Bang for the buck vs. getting screwed

Robin Brownlee
January 12 2010 06:01PM

There's a big difference between getting bang for your buck and getting banged for your buck, as an embarrassingly unflattering comparison of the Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers clearly shows.

While the expansion Predators under GM David Poile are again providing hockey fans in Music City with bargain basement entertainment that's the epitome of bang for the buck, the Oilers aren't getting nearly the same value for their payroll and fans are being short-changed.

The Predators come calling at Rexall Place tonight 20 points better than the Oilers in the standings at 27-16-3 for 57 points. That puts Nashville eighth in overall points. The Predators are doing it with a payroll of $44.34 million, according to NHLnumbers.com, which ranks 28th in the NHL.

The Oilers, meanwhile, sit 29th overall in NHL standings with a record of 16-23-5 for 37 points. Owner Daryl Katz is endorsing cheques worth $59.830 million this season. That's the sixth highest payroll in the NHL.

So, given those numbers, whose fans are getting real bang for the buck and whose fans are getting screwed? That's a rhetorical question, folks. Grab your ankles.

HEARTLAND OF HOCKEY?

The Oilers continue to play in front of capacity crowds at Rexall Place despite offering a sub-standard product, while the Preds are engaged in a seemingly never-ending challenge of attracting fans.

The difference in value and results for money spent would be less of an indictment of management with Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini running the show if this season was a one-off.

The problem, dating back to the EIG long before Katz brought his billions into the equation under a new CBA -- the "level playing field" Oilers management promised time and again would make a difference -- is it isn't.

The Oilers have missed the playoffs four of the last five seasons, and are on the verge of missing for the fourth straight year despite bumping up against the salary cap. No bargains here.

The Predators, always nearer the cap floor than the ceiling and out-spent by the Oilers in every season since the lockout, have made the playoffs in four of the last five seasons.

2009-10
Nashville 27-16-3 57 pts 5th Conference
Edmonton 16-23-5 37 pts 15th Conference

2008-09
Nashville 40-34-8 88 pts 10th
Edmonton 38-35-9 85 pts 11th

2007-08
Nashville 41-32-9 91 pts 8th
Edmonton 41-45-6 88 pts 9th

2006-07
Nashville 51-23-8 110 pts 4th
Edmonton 32-43-7 71 pts 12th

2005-06
Nashville 49-25-8 106 pts 4th
Edmonton 41-28-13 95 pts 8th

STEP RIGHT UP

The Oilers, of course, made some noise when they went to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup final in the only year they made the playoffs, while the Predators haven't made much of a mark, going out in the first round four times. But as for value for that season-ticket package fans plunk down their money for year after year? Not close.

Look no further than the drafting records of the teams over the past decade and some frugal free agent signings by the Predators in that span as the big difference, but dissecting that is a whole other story or three.

"David Poile is a terrific operator," Oilers coach Pat Quinn said. "He has been for a long time.

"It is an expansion team and expansion teams are supposed to get the good picks or the potential for good picks. They've made them . . . That, eventually, is supposed to pay off and it has been paying off for them now."

The question, and it's one bound to come home to roost on the doorstep of Lowe, Tambellini, president Patrick LaForge and Katz sooner or later despite the loyalty of Oilers fans, is this: how much longer will people put down their money?  It's a fine line dividing fans from suckers.

AND...

-- Radio man Bob Stauffer spent today floating the trial balloon of having tough guy Georges Laraque return to the Oilers, should he have his contract bought out by the Montreal Canadiens. Don't discount either possibility.

Despite former Oilers coach Craig MacTavish having little or no use for Laraque, Katz wanted him back in Edmonton two summers ago before he accepted the deal from Montreal. The Oilers, in fact, offered Laraque an extra year at $1.5 million.

If the Habs did buy out Laraque, he could probably be had for something in the neighbourhood of $700,000.

-- The Oilers, looking for goaltending help in Springfield, have made inquiries with the St. Louis Blues about goaltender Hannu Toivonen.
Toivonen, 25, is in the minors splitting time with Ben Bishop with the Peoria Rivermen. He's 8-9-1 with a 2.76 goals against average and .909 saves percentage.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and 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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#1 Hemmertime
January 12 2010, 06:10PM
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@RB . People like you are the problem. Insinuating that we should only cheer for a winning team? So FLA should just shut down, half the European soccer clubs, da bears.

I know you say your not a fan of the Oil but stating anyone who isn't a fair weather fan is a sucker is insulting.

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#2 Hemmertime
January 12 2010, 06:16PM
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Also, Laraque for 700k I would take. Anything under a mil is fine

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#3 Smokin' Ray
January 12 2010, 06:23PM
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Sweet, Laraque. Who's going to have to go from the Oilers? Ahem... Moreau. Does Big Georges have to have an eating contest with Penner for the #27? Or does he just punch him till he gives it up?

Good stuff Brownlee.

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#4 Racki
January 12 2010, 06:23PM
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No interest in Laraque. Great for the community and all though, but I can't see how he would benefit the team right now.

As for the other topic, it's too bad Kevin Lowe lost his ability to be a shrewd GM when the wallets opened up.

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#5 freeze
January 12 2010, 06:26PM
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Laraque isn't of much use to this team. I'd stick with Caveman Zorg (aka Huggy Bear).

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#6 Smokin' Ray
January 12 2010, 06:33PM
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No interest? No use? He's better than 2 guys on this team right now. Moreau and Jacques. I say SOLD!

Then again... maybe I'm just excited for change. Any change.

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#7 Racki
January 12 2010, 06:34PM
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Smokin' Ray wrote:

No interest? No use? He's better than 2 guys on this team right now. Moreau and Jacques. I say SOLD!

Then again... maybe I'm just excited for change. Any change.

You're definitely right on Moreau. I'm a bit of a closet Jacques fan though. He hits everything that moves and is willing to go with anyone.. that's all you can really ask of him. Laraque won't bring any more than that, other than obviously an upgraded ability to fight (but at the sacrifice of willingness to fight when it actually matters).

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#8 Greg MC
January 12 2010, 06:36PM
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Georges isn't getting any faster. Oilers management don't need to add any players who won't be here next year.

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#9 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
January 12 2010, 06:37PM
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Smokin' Ray wrote:

No interest? No use? He's better than 2 guys on this team right now. Moreau and Jacques. I say SOLD!

Then again... maybe I'm just excited for change. Any change.

you would take laraque over moreau and JFJ?

honestly?

seriously?

really?

sarcasm?

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#10 Smokin' Ray
January 12 2010, 06:37PM
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Racki wrote:

You're definitely right on Moreau. I'm a bit of a closet Jacques fan though. He hits everything that moves and is willing to go with anyone.. that's all you can really ask of him. Laraque won't bring any more than that, other than obviously an upgraded ability to fight (but at the sacrifice of willingness to fight when it actually matters).

That's true about the willingness to fight. I like Jacques too. It's his defensive play I don't care for. But still, he should be out there and not sitting in a press box. He gets 5-8 hits a game. It usually takes 2 or 3 guys to get that many.

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#11 Brocktw
January 12 2010, 06:38PM
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If I ran my business like Lowe ran the Oil I would never work again. Lowe like his mentor Sather, managed great when they had a budget and organisational restraint. When they are free from the shackles of an actual business plan, it seems they get caught up in big names and over paying friends and golf partners.

He took a once brilliant career as an NHL exec and flushed it down the toilet. He flushed the team with it. He never got over Prongergate, and ownership cannot get over their loyalty to him.

On a side note: I think we need a heavy weight, but, we gave big mac away because he is not a good enough player, what is the difference between him and GL.

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#12 Pajamah
January 12 2010, 06:41PM
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RB, if the Oilers brought in Toivenen, would that be under the pretense that he is only an AHL stop gap, or do they expect to lose Dubnyk, or is there a greater plan?

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#14 Brocktw
January 12 2010, 06:45PM
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JFJ is a good young player, who should develop into a good bottom 12 guy in a couple years. If he starts winning a few more scraps and playing a little smarter system play, he will develop into a valuable player. For a team in the middle of a rebuild (IMO) he is a young guy worth hanging onto.

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#15 Shifty203
January 12 2010, 06:46PM
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Schremp has two goals and Roli's almost got the shutout tonight.

This makes us feel better, right guys?.....Guys?

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#16 Tha Legion
January 12 2010, 06:47PM
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I'm just hoping that too many fans don't put all this unnecessary pressure on Eberle because it seems like too much is there right now believing he will be the second coming of jesus and with a busted grill. Hope he is though :)

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#17 Hemmertime
January 12 2010, 06:57PM
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@Robin Brownlee

Spending to the cap shows Katz loyalty. The old ownership group bled for the team. I have no doubt Kevin Lowe's heart is in the right place if not his brain.

"how much longer will people put down their money? It's a fine line dividing fans from suckers."

Explain how that is not meant that if we are 30th for 2 years anyone who pays to go to a game is an idiot. It's not the fact I think you're an arse. It's the words you typed. I cheer for the logo on the jersey not the guys in the press box or the owners suite.

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#18 Jasmine
January 12 2010, 07:02PM
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I read in one of the papers a couple of months ago that the fans of the Canadian teams is the reason a Canadian team hasn't won a SC since 1993. In that same article it also mentioned that the fans of the Canadian teams is the reason why a Canadian team doesn't win the draft lottery.

Fans of Canadian teams will not put up with a rebuild. The fans of the Canadian teams will criticize their local team if they don't win much. We're seeing it in Edmonton. Canadian teams can't rebuild because their fans won't let them.

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#19 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
January 12 2010, 07:04PM
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Jasmine wrote:

I read in one of the papers a couple of months ago that the fans of the Canadian teams is the reason a Canadian team hasn't won a SC since 1993. In that same article it also mentioned that the fans of the Canadian teams is the reason why a Canadian team doesn't win the draft lottery.

Fans of Canadian teams will not put up with a rebuild. The fans of the Canadian teams will criticize their local team if they don't win much. We're seeing it in Edmonton. Canadian teams can't rebuild because their fans won't let them.

^^^^^^^^ this

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#21 Maggie the Monkey
January 12 2010, 07:13PM
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@Robin Brownlee

I know this is well off topic, but have you heard anything about the state of Horcoff's shoulder lately? While his boxcar stats haven't improved much, he looks to be playing better in the past couple of weeks and I can't help but wonder if there's a correlation to better health.

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#23 Corsby31
January 12 2010, 07:59PM
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6th highest cap hit....soon to be 30th in the leauge...what the Fu@k have "they" done to this team??? Unreal...

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#24 Barry
January 12 2010, 08:04PM
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I completely agree. I feel screwed every game I watch or go to. These guys have to do something. For the love of god please make some changes. I want to enjoy watching hockey again. I am a fan win or lose but this is getting really hard to watch. I just watched Nashville score their third goal. I don't even have words for this. Please pass this on to somebody in the organization.

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#25 Smokin' Ray
January 12 2010, 08:07PM
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@Robin Brownlee

Not to sound like a Mr. Know-it-all, because I'm not, but I did hear Horcoff on the radio last week sometime and he said he had a shot a few weeks ago. I would assume cortisone? My wife is a hairdresser with bad shoulders and she has had that twice now. You feel no pain. It doesn't fix the strength, but you feel nothing.

This may be why he looks more comfortable, but like you said, less faceoffs is the real reason why he's feeling better.

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#26 Librarian Mike
January 12 2010, 08:13PM
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Yeah, Nashville is doing pretty well this year. If only the Oilers could draft a guy like Jason Arnott...

...oh, wait...

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#27 Kevin
January 12 2010, 08:14PM
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Any reason the entire oiler scouting staff were in attendance during the preds oiler game. One would think their time might be better spent elsewhere. This talk about bringing laraque back really makes me sick. If this is all this oil brass can drum up, it's a real sorry state. By the way this AHL squad played in this yet another dismall performance they may have been been better off striking golf balls in palm springs.

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#28 Eddie Shore
January 12 2010, 08:18PM
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@Smokin' Ray

Yet I heard Stauffer, on Oilers Lunch a while ago, say that basically Horcoffs shoulder isn't all that bad.

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#29 Cole G
January 12 2010, 08:25PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I'm not surprised your take about something I've written would be to spin it into me being "insulting" to fans when I'm saying they're getting a raw deal from this team.

What I'm saying, because your problem with me obviously clouds your comprehension, is that Oilers management hasn't provided fans fair value for the money or their loyalty and that they deserve better.

x2. I pity those people (myself included in past years), that are only able to get out to one or two games a year if they're lucky, only to be "entertained" by the sh*t show product the oilers have produced in recent years. i miss the years before the lockout, when we certainly lacked the talent and marquee player(s), but were competitive and enjoyable to watch because of the effort level.

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#30 Maggie the Monkey
January 12 2010, 08:28PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I can't say for sure because I haven't asked Shawn specifically about his shoulder for awhile. He's been quick to downplay it, as you'd expect. Less wear and tear on face-offs has likely helped.

Thanks. I hadn't heard anything about the injury in ages, and hoped that this meant that it was getting better. Somebody's gotta help carry the weight and lead this team, no matter how badly they're playing. (I'm a backer of Horcoff through thick and thin.)

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#31 Smokin' Ray
January 12 2010, 08:29PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

Yet I heard Stauffer, on Oilers Lunch a while ago, say that basically Horcoffs shoulder isn't all that bad.

It's not bad. He can still play. But it's obvious it's not good either.

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#32 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
January 12 2010, 08:33PM
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Kevin wrote:

Any reason the entire oiler scouting staff were in attendance during the preds oiler game. One would think their time might be better spent elsewhere. This talk about bringing laraque back really makes me sick. If this is all this oil brass can drum up, it's a real sorry state. By the way this AHL squad played in this yet another dismall performance they may have been been better off striking golf balls in palm springs.

wasnt it mentioned on the team1260 that they just had their season half way done meeting with the scouts?

over react!!!!!!!!!!

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#33 dwayne
January 12 2010, 08:41PM
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Just close your eyes the rest of the season we have to focus on our top draft pic (Hall)..Good things are a coming and high salary peeps are leaving. There is always next SEASON and I will still be saying go oilers...but not this year just kick back and tank the season you guys can clean out your locker at the end of this season....GO embarrass some other city. (I am referring to Near years restaurant fiasco in Calgary) ..Great Mini camp those babies sure learned there lesson!

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#34 Kevin
January 12 2010, 08:42PM
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@cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

Get real pick up a paper and look at the standings both NHL and AHL. The only reason they need to be here in edm is to pick up their pink slips.

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#35 pmg2
January 12 2010, 08:45PM
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Turn off the lights folks. That's all she wrote. Actually that was the case even before the mini camp. What a pathetic organization, pathetic management decisions, certainly some very pathetic players, and a disgrace to this city. Better off watching 'boys on the bus' videos than this sad sack AHL show ! ...and I thought the mid 90's was bad....

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#36 Barry
January 12 2010, 08:46PM
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Down 4-0 now to Nashville, still waiting for Horcoff to do something. I would say trade him but who wants a player like that for his price tag? Send him to the monors and hopefully someone picks him up cut our loses and invest in someone who at least looks like they want to win.

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#37 Giggsunited
January 12 2010, 08:48PM
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whos going to the skills competition thats advertising after every whistle??

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#38 Brocktw
January 12 2010, 08:50PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

First, I never questioned the loyalty of Katz or the efforts of the old ownership group.

Second, when you ignore passages from the item such as "the Oilers aren't getting nearly the same value for their payroll and fans are being short-changed" AND "whose fans are getting real bang for the buck and whose fans are getting screwed? That's a rhetorical question, folks. Grab your ankles..." AND "The question, and it's one bound to come home to roost on the doorstep of Lowe, Tambellini, president Patrick LaForge and Katz sooner or later despite the loyalty of Oilers fans . ." and try to turn this into me taking a run at the fans, it's pretty clear you're just trying to piss me off.

Third, because you did piss me off and because you don't get to come here and call me names but have repeatedly, it's my great pleasure to tell you that you're done. Gone. Adios. Buh-bye.

Amen, to that!

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#39 Giggsunited
January 12 2010, 08:52PM
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@RB

Just wanted to say I hope sh*t like the last post doesnt stop you from giving us your non biased opinions and your valuable insight/knowledge and connections to the Nation. Not many places you get to interact with journalists everyday, thanks.

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#40 Darren
January 12 2010, 08:56PM
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So only Brownlee can insult people here now?

Cool

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#41 Brocktw
January 12 2010, 09:06PM
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I have come to accept the fact that this team is not very good. I have been an Oiler fan my whole life and I have no plans to change. But folks, this sucks! Anyone who thinks this heap can be fixed anytime soon is dreaming.

Kiss this season and next season good bye, pray for someone to knock some sense into the guys running this show and maybe come 12-13 we have a competitive team.

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#42 WT
January 12 2010, 09:16PM
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WT suggests anyone who wants tickets can get them on Kijji. Club seats for $65 a ticket. Great deal folks.

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#43 Rob
January 12 2010, 09:58PM
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R.B. One thing about these lean and mean times in Oilerville... You are on a roll!!

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#45 6 ring circus
January 12 2010, 10:16PM
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Robin I have been a season seat holder for over 10 years and I think that this will be my last season,I cannot keep supporting a team or organization (finacially) that shows no accountabilty to the fan base.Patrick Laforges hype is getting old and I think the Oilers have run out of ideas from a marketing stand point and also from a hockey operations side.I can accept the BS that comes from the organization for 1,2,3 years but there comes a point in time when enough is enough .The unfortunate part is that there is a waiting list of people waiting to buy season tickets.When the people stop showing up is when this organization will get a reality check.Then they will have no choice but to make it entertaining to go and watch the games and put a winning product on the ice or the fans will not come back.

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#47 pmg2
January 12 2010, 10:42PM
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Glad I only caught the score within 2-3 minutes listening on the car radio. Glad I didn't watch this pathetic show. Glad I stopped watching them 10 games ago. Glad the season is over. The rest is just an exercise in going through the motions. Glad....I have better plans for the next 2 months of winter season. The remaining time.......we watch to see what the management does and what direction they take !! Screw the games. Observe the management. They're the last line of evaluation. If they don't pass the test to change, then it's a write-off. We will become the Leafs of the West for a looong time folks !

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#48 GSC
January 12 2010, 10:47PM
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If the Nashville Predators don't prove the "bang for buck" theory of how to build an NHL roster correct, then no team can.

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#49 Butters
January 12 2010, 11:16PM
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Like many Oiler fans all the Oilers need to do is sell me hope-even if it's just a sliver. If not "Fall for Hall", I think the worst the Oilers will do is "****up for Fowler". If the Oilers get any of the top three, I will be back emptying my wallet at RX1 next year.

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