Oilers Fire Trainers

Jonathan Willis
April 23 2010 11:51AM

Edmonton Oilers v Toronto Maple Leafs

The Edmonton Oilers have finally fired Lowe. No, not Kevin Lowe; his brother, trainer Ken Lowe, along with equipment men Barrie Stafford and Lyle “Sparky” Kulchisky. After decades of work with the team, all three are now unemployed.

The question of why these men were fired remains unanswered. Ken Lowe is probably the most interesting of the three, for a couple of different reasons. It may be that the Oilers have decided that some of the blame for their epically high man-games lost to injury should fall on his shoulders; I’m not sure that Nikolai Khabibulin’s many and varied health problems are his fault, or Souray’s concussion, or Jacques’ back, or Hemsky getting knocked from behind into the boards, or for that matter O’Sullivan’s pinky finger qualify as something he should get fired for, but this is a firing that the Oilers can probably defend to some degree in that manner. It’s even possible they may be justified.

The other reason Lowe’s firing is so interesting is that it makes it clear – if it wasn’t before – that Kevin Lowe’s new official position isn’t “President of Hockey Operations” but rather “Vice-President of Remembering the 80’s And Conversing With The Media.” It’s difficult to imagine any scenario, where after two decades of satisfaction with his brother’s work, Lowe would pull the trigger on firing him.

Finally, I can’t imagine that Sheldon Souray’s comments praising Lowe while simultaneously slamming management did the head trainer any favours.

For the life of me, I can’t imagine what sins the equipment men committed to be worthy of getting the axe. Was Kulchisky not getting the visiting team’s equipment to their room quickly enough? (Too quickly?) Was Tambellini sick of hearing Barrie Stafford tell him about his nephew Drew, who he claimed was pretty good at hockey?

It’s entirely possible that there was some reasonable explanation for this. Perhaps there were legitimate problems with the performance of these men, although decades of continued employment and work with Hockey Canada makes that seem implausible. My personal guess – and it’s no more than a guess – is that Tambellini viewed these people as part of the ‘culture problem’ with the team that he has gnashed his teeth about in two post-season press conferences now.

Whatever the case may be, it’s a little ironic to see such a poorly managed team fire a bunch of people who had nothing to do with management.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#101 dragon
April 23 2010, 02:44PM
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John K wrote:

What's the big deal? Getting new people into the mix is not really a negative.

Should the firing of a few support staff require much discussion?

actually it should.

is reflective of the management style this Tambelini guy is trying to employ:

- no accountability: I have yet to hear him saying 'I made some mistakes as well' - no vision: didn't he get all piss & vinegar last April and then sat on his hands all summer long? - no communication skils - no guts to resign and admit he's just another brilliant example of the Peter principle.

now: what kind of 'corporate culture' a guy like that can implement in an organization?

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#103 jcleall@gmail.com
April 23 2010, 02:48PM
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Puritania wrote:

The music guy is horrible.

Makes me sick inside when I see other buildings playing Pantera, Slayer, Iced Earth and other metal often only to listen to the same sh*tty pop music at rexall.

I don't ever want to hear Britney Spears or Simple Plan at a friggin' hockey game, It just shouldn't happen.

IF I HEAR COTTON EYE JOE ONE MORE TIME I WILL LOSE IT.

Agreed. More Iron Maiden.

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#104 Jaime
April 23 2010, 02:50PM
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Puritania wrote:

The music guy is horrible.

Makes me sick inside when I see other buildings playing Pantera, Slayer, Iced Earth and other metal often only to listen to the same sh*tty pop music at rexall.

I don't ever want to hear Britney Spears or Simple Plan at a friggin' hockey game, It just shouldn't happen.

IF I HEAR COTTON EYE JOE ONE MORE TIME I WILL LOSE IT.

~Please enlighten me more on sh*tty music, you seem to know what you're talking about~

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#105 The Fish
April 23 2010, 02:53PM
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smd521 wrote:

Oh the Oiler fan. While other non-playoff teams are debating what players should be traded, the Oiler fan is arguing about the trainer and equipment guy. This is the funniest thread EVER. And you wonder why players see Edmonton as a fish bowl. Good Grief!!

"Good Grief?" Who are you, Charlie Brown?

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#106 smd521
April 23 2010, 02:57PM
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The Fish wrote:

"Good Grief?" Who are you, Charlie Brown?

Do you have a problem with Charlie Brown?

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#107 rubbertrout
April 23 2010, 02:59PM
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ThaShiznit wrote:

Me too, I suggest you all read the "I'd trade him again" book by peter...

It opened my eyes and I changed my opinion of him after I saw what he was up against, and how much he did for this team and this city.

You people are high. The guy is a convicted tax fraud (not sure if the trial and sentencing etc are done yet). Sure he rode the bandwagon of the most talented team ever to unprecedented success with a brand new franchise but do you really think it was his doing?

~Why don't we try and bring Bruce McNall or Boots Del Baggio back as owners too?~

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#108 The Fish
April 23 2010, 03:02PM
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No. I just have not heard that saying in quite some time.

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#109 Scott in Grande Prairie
April 23 2010, 03:02PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Ducey:

My reasoning actually goes something like this:

1. Tambellini made a move.

2. Based on track record, this may not be a good sign.

3. Wait and see what kind of rationale is produced.

4. Evaluate.

Right now I'm on step three.

As for the rest, I don't think there was any argument against the Prendergast dismissal. The fans around here were overjoyed at the MacT firing. Finally, I think I made it clear above that I thought it was possible these firings of equipment were justified, I just didn't see how and I'm not inclined to give the organization the benefit of the doubt based on track record.

Plus there's some irony in finishing 30th, ripping the organization, and then going out and firing the guy in charge of the AHL team and the guys who take care of the equipment.

I concur with your four-step process, but I'm not sure if I'm with you on your last 'graph - especially the "irony."

I respectfully disagree - there's nothing ironic about firing the guy who ran your AHL team after you finished 30th. If we all agree that the Oilers have had prospect development (and drafting) issues over the past, oh, 20 years or so, then there's nothing coincedental about firing the dude who was in charge of both.

As for the trainers' firing, well, I'm not really sure how to read that because I have absolutely no idea what they do/don't contribute to a team's overall "culture." That's mostly because my computer and keyboard are situated five hours north of Rexall Place. The truth is, I have absolutely no friggin' idea how the training staff fits into the culture.

So, I guess I'm forced to take a leap of faith and trust that Tambo is right.

It's a gamble, I'll grant you that. And maybe even a stretch given his track record thus far.

But, like I said earlier, it's still morning in Tambo's tenure right now. I think we all need to realize that. We're the ones who asked for change. So shall it be.

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#110 dragon
April 23 2010, 03:05PM
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Scott in Grande Prairie wrote:

I don't disagree with your assessment on Tambo's "culture change" plans as being "drivel," but I do think that by addressing the culture in his State of the Dis-Union Address he was attempting to address the concerns brought forward by fans.

In fact, it was a pretty clever move to go down the cultural road. Tambo (or the Oilers PR staff) were pretty clever in framing the discussion in those terms.

But, like they say, talk is cheap. It's all about action. And, this week, we're seeing action.

Criticizing the actions are part of the fun of being a fan (or a member of the media), but nobody can say they're doing nothing.

The Tambellini Era officially began two years ago but it unofficially begins this summer, in earnest.

funny, I thought it unofficially begun last summer.

but again, given that this April is just a deja-vu of last April, you can, indeed argue that it begins this summer....again. (too bad he'll need the entire 2010 season to evaluate his summer moves)

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#111 Bucknuck
April 23 2010, 03:06PM
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Jamie B. wrote:

I just screamed no so loudly dogs twelve miles away started barking.

Are you guys fricking high?

I am in the no crowd too. I am glad I am not alone...

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#112 dragon
April 23 2010, 03:07PM
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@Scott in Grande Prairie

the gamble was last year and he lost!

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#113 elko
April 23 2010, 03:11PM
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@Jaime

If the equipment guys can get blamed for the lousy team, I guess the music guy shouldn't escape without some punishment.

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#114 Souby
April 23 2010, 03:12PM
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WTF? First the Oil fire Ass.GM KP and now this reported on TSN:

"Also, head medical trainer Ken Lowe is stepping down from his position after 21 years, while Barrie Stafford and Lyle Kulchisky of the training staff are leaving their positions."

I know that changes need to be made, so you can make sense of KP getting axed. As for Lowe, maybe you could argue that he could have been better at managing the injures this season, but I feel that would be a stretch seeing as the Oil lost like 3000 man games due to injury? At least it felt like that many. But now long term equipment guys Stafford and Sparky are headed out the door too?

What the heck is going on over there? What's next, they fire the music guy because he played "Cotton Eyed Joe" one too many times? I know, maybe they decide Paul Lorieau needs to turn in his mic because they feel ripped off that he only sings the first 2 lines of O'Canada and then lets the crowd take over?

Don't get me wrong, I am on board with changes being made. I am just wondering if these are the guys that need to take the fall here?

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#115 Deep Oil
April 23 2010, 03:15PM
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The Fish wrote:

What is Joey Moss going to do? Isn't Sparky like a dad to him almost? If they fire Joey, I will not be renewing my season's tickets.

Joey has been reassigned to Oklahoma..... not true...... but would it really surpise you.

Oiler Nation, how sad, ruthless is this organization - no goodwill pay it forward here.

I am hoping you see my point of view here, you can't be ignorant, arrogant and intimidate without a backlash.........

I am sure this will not affect season ticket holders, as the Oilers will continue lose another $10 million dollars of overdraft money.

Any press conference to explain this purging of the unwashed ?

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#116 Hemmertime
April 23 2010, 03:17PM
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@Souby

Have you read Willis article or any of the comments, or just read TSN and posted right away?

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#117 Deep Oil
April 23 2010, 03:17PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

Why do you need two equipment guys?

Obviously, you have NEVER observed drying out equipment and having skates sharpened on a back to back night in different cities.

Idiot.

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#118 Deep Oil
April 23 2010, 03:18PM
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The Fish wrote:

That's exactly what I'm afraid of. I am starting to f%$#ng hate this organization.

Yes - see the light.......

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#119 Crash
April 23 2010, 03:18PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

If the Oilers want to make a couple changes that would please the fan I have a couple of ideas.

1. Bring the price of beer down..

2. Make it so that for us guys that pound back the beer that there is more room to go to the bathroom.

3. Bring the price of beer down.

1) Well sure but it's not just the beer that is overpriced...I don't actually drink the beer at the games but everything is overpriced...but then again it's overcharging so that our owner has the money to spend to the cap I suppose...I would just like the in house production to be improved right from the pre game video show on the jumbotron, to the anthem singer, to having ice girls and a tougher sounding in house announcer and of course an improved on ice product.

2) I'm thinking the having more room to go to the bathroom is coming when they move the bathrooms downtown into a new arena, so just hang in there for just a few years more for that one.

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#120 David S
April 23 2010, 03:21PM
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Deep Oil wrote:

Obviously, you have NEVER observed drying out equipment and having skates sharpened on a back to back night in different cities.

Idiot.

Why am I suddenly reminded of pots and kettles and the color black?

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#121 Deep Oil
April 23 2010, 03:21PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

Time for a new poll:

Who wants Peter Pocklington back?

Alleged crook vs Alleged Billionaire..... maybe a reality show.

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#122 Souby
April 23 2010, 03:21PM
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Hemmertime wrote:

Have you read Willis article or any of the comments, or just read TSN and posted right away?

I read it on TSN, skimmed the article and then posted. Why, is there more I should know? Don't tell me they fired Joey Moss now?

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#123 Deep Oil
April 23 2010, 03:23PM
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@DAVID S

Because when you point a finger, there are three pointing back.

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#124 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
April 23 2010, 03:23PM
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Deep Oil wrote:

Joey has been reassigned to Oklahoma..... not true...... but would it really surpise you.

Oiler Nation, how sad, ruthless is this organization - no goodwill pay it forward here.

I am hoping you see my point of view here, you can't be ignorant, arrogant and intimidate without a backlash.........

I am sure this will not affect season ticket holders, as the Oilers will continue lose another $10 million dollars of overdraft money.

Any press conference to explain this purging of the unwashed ?

Common, I'm dying to hear what mean thing they did to you.

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#125 Librarian Mike
April 23 2010, 03:26PM
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smd521 wrote:

Do you have a problem with Charlie Brown?

Don't you?

http://rfg917.com/fhl/assets/olli-jokinen-111706.jpg

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#126 Deep Oil
April 23 2010, 03:31PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Common, I'm dying to hear what mean thing they did to you.

Oilers owed me markers, and Patrick LaForge turtled on me, what did Brian Burke say in the past, horse's donkey.

Enough said.

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#127 David S
April 23 2010, 03:37PM
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Deep Oil wrote:

Oilers owed me markers, and Patrick LaForge turtled on me, what did Brian Burke say in the past, horse's donkey.

Enough said.

Nothing like a good old one-sided story.

Where's Brownlee and his trap door when you need him?

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#128 risto
April 23 2010, 03:37PM
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Tambo, it's not the staff. IT'S THE PLAYERS! And you are doing the worst job possible in addressing the issues at a time when the only direction seems to be up. This is a huge opportunity with the talent we've drafted lately (thank you, effective Kevin - you're fired) and now they have alienated the only talented player left.

I am enjoying the Stanley Cup playoffs, and watching clubs full of actual NHL players who make less salary than our group playing outstanding hockey. I hope those GMs are proud of their work.

As far as the hockey gods work, we are really paying a price for 2006.

You just shouldn't fire Sparky. You throw him a RETIREMENT PARTY! Thousands would come to pay respect to the man.

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#129 Jodes
April 23 2010, 03:38PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

Klowe took us to the cup finals. Macicocia won that trophy that the CFL hands out to the best team and Tambo has been here for 2 years trying to clean up a mess.

Danny M didn't do squat.. That was Tom Higgins work, and since Danny's taken over the Esks have not been the same.

Anyone else see this firing as comparable to when the Esks "cleaned" house a few years back?

Where everyone except who was responsible got the axe..

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#130 Puritania
April 23 2010, 03:47PM
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Jaime wrote:

~Please enlighten me more on sh*tty music, you seem to know what you're talking about~

The carbon copy shlock permeating the airwaves.

Some of us out here aren't in the Adam Lambert fan club, leave that sh*t out of Rexall.

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#131 Benhur
April 23 2010, 04:22PM
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@Jonathan Willis

It's Tambo's show now....stop whining everyone! I have read for a year how he is Kevin's puppet and now that he wants to tear down the current organization and put in place his selection of employees with the talent to change the culture of this organization. So let him...stop the whining...what do you expect...he fires himself?

Or better yet fire Kevin....sorry the boss has to do that!

There will be a lot of other "firings" of the actual players as we go ahead and it is about time...just look at the playoff teams to see real talent, work ethic and team dedication!

This is a step by step process...take a pill. Tambo deserves his chance!

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#132 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
April 23 2010, 04:27PM
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Deep Oil wrote:

Oilers owed me markers, and Patrick LaForge turtled on me, what did Brian Burke say in the past, horse's donkey.

Enough said.

Clearly they've scarred you emotionally. I suggest you get proffesional help.

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#133 Jaime
April 23 2010, 04:46PM
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@Puritania

Hey, I'm not an Adam Lambert fan either, and I don't listen to the radio. Just making the point that music is one of those things that you'll never get a consensus opinion on what's good and what isn't.

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#134 Jamie B.
April 23 2010, 05:07PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

I am in the no crowd too. I am glad I am not alone...

Either they're all under 20 or ... no, I can't even excuse that, even people younger than 20 have to remember the years of "buy 12,000 season tickets or I'm moving the team to Hamilton."

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#135 Jamie B.
April 23 2010, 05:10PM
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Name officially changed. I was even confusing myself with Jaime.

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#136 Stevezie
April 23 2010, 05:13PM
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@jcleall@gmail.com

Amen and amen. They need to realize their target audience is not twleve tear-old girls

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#137 Pokey Reddock
April 23 2010, 05:21PM
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I'm pretty sure that the DJ at the Oiler games has a tough job.

While I agree the Cotton Eyed Joe Tape must be burned; never to come back again.

There are some many genres of music, and everyone has their own tastes. So, they play top 40 to appeal to the broadest demographic.

So what? They should play more Iron Maiden to appeal to you the minority that like Heavy Metal?

Being a season ticket holder and looking around in my section; it's is obvious that there aren't many of those type of fans.

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#138 Pokey Reddock
April 23 2010, 05:25PM
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Jaime wrote:

Hey, I'm not an Adam Lambert fan either, and I don't listen to the radio. Just making the point that music is one of those things that you'll never get a consensus opinion on what's good and what isn't.

Agreed.

BTW I don't even know who Adam Lambert is.

Maybe Puritania is a closet Adam Lambert fan. He seems pretty fired up about this music thing....

If he sends me his email address maybe I'll send him my nieces mp3 player list.

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#139 Racki
April 23 2010, 05:39PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

Did he piss it away on the Oilers our all his other business ventures?

Definitely his other ventures played a part, but if you're a player and you can't score goals because you're working late nights at Gainers, you're not cutting it as a player either.

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#140 Petr's Jofa
April 23 2010, 05:47PM
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I'm curious how old these guys are. They've all been with the team forever and I assume that they had some experience before they joined. Could these guys just be headed to retirement or less stress positions now that their contracts are up?

TSN Quote is:

"Also, head medical trainer Ken Lowe is stepping down from his position after 21 years, while Barrie Stafford and Lyle Kulchisky of the training staff are leaving their positions."

No where does it say they were fired.

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#141 Puritania
April 23 2010, 05:55PM
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@Pokey Reddock

You don't have to be a closet fan to know who these "artists" are, all you need is to have ears and to be conscious.

You seem quite fired up about me, maybe you are secretly lusting after me? If I follow your train of thought that must be the case.

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#142 Pokey Reddock
April 23 2010, 06:05PM
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Puritania wrote:

You don't have to be a closet fan to know who these "artists" are, all you need is to have ears and to be conscious.

You seem quite fired up about me, maybe you are secretly lusting after me? If I follow your train of thought that must be the case.

Fired up about you? How do you mean. Just wondering how your comments make any sense?

So by your logic. You think the music sucks (which I tend to agree with for the most part).

Pretty easy to criticize without any real good solutions, you shouldn't really say anything should you?

Lusting after you, huh? That came out of left field...

Good one.

BTW your probably the same fan who goes to 1 or 2 games a year, whoc dont have anything better to do but complain about the music.

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#143 Puritania
April 23 2010, 06:22PM
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@Pokey Reddock

How many ideas do you need to change up the music? I thought I made it fairly clear.

Heres one: play less pop garbage, play more metal/rock/classic rock

You made a ridiculous conclusion about me so I made one about you...I also thought that was clear.

Again you throw out another accusation about me when you obviously know nothing about me. I didn't realize this topic (which you apparently agree with me on) would anger you so much to make baseless accusations againts me.

If you want to just fight on the internet there are other sites for that.

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#144 Bob Loblaw
April 23 2010, 07:36PM
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ThaShiznit wrote:

Me too, I suggest you all read the "I'd trade him again" book by peter...

It opened my eyes and I changed my opinion of him after I saw what he was up against, and how much he did for this team and this city.

I read the "I'd trade him again" book cover to cover, and found some recurrent themes in it.

First, Pocklington would have sold anything if he thought it would be a good deal for him in the long-term. That whole thing about Peter wanting to trade the entire Oilers team for the entire Leafs team back in the 80s? One hundred percent true. Peter's words: "I would have made a fortune in Toronto!"

And let's not get started on the Gretzky trade.

Second, no matter what happens, Peter's the victim. He was a victim of quasi-communist government over-regulation. He was a victim of over-zealous unions. He was a victim of the vicious "American culture of suing the pants off of everybody." But did Peter ever to anything wrong? Nooooo. If so-and-so hadn't screwed it up for him, maybe he would have been able to make such-and-such-a-deal better.

While I appreciate Pocklington's "git 'er done" approach in the early 80s, he's been a train wreck ever since. There's a reason he doesn't come back to town anymore.

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#145 Bob Loblaw
April 23 2010, 07:44PM
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Pokey Reddock wrote:

I'm pretty sure that the DJ at the Oiler games has a tough job.

While I agree the Cotton Eyed Joe Tape must be burned; never to come back again.

There are some many genres of music, and everyone has their own tastes. So, they play top 40 to appeal to the broadest demographic.

So what? They should play more Iron Maiden to appeal to you the minority that like Heavy Metal?

Being a season ticket holder and looking around in my section; it's is obvious that there aren't many of those type of fans.

I agree 100% with the need to once and for all, eliminate Cotton Eye Joe from the playlist. Just a question for the guys who run the Oilersnation website, but could an online petition be arranged?

And before we get 7 people writing in exclaiming that they want non-stop Pantera and POD playing all game, I would suggest that we try and strike a happy medium.

That being said, I must give props to the Oilers music guy for playing little to no country. Stompin' Tom is as far as I'll go in that direction.

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#146 JohnQPublic
April 23 2010, 10:00PM
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Willis, you've been ranting for change for years. You've got it.

Change isn't always clean, or fair and definitely not perfect. There are a lot of unfair personnel moves in any organizational shake-up.

You helped cook it (with many others), now eat it.

Don't be a hypocrite.

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#147 Puritania
April 23 2010, 10:23PM
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I don't know why people seem to think all the metal heads want metal non-stop all the time rah rah rah.

All we really want is less pop music and some metal. If pittsburg can play as much as they do without mass rioting I don't see why we can't either.

@Bob Loblaw: Just because people in your section aren't covered in tatoos and wearing studded leather jackets doesn't mean they can't like metal. Don't judge a book by its cover as they say.

So to reiterate, we just want some metal to hear as well. It won't kill the fans who don't like the hard stuff to hear the odd 10 second metal clip, we do it all game every game.

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