Deep thoughts XI: Making due

Robin Brownlee
August 05 2009 11:45PM

the-gambler

Making the best of a bad situation is usually easier said than done, but when it's the only option, you can either play the cards you're dealt and suck it up or fold your hand, pee your pants and curl up in a corner sobbing at the injustice of it all.

That's pretty much where Steve Tambellini sits today after failing to get Dany Heatley to stop sucking his thumb long enough to agree to a trade that would make him an Edmonton Oiler during a summer in which he's managed exactly one notable player personnel move -- the overpayment that is the four-year contract inked by Nikolai Khabibulin.

Tambellini still hasn't addressed the need for a first-line left-winger, hasn't added a checking centre who can kill penalties and win face-offs and he hasn't done anything to replace the production lost when Ales Kotalik was allowed to walk as an unrestricted free agent.

That said, and with the challenges obvious to anybody with a functioning brain stem, I don't see any need for fans make like Mr. Leahy and assume a prone position with a big pee stain on the front of their pants.

Call me naïve, or a rights holder even, but there's got to be a way to turn a fistful of jokers into a decent hand, or at least something to bluff with. What could possibly go wrong?

THE PDP SOLUTION

The way I see it, Dustin Penner remains the best option from the personnel under contract now as this team's first-line left-winger.

I don't think being included in the Ottawa package for Heatley with Andrew Cogliano and Ladislav Smid is going to bother Penner a bit -- at least not as much as the subtraction of Craig MacTavish behind the bench is going to help him.

If I'm Pat Quinn and Tom Renney, I've already made a call to Penner that he better arrive for training camp in the best shape of his life because I'm going to play his ass off in the first 20 games of the season and see what happens. First-line time. First-unit power play time. The works.

Will Penner score 40-50 goals even under optimum circumstances? Not a chance. Could he manage 35? If PDP has any spine and even one shred of pride under that spare tire, I think so. How better to shove it to MacT than succeed in his absence?

If Penner can't succeed here this year after cashing cheques he hasn't earned for two seasons, he can't succeed here at all.

What's the option? Sit him out? Bury him on the fourth line? Bury him in the minors? That's cutting off your nose to spite your face.

OUTSIDE THE BOX

-- I never got caught up in the YouTube ga-ga over the offensive wizardry of Rob Schremp, but if I'm Quinn and Renney I'm giving the kid a real look this pre-season in a position where he can succeed.

Schremp was never going to get a sniff here under MacTavish. If he isn't too far gone, if he isn't sulking at how he's been treated and if he wasn't wrecked by the horrid season he just had in Springfield, maybe there's a chance he can show something.

While I'm not betting the house on it, Schremp might surprise his critics if he's encouraged for being what he is, a creator of offence, instead of being criticized for what he's not. Nothing to lose. It's time.

-- Gilbert Brule has a job to lose at training camp. He's faster, more skilled and grittier than Kyle Brodziak. Is there any reason he shouldn't be able to fill his spot and role on this roster?

-- If J.F. Jacques and a draft pick or prospect won't get it done, offer the Washington Capitals Cogliano for David Steckel.

-- Let teams know Ethan Moreau and Steve Staios are available, cheap. Let a handful of teams know that Tom Gilbert or Denis Grebeshkov are available, not cheap.

AND...

-- So Michael Nylander, on the outs in Washington, thinks Edmonton might be a good place to play? Really? Is that so? Is that right? Nothing personal about the way you flipped off the Oilers the first time and pulled a fast one on Kevin Lowe, eh? No chance.

-- Charlie Huddy should still be employed here.

-- 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 Ogden Brother
August 06 2009, 09:38AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: Sportsnet’s player pages.

Thanks man.

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#52 ronaldo
August 06 2009, 09:40AM
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We should be able to get a read on MacT coaching skills if we go into this season with the team as is. With a lack of any exciting new acquisitions, it will at least be an interesting comparison.

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#53 JRyanMac
August 06 2009, 09:45AM
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@ Archaeologuy: I wouldn't go so far as to say MacT is done,he's a good hockey mind. I'd say teams looking for a new coach may have been put off by his inabilty to motivate his players for the last couple seasons.

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#54 Archaeologuy
August 06 2009, 09:47AM
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The Fish wrote:

I think the fact that he took a rag tag bunch of mutts to game 7 of the stanley cup finals will probably hold some water with some desperate franchises

A rag tag bunch of guys like Pronger, Peca, Spacek, Samsonov, Smyth, Smith, getting career seasons from Horc Stoll and Torres.

Lets not forget that under his leadership that team also just narrowly escaped missing the playoffs all-together. He led a team that took the Cup finals to game 7 with their backup goalie to an 8th place finish.

There's always a way for a potential employer to spin anything. And considering that 1 playoff run was in no way representative of his coaching career, i think most people would value that run low when doing their homework on MacT.

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#55 Bob Cob
August 06 2009, 09:48AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Two questions: 1) Who do you bump out of the top-six for Schremp? Nilsson? O’Sullivan? blockquote> How is O'sullivan not automatically in the top six? The better question: Who is good enough to bump O'Sullivan out of the top six? The way I see it you have Penner, Horcoff and Hemsky than O'Sullivan, Gagne and Cogliano.
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#56 Archaeologuy
August 06 2009, 09:52AM
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@ JRyanMac: If Pat Quinn had to sit out a couple years and then take a job coaching the Junior team just to get back in the minds of NHL teams then MacT will need to take a similar route back, and hope someone thinks enough of him to let him run their Jr squad.

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#57 Rocksteady
August 06 2009, 09:54AM
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[quote] – Charlie Huddy should still be employed here. [/quote]

Here Here BL!

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#58 Rocksteady
August 06 2009, 09:54AM
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[quote] – Charlie Huddy should still be employed here. [/quote] Here Here BL!

Ohh so that's how quoting works around here..

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#59 Ogden Brother
August 06 2009, 09:56AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

The Fish wrote: I think the fact that he took a rag tag bunch of mutts to game 7 of the stanley cup finals will probably hold some water with some desperate franchises A rag tag bunch of guys like Pronger, Peca, Spacek, Samsonov, Smyth, Smith, getting career seasons from Horc Stoll and Torres. Lets not forget that under his leadership that team also just narrowly escaped missing the playoffs all-together. He led a team that took the Cup finals to game 7 with their backup goalie to an 8th place finish. There’s always a way for a potential employer to spin anything. And considering that 1 playoff run was in no way representative of his coaching career, i think most people would value that run low when doing their homework on MacT.

Yet we can't expect a Quinn/Renney combo to overcome the loss of Kotalik and Brodziak?

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#60 Archaeologuy
August 06 2009, 09:56AM
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@ Rocksteady: You can also just highlight what you want and then hit the quote button. Except there is no option to do that on the main article.

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#61 danjo1
August 06 2009, 10:00AM
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I'm drinkin' the Kool-Aid again this year!!! Thanks Robin :D

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#62 JRyanMac
August 06 2009, 10:00AM
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@ Archaeologuy:

I agree with that, maybe he'll have to prove that has the ability to coach and develope young players, and their personalities properly-something i wish he could have done in Edmonton.

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#63 Travis Dakin
August 06 2009, 10:00AM
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The Fish wrote:

I think the fact that he took a rag tag bunch of mutts to game 7 of the stanley cup finals will probably hold some water with some desperate franchises.

It's a common misconsetion throughout the league that they were an an average 8th place team. The roster in December was, but that team that started the playoffs was a deep, beautiful team. Anchored by arguably the best D-man in the league at the time.

Hemsky, Smyth, Horcoff, Stoll, Torres, Peca, Samsanov, Dvorak, Murray, Moreau, Pisani, Laraque, Harvey, Winchester

CFP, Spacek, Smith, Staios, Greene, Bergeron, Tarnstrom, Ulanov

Roli, Markannen

Deep. But it can't be argued that he did not out coach all the other coaches. Only a key injury......

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#64 Scott
August 06 2009, 10:01AM
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Something that I thought of while reading all the posts and Nylanders interview...tell me what your thoughts are on this.

As Robin has pointed out, Steckel would be a great fit here but would washington give him up? Robin has said Washington wants size. Nylander wants out. How about a trade that sees Nylander and Steckel come to Edmonton for Penner??? We take on a bit of salary but this helps washington get rid of nylander and we have them throw in Steckel for us taking on Nylander.....not sure if I like this idea or not..just something that came to me.

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#65 Archaeologuy
August 06 2009, 10:02AM
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@ Ogden Brother: Even RB in this very article discussed losing Kotalik and and a face-off winning penalty killer. Yet you're still taking shots at me for bringing up the fact that the team has less NHL talent today than prior to the draft.

Ofcourse i think the team will perform better under anyone not named MacT. Does that mean the talent is better? No, not at all. Performance is Quinn's job, Talent is Tambi's. My complaints are about Tambi, not Quinn.

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#66 Peter Ing
August 06 2009, 10:08AM
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I think Rolison should have been here, get rid of JDD and bring him back.

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#67 Peter Ing
August 06 2009, 10:11AM
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Are you rocked? @ Ing

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#68 Robin Brownlee
August 06 2009, 10:19AM
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Peter Ing wrote:

Are you rocked? @ Ing

Are you talking to yourself now or attempting to file posts under different names?

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#69 Death Metal Nightmare
August 06 2009, 10:20AM
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Cogs for Steckel - overboard. thats a mad man's fantasy hockey trade right there. "please, please, i must get my faceoff % category up in the rotisserie league." im all for Steckel or any other lump of flesh who wants to win a face off and stand in front of slap shots on the PK, but thats too much.

and Dustin Penner cant succeed. blame Mac-T all you want, but that fatso had no intention of "succeeding" from Day 1 with his lack of preparation and laissez-faire attitude. giving him even the Mac-T excuse after two years is PISS STAIN critique. theres a difference between Mac-T not "using him properly" and PDP making his own f-ing hay. hes too lazy to work. sorry. maybe we can watch him go offsides 80 more times this year trying to cheat into the zone so he can keep up with Hemsky rushing in. fart.

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#70 The Fish
August 06 2009, 10:26AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

A rag tag bunch of guys like Pronger, Peca, Spacek, Samsonov, Smyth, Smith, getting career seasons from Horc Stoll and Torres.

Yes. Rag Tag bunch of mutts.

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#71 Mike Krushelnyski
August 06 2009, 10:30AM
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@ Death Metal Nightmare: That is the first time I have ever seen someone refer to a hockey player's attitude as "laissez-faire"

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#72 Jason Gregor
August 06 2009, 10:33AM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

Anchored by arguably the best D-man in the league at the time.

Are you on Oil-aid? The Human Rake played close to 30 minutes a night during the playoffs...the rest were good soldiers, but none have ever been a consistent #2 in their careers. Spacek played great for 30 games here, and lots of those games were with the Rake...

They were good, but best in the league...wow...TD you must have had a big glass of Oil-aid this morning.

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#73 Ogden Brother
August 06 2009, 10:39AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Travis Dakin wrote: Anchored by arguably the best D-man in the league at the time. Are you on Oil-aid? The Human Rake played close to 30 minutes a night during the playoffs…the rest were good soldiers, but none have ever been a consistent #2 in their careers. Spacek played great for 30 games here, and lots of those games were with the Rake… They were good, but best in the league…wow…TD you must have had a big glass of Oil-aid this morning.

I think he meant D-man singular: ie Pronger was the best in the league, anchoring the defense/team.

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#74 Jonathan Willis
August 06 2009, 10:39AM
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@ Jason Gregor:

I think he meant Pronger was arguably the best defenseman, not that the top-six were the best in the NHL (although they were a good group - Spacek, Smith and Staios were all at their best).

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#75 Jonathan Willis
August 06 2009, 10:40AM
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@ Ogden Brother:

Beat me to it.

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#76 Ogden Brother
August 06 2009, 10:41AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: Even RB in this very article discussed losing Kotalik and and a face-off winning penalty killer. Yet you’re still taking shots at me for bringing up the fact that the team has less NHL talent today than prior to the draft. Ofcourse i think the team will perform better under anyone not named MacT. Does that mean the talent is better? No, not at all. Performance is Quinn’s job, Talent is Tambi’s. My complaints are about Tambi, not Quinn.

So using 85 as our base, how many points do you see the Oil getting 09/10?

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#77 JRyanMac
August 06 2009, 10:45AM
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@ Mike Krushelnyski: Its the first time I've seen someone fart on ON.

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#78 The Fish
August 06 2009, 10:45AM
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@ Ogden Brother: hundy

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#79 Travis Dakin
August 06 2009, 10:48AM
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@ Jason Gregor: That's what I said in the post... The team that started the playoffs was deep.

If Pronger hadn't have taken 20 games to find his groove here he would have won the Norris. He was incredible in the playoffs. Spacek came over and was reborn alongside Pronger. They were dinamite together.

Smith was in top form as a punishing defender. Between him, and Staios willing to sacrifice anything to get in front of a puck... I bet they were both near the top of the league in blocked shots.

Whomever they rotated in and out of the line-up, having Tarnstrom and Bergeron was a little help offensively and Greene was just learning the ropes but as you pointed out, Having CFP on the ice every second shift was enough to bolster any deficiencies. I didn't say they were perfect, just that as a group they were deep and good enough to overmatch some really good teams.

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#80 Travis Dakin
August 06 2009, 10:50AM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

dinamite

haha dinamite

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#81 Archaeologuy
August 06 2009, 10:54AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

So using 85 as our base, how many points do you see the Oil getting 09/10?

It took 91 just to claim 8th in the West this last season. I think that number is attainable, but if Horcoff is just as inept as last season and the kids dont break-out, it wont happen. Good things can happen, but they depend on people doing things they havent ever done or havent done in years. Things need to go right for the club in ways that havent happened since i was in pre-school.

I'm sorry for my gloomy predictions lately. My frustration level with the Oilers is reverting back to where it was in February because of the lack of addressing issues we have been discussing on ON for months.

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#82 Travis Dakin
August 06 2009, 10:55AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

but if Horcoff is just as inept as last season

you mean, "if Horcoff isn't as overworked as last season"

It's cool, I got your back.

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#83 Mike Krushelnyski
August 06 2009, 10:56AM
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JRyanMac wrote:

@ Mike Krushelnyski: Its the first time I’ve seen someone fart on ON.

You must not come here very often.

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#84 Archaeologuy
August 06 2009, 10:58AM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

you mean, “if Horcoff isn’t as overworked as last season”

I would like to see how he is used under Quinn/Renney. I might have to retract everything i ever said about the guy if it turns out that MacT ruined his season too.

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#85 Mike Krushelnyski
August 06 2009, 10:58AM
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@ Archaeologuy: Gloomy predictions? I'd say 91 points is pretty damn optimistic.

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#86 Travis Dakin
August 06 2009, 11:03AM
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@ Archaeologuy: It's funny with Horcoff, In 05/06 he wsa the #1 center on a game 7 SCF team and everyone loved him. In 06/07 he was a bum. In 07/08 he was a point a game player and an all-star before injury and everyone loved him again. Last year he had to cover EVERYONES a*sses and wasn't able to put up as many points so he is a bum again. So far it's looking like he isn't going to get any support again this year so.... dear jeebus we need someone to do some "heavy lifting."

This team would be seriously pooched if he was lost. someday, people will recognize his value.

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#87 Ogden Brother
August 06 2009, 11:03AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: So using 85 as our base, how many points do you see the Oil getting 09/10? It took 91 just to claim 8th in the West this last season. I think that number is attainable, but if Horcoff is just as inept as last season and the kids dont break-out, it wont happen. Good things can happen, but they depend on people doing things they havent ever done or havent done in years. Things need to go right for the club in ways that havent happened since i was in pre-school. I’m sorry for my gloomy predictions lately. My frustration level with the Oilers is reverting back to where it was in February because of the lack of addressing issues we have been discussing on ON for months.

So that's why I "took shots at you" you claim:

1. Coaching was incompetent 2. Coaching is very impactful on the teams record

And you also claim that replacing incompetent coaching with the 5th winningest coach in history will have a minimal affect on the team.

if, the coaching change really will have a minimal affect on the record, it must mean either:

1. The difference between MacT and Quinn isn't actually that great.

or

2. Coaching isn't as impactful as you claim.

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#88 Mikey
August 06 2009, 11:09AM
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@ Ogden Brother: @ Archaeologuy: Ok we get it. You two have argued enough on that topic haven't you? Just agree to disagree already.

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#89 Cam
August 06 2009, 11:11AM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

@ Archaeologuy: It’s funny with Horcoff, In 05/06 he wsa the #1 center on a game 7 SCF team and everyone loved him. In 06/07 he was a bum. In 07/08 he was a point a game player and an all-star before injury and everyone loved him again. Last year he had to cover EVERYONES a*sses and wasn’t able to put up as many points so he is a bum again. So far it’s looking like he isn’t going to get any support again this year so…. dear jeebus we need someone to do some “heavy lifting.” This team would be seriously pooched if he was lost. someday, people will recognize his value.

I think you are bang on with these comments. Horc is a machine... and he tried to block a slap shot with his face in the playoffs in 06... you gotta love that kind of commitment.

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#90 Racki
August 06 2009, 11:11AM
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I made a comment on my blog last night about Penner (I think if my name is clicked it takes you there, just so I don't have to shamelessly plug it any further than I already have).

To sum it up quickly, when Penner is on the ice, he's making linemates better. There's a stat out there on HockeyAnalysis that tracks GF/ON and GF/OFF. When he's on the ice with linemates, he makes almost everyone better (no exaggeration... of people with 100 or more mins of TOI with Penner, only Strudwick didn't see benefit, and that's not a concern obviously). I think what surprised me most is Gagner saw benefit as well too. I hadn't realized it. But I'm thinking if we don't see Penner on line 1, he could be a force on line 2 and open up ice for Gagner. We talk about needing size on his line.. well there it is.

Bump O'Sully up to line 1. Move Penner to line 2 with Cogliano. Send Nilsson a bus ticket out of here, and we're looking better.

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#91 bingofuel
August 06 2009, 11:14AM
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@ Racki:

Nice site! I've added you to the OilersNation blogroll!

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#92 Travis Dakin
August 06 2009, 11:15AM
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@ Cam: Not to mention he is a ridiculously hard worker and by all accounts a good leader. I think the kids specially could use a lot of him in their playing careers.

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#93 Mikey
August 06 2009, 11:16AM
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@ Racki: Gagner and Penner looked to have a little bit of chemistry last year while they played together I thought. They both prefer to play off the cycle and not off the rush which ultimately is why I don't think Penner really works on the first line with Hemmer. I really think Gagner would benefit playing with him IF Dustin brings what he is capable of bringing.

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#94 Harlie
August 06 2009, 11:20AM
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Islands in the stream That is what we are No one in-between How can we be wrong Sail away with me to another world And we rely on each other, ah-ah From one lover to another, ah-ah

cue Dolly and her delicious fun bags..

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#95 JRyanMac
August 06 2009, 11:20AM
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@ Mike Krushelnyski:

I do, but I guess I just don't spend much time in the washroom here.

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#96 Travis Dakin
August 06 2009, 11:21AM
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would anybody trade Cogs as part of package to get Stoll back? I would.

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#97 Racki
August 06 2009, 11:22AM
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bingofuel wrote:

@ Racki: Nice site! I’ve added you to the OilersNation blogroll!

Wow, that's awesome.. thanks a lot :)

Mikey wrote:

@ Racki: Gagner and Penner looked to have a little bit of chemistry last year while they played together I thought. They both prefer to play off the cycle and not off the rush which ultimately is why I don’t think Penner really works on the first line with Hemmer. I really think Gagner would benefit playing with him IF Dustin brings what he is capable of bringing.

Ya, I think Gagner is a better fit for Penner just because Hemsky's lightning speed makes it difficult on Penner to join in on the rush. O'Sullivan has the wheels to keep up, as does a guy like Cogliano. So I'd like to see either of those guys on line 1. Gagner can lead a rush (that hi-lite reel goal he scored against Vancouver last year being a great example), but he definitely slows the game down a bit more. Penner will open up ice for him.

I think the team has the offensive tools it needs to succeed, even though I WOULD like to see a #1 LW or C upgrade. But we can get by with what we have. Now if only Tambellini would be on board with signing a guy like Malhotra. Honestly... I like Nilsson, but he's duplicated here. I would trade/waive/demote him and scoop up Malhotra.

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#98 Travis Dakin
August 06 2009, 11:23AM
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@ Racki: That is really a good site bud. Keep it up.

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#99 Ender the Dragon
August 06 2009, 11:26AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

The way I see it, Dustin Penner remains the best option from the personnel under contract now as this team’s first-line left-winger.

Agreed, but he still sucks. It's a huge hole, and I think 35 is wildly optimistic.

Robin Brownlee wrote:

While I’m not betting the house on it, Schremp might surprise his critics if he’s encouraged for being what he is . . .

The house? I wouldn't even be willing to to bet the security-locked Blackberry I found ditched in the alley yesterday. And who the hell puts Hanna Montana on their Crackberry, anyway?

Robin Brownlee wrote:

If J.F. Jacques and a draft pick or prospect won’t get it done, offer the Washington Capitals Cogliano for David Steckel.

I like Steckel. I remember you talking about him a ways back as a good fit, and I ran accross his name again on my own when researching the league-leaders last year for FO%. All that said, Cogs is too much. Someday, Cogliano is going to be a great player in this league (though not Elite, as Gregor would point out) while Steckel is never going to be much more than what he is. This year, that trade might end up being a wash with the Oil getting the solid 3rd-line centre they need. But sometime in the not-too distant future, that trade is going to look all different shades of suck.

Robin Brownlee wrote:

Charlie Huddy should still be employed here.

My first thought was 'Damn skippy, Sir.' Then I thought about it a bit, though, and I realized that I didn't suit up under his watch last year. Despite being (I think) a good hockey mind and coach, the only way he works here is if you take a straw-poll and all the players agree they want him back and view him as completely independent from the troubles that dogged MacT last year. If any of those players view him as 'more bad coaching' this year, then you don't even give Quinn and Renney a fighting chance. And promoting him to some off-ice position just gives bad optics in the incestual oranization that has become the Oilers, whether he's the best man for the job or not.

It ain't fair that we lost a good soldier, but I don't see how he could have stayed.

Avatar
#100 Ogden Brother
August 06 2009, 11:27AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
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cheers

Mikey wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: @ Archaeologuy: Ok we get it. You two have argued enough on that topic haven’t you? Just agree to disagree already.

I appologize, but endless little comments like: "Really? Because from my perpective a monkey with a learning disability and a spastic colon would be an improvement." Are to much for me to ignore.

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