Pass the lube: 2009 camp primer

Robin Brownlee
September 12 2009 07:51PM

Having already blown out 66 candles on his birthday cake, Pat Quinn wasn't the first choice of a lot of fans to replace Craig MacTavish after he was shown the door last spring, but here he is.

When the Edmonton Oilers open their 2009 training camp at Rexall Place Sunday morning, Quinn, associate coach Tom Renney and assistant Kelly Buchberger will be running the show.

There is no place Quinn, who last coached in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2005-06, would rather be. What's he supposed to do, shuffle off into the sunset and play Twister with his buddies at the Old Coaches Hockey Home?

No chance.

"I found out being away, it wasn't what I wanted to do," Quinn said after the Oilers took their medicals and went through physical testing at Rexall Place Saturday. "I've said this before. I've had 40 years in the business with only a couple of years off to go to law school.

"I found out the last couple of years I didn’t like it. I missed the day-to-day. I don't feel old enough to have to run down to Palm Springs and sit there with Slats and all those other guys."

Quinn has 657 career wins on his resume. He coached his first NHL game, 1978-79 with Philadelphia, before all but eight of the players on the Oilers training camp roster were even born.

"I love enthusiasm," Quinn said. "I always feel like I'm and up sort of guy and look for the good things and try to coach that way. I'm going to be as positive as I can with this group."

In Quinn's final season with the Maple Leafs, Sam Gagner was a 16-year-old rookie with the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL. That same season marked the Oilers roll to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final against Carolina. How many players are left from that team? Seven.

Suffice to say, Quinn won't be able to put names to all the faces when camp opens, but it likely won't take him long to figure out where everybody fits -- or doesn't.

"Almost like a hockey school," smiled Quinn when asked how he intends to get to know who's who. "I'm going to ask them to put tape on their helmets, maybe."

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR

Unlike some fans, Shawn Horcoff isn't concerned GM Steve Tambellini didn't make many roster changes from the team that faded badly down the stretch last season to finish 11th at 38-35-9.

Outside of the addition of Nikolai Khabibulin and Mike Comrie and the departures of Ales Kotalik, Dwayne Roloson and Kyle Brodziak, it's pretty much status quo.

"The fact they didn't make that many changes, I think, is a good thing," Horcoff said. "I think we can really make things happen here.

"There's a lot of individuals who want to come back and get better. If that's the case, we should be able to. I think that's what you see when you talk about the mentality right now. You see a lot of guys serious about this season. That's what new coaching brings. Everyone is on their toes a bit. You have to make a good first impression."

A lot of fans were fooled by a great finish to the 2007-08 season, thinking the Oilers would be gang-busters last season. Horcoff says the reverse applies to last season -- the team folded late and missed the post-season, but that, in his mind, is misleading.

"There was a lot of negativity the way our season ended last year," Horcoff said. "I think what people need to realize is with 10 games to go we were four points up on ninth spot.

"It's not like we were that far away. We just finished crappy. We didn't finish the way we needed to. We didn't play the way we needed to play to make the playoffs."

STILL HERE

Dustin Penner doesn't sound too troubled about being shipped to the Ottawa Senators with Andrew Cogliano and Ladislav Smid in the trade-that-wasn't when Dany Heatley declined to waive his no-movement clause.

"I'm excited I'm still here," Penner said. "I don't try to think too much, play the what-if? game as much as you probably do."

A lot of people think Penner might flourish under Quinn and Renney after spending much of last season in MacTavish's doghouse, an ongoing battle of wills that eventually contributed to MacTavish losing the dressing room because of his handling of Penner.

"We had our differences," Penner said. "I don't want to say my play is based solely on one person's ability to curtail it. For me, it's got to come from within. It's a fresh start for me."

WHAT'S MY LINE?

Patrick O'Sullivan will get the first crack at playing alongside Horcoff and Ales Hemsky when camp opens as the threesome is pencilled in together on Team A.

Also on Team A, Rob Schremp is slotted at centre between Ryan Stone and Charles Linglet.

Other combinations of note include Penner playing with Gagner and Jordan Eberle on Team B, while Ethan Moreau and Fernando Pisani will flank Cogliano and Gilbert Brule will center Robert Nilsson and Chris Minard with Team C. Mike Comrie opens between tough guy Kip Brennan and Jamie Bates with Team B.

Defensive pairings of note are Souray-Visnovsky, Grebeshkov-Gilbert, Smid-Staios and Johan Motin with Jason Strudwick.

THIS AND THAT

-- Comrie will be wearing No. 91 Sunday, but expect him to don No. 39 when the season begins.

Comrie, who wore No. 39 at college and in the WHL with Kootenay, won't be putting the arm on Gagner to get his old No. 89 back. Comrie wore 39 because he was a big fan of Doug Weight and he's already put a call into Weight asking if it's OK if he wears the number again.

-- With a heavy pre-season slate that begins Tuesday against the Calgary Flames, Quinn indicated Saturday he'll keep as many bodies as possible around and likely won't make any cuts until after Wednesday's game against the New York Islanders.

-- The Oilers won't be contesting the Joey Moss Cup at this camp.

-- 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.
Avatar
#1 ronaldo
September 12 2009, 07:58PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Brownlee Jeebuz man, I read pass the lube and I thought I clicked on the wrong bookmark. ;) Ok, I'm off to actually read the article now.

Avatar
#2 ronaldo
September 12 2009, 08:07PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Penner, Gagner and Eberle is an interesting line. Would like to see them in a preseason game to see what Eberle can do.

Avatar
#3 Robin Brownlee
September 12 2009, 08:09PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

ronaldo wrote:

@ Brownlee Jeebuz man, I read pass the lube and I thought I clicked on the wrong bookmark. Ok, I’m off to actually read the article now.

When I saw it I thought maybe it was an editorial about the San Jose-Ottawa trade.

Avatar
#4 ronaldo
September 12 2009, 08:16PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Brownlee That would make more sense. I'm sure they (bingo?) are now thinking of another lube related play on words for the next trade screw job. *fingers crossed it's not the Oilers needing the KY*

Avatar
#5 Tommy
September 12 2009, 08:17PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I actually think I agree with Horc - I think people are underestimating the team based on the horrendous end of last season.

And it is a good call that Comrie goes with 39 - all those 89 Gagner jersey holders would have been pissed.

Avatar
#6 Librarian Mike
September 12 2009, 08:22PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Robin Brownlee wrote:

When I saw it I thought maybe it was an editorial about the San Jose-Ottawa trade.

I think that with what Heatley has done to the Sens, no lube was involved. It was prison-style, all the way.

Looking at Penner's quotes in your article, he's a pretty standoffish guy, eh? If only he could save some of that edge for game-time.

Avatar
#7 Mike
September 12 2009, 08:34PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

No Joey Moss cup? That's disappointing news.

Avatar
#8 Prop Jay
September 12 2009, 08:50PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Robin have you heard anything about zherdev? Hell I'd take him and ship nilsson + out for a pick or prospect

Avatar
#9 heavyd
September 12 2009, 08:56PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Prop Jay: Russia I think for him.

Avatar
#10 patty
September 12 2009, 09:08PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Robin Brownlee wrote:

The Oilers won’t be contesting the Joey Moss Cup at this camp.

Did they give any explanation? That's usually a pretty fun little tournament to watch.

Avatar
#11 RossCreek
September 12 2009, 09:12PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Robin Brownlee: Is it an open session tomorrow?

Avatar
#12 Robin Brownlee
September 12 2009, 09:15PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ RossCreek: Yes. First team is on the ice at 8:15. Then 10 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.

Avatar
#13 Jason
September 12 2009, 09:37PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I thought Comrie would be playing on the left side some where.

Avatar
#14 Legion
September 12 2009, 09:39PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Is practice open to the public tommorrow and what's parking situation like

Avatar
#15 David S
September 12 2009, 09:43PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Nice wrap-up Robin. I was watching the Oilers player interviews today on the mother site and saw you in the scrums and it made me wonder. Do you writers get the same sort of excitement to be "back at work" as some of the players feel?

Avatar
#16 Robin Brownlee
September 12 2009, 09:49PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

David S wrote:

Nice wrap-up Robin. I was watching the Oilers player interviews today on the mother site and saw you in the scrums and it made me wonder. Do you writers get the same sort of excitement to be “back at work” as some of the players feel?

Couldn't you read the excitement on my face?

Avatar
#17 Victoria
September 12 2009, 10:15PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Pretty disappointing to hear that there wont be a Joey Moss Cup game.

Avatar
#18 DangerMan
September 12 2009, 10:18PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Robin Brownlee:

That's alright,RB. The only person who seemed less excited to be there was Souray, he looked like the first day of school all over again.

Avatar
#19 Shapeman
September 12 2009, 10:21PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Robin Brownlee:

If disdain boredom are you form of excitement i'd hate to see you if you were actually in a bad mood. =P

Anyways I'm jsut hyped up for camp cause it means the season starts soon. Keeo up the good articles RB

Avatar
#20 Robin Brownlee
September 12 2009, 10:28PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Shapeman: Oh, I was ecstatic. Got to the rink at 9 a.m. to do a story on Pat Quinn for Canadian Press and it was about 12:45 before the PR guys trotted him out.

I like standing around drinking coffee with Barnes and Matheson and Jones, but four hours of it is a bit much even for a social butterfly such as myself.

Avatar
#21 Adam Dyck
September 12 2009, 10:29PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Good call, Horc.

Another thing many bloggers and commenters fail to mention is that all the kids are another year older.

Avatar
#22 David S
September 12 2009, 10:29PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Robin Brownlee wrote:

Couldn’t you read the excitement on my face?

Ha ha! Maybe what looks like mild annoyance and general disdain for the mere mortals you have to work with on the outside might actually mean you're as giddy as a schoolgirl on the inside. Or not.

Anyways. I'm hoping you don't run out your ten articles too soon this month just as things are getting going for the team. Looks like there's going to be lots of story angles this fall.

Avatar
#23 Robin Brownlee
September 12 2009, 10:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ David S: I'll be stretching the next four over the next couple of weeks and I'll be loaded up doing camp stories for CP, but we'll have plenty of content as Jason G plans to do camp updates.

Avatar
#24 Reagan
September 12 2009, 10:46PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Comrie wearing 39 sounds good to me. I have his Rookie card wearing 39. I also have his Kootney card wearing 39! As long as Dougie is good with it so be it!

Avatar
#25 Sandra
September 12 2009, 10:48PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Can Nillson be sent to the minors? if not, I predict Macintyre, Nillson and Poliout will be on waivers,

Avatar
#26 Jon
September 12 2009, 11:05PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Will there be any scrimmages between the 3 teams at camp? From the sounds of it, it seems like the 3 teams are practicing seperately.

Avatar
#27 Dino
September 12 2009, 11:41PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Robin, how's Visnovsky's shoulder? I haven't heard/read much about how the shoulder is feeling.

Avatar
#28 Robin Brownlee
September 12 2009, 11:42PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Sandra: Anybody can be sent to the minors. The only question is if waivers are needed.

Jon wrote:

Will there be any scrimmages between the 3 teams at camp? From the sounds of it, it seems like the 3 teams are practicing seperately.

Scrimmages are Monday at 9:30 and 11:45.

Avatar
#29 Bryant
September 12 2009, 11:58PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Hey Mr.Brownlee any predictions on who has a bounce back year and who slumps?

Avatar
#30 Joey Moss
September 13 2009, 02:10AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Mike: I don't know what you're talking about. I always wear a cup at the rink.

Avatar
#31 Robin Brownlee
September 13 2009, 07:37AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Bryant wrote:

Hey Mr.Brownlee any predictions on who has a bounce back year and who slumps?

I like Penner to show something now that MacTavish is gone. He'll be better than 17 goals. I'm thinking 25 goals is about right.

Horcoff will be better by 12-15 points.

Comrie is my bounce-back guy. He's healthy and motivated.

I don't see anybody slumping or falling off badly because I don't think anybody drastically over-achieved last season. I can see Gilbert's points dropping off to 35-40, but that hardly represents a slump.

Avatar
#32 Travis Dakin
September 13 2009, 08:40AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@ Robin Brownlee: How much do you guys get told in regards to a players performance in the fitness tests? I mean, would you know if a guy like Penner has shaped up?

Avatar
#33 Mike
September 13 2009, 08:58AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Robin Brownlee wrote:

Scrimmages are Monday at 9:30 and 11:45.

Any idea if they're open to the public?

Avatar
#34 RossCreek
September 13 2009, 09:16AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Sittin at Rexall. Free concession today. Gregor indeed is here. No word if he's hung over or not. Brownlee and Stauffer hard at work too. It must be quite a different feeling for the vets with Quinn & Renney runnin practice. Rob Schremp gettin cozy with big Pat.

Avatar
#35 Archaeologuy
September 13 2009, 09:32AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

RossCreek wrote:

Rob Schremp gettin cozy with big Pat.

He learned the hard way that First impressions are hard to overcome, even if he cant crack the roster on opening night, a good impression and a better effort in the AHL this year could land him a call up down the road.

Avatar
#36 SkinnyD
September 13 2009, 09:41AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Mike wrote:

Any idea if they’re open to the public?

Yes they are...and hopefully concessions will be open? They weren't for the rookies and I had no coffee. Grrr.

Avatar
#37 RheoStatic
September 13 2009, 11:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

if schremp doesnt make the roster expect the Islanders to take him off waivers.

Avatar
#38 Robin Brownlee
September 14 2009, 07:16AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

RheoStatic wrote:

if schremp doesnt make the roster expect the Islanders to take him off waivers.

"If?"

Avatar
#39 Ender the Dragon
September 14 2009, 09:15AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

The Joey Moss Cup was one of the few games I figured to be able to afford to attend this season. What the heck? Why would they scrub that? Someone in the front office should give his head a shake . . .

Comments are closed for this article.