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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#101 Dan the Man
August 28 2009, 01:47PM
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@ Morgan: Seriously? You don't get it? It was a joke, please see post #79.

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#102 Robin Brownlee
August 28 2009, 01:48PM
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botts89 wrote:

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

Who can this rumour be traced back to? MSM? Blogger with connections? Friend of a friend? Guy in his PJs? Finding out where it started -- as opposed to websites regurgitating baseless fantasy -- is a start. Have at it.

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#103 Librarian Mike
August 28 2009, 01:49PM
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Dan the Man wrote:

@ 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.

You and me both, brother. And I used to think they called him 'Kevin Slow' because of his skating...

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#104 Mr.K
August 28 2009, 01:50PM
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@ Milli Vanilli: Do not compare him to Ballard ,that is way worse then cdompare him to Al Davis.

Both Owners are alot more hands on then Katz is.Altest you do not see his face at all.

Seriously you guys are get out of hand with this ,there is even no news form the oilers website and on TSN for that matter.

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#105 swany
August 28 2009, 01:52PM
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Dreger reports that the deal with SJ and Ottawa has cooled off, Van city is now 1 mil over the cap with a ton of D signed to one way deals plus Louy's deal is comming up No room for Heatley as Ottawa only wants about 5-6 mil back in salary that knocks out Van and SJ, the more that moves are made Heatley must be realising that it's Edmonton or Ottawa, and I don't see how the Rags can come into play here either. If Dany said he would go there he's a bullsh@tter, he won't be the main guy and he won't be on the 1st pp unit remember they signed Gabby.

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#106 Downright Fierce
August 28 2009, 01:52PM
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@ Mr.K: Letting nearly baseless rumors get out of hand pretty much defines late August in Oil Country.

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#107 Colin
August 28 2009, 01:54PM
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Is Comrie trying Duff Dark in that pic, instead of Duff Lite?

Anyway yes this is a neutral idea(assuming someone is getting shipped out), but it shouldn't originate from the owner's box.

And how many hobo's did wanye have to harvest to be able to get RB to produce this article?

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#108 Dan the Man
August 28 2009, 01:56PM
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@ Librarian Mike:And I used to think they called him ‘Kevin Slow’ because of his skating…

ha ha..."that's GOLD Jerry!!!!"

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#109 freeze
August 28 2009, 01:57PM
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Wanye's Twitter wrote:

Same guy just said Comrie def has an offer from Oil but hasn't signed yet, but that evythg was "friendly and above board."
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#110 Batman34
August 28 2009, 01:58PM
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And how many hobo’s did wanye have to harvest to be able to get RB to produce this article?

Alot ,Honestly when it comes form a guy who has a girls name.

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#111 Ender the Dragon
August 28 2009, 02:18PM
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dyckster wrote:

Smid, Nilsson, and O’Sully I would do

On the surface, those guys for Marleau makes sense in that the player you're getting back is a big, physical center who won 52% of his FO last season and scored at close to a point a game while doing it. On the other hand, having Marleau for only this year and then (assuming we make the playoffs; have to think positive or there's no point in even playing this season) losing him for nothing in the off-season because we can't afford to re-sign him isn't very palatable. Nilsson I can kiss off, but not Smid so much and especially not Sully; I figure Sully factors large into the Oilers future along with Cogs and Gagne. If Marleau were signed longer term and we could figure out someone to take PDP and clear some salary, I could be convinced. As it is, I don't think so.

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#112 truebluecopperandblue
August 28 2009, 02:19PM
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Sign Comrie tade him with Smid and Penner to Ottawa for Heatly.Then send Heatly to Boston For Kessel and Thorton.

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#113 Downright Fierce
August 28 2009, 02:21PM
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@ truebluecopperandblue: There's so much wrong about that, I don't even know where to start.

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#114 Ender the Dragon
August 28 2009, 02:23PM
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HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla wrote:

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.

After some reflection and especially after having a better look at Marleau, I see some logic to what you are saying. It still doesn't address the big hole on LW, but I might start looking pretty hard at finding a way to make something like that work.

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#115 truebluecopperandblue
August 28 2009, 02:26PM
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@ Downright Fierce: Just saying Heatly doesn't want to come here, Ottawa wants to sign Comrie but cant because of Cap space we need a third party. You may have to take a another player from boston for salary and give up a draft pick. But not that far out there.

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#116 Ender the Dragon
August 28 2009, 02:27PM
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@ truebluecopperandblue:

That is some strong stuff you got with you there. You probably shouldn't drive for awhile.

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#117 dyckster
August 28 2009, 02:30PM
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Ender the Dragon wrote:

On the other hand, having Marleau for only this year

There in lies the problem, almost a deal breaker. Would be nice to have someone of his caliber even for one year though.

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#118 HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla
August 28 2009, 02:44PM
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dyckster wrote:

Ender the Dragon wrote: On the other hand, having Marleau for only this year There in lies the problem, almost a deal breaker. Would be nice to have someone of his caliber even for one year though.

Who cares? He's 30. He won't be that caliber for long. With the cap going down next summer and us pressed against it this summer, we would need to do that deal to free space to sign Gagner Cogs and Grebs. We basically trade smid penner and nilson for a year of Marleau and long term deals for Gagner and Coggy.

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#119 Reagan
August 28 2009, 02:56PM
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There is no way the Oiler scould possibly make room for a guy like Kessel. However, with the right trade Marc Savard would look great in Oiler silks. Why not? Yes, I think from now and ever you will never see the Edmonton Oilers pigeon whole themselves into salary troubles again.

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#120 DeepOil
August 28 2009, 03:07PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

~What’s the worst that could happen when owners make on-ice decisions?~ This will be a frightening end to a frustrating summer

Batman must be golfing at Bear Mountain, taking advice from Len Barrie, who just opened a second 18 hole course with some angel money. Didn't Barrie hire-fire Melrose... while Lowe is given an Ambassador job for his goodwill.... shake some hands in lounge between periods. Hmmm can someone tell me why LaForge has put on the pounds this summer, does he have a thyroid condition, is he ill...

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#121 DeepOil
August 28 2009, 03:12PM
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Brian P wrote:

All I can think about with all this Comrie talk is how that Anaheim deal that Lowe scuttled at the last minute was for Corey Perry and a first, whereas the deal he accepted with Philadelphia was Woywitka and a first. Sigh…

That's what happens when you put in hockey players with a high school education rather than (lifer)managers that have felt the cold of rinks from Flin Flon to Revelstoke..... face it Lowe (and others see Brett Hull - Avery) let his personal emotions get in way of the good of the team, and eventually got his butt removed and promoted out the door. How long did Ken Holland meander in the minors and junior ranks before becoming a genius.

Finally, Oiler Nation is seeing the light here, that Lowe has really handicapped this franchise with overpayment and extensions that were uncalled for. The natives are restless and it will be 2 or 3 more years until Penner and Horcoff are off the books.

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#122 HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla
August 28 2009, 03:15PM
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DeepOil wrote:

The natives are restless and it will be 2 or 3 more years until Penner and Horcoff are off the books.

Uhhhh.... 5 more years actually for Horc.

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#123 HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla
August 28 2009, 03:15PM
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****6

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#124 RossCreek
August 28 2009, 03:22PM
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7

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#125 DeepOil
August 28 2009, 03:23PM
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HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla wrote:

DeepOil wrote: The natives are restless and it will be 2 or 3 more years until Penner and Horcoff are off the books. Uhhhh…. 5 more years actually for Horc.

the insanity of a lazy ass GM overpricing the market with long term contracts... was Horcoff going to walk if he only got 2 or 3 years, based on Katz working out with Horcoff at Bennett.... see nepotism can be diluted down to FOK on and off the ice... and the cap is coming down thanks to the new economy and Bettman denying the sky is falling..... faithful to Glendale until they pull out.

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#126 HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla
August 28 2009, 03:29PM
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RossCreek wrote:

7

Including this upcoming season and beyond

6 more for Horc at 5.5 cap hit per 3 more for Penner at 4.25 cap hit per

*GUNSHOT

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#127 DeepOil
August 28 2009, 03:30PM
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Here is a better photo of the love birds next to the Mercedes G Wagon that Mikey gave Hilary..... question is whether Mikey will have Katz clamp down on the songs played at Rexall, as he went gong show on Oilers Management / VP for bad judgement playing LIPS ARE SEALED during a rare Oilers victory.

Lips Are Sealed - hxxp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60MqeeHHk5M

G Wagon hxxp://hilaryduff.celebden.com/?p=432

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#128 Quicksilver ballet
August 28 2009, 03:34PM
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HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla wrote:

RossCreek wrote: 7 Including this upcoming season and beyond 6 more for Horc at 5.5 cap hit per 3 more for Penner at 4.25 cap hit per *GUNSHOT

Guess you won't be needing that blow up doll anymore then eh....j/k

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#129 DeepOil
August 28 2009, 03:38PM
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HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla wrote:

RossCreek wrote: 7 Including this upcoming season and beyond 6 more for Horc at 5.5 cap hit per 3 more for Penner at 4.25 cap hit per *GUNSHOT

Oilers Hockey Team $200 million Wasted Salary - $45 million Personal Seat Licenses Revenue Lost - $500 million Profit on Real Estate Development Lost - $500 million Katz firing Lowe - Priceless

Building a new rink (or 2) is going to be tough sledding with a team that resembles the mickey mouse club aka 99 quote. Personal Seat Licenses are the key if the government walks away from this elephant.

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#130 HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla
August 28 2009, 03:51PM
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@ DeepOil:

Your alive?!?

Your depressing talk (even by August standards) hasn't been seen in these parts for awhile by my count. And what the hell do we need a new rink for? This thing wouldn't be done for years even if they got the ball rolling today. Even so I won't be losing any sleep over something like replacing RX1. Go away, bitching about the Oilers is only acceptable if used with silly humor. Your 'priceless' line is so old Jesus told it to his buddies in the 3rd grade. Get a new gimmick man, take your mortician approach and peace it.

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#131 Prop Jay
August 28 2009, 03:57PM
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@ swany: Only problem with all that is why did San Jose make the trade if they werent gunning for heatley? They gave up 2 players who are in the nhl now for 2 players who won't be in the nhl for a bit.

Trades are not made just so a team can get worse. Something else is up and I would be in amazement if it wasn't heatley.

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#132 dw
August 28 2009, 04:01PM
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@ HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla: Seconded.

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#133 Word
August 28 2009, 04:03PM
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dw wrote:

Jesus told it to his buddies in the 3rd grade

Kinderjesus sure was a funny dude.

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#134 HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla
August 28 2009, 04:05PM
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@ Word: Only 6 year old with a beard. He had all the bitches.

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#135 Ender the Dragon
August 28 2009, 04:11PM
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Prop Jay wrote:

Something else is up and I would be in amazement if it wasn’t heatley.

It's Heatley. They free up just over half the room they need for his contract with this Vancouver move and they can make up the other half when they consumate the Ottawa deal, even if it's a three-way.

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#136 swany
August 28 2009, 04:11PM
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Prop Jay wrote:

@ swany: Only problem with all that is why did San Jose make the trade if they werent gunning for heatley? They gave up 2 players who are in the nhl now for 2 players who won’t be in the nhl for a bit. Trades are not made just so a team can get worse. Something else is up and I would be in amazement if it wasn’t heatley.

I agree but tell me how he fits money wise. Right now SJ has 4 mil in cap space with 5 players to sign just to have a full roster. Ottawa is over the cap as we type so they won't be taking equal cap hit back so tell me how do the sharks send out 5-6 mil add 7.5 and still sign at the very least 5 guys it's just not doable, even Dreger on twitter said the Heatley to SJ has "cooled off" they just can't make it work. I could see a deal for Kessel before Heatley

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#137 swany
August 28 2009, 04:15PM
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Ender the Dragon wrote:

Prop Jay wrote: Something else is up and I would be in amazement if it wasn’t heatley. It’s Heatley. They free up just over half the room they need for his contract with this Vancouver move and they can make up the other half when they consumate the Ottawa deal, even if it’s a three-way.

Your forgetting about the other 5 guys they have to sign just to fill out there roster. 17 players signed with 4 mil in cap space, explain how they do this trade it doesn't work money wise no way

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#138 Nik
August 28 2009, 04:17PM
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note that this was not for SJ to clear space for Heatley.

look at how many iced players SJ has going into camp. They have 10 forwards and 5 dmen!

This was purely for them to clear 3+ mill to sign some players to ice.

Pipe dream yes...unless we are dealing more smaller players to them for Cheechoo or something

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#139 HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla
August 28 2009, 04:19PM
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If you trade Marleau and a pylon your pretty much swapping even salary for Heatley.

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#140 Ender the Dragon
August 28 2009, 04:20PM
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swany wrote:

it’s just not doable

How does this grab you; Heatley thinks he's an unrestricted free agent, right? So San Jose says 'OK, Heater; you want the sunshine instead of snow? We get that. So we'll trade for you, but the second you get here we're tearing up your contract and wrinting a new deal for less money. You prefer San Jose? We prefer a cheaper starting LW.'

Other players have renegotiated their contracts in the middle; hell, the Yashin fiasco was a perfect example of just that, only he wanted to go the other way. Anything in the CBA that would preclude a player for rewriting his contract and offering to play for less money? I think with only days left before training camp and angry Senators fans and media looming large in his future, Heater would take anything SJ offered.

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#141 David S
August 28 2009, 04:22PM
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HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla wrote:

Get a new gimmick man, take your mortician approach and peace it.

He's been going on forever about this "seat licenses"thing. I swear he's a former Oilers janitor that got canned by Pat Laforge himself (only after Laforge spit on his shoe). Life ruining personal vendetta I suspect.

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#142 David S
August 28 2009, 04:24PM
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DeepOil wrote:

Lips Are Sealed - hxxp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60MqeeHHk5M

Hilary is meh. But on the other hand, her sister Haylie is HAWT!

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#143 swany
August 28 2009, 04:26PM
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Ender the Dragon wrote:

swany wrote: it’s just not doable How does this grab you; Heatley thinks he’s an unrestricted free agent, right? So San Jose says ‘OK, Heater; you want the sunshine instead of snow? We get that. So we’ll trade for you, but the second you get here we’re tearing up your contract and wrinting a new deal for less money. You prefer San Jose? We prefer a cheaper starting LW.’ Other players have renegotiated their contracts in the middle; hell, the Yashin fiasco was a perfect example of just that, only he wanted to go the other way. Anything in the CBA that would preclude a player for rewriting his contract and offering to play for less money? I think with only days left before training camp and angry Senators fans and media looming large in his future, Heater would take anything SJ offered.

That contract is signed in gold, you can't redo a contract untill he is in the last year of that contract, what ever team trades for him has to pay 7.5 for 5 years.

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#144 ronaldo
August 28 2009, 04:27PM
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@ Ender the Dragon: I"m pretty sure the CBA does preclude this.

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#145 swany
August 28 2009, 04:29PM
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HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla wrote:

If you trade Marleau and a pylon your pretty much swapping even salary for Heatley.

Ottawa is over the cap by a mil they won't be taking back equal cap hit no way.

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#146 Ender the Dragon
August 28 2009, 04:31PM
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@ swany: @ ronaldo:

I just did some digging and it's looks like you're right. Other pro sports allow it but the last NHL CBA closed that option pretty tight for hockey. Looks like Swany has a good point.

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#147 HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla
August 28 2009, 04:34PM
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@ swany: Which makes me wonder... Why the %$&# did they sign Kovalev????

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#148 oilitsinyoutogive
August 28 2009, 04:37PM
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Mr.K wrote:

Both Owners are alot more hands on then Katz is.Altest you do not see his face at all.

the truth of the matter is Mr.Katz can only be seen by a camera when hes got a 2 foot lift box under his feet. Its not his fault he cant see over the table hes sitting at when the camera guys are lookin for him. haha i joke he seems like a good dude, just a tad short

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#149 swany
August 28 2009, 04:38PM
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Ender the Dragon wrote:

@ swany: @ ronaldo: I just did some digging and it’s looks like you’re right. Other pro sports allow it but the last NHL CBA closed that option pretty tight for hockey. Looks like Swany has a good point.

Thanks, so does anyone have an idea how SJ trades for Heatley? Side point report that Heatley's agents are now getting desperate, they are contacting teams that were interested for heatley to see if there is any intrest left senchirp, It's clear Edmonton, or ottawa. RB 10 bucks he's an Oiler before camp starts.

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#150 Deep Oil
August 28 2009, 04:41PM
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@ HollaHollaHo'sFoADolla:

Sorry not bitching, but it seems that the oiler faithful here think that this team is actually competitive and have not made the post season for the last 3 years...... it is fun watching players avoid Edmonton and no one is coming out and saying why, it only took 7 years to figure it out why the cookie jar was being raided by former oilers hirings by the GM. Drink the oiler kool aid, be an obdient customer and don't bring in any derogatory signs as free speech ends when you buy a ticket, the sign police will evict you - see troubleshooter global - LOWE MUST GO - circa Feb when Smyth was traded. Keep buying the PPV as well, every nickel counts.

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