GDB LXXX: Like Custer's Last Stand

Jason Gregor
April 07 2010 10:14AM

One of the biggest misconceptions in American history is Custer’s Last Stand because it implies that George Custer and his troops made some heroic final stand v. the Cheyenne, which was never the case.

Custer and his troops were on the offensive at the Battle of Bighorn, only to get overwhelmed and killed by the Cheyenne and Sitting Bull. I learned this in History class many years ago, and got a refresher here.

What I didn’t recall from our teacher was the dates the battle occurred; June 25th and 26th. How fitting that the NHL draft is on the exact same days this year. Oiler fans are hoping Steve Tambellini will mirror Sitting Bull, make the correct pick, and lead the Oilers to many victories down the road.

But who will be leading the team next season?

Tonight is the final home game for the Oilers, and many wonder if it is the last home game for Ethan Moreau.

Will this be Moreau’s last home stand in an Oiler uniform?

If the Oilers don’t win they will tie the franchise-low of 17 home wins, set in 1992/1993 and 1993/1994, and with Moreau’s recent play it looks like he is trying to lead this team away from being the worst in franchise history.

Moreau has five goals, eight points, is +1 and has 38 shots in his last 16 games. In the previous 57 games he tallied 4-5-9, was -16 and had 98 shots.

If you pro-rate Moreau’s last 16 games over 80 games he’d have 25 goals and 40 points. Of course those would be career highs, so it’s safe to say he wouldn’t keep up his recent pace over a full season, but I wonder if his recent strong play will see him back in Edmonton next season.

It was obvious at the deadline that Moreau was ready — and hoping — to be dealt, but Steve Tambellini tried unsuccessfully to move him. The fact no team was willing to take him, had to be a blow to Moreau’s ego, and rather than pout about it, Moreau has responded with his best hockey of the season.

I’ve never doubted that Moreau cares. He’s played the game with heart, grit and determination since breaking in with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1996. It’s also fair to say that for a long period this year (34 games with no goals and four points) he looked defeated, broken down and on the downside of his career.

He’s used the realization that no team wanted him as motivation to prove to people he can still play. Along with Shawn Horcoff, he’s been the most consistent forward since the deadline, and it’s not surprising that he’s done that since Pat Quinn made them the checking line.

Despite being the 14th overall pick in 1994, Moreau learned early that if he’d be more of a checker than a scorer. He has worked diligently on his skating since entering the league and that’s why for many years he was considered one of the better 3rd line players in the game.

He’ll be 35 in September and if he wants another contract next summer he’ll need to keep playing like he has since he was shunned by the other 29 general managers.

The Oilers will make a lot of moves this summer, but they can’t trade the entire team. They need to keep some guys, and Moreau’s recent play could have him here next September. H would have been moved in March if he didn’t have another year on his deal, so don’t be surprised to see him here next year.

Many fans and media have debated the merits of buying him out this summer, but I don’t see the Oilers buying out three guys, and with Jordon Eberle, Linus Omark and their first pick coming in camp next year, those guys are going to replace Robert Nilsson and Patrick O’Sullivan, not Ethan Moreau.

You could buy out both O’Sullivan and Nilsson for a little more than what it would cost to buy out Moreau. Sure, Moreau struggled for most of this season, but he’s given more to the organization than O’Sullivan and Nilsson combined and that should count for something.

I think reality hit Moreau hard on March 3rd, and rather than sulk the rest of the season, he looked in the mirror and realized that he needed to be better. I don’t think a strong final 19 games can erase everything, but it shows he still cares.

He isn’t the long term solution moving forward, but he is still a better option than many of the bottom six forwards the Oilers currently have and the over abundance of soft, small and non-productive forwards.

MEANINGLESS GAME

Oilers fans won’t have to fret about beating Colorado and helping the Flames make the playoffs, because the Phlegms took care of business on their own by losing to San Jose last night, while rookie, Matt Duchene scored a beauty in the shootout to send the Avs to the playoffs.

Something tells me the Avs might be suffering a “playoff” hangover tonight and the Oilers should be able to give their loyal fans one final home win.

Dustin Penner mentioned 35 goals yesterday morning, so the big man might be bringing it hard tonight. He also confirmed he hasn’t been contacted by Mark Messier and Craig MacTavish yet about the world championships.

Penner is currently tied for 16th in goals with Nick Backstrom and the only Steven Stamkos, Rick Nash and Jarome Iginla have more goals amongst Canadian players not in the playoffs. Iginla never goes to the worlds and Nash just played in the Olympics so he might want a rest. If they don’t ask Penner then its clear MacTavish still has an axe to grind.

However, Penner didn’t sound overjoyed about going. “I haven’t been asked yet,” he said. I pushed on and said if you were would you go? “I would do some deliberating.” I think Penner will need some assurance that if he goes all the way across the world that the coach will play him. While MacTavish seems to have moved on, based on his commentary on TSN, I’m not sure Penner has. He should go if he is asked, and MacTavish should invite him.

Billy Moores was announced as one of MacTavish’s assistants yesterday, and with the Dallas Stars out of the playoffs I wonder if Charlie Huddy will get the call? It’s great to go with guys you know, but the optics would be horrible if Huddy is invited.

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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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#1 The Fish
April 07 2010, 10:19AM
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Good article, but the real news today is that the Flamers missed the playoffs. At leats the Oil have some up and coming young talent. The Flames are a mess and the Sutters should be canned as a result. King should be gone too after arranging for his team to get the flu shot before people in need. KARMA IS A B!TCH.

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#2 OilFan
April 07 2010, 10:21AM
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Good read. I hope Penner gets the invite. Would be good for him I think. Why buy out POS and Nilsson ? Would the Oilers not be able to trade them ?

BUBBA ARMY!!!!

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#3 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
April 07 2010, 10:24AM
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A little perspective on the un-movable one/buyout candidate:

He's 3rd in goals on the Oilers 5 on 5 + PK.

I think the guys a tad underrated around here.

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#4 Hunter5
April 07 2010, 10:27AM
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Jason, your kidding about all the Moreau love in your article... right? It would have made more sense if you would have posted this on April 1st. I can only assume you felt like doing some creative writing to get a few laughs?

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#5 Jonathan Willis
April 07 2010, 10:27AM
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#6 DoubleJ
April 07 2010, 10:35AM
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I just hope we get two more wins. I think Moreau should be gone. If he can put in this kind of effort why was he a no show for the whole season? That's not a leader, this team needs leadership. Moreau doesn't deserve to be here, because he has played hard for 15 games. Too little too late. IMO.

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#7 Archaeologuy
April 07 2010, 10:40AM
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@Jonathan Willis

I was tired by the end of that shift

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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

A little perspective on the un-movable one/buyout candidate:

He's 3rd in goals on the Oilers 5 on 5 + PK.

I think the guys a tad underrated around here.

What no tipping of your hat for me giving you those numbers?

Why did Moreau have to get those 2 goals the other night? He would've been 10th otherwise.

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#9 Tyler
April 07 2010, 10:45AM
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What I didn’t recall from our teacher was the dates the battle occurred; June 25th and 26th. How fitting that the NHL draft is on the exact same days this year. Oiler fans are hoping Steve Tambellini will mirror Sitting Bull, make the correct pick, and lead the Oilers to many victories down the road.

After the Battle of Little Bighorn, Sitting Bull ended up exiled in Saskatchewan for a number of years. I'm actually hoping that Tambo does that.

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#10 Ender
April 07 2010, 10:46AM
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@ Jason Gregor

You're right about the optics of Huddy being invited now, but the shame is that I'd rather have Huddy coaching for us than Moores. I wonder; did MacT know Huddy wasn't available for some reason before he invited Billy?

If Moreau is in camp next year, it shows that management is incapable of making a decision or learning from their mistakes. I love heart-and-soul guys and trying every night gets you a ton of brownie-points in my books. That said, you cannot continue to take stupid penalties night after night and look out of your element for 2/3 of the season and then expect me to forgive you because you show you have some ability after all. If Moreau is capable of playing at this level consistantly, then why didn't he do it throughout the entire season instead of just now? And if this streak since the trade deadline is the anomaly, then why would we bring him back to have him wallow again?

I agree that buying him out is not the best answer, but surely there is a better solution that letting him lace up in Oilers silks again next season. And as fair as it might sound, you cannot reasonably expect him to have to skate for a position in training camp. If the captain of the team shows up to camp, you pretty much have to give him a roster spot. To tell him after a couple of exibition games that you're stripping the C and buying him out then - well, that won't happen. Whatever happens with Moreau will have to happen in the off-season, and if the Oilers can't unload him for a bag of pucks, then they should resort to whatever means are necessary to fill his spot on the roster with someone else, up to and including the dreaded buyout.

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#11 The Fish
April 07 2010, 10:53AM
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Tyler Seguin was officially rated #1 by central scouting.

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#12 Dan_328
April 07 2010, 10:55AM
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The Fish wrote:

Good article, but the real news today is that the Flamers missed the playoffs. At leats the Oil have some up and coming young talent. The Flames are a mess and the Sutters should be canned as a result. King should be gone too after arranging for his team to get the flu shot before people in need. KARMA IS A B!TCH.

The real story is keith Ballards second awesome highlight of the year

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#13 Chris.
April 07 2010, 10:59AM
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After a quick glance at the stats I see Moreau is tied with Cogliano for goals, and only a couple behind Nilsson and O'Sullivan despite recieveing almost no PP time. Just sayin...

Where is the big drop off between the ~skill~ guys and the grinders... or is there one? Moreau, despite his age, and all his shortcommings; AND after a brutal season: is still a better overall hockey player and contributer than all the smurfs on this team not named Gagner or Brule... and that's just sad.

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#14 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
April 07 2010, 10:59AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

What no tipping of your hat for me giving you those numbers?

Why did Moreau have to get those 2 goals the other night? He would've been 10th otherwise.

I beat you to it because of a bet with a friend ;0

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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

I beat you to it because of a bet with a friend ;0

I really don't like the blowjob smile, unless that bet was with a chick.

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#16 Chris.
April 07 2010, 11:07AM
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@Ender

This Moreau taking stupid penaltys angle is getting a little old. Moreau is fourth in PIM's on the Oilers, 136th in the league,and has taken less penalties than ~undisciplined bruisers~ like Olli Jokinen, Sidney Crosby, and Alexander Semin.

Try having a little perspective.

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#17 Archaeologuy
April 07 2010, 11:12AM
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The Fish wrote:

Tyler Seguin was officially rated #1 by central scouting.

Does that make it both Central Scouting and the International Scouting Service that listed him as #1?

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#18 Let's Rebuild
April 07 2010, 11:12AM
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@Chris.

It's not necessarily the number of penalties it's the timing of those penalties. Moreau seems to take penalties at the worst possible time, when we are trying to comeback late in the game, or after a momentum swing.

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@Chris.

For the record he is ninth in points at EV and PK combined. And if Pouilot and Hemsky played he probably be 11th.

On the stupid penalty thing I'd have to agree. He still takes quite a few minors that he shouldn't, but I think his minor penalties is about half of last year's, so he has improved alot.

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#20 dragon
April 07 2010, 11:20AM
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~ the club should keep Moreau one more year, Oilers will win the 2011 draft and this 6'3" kid, Sean Couturier would certainly look good on the left wing playing with Horc and Hemmer ~

How long till Oilers get in contender shape? 3 more years? Starting next year, this year or last year?

If Moreau gets to stay after 19 desperate hockey games, this organization has bigger issues that won't get solved in 3 years...

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#21 Chris.
April 07 2010, 11:29AM
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Let's Rebuild wrote:

It's not necessarily the number of penalties it's the timing of those penalties. Moreau seems to take penalties at the worst possible time, when we are trying to comeback late in the game, or after a momentum swing.

Is there ever a really great time to take a minor penalty? Moreau is often on the ice during critical situations, hence the bad timing of his penalties.

BTW, Moreau has the same or less minor penalties than over 140 other NHL players.

Malkin is fourth on the list (behind Downie, Hartnell, and Burrows) with 43 minor penalties as opposed to Moreau's 21. Other noteables with more minor penalties than Moreau include: Brier, Kovalev, The Sedin's, Gomez, Heatley, Mikko Koivu, The Staals, Paul Stastney, Nash, Afinogenov, and Horcoff... Moreau has similar minor penalty totals to players like LeCavlier, Ovechkin and Ryan Smyth even though he plays in a more shutdown/bottom six role. The list of players who are in Moreau's role, who take more penalties than Moreau; is waaaay to long to list here.

Let's stop with the penalty thing okay? Moreau hasn't been that undisciplined this year.

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#22 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
April 07 2010, 11:37AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

I really don't like the blowjob smile, unless that bet was with a chick.

"Props"

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#23 madjam
April 07 2010, 11:38AM
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Good article for retaining some present elder players . Should Nilsson and O'Sullivan not be put on waivers first before buyout , similiar to Schremp - or others for that matter ? How much of a bad season that players may have had , are attributed to managerial handling of team and it's needs never been filled ? What conditions were out of players control for that matter including questionable coaching decisions ? I feel a lot of you are overblaming the players here . A lot of you say go with youth , etc. -then you want to get rid of them after a real bad year for almost all players under strenuos conditions and injuries with no second chance to redeem themselves. There is ups and downs in all careers- does not mean some won't rebound for next season . Just like the normal worker succumbs to taking the blame for management, supervisory, etc.( or mismanagement) because he faces the rath of management if he tries to do otherwise and criticize their decisions . The players almost always take the brunt of it and criticism .

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#24 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
April 07 2010, 11:38AM
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Chris. wrote:

This Moreau taking stupid penaltys angle is getting a little old. Moreau is fourth in PIM's on the Oilers, 136th in the league,and has taken less penalties than ~undisciplined bruisers~ like Olli Jokinen, Sidney Crosby, and Alexander Semin.

Try having a little perspective.

Glad to see others have noticed, he's had what? 2-3 fights this year? That means he's had 25 or so minors all year, I'd bet a few were coincidental as well.

Big deal.

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#25 Gunner
April 07 2010, 11:48AM
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He's had 2 fights this year.

Bottom line is the penalties he does take are bad ones. Spin the stats however you want, he takes bad penalties at bad times. He is undisciplined.

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Chris. wrote:

Is there ever a really great time to take a minor penalty? Moreau is often on the ice during critical situations, hence the bad timing of his penalties.

BTW, Moreau has the same or less minor penalties than over 140 other NHL players.

Malkin is fourth on the list (behind Downie, Hartnell, and Burrows) with 43 minor penalties as opposed to Moreau's 21. Other noteables with more minor penalties than Moreau include: Brier, Kovalev, The Sedin's, Gomez, Heatley, Mikko Koivu, The Staals, Paul Stastney, Nash, Afinogenov, and Horcoff... Moreau has similar minor penalty totals to players like LeCavlier, Ovechkin and Ryan Smyth even though he plays in a more shutdown/bottom six role. The list of players who are in Moreau's role, who take more penalties than Moreau; is waaaay to long to list here.

Let's stop with the penalty thing okay? Moreau hasn't been that undisciplined this year.

Have to remember that those guys get alot of hooking, slashing penalties trying to steal the puck. They get away with it quite a bit and generate chances that way. I wouldn't compare Moreau to guys that are known for offense. You need to look at other bottom six players.

Moreau ranks 60th or so for minor penalties, so it isn't exactly great, but considering he was 7th last year in minor penalties it isn't so bad.

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Gunner wrote:

He's had 2 fights this year.

Bottom line is the penalties he does take are bad ones. Spin the stats however you want, he takes bad penalties at bad times. He is undisciplined.

It's not like there is so many good times to take a penalty.

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#28 Archaeologuy
April 07 2010, 11:50AM
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@Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

Sure but late in the 3rd while down a goal has to be worse than middle of the 1st in a tie game.

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#29 Gunner
April 07 2010, 11:51AM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

That's why no team would even offer used equipment bags for him at the deadline?

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#30 RossCreekNation
April 07 2010, 11:51AM
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Flames are out, blah, blah, blah... I wonder if Brett Hull's gonna get his hands on Dallas ownership. I also wonder if he then names Wayne Gretzky as GM/part owner. I then wonder if Craig MacTavish replaces Marc Crawford behind the bench, reuniting him with Charlie Huddy in Dallas.

And I see NHL Central Scouting has Seguin ranked ahead of Hall. Yet some people still think *they* know better. All I'm saying is its a toss up... to suggest *you* know better is incorrect. *You* may guess better. In reality, there may not be a wrong choice... and if there is, we may not know for 6 or 7 years.

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#31 Trenton L
April 07 2010, 11:53AM
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I would actually enjoy if Huddy is included. I was as fierce a MacT basher as any but if those 3 could coach a talented team to a victory against equal opponents in the world championships it may put a little more pressure on Lowe/Tambellini to bring their A game to improve the Oil.

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#32 Eddie Shore
April 07 2010, 11:53AM
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@Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

There absolutely are better/worse times to take penalties.

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Archaeologuy wrote:

Sure but late in the 3rd while down a goal has to be worse than middle of the 1st in a tie game.

Not like we had that many this year that mattered. I can't see too many of Moreau's 22 minors being the reason we lost 54 games this year.

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#34 Eddie Shore
April 07 2010, 11:55AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

A little perspective on the un-movable one/buyout candidate:

He's 3rd in goals on the Oilers 5 on 5 + PK.

I think the guys a tad underrated around here.

That's the comment I was referring to.

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#35 Archaeologuy
April 07 2010, 11:55AM
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@RossCreekNation

Go Seguin! It's good to see my horse pull ahead in this race. I just hope that if we lose out on the 1st the team that gets it takes Hall.

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#36 brian
April 07 2010, 11:56AM
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moreau was dreadful whenever games were meaningful over the past few years ... 15 strong, meaningless games to salvage his career aren't enough. He'll do the same next year. fair point on not sulking after the deadline, but his smug attitude needs to be nowhere near a team starting over.

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#37 Archaeologuy
April 07 2010, 12:00PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

Not like we had that many this year that mattered. I can't see too many of Moreau's 22 minors being the reason we lost 54 games this year.

Of course there are bigger issues than what some 4th liner does. That doesnt mean Moreau's keen ability to take a late game, momentum killing penalty helped anything.

Overstated or not, he was an anchor weighing the team down for half the season only to return as an on-ice presence when it truly didnt matter.

Apparently his ego was bruised when he found out no one wanted him, not when his team was floundering under his leadership. I'm not going to pretend the first 60 games didnt happen just because he might end the season on a high note.

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#38 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
April 07 2010, 12:00PM
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@ Gunner

You're guessing, just because he wasn't traded doesn't mean he couldn't be traded. Tambellini could have been holding out for a certain price.

Staios was traded last minute for a nice return, that gives support to the above theory.

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#39 Eddie Shore
April 07 2010, 12:03PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

@ Gunner

You're guessing, just because he wasn't traded doesn't mean he couldn't be traded. Tambellini could have been holding out for a certain price.

Staios was traded last minute for a nice return, that gives support to the above theory.

Except that Tambellini openly admitted that the only offers he got were the trades he made.

Moreau is not the worst player in the league but he definitely is not underrated.

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#40 RossCreekNation
April 07 2010, 12:05PM
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@Archaeologuy

So... NHL Central Scouting says Seguin 1st, Eklund says Hall 1st... just sayin... ;-)

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#41 RossCreekNation
April 07 2010, 12:10PM
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@ Gregor

Is there any chance MPS would come play in the A? I know its highly unlikely, but any chance?

It would be interesting to have MPS, Eberle, Omark, Lander, Chorney, Peckham, Plante, etc. all down in OKC, no?

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#42 Archaeologuy
April 07 2010, 12:15PM
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@RossCreekNation

I havent been this excited about a draft lottery ever. I imagine the opposite is true for Flames fans these days

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#43 RossCreekNation
April 07 2010, 12:21PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

I havent been this excited about a draft lottery ever. I imagine the opposite is true for Flames fans these days

*nonchalantly*

I dunno... you'd have to ask one.

*"GASP!" from the audience*

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#44 Archaeologuy
April 07 2010, 12:36PM
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@RossCreekNation

It's OK. I bet Matt Stajan will be great next year. Who needs draft picks when you have a full cupboard of young prospects anyway?

I'll stop now.

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#45 Alon
April 07 2010, 12:43PM
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@Archaeologuy

Seguin is ranked first in both yes, but the ISS guy went back on his rankings in his interview: "The confidence I have in this is that, I think they're so close, they could be flip-flopped," Director of Central Scouting E.J. McGuire

I agree with Rosscreek here. It's a toss up and there likely isnt a better player.

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#46 Sars
April 07 2010, 12:45PM
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Regarding the Moreau thing: I agree, he plays with his heart and soul every night, and recenlty, his role has been more of a role he's used to. Shut down checker kind of thing. I wonder why Pat Quinn didn't have a line of Moreau/Horcoff/Pisani earlier in the year. Granted, injuries played a factor, but it seems as though when Moreau's role is set, he looks a lot better out there.

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#47 Archaeologuy
April 07 2010, 12:46PM
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@Alon

I hope so. Win or lose the Lottery, I'd be excited to get either one.

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Sars wrote:

Regarding the Moreau thing: I agree, he plays with his heart and soul every night, and recenlty, his role has been more of a role he's used to. Shut down checker kind of thing. I wonder why Pat Quinn didn't have a line of Moreau/Horcoff/Pisani earlier in the year. Granted, injuries played a factor, but it seems as though when Moreau's role is set, he looks a lot better out there.

That should've been a line last year. I have said for awhile that they need to play the roles they are suited for. The only problem is there hasn't really been a better option then Horcoff to center line 1, let alone lines 1 and 2.

You need to use your best options available to you and that is what MacT and Quinn have done.

I also have to think money was a part of it for MacT. It shouldn't be, but he made it obvious when he threw Penner's contract into post-game interviews.

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