A Stortini Summer? Why do I even bother coming to ON with gold like THAT on the sanctioned site?

Thanks for the drive-by Bob.

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#31 -30-
August 25 2009, 09:46PM
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@ Bob Stauffer JW provides a valuable service for those of us who aren't connected with the Oil like you are and would like to be reminded we have a hockey team here, no matter how sucky they are.

BTW shouldn't former MSM type RB be digging up stories? After all, his days can't be too busy since he isn't employed.

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#32 ronaldo
August 25 2009, 09:46PM
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@ Bob Stauffer You offering to put back on the old Total Sports hat ON style.

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#33 Bob Stauffer
August 25 2009, 09:46PM
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A drive-by would be suggesting that guys like Willis or MC 79 shouldn't write at all on their sites. I have never said that. Some of Willis's and Mc79's stats-based arguments are quite interesting. But currently ON's front page is seemingly devoted to Willis and that lacks range of opinion and any insight beyond the numbers. Frankly the Oilers site would be lame if I was the only blogger on there as well. Thanks for your thoughts Chris. Where is Brownlee, Gregor, and Wayne Gretz?

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#34 Garett
August 25 2009, 09:48PM
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No doubt! Anything from ON beats whatever the sanctioned site has to offer as far as entertaining articles go! The official site does not touch the controversial topics whatsoever, I need dirt/rumors/truth and emotion, that is why ON is my daily drug of choice, I can't live without it!

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#35 BigE57
August 25 2009, 09:52PM
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@ Chris.:

Bob has a point, along with most of the people on ON I enjoy JW's submissions but I was starting to wonder if Jonathon was getting paid by the typed word or maybe he gets a bonus for blog frequency.

On the other hand it is good that ON keeps up to date with current Oiler news big or small.

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#36 Rex
August 25 2009, 09:59PM
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@ Bob Stauffer:

I think the fact that he's the only one on the front page is more a reflection of how much effort Willis puts in to this site, if he's able to post more then all of the other writers combined.

It's not like he's "spamming" the site with the same stuff; every article has enough new information to be worthy of a post....

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#37 Robin Brownlee
August 25 2009, 10:01PM
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-30- wrote:

BTW shouldn’t former MSM type RB be digging up stories? After all, his days can’t be too busy since he isn’t employed.

Listen up, smart guy. You're going to come on here and take a dickish shot at me over something Stauffer wrote? For your information, assuming you're interested in the facts, me not writing every day for ON has nothing to do with my willingness to dig up stories.

Under my agreement with ON, I can only write 10 items a month. That's what the website can afford right now. I have reached that limit for August. I'd happily write more and as the website grows I hope that'll be the case. Willis has a different agreement and I'm not going to talk about it here. It's not my business or yours.

As for your as*hole remark about me not being employed, I write for Canadian Press and Metro Edmonton and co-host Just A Game with Jason Gregor on Thursdays on top of posting here. I'm working four different gigs, so don't bring your weak sh*t around here.

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#38 Pouzar
August 25 2009, 10:01PM
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@ Bob Stauffer:

Meh, you know how it is Bob, it's been weeks already since a player has said he does not want to be here, and even longer since a player has wanted out. There is not much to write about these days...(smile)

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#39 ronaldo
August 25 2009, 10:02PM
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Good question Bob. Where is Wayne? Or, more importantly, what is the status with his Blackberry situation?

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#40 quicksilver ballet
August 25 2009, 10:09PM
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Another friggen coach, thats two more than we need. I've always felt in a lot of ways the players are over coached in todays NHL.I would have held off on Fleming and Buchberger. Whats wrong with having a couple guest coaches here for training camp, maybe a guy like Adam Oates could help for a month or six weeks and improve our faceoff success rate.

Who's next...Steven Speilberg for the Oilers video coach.

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#41 Pouzar
August 25 2009, 10:11PM
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quicksilver ballet wrote:

Another friggen coach, thats two more than we need. I’ve always felt in a lot of ways the players are over coached in todays NHL.I would have held off on Fleming and Buchberger. Whats wrong with having a couple guest coaches here for training camp, maybe a guy like Adam Oates could help for a month or six weeks and improve our faceoff success rate. Who’s next…Steven Speilberg for the Oilers video coach.

Maybe he needs footage for a horror movie lol...

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#42 Garett
August 25 2009, 10:13PM
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Is it just the ads on the side of the web page that generate revenue to pay the writers for this site? Or how does it work? Does ON have hats and shirts, I for one would buy some, the logo is top notch and being a fequent visitor to the site makes me feel like I'm in a cult (in a good way!)

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#43 Librarian Mike
August 25 2009, 10:14PM
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quicksilver ballet wrote:

Who’s next…Steven Speilberg for the Oilers video coach.

Heh...We're gonna need a bigger first line!

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#44 ronaldo
August 25 2009, 10:16PM
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@ Garett Just wait to we sacrifice Wayne's goat.

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#45 ronaldo
August 25 2009, 10:24PM
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@ Robin -30- picks up cans, squeegees windshields, pan-handles, services men,and uninstalls car stereos. That's 5....scoreboard.

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#46 Librarian Mike
August 25 2009, 10:25PM
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@ Garett:

Don't let L. Robin hear you calling ON a cult.

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#47 quicksilver ballet
August 25 2009, 10:25PM
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I don't even know who's thread this is but i usually come to ON to read what Robin has written first. If there's nothing new i'll try and stir the pot in other threads.Man! it's been a long difficult summer.

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#48 Racki
August 25 2009, 10:29PM
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In a time when hockey news is somewhat dead or completely centered around Kane or Heatley (ungh), it's nice to have some variety of posts, even if it comes from the same source. So keep it up, JW. Not sure why there is an issue with the number of posts he is making on this site. If anything, that just means everyone else needs to step it up a notch. But as Robin Brownlee mentioned, contractually speaking that's probably not really possible.

Anyways to Bob Stauffer, your comments come off as a bit elitist and pompous (sorry if I took your posts out of context, but I got that from the comments regarding JW's lack of connections). I don't normally like to sound off on anyone, and really I'm not trying to be insulting, but I think that needs to be said. Really, whether he, you or anyone else are connected to the Oilers or not, the opinions can still be quite valuable. I've listened to your show back when it was on the TEAM, and you and other hosts can definitely stand to learn from some of the knowledge your callers have, just as you can share a lot of your insider information. In the hockey world, very few, if any, know it all. So I think even the lowly blogger can have some good insight. Just my 2 cents, and to steal your words above, "no disrespect meant".

I do get your point that having a whole s--- load of JW posts on the front page can be a bit much, but I hope that you're just implying that the other authors need to pick up the slack a bit ;)

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#49 Reagan
August 25 2009, 10:33PM
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I am assuming that the telent in the coaching pool will clean up a lot of the mess left behind from the last three years of disaster. This staff load should provide, and build a winning system! Regardless of the lack of changes due to cap space, go ahead and coach and mentor the s@#t out of the kids!!! :)

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#50 Kotton
August 25 2009, 10:34PM
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Its a shame to see this websites most consistant and best (in my humble opinion of course) contributor getting slammed for putting in too much work.

I may be in the minority here but I wouldn't trade a blogger with a good head on his shoulders for one with a press pass.

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