FOK: He who signs the cheques makes the rules

Robin Brownlee
August 28 2009 11:17AM

mike-and-hilary

As much of a surprise as all this talk about the Edmonton Oilers having an interest in Mike Comrie should be, it isn't if you allow for the likelihood that owner Daryl Katz has been influencing decisions on the hockey operations side of the business since he took ownership of the team.

That the Oilers are even remotely considering signing Comrie, a UFA, just six seasons after a bitter split with the team and a falling out with then-GM Kevin Lowe, tells me Katz has his fingerprints all over this one.

Katz and Bill Comrie, Mike's dad, are friends. There's a relationship and a loyalty at play here, and every intuitive bone in my body leads me to believe that relationship trumps anything that has happened in the past and is what's driving the possibility Comrie could return. Katz signs the cheques. Katz makes the rules. Katz wants Comrie.

It doesn't take a vast intellect to conclude Katz's desire to at least take a look at Comrie has been made clear to Lowe, now the president of hockey operations, and GM Steve Tambellini. I'm guessing neither one of them has said, "Forget it, boss. Leave the hockey decisions to us."

If you look at some of the decisions made since Katz took ownership of the team, it's reasonable to conclude there's every possibility the FOK Era -- Friends Of Katz -- might set a new standard for favours and nepotism by a franchise that has a history of both.

Not that that's necessarily, ahem, a bad thing...

Who calls the shots?

This interest in a do-over with Comrie as the hometown-boy-made-good, despite what happened in 2003 and despite the obvious fact the last thing the Oilers need right now is another small forward on the roster, doesn't add up — I listed them here at ON Aug 19 — if you take Katz out of the mix.

The way things went down with Comrie and agent Ritch Winter back then, notably Lowe's 11th hour request for $2.5 million that queered a trade with the Anaheim Ducks, Mike couldn't get out of town fast enough. And Oilers fans, almost in unison, said "Good riddance. Get lost. Bugger off."

Now, I don't know if Comrie has as much interest in the Oilers as they have in him because I haven't asked him and Winter isn't saying, offering only a "No comment" when I spoke with him briefly on Thursday.

Maybe they're just playing footsy with Katz and the idea until a better offer comes along. Then again, maybe Comrie, because of the relationship between his family and Katz, really is willing to wipe the slate clean and play here. I'd be lying if I told you I knew.

The way I see it

From where I sit, there's already been a handful of hockey operations decisions orchestrated or influenced by Katz.

-- I think the decision to take Lowe out of the spotlight and the daily firing line, while keeping him on the company payroll by making him president of operations, was done, at least in part, as a favour to a friend.

-- I think that Kelly Buchberger, who has a summer home not far from Katz on a lake outside Edmonton, was promoted to Craig MacTavish's coaching staff, and later survived the purge of MacTavish, Charlie Huddy and Billy Moores, as a favour to a friend.

Of course, the fact MacTavish and the Oilers parted ways might seem to fly in the face of that logic, seeing as MacT and Katz are tight, but I don't think MacTavish would've been shown the door had he voiced any real desire to stay on. Even at the time of the announcement MacTavish was finished here, there was the perception this was a resignation framed as a firing.

-- Then, there was the Oilers offering Georges Laraque a four-year contract worth $6 million last summer. This, just a few seasons removed from having MacTavish essentially run Laraque out of town. Laraque and Katz, who works out at a gym partially owned by Big Georges, are friends.

Now, Comrie.

From a PR point of view, there could be some mileage in welcoming Comrie back. A do-over might soften the memory of the hard-line Lowe took with Comrie the first time around. See, Mike's back. Edmonton is player-friendly.

How it plays out

Given the stated need by Tambellini at the end of last season to make the roster grittier and tougher to play against, I can't see, from a hockey-ops point of view, how he or Lowe could possibly be on board with a move to add Comrie to the mix. I'd love to jab both of them in the butt with a syringe of truth serum right now.

How does adding Comrie, even at a reasonable salary of, say, $1.5 million, and putting aside his diminishing points totals in recent seasons, address the needs of a roster that includes Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, Robert Nilsson and Patrick O'Sullivan and has missed the playoffs in three straight seasons?

It doesn't. But FOK trumps that. If the boss is the one who is pulling the strings, if the guy who signs the cheques is driving the bus, then this isn't a hockey decision, it's just another favour to a friend.

-- 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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#51 Batman 67
August 28 2009, 12:23PM
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@ freeze: Fine then but you are being harsh to the owner who is just like anyother owner.You might not know this but alot of owners give look into the team management.

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#52 Dan the Man
August 28 2009, 12:24PM
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Sign Comrie to a 1 year deal and then flip him in December for Perry and a first rounder...

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#53 slats432
August 28 2009, 12:25PM
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This is a bad idea.

The team doesn't need Mike Comrie. Management doesn't need to be undermined by the owner. My brain doesn't need the migrane thinking about Comrie in Oiler silks.

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#54 Reagan
August 28 2009, 12:25PM
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Well considering that Vancouver and San Jose just swapped some payroll players around, that mean Heatley is on his was to San Jose, and the Oilers will need to sign Comrie...

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#55 HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla
August 28 2009, 12:26PM
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Sharks cleared somewhere in the neighborhood of 4.6 mil.... Heatley come here, heatley got to SJ Marleau comeback? What would you guys think of having P Marleau on the LW??

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#56 Kevin Lowe
August 28 2009, 12:26PM
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@ Dan the Man: I would not do that deal unless we got some cash back.

Signed

Kevin Lowe

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#57 HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla
August 28 2009, 12:28PM
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And another thing, TSN hasn't broken the story yet... are they waiting for part 2?

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#58 I'm a Scientist!
August 28 2009, 12:29PM
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HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla wrote:

And another thing, TSN hasn’t broken the story yet… are they waiting for part 2?

They HAVE sent me a text about it.

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#59 Hemmertime
August 28 2009, 12:30PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Putting past disputes aside and welcoming back a player like Comrie could certainly be spun as showing this is an organization that’s looking ahead instead of wallowing in the past.

Until the fans show they aren't putting past disputes aside and tear him to pieces. Comrie would be better than Nilsson on our team yes, but Ill still booo the bastard for old times sake. I do not think I will be the only one either.

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#60 HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla
August 28 2009, 12:31PM
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I'm a Scientist! wrote:

HollaHollaHo’sFoADolla wrote: And another thing, TSN hasn’t broken the story yet… are they waiting for part 2? They HAVE sent me a text about it.

They dish out the texts before they announce it? Now thats service. My landlord just raps on my door with his hand out, why cant I get a text?

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#61 bragsy
August 28 2009, 12:31PM
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Too funny, we have a team that cant attract any free agents is and we as fans are the first ones to shoot down any possibility of a player interested in playing for them. The Oilers suck, and we wont get anything of value free agent wise or through trades. So lets just suck it up and laugh about our team. This year will be gong show.

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#62 Reggie
August 28 2009, 12:32PM
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Nothing like adding more marginal 2nd line or 3rd line small players to a team that already has an abundance of them.

I would rather see Nilsson and Cogs and O'Sullivan given a chance than see them add Comrie.

Let management try to address the holes in the team, not bring in more of the same type of player.

This would be another frustrating addition to the squad for this Oiler fan.

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#63 freeze
August 28 2009, 12:32PM
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@ Batman 67: harsh? hardly. is this a big deal? maybe not.

or maybe this is the first step on our way to signing Dubnyk to a 15yr contract.

like I said, there is nothing else to blab about.

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#64 Archaeologuy
August 28 2009, 12:38PM
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HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla wrote:

My landlord just raps on my door with his hand out, why cant I get a text?

why would he tip you off that he's coming to collect? It makes more sense for your landlord to just appear in your living room via ninja smoke grenade.

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#65 botts89
August 28 2009, 12:40PM
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@ Robin Brownlee:

Robin is there any truth too the oilers going after Kessel and offering Eberle, Petry and a 1st rounder ??

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#66 freeze
August 28 2009, 12:41PM
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wow, the 'nucks also signed Schnieder. That is a lot of Dmen all the sudden!

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#67 HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla
August 28 2009, 12:42PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

HollaHollaHo’sFoADolla wrote: My landlord just raps on my door with his hand out, why cant I get a text? why would he tip you off that he’s coming to collect? It makes more sense for your landlord to just appear in your living room via ninja smoke grenade.

No ninja looks like a 50 something sumo wrestler.. Different animal man.. Different animal.

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#68 Downright Fierce
August 28 2009, 12:42PM
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@ HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla: Yeah, this smacks of domino effect...

Outgoing: Penner, Cogs, Smid Incoming: Marleau, Comrie

Assuming Comrie signs for ~1.5 million, the numbers work. Though we're at the cap with 22 players and I honestly don't see enough improvement to make this deal.

Which probably means it will happen.

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#69 Word
August 28 2009, 12:48PM
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Downright Fierce wrote:

@ HollaHollaHo’sFoADolla: Yeah, this smacks of domino effect… Outgoing: Penner, Cogs, Smid Incoming: Marleau, Comrie Assuming Comrie signs for ~1.5 million, the numbers work. Though we’re at the cap with 22 players and I honestly don’t see enough improvement to make this deal. Which probably means it will happen.

God I hope not.

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#70 Archaeologuy
August 28 2009, 12:48PM
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Downright Fierce wrote:

Outgoing: Penner, Cogs, Smid Incoming: Marleau, Comrie

The Oil wouldnt make that deal for Marleau. All that for a rental player? At least Heatley was signed long term (to a contract that he made clear was meaningless)

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#71 Hemmertime
August 28 2009, 12:49PM
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@ Downright Fierce: If we would move Smid Cogs and Penner for Marleau, and Marleau was willing to waive his NTC to come here, it would have already been done.

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#72 HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla
August 28 2009, 12:51PM
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Well I would say the old deal is off the table. Sharks ship something to the oil with Marleau, and that get shipped to ottowa, or knowing our luck we would trade Cogs, Penner and Smid for Marleau and Cheechoo.

I always wanted to choke in the second round every year.

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#73 dyckster
August 28 2009, 12:53PM
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Ummmmmm, who's the chick in the picture? Is that HD goin goth?

Frickin Comrie's a horny little bugger eh!

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#74 Dan the Man
August 28 2009, 12:53PM
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Outgoing: Penner, Cogs, Smid Incoming: Marleau, Comrie

Zero chance the Oilers make that deal.

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#75 Downright Fierce
August 28 2009, 12:55PM
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@ Archaeologuy: The more I look at it, the more I doubt my own words. You're right about the rental player comment and Marleau, long-term or not, doesn't nearly have the level of talent that made me okay with Heatley trade. Maybe this results in an easier-to-swallow package leaving town? Like Penner and Nilsson maybe?

Though underestimating the insanity of the Oilers' upper management is never a safe bet.

As an addendum: Marleau coming off the books next offseason isn't the worst thing in the world, especially if Cogs stays in town.

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#76 Librarian Mike
August 28 2009, 12:55PM
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Dan the Man wrote:

Sign Comrie to a 1 year deal and then flip him in December for Perry and a first rounder…

~Only if Washington isn't willing to deal Ovechkin and a first rounder for him.~

...you WERE kidding, right?

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#77 RossCreek
August 28 2009, 12:56PM
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@ Prop Jay. OFF TOPIC BUT... that J. Cole track "Lights Please" is BONKERS!

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#78 I'm a Scientist!
August 28 2009, 12:57PM
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Isn't Ottawa hard up for defense? Wouldn't Erhoff been a decent trade option if SJ was going for Heatley? If SJ IS just making cap space, who are they going to offer as a trade now?

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#79 Dan the Man
August 28 2009, 01:02PM
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@ Librarian Mike:

I was referring to the original deal K-Lo had in place when he was trying to deal Comrie...the one where he asked for cash back and blew it...the one that keeps me awake at night.

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#80 Downright Fierce
August 28 2009, 01:03PM
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@ Hemmertime: @ Dan the Man:

It's not a straight up deal, I was working in the three-way trade scenario.

Also I think HollaHolla is right in thinking the old deal is off the table, which is why I would probably replace Smid and Cogs with Nilsson.

So, revised and clarified:

Oilers acquire Marleau (and sign Comrie) Sharks acquire Heatley (plus a cheap D) Senators acquire Penner and Nilsson

More palatable all around? I think so.

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#81 HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla
August 28 2009, 01:03PM
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I'm a Scientist! wrote:

Isn’t Ottawa hard up for defense? Wouldn’t Erhoff been a decent trade option if SJ was going for Heatley? If SJ IS just making cap space, who are they going to offer as a trade now?

I think thats where we come in.. I could live with a deal like this:

Oilers: Marleau

Sharks: Heatley

Sens: Penner, Smid, Nilson (a stretch yes but if they really want him gone...)

Then if Marleau leaves at the end of the year we got room to sign Gagner and Cogs- ohhh and enough space to get on our knees and throw the bank at Kovalchuk.

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#82 freeze
August 28 2009, 01:03PM
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where is Van for cap space? Maybe they will pitch for Heatly. I bet he would play there. It would also burn us pretty bad, six times a year.

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#83 Reagan
August 28 2009, 01:05PM
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Ha ha some signed in as Kevin Lowe that is now hillarious...

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#84 HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla
August 28 2009, 01:06PM
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Downright Fierce wrote:

@ Hemmertime: @ Dan the Man: It’s not a straight up deal, I was working in the three-way trade scenario. Also I think HollaHolla is right in thinking the old deal is off the table, which is why I would probably replace Smid and Cogs with Nilsson. So, revised and clarified: Oilers acquire Marleau (and sign Comrie) Sharks acquire Heatley (plus a cheap D) Senators acquire Penner and Nilsson More palatable all around? I think so.

Beatin' to the punch again!

*phones Shaw and screams at the lady about slow internets ruining fantasy trade talk on ON*

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#85 Downright Fierce
August 28 2009, 01:09PM
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@ HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla: Ha, I'm just the benefactor of a municipal government T1 line.

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#86 HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla
August 28 2009, 01:10PM
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freeze wrote:

where is Van for cap space? Maybe they will pitch for Heatly. I bet he would play there. It would also burn us pretty bad, six times a year.

The Canucks are pressed so hard to the cap now that Mike Gillis' head left a memory foam-esque mark.

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#87 I'm a Scientist!
August 28 2009, 01:11PM
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HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla wrote:

Oilers: Marleau

Hmm... I don't know. As much as i would like to see ANY change to the line up, i don't know if that is the one i want to see... I guess it would be better than signing Comrie though. Eww.

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#88 HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla
August 28 2009, 01:12PM
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Downright Fierce wrote:

@ HollaHollaHo’sFoADolla: Ha, I’m just the benefactor of a municipal government T1 line.

Figures my taxes go to beating me to the punch in a comments section.

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#89 Ender the Dragon
August 28 2009, 01:17PM
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HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla wrote:

I could live with a deal like this: Oilers: Marleau Sharks: Heatley Sens: Penner, Smid, Nilson (a stretch yes but if they really want him gone…)

I still don't do that deal, and I want PDP gone more than most. Taking emotion out of it though, I don't include Smid as part of that package. If Ottawa does it for only PDP and Nilsson I could be convinced, but I don't think Ottawa parts with Heater for that.

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#90 Racki
August 28 2009, 01:19PM
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Hemmertime wrote:

Until the fans show they aren’t putting past disputes aside and tear him to pieces. Comrie would be better than Nilsson on our team yes, but Ill still booo the bastard for old times sake. I do not think I will be the only one either.

Your choice to, but what does this solve, really? As far as I'm concerned, if they're wearing an Oilers jersey, cheer them on. This city has a bad enough rep as is, without us booing our own. I'll have big respect for Comrie if he walks back into the lion's den. And trust me, I did my share of booing and name calling when he touched the puck as a non-Oiler.

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#91 freeze
August 28 2009, 01:19PM
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@ HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla: yeah, you are right. really close. plus they want to resign Lou for big $$$ next year.

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#92 dyckster
August 28 2009, 01:23PM
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Ender the Dragon wrote:

I still don’t do that deal, and I want PDP gone more than most. Taking emotion out of it though, I don’t include Smid as part of that package. If Ottawa does it for only PDP and Nilsson I could be convinced, but I don’t think Ottawa parts with Heater for that.

I'd rather hang on to PDP, he's the one guy I'm really curious to see how the coaching change effects him. Smid, Nilsson, and O'Sully I would do though.

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#93 Joey Moss
August 28 2009, 01:25PM
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@ freeze: you better listen to him freeze. he is an expert on this stuff and is a self-appointed comment moderator... :|

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#94 Morgan
August 28 2009, 01:25PM
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Dan the Man wrote:

Sign Comrie to a 1 year deal and then flip him in December for Perry and a first rounder…

May I have some of what your smoking

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#95 HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla
August 28 2009, 01:26PM
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Ender the Dragon wrote:

HollaHollaHo’sFoADolla wrote: I could live with a deal like this: Oilers: Marleau Sharks: Heatley Sens: Penner, Smid, Nilson (a stretch yes but if they really want him gone…) I still don’t do that deal, and I want PDP gone more than most. Taking emotion out of it though, I don’t include Smid as part of that package. If Ottawa does it for only PDP and Nilsson I could be convinced, but I don’t think Ottawa parts with Heater for that.

If you can get rid of the deadweight of Penner and Nilson don't you think it would be worth giving up Smid as well? The depth is crazy on this team, simply bring up peckham. Not to mention my heart wont be broken when Marleau doens't resign and we get 6.8 Mil in cap space next summer with the cap going down.

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#96 HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla
August 28 2009, 01:27PM
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*****6.3 mil

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#97 Milli Vanilli
August 28 2009, 01:28PM
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Harold Ballard all over again... sigh

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#98 Mike
August 28 2009, 01:33PM
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Don't bring Comrie back why boo him a second time round,bring back Smyth

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#99 Quicksilver ballet
August 28 2009, 01:40PM
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Sign him up!

Then we can include him with Penner Smid Cogliano deal for HEATLEY!

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#100 OvenChicken8
August 28 2009, 01:41PM
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Mike wrote:

Don’t bring Comrie back why boo him a second time round,bring back Smyth

Smyth and his 6+ million vs Comrie and his 1.5 ish...

I'd stick with Comrie

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