Musings on an August morn

Jason Gregor
August 07 2009 09:19AM

crosbyparty

It’s Sid the Kid’s birthday today, (he needs a new nickname because he’s outgrown it and it’s stupid) and he’ll be having a parade in Cole Harbour touring with his new best friend, Stanley. Oh the fun they will have shaking hands, kissing babies and trying to avoid the legions of groupies hoping to carry his love child.

Why the hell might Oiler fans care about this - given that the rate their team team is moving it will be a long time before Sam Gagner is bringing Stanley with him on a parade through the streets of London to celebrate his Aug 10th birthday.

It’s still 35 long days until the Oilers officially arrive for training camp. When Steve Tambellini announced Craig MacTavish wasn’t coming back he declared that MacTavish’s dismissal wasn’t just solely on the former coach’s shoulders, but that the players had to realize that they were responsible as well.

I guess Dwayne Roloson, Kyle Brodziak and Ales Kotalik were the key culprits because to date they are the only ones who won’t be returning. I’m not naïve enough to think that Tambellini hasn’t looked at other moves, but right now the only differences heading into camp this year compared to last is no Brodziak, and Nikolai Khabibulin is in while Mathieu Garon and Roloson out.

I wonder if the team and management will be beating the same, “We will compete for the division title” drum that we heard last year. And if not, how come? To hell with humility, if they believe they can compete for the division there is nothing wrong with saying it, but I’m guessing you will hear a much more reserved approach come September.

Right now I don’t see the Oilers any differently than I did a year ago, other than Pat Quinn having their undivided attention, which should make this team a bit better. But right now the Oilers once again look a team that could finish between 7th to 12th. I don’t think anyone could confidently predict an exact spot, although we will before the season starts.

Accountability

The veterans like Moreau, Horcoff, Staios, Pisani, Hemsky, Souray and young Gagner, will be held accountable this year. There is no way that Quinn will give them as much leeway as MacTavish did last year, and that will make them better.

While the vets will be like young kids trying to earn the respect of their teacher, the younger players better be ready to compete.

I don’t buy that just because Quinn is making out the lineup that Dustin Penner, Robert Nilsson, Ladislav Smid and Patrick O’Sullivan will automatically become consistent. While Smid and O’Sullivan aren’t close in the underachieving and uninspired levels of Penner and Nilsson all four have battled consistency.

Penner infuriated Randy Carlyle just as much as he did MacTavish, and Nilsson’s unwillingness to show up every night didn’t materialize under MacTavish. Both players need to look in the mirror and realize that the reflection is their biggest detractor, not the coach. Unless Quinn has some special Zen-master like powers the only way Penner and Nilsson show up consistently is by having the pride to do so.

Tom Gilbert and Denis Grebeshkov have improved the past few seasons, but last year both were softer in front of the net than a guy sitting front row at a peeler bar when he sees his sister stroll up on stage. (True story about a guy I went to school with, but that’s for another day).

Sure the Oilers sucked at faceoffs, and their forwards weren’t great at blocking shots, but the two G-men got a free pass far too often when it came to losing battles and position in front of the goal on the PK. (Staios was a major culprit here as well).

Quinn and the coaching staff will have a different system. It will be more up-tempo with an aggressive forechecking style that, if the players have the gonads to play consistently, should prove beneficial.

So here we sit as Sid the Kid celebrates his 22nd birthday drinking Gatorade from Stanley ’s Cup, with a real sense of déjà vu. Oiler fans have seen this movie before, but are hoping that a young Cogliano, or Gagner or maybe a veteran like Hemsky or Horcoff can lead this team offensively, while the team finds a way to keep the puck out of the net.

Are you sick of it? Probably not, because many of you have forgotten what it’s like to feel any differently about the Copper and Blue a month away from the start of the season.

ARE SOME OF YOU REALLY THIS DESPERATE?

paris-hilton

I’m stunned at how many emails I’ve received from fans claiming Nick Zherdev is the answer.

“The Oilers need Zherdev. He has great skill and being from the Ukraine means he’ll feel at home in the winter here. Give him $6 million over two years and we’ll make the playoffs for sure.”  - Tim “Zherdev for $3 million is a steal and Tambellini should sign him ASAP. I’ve watched him play and his skill is top-five in the league. Quinn will make him work hard, trust me.” - Bill from Clareview

I can understand that fans want some new blood, but at least go after a player who has enough heart to pump the blood through his veins more than once every four games.

ANOTHER LEGEND IS GONE

johnhughes

I was a big fan of JR, especially when he played in Chicago , but he never produced as many memories as John Hughes. Hughes wrote, produced and directed some of the most memorable movies in the 1980s.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles was my favourite. I wasn’t a fan of Steve Martin until he teamed up with John Candy in this classic. It’s filled with memorable quotes, “Those aren’t pillows…How about those Bears”…or Martin’s F-bomb tirade at Marathon Car Rental or this scene:

Candy was awesome…”How would he know where we are going”…It still cracks me up.

Hughes was also the mastermind of classics like The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Uncle Buck, Pretty in Pink, The Great Outdoors and Home Alone. Interesting that Home Alone was his most successful movie of all-time. For my money it didn’t come close to PTA or Bueller, but regardless he was a force in the 80s.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#51 Hemmertime
August 07 2009, 12:04PM
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@ Doug: Where they Peel off their clothing, any place where woman are paid to get naked (the ones where they just do it for fun is a bonus).

I want to go to a Quebec club, they still allow 2 women on stage and ... touching...

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#52 Doug
August 07 2009, 12:06PM
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Well isn't it often said that the more progessive thinkers live on the east coast?

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#53 Hockey Gods
August 07 2009, 12:09PM
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@ Doug: I prefer to use the great Al Bundy's referance for the Strip Club, the "Jiggly Room"

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#54 Doug
August 07 2009, 12:23PM
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and i also think we should get Zherdev but what do i know, he's probably a pu$$y just like everybody says.

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#55 Stef
August 07 2009, 12:39PM
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I don't have a problem with heading into camp with the roster looking like it is. (Now, that's not to say, I wouldn't like to see some trades that do visibly improve the club.) I've said it elsewhere too. With all of the problems, or excuses, this team had all of last year (poor schedule, multiple slumps, three-headed monster, etc), this team was in a playoff spot at the All-Star break. It was only the last quarter where everything caught up with 'em, Visnovsky went down and MacT completely lost everyone in the room except Roloson that it fell apart.

The schedule is markedly better (on paper.) The pressure of being declared a potential division champ is off. Visnovsky is back healthy. Many of our young players are a year older (and a couple of 'em are playing for contracts) which should pay dividends. As was mentioned the coaching staff should have their undivided attention. To myself, it points to surprise team. We'll see.

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#56 ronaldo
August 07 2009, 12:49PM
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@ Stef Realistic optimism- nice to see. While I'm not holding my breath that this will be a surprisingly positive season, there is that potential. Of course, lots of things need to fall in place and many players need to exceed expectations for a change. But it can happen right? Right? Please. Go good guys!

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#57 Shannon
August 07 2009, 12:51PM
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Ahh, finally. Insight into the male mind. Seeing how mens minds work never ceases to amaze me. I'm not sure my husband will appreciate my new insight, though!

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#58 Rice
August 07 2009, 12:57PM
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hmmm random thought for the day: when developing young talent (gagner, cogliano, eberle, raja...) does it matter if there is currently no one on the team that is at the skill level that is projected for these kids? What I am asking is, as it has been 15 years (or so) since the Oil have had a 50 goal scorer, is there any chance of developing on from our current set of youngsters? do they need a 50 goal scorer to learn how to score 50 goals? or is hemmer enough of an elite player that they can learn. If we trade Cogliano to Washington for David Steckel and he then gets to play with Ovechkin willl he not be a better player than he ever could be if he only has Hemmer to look to as the premier skilled player on his team? Is skill required to develop skill or is it something that can be coached?

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#59 ronaldo
August 07 2009, 01:04PM
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@ Rice IMO, I do believe there is credence in that. Look at our beloved team from the 80's and to a man they all said how much they learned from 99. Look at Detroit. Of course, an elite player should be able to rise regardless of who he's with- Ovechkin. Problem is we're never drafting close enough to #1 to get that type of player.

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#60 Rice
August 07 2009, 01:23PM
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Fair enough , but do the players that the Oil have in the system have the ability to become MORE elite than those currently on the roster?

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#61 ronaldo
August 07 2009, 01:38PM
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@ Rice Doubt it. When I look at the youngsters (can't believe I just used that word) be it Gagner/ Cogs or Eberle/ MPS I see potentially really good second line players, maybe even a decent first line guy, but nobody I would consider elite. (Elite = Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin). Even just looking for MORE elite, I say Gagner has best potential. Never know though, we are talking about very young players.

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#62 Hemmertime
August 07 2009, 01:42PM
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I've been thinking, my #1 target for the Edmonton Oilers.

Vaclav Prospal

34 years old, so we can sign him to a "long term we are going to buy you out at the end" cap friendly contract because he is under 35. 6 year deal with 2 mil cap hit? Say 4-3-3-1-500k-500k. Maybe make it 7 year contract to toss in a few more mil at the start. He is only 1 year removed from a 71 point season and his point totals last year (45) would have been good for 3rd in Oiler scoring.

This makes total sense. 25-14-33-19 goals since the lockout. Even at 2.5-3 cap hit he makes more sense than Kotalik's contract. Even if doesn't play top line (and I could see him making a strong push to get the spot)

Penner - Horcoff - Hemsky Prospal - Osullivan/Cogs - Gagner

looks like a good top 6/PP combination.

Also, Prospal faceoffs 2008/2009 FO 200 53% win 2007/2008 FO 176 Win 54.6 2006/2007 FO 124 Win 52.4 2005/2006 FO 267 Win 45.3

So here we have a LW that puts up 25-30 goals, can take the faceoff and shift over to the Wing for Cogliano. This is who we need.

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#63 Colin
August 07 2009, 01:51PM
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David S wrote:

Exaaaactly. Dakin speaks the truth. After seeing that ad, I upped her to a hard 8.

After seeing that ad she upped me to a hard 8.

@ Hemmertime: Worth Consideration, but I don't know that he's physical or big enough to solve much problem wise.

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#64 Archaeologuy
August 07 2009, 01:52PM
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@ Hemmertime: interesting suggestion.

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#65 Robin Brownlee
August 07 2009, 02:03PM
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Hemmertime wrote:

This is who we need.

No. No it's not.

Prospal has averaged 22.75 goals per season since the lockout, so expecting 25-30 is wishful thinking as he approaches 35 years old. He's a soft complimentary player. The Oilers are already paying Penner to be that guy. In fact, I'd bet there's no chance, none, that Prospal scores more goals than Penner this season, no matter what team he ends up with. Bad idea.

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#66 ronaldo
August 07 2009, 02:05PM
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RE: Prospal. Problem is we don't get any tougher and it furthers our 2nd line log-jam. More moves would be required. I would like to see someone with some grit on our top 2 lines- like when Torres was on blow, errr, playing hard.

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#67 The Fish
August 07 2009, 02:11PM
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Hemmertime wrote:

Where they Peel off their clothing, any place where woman are paid to get naked (the ones where they just do it for fun is a bonus).

Women? I have been going to the wrong places for years.

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#68 Doug
August 07 2009, 02:36PM
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I think Prospal is one of those cases where it looks better than it is. But you made a good case there Hemmertime.

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#69 Jodes
August 07 2009, 02:42PM
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And with all of these happenings, the Oilers announce their Mini Packs today..

About the same price as last year, where they charge you for an Oil kings game (in the 3 packs - does anyone really go to these games?) but they don't in the six game packs, but they make you buy a preseason game. Joy of joys..

I'm still not working, but I might get a job soon that I have weekends off, so I decide to check out their famous "Weekend Pack" - Usually have some decent games.

Check this out:

Friday Sept 18th - Florida Friday Oct 16th - Minnesota THURSDAY Oct 22nd - Columbus Saturday Nov 21st - Chicago Sunday Mar 21st - San Jose Friday Mar 26th - Anaheim

Anyone else see something a bit odd? Since when is a Thursday part of a weekend? You mean to tell me they couldn't have thrown another Sunday game in there and move the thursday game on to one of the other packs?

Isn't that the purpose of the weekend packs? So that people who can't make it into the city during the week can make it in on the weekends?

Well I guess on the positive side, since I'm not currently working, there will be no way in hell that I can afford these games..

And yes the glass is half empty! lol

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#70 Digger12
August 07 2009, 02:44PM
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No thank you to Prospal.

I've never been a big fan of his, he's always struck me as one of those players who'll get his points, but his team never seems to be the better for it.

Only my opinion, of course.

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#71 sittingatmydesk
August 07 2009, 02:50PM
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@ Hemmertime: What are you smoking.... it makes total nonsense...

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#72 Jamie
August 07 2009, 03:00PM
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Gagner's from Oakville, just saying.

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#73 Jason Gregor
August 07 2009, 03:20PM
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Trent wrote:

Damn you Gregor and your logic. Thank goodness you put in the stripper story to make me laugh. This team isn’t much different, other than being a year older. Do you think that one year of experience can make us that much better. God I hope so. And who you like in UFC 101 tomorrow?

I do think one year could make a difference, but it is far from a guarantee. Add in a new coach and that could be just as important in having a turn around. We saw it lots last year when teams changed their coach and the team suddenly played better.

As for UFC...I'll take Penn, even though he's a whiny little beatch. And I don't know if J-Flo can kick his way to a win. He will need to win three rounds because I just don't see him ending this fight with a TKO or submission.

And Silva hasn't been challenged in awhile and I think he wants to prove he should still be considered one of the best all around guys in MMA. I'll take the Spider.

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#74 Travis Dakin
August 07 2009, 03:22PM
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Colin wrote:

David S wrote: Exaaaactly. Dakin speaks the truth. After seeing that ad, I upped her to a hard 8. After seeing that ad she upped me to a hard 8.

Line of the day!

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#75 Cam
August 07 2009, 03:33PM
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Another change from last year is that instead of Cole we have O'Sullivan.

And about Hughes films, my favorite one is "She's having a baby", but the one that made me laugh the hardest was Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

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#76 Jodes
August 07 2009, 04:02PM
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For Me, PTA, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and The Breakfast Club were great, but the one that I guess I related to the most was Some Kind Of Wonderful.. Thats my fav John Hughes flick, love the soundtrack too.

Sigh.. I guess that is a sign you're getting older when your Idols start passing away.

Sigh..

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#77 charlieangels
August 07 2009, 04:03PM
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We need some sandpaper, lets give Theo a tryout? Won't cost much and he will add attitude.

We don't scare anyone with the exception of Chopper.

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#78 ronaldo
August 07 2009, 04:12PM
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@ charlieangles Oh I don't know, I think some have to be scared of our umpa lumpa line-up. Creepy.

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#79 Archaeologuy
August 07 2009, 04:13PM
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charlieangels wrote:

We don’t scare anyone with the exception of Chopper.

The only people Chopper scares are the Oiler penalty killers.

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#80 David S
August 07 2009, 04:21PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

The only people Chopper scares are the Oiler penalty killers.

Check. And mate.

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#81 Ogden Brother
August 07 2009, 04:38PM
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Hemmertime wrote:

I’ve been thinking, my #1 target for the Edmonton Oilers. Vaclav Prospal 34 years old, so we can sign him to a “long term we are going to buy you out at the end” cap friendly contract because he is under 35. 6 year deal with 2 mil cap hit? Say 4-3-3-1-500k-500k. Maybe make it 7 year contract to toss in a few more mil at the start. He is only 1 year removed from a 71 point season and his point totals last year (45) would have been good for 3rd in Oiler scoring. This makes total sense. 25-14-33-19 goals since the lockout. Even at 2.5-3 cap hit he makes more sense than Kotalik’s contract. Even if doesn’t play top line (and I could see him making a strong push to get the spot) Penner - Horcoff - Hemsky Prospal - Osullivan/Cogs - Gagner looks like a good top 6/PP combination. Also, Prospal faceoffs 2008/2009 FO 200 53% win 2007/2008 FO 176 Win 54.6 2006/2007 FO 124 Win 52.4 2005/2006 FO 267 Win 45.3 So here we have a LW that puts up 25-30 goals, can take the faceoff and shift over to the Wing for Cogliano. This is who we need.

Yikes, considering he was just bought out I'm pretty sure we could get him for 1 year for 2 or less million/year.

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#82 Ender the Dragon
August 07 2009, 04:47PM
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charlieangels wrote:

lets give Theo a tryout

Since I saw the news of Theoren Fleury's comeback bid, I knew someone would suggest this. Trust me; this is not going to go well for Theo. Even if the league allows him to play again, it takes an elite athlete to be competitive in the NHL at 41 and I don't think anyone used that term to describe him even at his best. He played hard, there is no doubt, but every argument that people used to demonstrate why Ryan Smyth wouldn't be the same player at 40 goes double for Theoren Fleury. He may get a look on a tryout basis by a team that's desperate for an Avery-type agitator on their energy line, but I still doubt he actually gets signed anywhere. There have been better hockey players than him at tryouts that went away empty-handed, even in Edmonton.

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#83 Dallas
August 07 2009, 05:21PM
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I think the flameouts should pick up Theo lmao

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#84 Wanye Gretz
August 07 2009, 06:02PM
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@ Ender the Dragon: @ Dallas:

Oh no... you have to be kidding right?

*runs off to read about the worst idea he has heard in a long time*

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#85 Librarian Mike
August 07 2009, 06:07PM
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The last I heard of Fleury was an interview in the Calgary Sun a few years ago. In it, he was asked to consider his legacy and he responded by saying that (I'm paraphrasing) "I think I'm top 15, maybe top 10 all time".

He was a good player and a tough little midget, but delusional much?

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#86 cableguy
August 07 2009, 06:22PM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

The last I heard of Fleury was an interview in the Calgary Sun a few years ago. In it, he was asked to consider his legacy and he responded by saying that (I’m paraphrasing) “I think I’m top 15, maybe top 10 all time”. He was a good player and a tough little midget, but delusional much?

was it league wide or all time flames?

top 15 or top 10 flames- he doesnt sound so bad

top 15 or top 10 over all- someone sold him bad drugs

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#87 Sandra
August 07 2009, 06:22PM
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Theo is also Aboriginal, Like Souray, we stay in shape, we can play until our 50's Anybody ever heard of Steve Chechoo? A former flame draft.

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#88 Librarian Mike
August 07 2009, 06:32PM
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cableguy wrote:

was it league wide or all time flames? top 15 or top 10 flames- he doesnt sound so bad top 15 or top 10 over all- someone sold him bad drugs

I don't know, maybe he was misquoted or something, but the article made it sound like he was talking league wide. I wish I could find it...

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#89 Jason Gregor
August 07 2009, 06:48PM
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Ender the Dragon wrote:

He played hard, there is no doubt, but every argument that people used to demonstrate why Ryan Smyth wouldn’t be the same player at 40 goes double for Theoren Fleury

Fleury was way more skilled than Smyth. Way more. He averaged over a point a game his entire career. He scored 51 once, and had 8 30+ goal seasons. I agree it will be near impossible for him to come back, but he was more than just a gritty player. For his size he played extremely tough and had lots of skill.

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#90 Dallas
August 07 2009, 06:53PM
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By Dallas, August 7, 2009 @ 6:42 pm

what do you Guys think of the oilers going after Kessel maybe trading Cogliano Brule and 1 of our college defence prospects. There are only a few players on the roster I would not trade and them being Hemsky Gagner Visnovsky Eberle MPS Grebeshkov Actually maybe any of our draft picks from this year but out of the rest of our players you would think we could put together a pretty attractive packages

Quote

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#91 charlieangels
August 07 2009, 06:57PM
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Ya he is old but as someone pointed out he is Aborginal and they seem to have a much longer staying power. What do you think if we added Tooto also? That would be a gritty line.

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#92 Ogden Brother
August 07 2009, 07:01PM
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Dallas wrote:

By Dallas, August 7, 2009 @ 6:42 pm what do you Guys think of the oilers going after Kessel maybe trading Cogliano Brule and 1 of our college defence prospects. There are only a few players on the roster I would not trade and them being Hemsky Gagner Visnovsky Eberle MPS Grebeshkov Actually maybe any of our draft picks from this year but out of the rest of our players you would think we could put together a pretty attractive packages Quote

I'm suprised Kessel doesn't get mentioned more often here, Basically he's Cogliano++ and a natural winger so he may be a better fit.

I could see Cogs + a decent prospect + a first or something similar getting the deal done.

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#93 Dallas
August 07 2009, 07:15PM
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@ Ogden Brother: Yah me too he would be awsome on our first line I've heard he can play all 3 positions like patty o too. I have also heard he is not too happy bout chirelli however you spell his name overpaying lots if players and him being one of the last priorities and there top scorer last year

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#94 Hemmertime
August 07 2009, 07:56PM
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sittingatmydesk wrote:

What are you smoking…. it makes total nonsense…

Weed, and what makes more, Nilsson at 2 mil or Prospal? 4th liner or 2nd? I agree he isnt gritty or tough or something we would have targeted July 1st. But August 7 a 22.5 average goal scorer on a team with 1 20 goal scorer is a damn fine upgrade over Nilssons 7.5.

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#95 Hemmertime
August 07 2009, 08:00PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Yikes, considering he was just bought out I’m pretty sure we could get him for 1 year for 2 or less million/year.

Prospal had made it very clear to TB management he wasn't waiving his NTC so it was their way around it.

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#96 viss.99
August 07 2009, 09:43PM
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The Oilers need an identity, not the "here is 2 easy points for us" teams think of us now.

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#97 Jodes
August 07 2009, 11:26PM
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viss.99 wrote:

The Oilers need an identity, not the “here is 2 easy points for us” teams think of us now.

You honestly think that a 41 year old who hasn't played for six years in the NHL is going to give us that identity?

Please..

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#98 Ogden Brother
August 08 2009, 12:28AM
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Hemmertime wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: Yikes, considering he was just bought out I’m pretty sure we could get him for 1 year for 2 or less million/year. Prospal had made it very clear to TB management he wasn’t waiving his NTC so it was their way around it.

Doesn't mean he deserves a long term contract.

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#99 Darren
August 08 2009, 06:43AM
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UNCLE BUCK - Best movie ever!

John F*'in Candy was truly the best...he really was.

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#100 Hemmertime
August 08 2009, 11:48AM
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@ Ogden Brother: The long term is so he can retire/we buy him out. If he accepts 1-2 years at a cheap price all the better, but if he wants the money the fact he is 34 allows us to do the Detroit thing and only watch him play 3-4 years tops. He makes actual salary of 3ish but cap hit of 2-under 2. Shoot, we should Sign a 12 year contract so only get 1 million dollar hit lol. We may be investigated like Hossa's contract but all of them are like that. Use the loophole while its there.

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