The Lesson of the Flying Burrito's

Lowetide
August 16 2010 05:30PM

Long before the Eagles, the Flying Burrito Brothers (and others) were working on a sound that incorporated country and rock music into something special. Gram Parsons would have been rich and famous by now, but got caught up in UFO's, LSD and the Joshua Tree.

It was inevitable that someone would perfect the sound that became country rock. By the mid-to-late 1960's The Byrds had recorded a terrific album called Sweethearts of the Rodeo that included two future Burrito's (Parsons and Chris Hillman). You throw that puppy on the turntable and you're listening to country rock. Parsons and Hilllman moved on the following summer to the Flying Burrito's, a band that combined country, rock, terrific lyrics and unusual outfits in a most pleasing way. Along with country artists like Buck Owens, Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline and the early solo work of Neil Young, the sound was out there for the Eagles by the time that band hit vinyl in early 1972. They weren't the first, or even the best, but the Eagles got all the money.--

It takes time to develop something worthwhile, and the fact is that by the time the pinnacle is reached many of the people who laid the groundwork are long gone or in reduced roles. For the Edmonton Oilers, this summer has seen a number of people sent out the door. Players, management people, scouts, and on it goes. I don't think this is a bad thing, in fact it was probably necessary based on the horrible seasons since the Stanley run.

This season will see the team introduce exceptional rookies, may see young NHL players like Sam Gagner and Gilbert Brule taking steps forward, and a healthy year from veterans like Ales Hemsky and Sheldon Souray. We can only hope for another season just like the last one from Dustin Penner.

It's the blueline and defense I'm wondering over, and doubt that I'm alone. In a very real way, Steve Tambellini has been given an opportunity to be a true team builder for these Edmonton Oilers. Some nice depth moves over this summer along with the impressive draft haul give all Oiler fans a good feeling about the future. However, in order for ST to avoid the bad things that happen when you pursure UFO'S, LSD and the Joshua Tree, the general manager needs to solve a few problems over the next 24 months:

  1. Blue's Future: Never mind the mess at the NHL level, this team needs to uncover some future defensemen from the group that includes Jeff Petry, Alex Plante, Theo Peckham, Taylor Chorney and others. When Taylor Hall's team is ready to hit the playoffs on the dead run, who is going to be this generation's Lowe, Huddy, Gregg, Fogolin? I'm not even asking about Paul Coffey, although the Oilers might pluck one from the lottery next year if they're lucky enough to pick near the top again. Fact: Defensemen take longer to develop than forwards, and the Oilers aren't stacked at this position. Meaning they'll probably have to trade an Eberle or a MPS at some point to balance out the roster unless one or more of the kids turns into something.
  2. Goaltending: It's a mess, and the team would do well to solve this damn problem sooner than later. JDD and DD are trying to find traction at the NHL level, and I think it might be a good idea to cut bait with one and devote a lot of playing time to the other. By this time next season, Tambellini needs to find out about these two as soon as possible, because if a goaltender needs to be developed we're talking a very long time.
  3. Europe. Kenta Nilsson did the right thing by quitting after the team bought out his son (blood is thicker than Oil) and Frank Musil apparently isn't going to be driving his SAAB around looking under fjords for hockey players this year either. I sense the Oilers would rather shop close to home (WHL), which is all well and good; however, you can't just let the other 29 teams own an entire region without scouting the place. A strong European scouting staff is vital and ST should be on the hunt right away. No time like the present and all that. I'm not just talking about the amateur scouting either, the Oilers could use a Jan Hejda or two once in awhile. In fact, this might be a very strong option when searching for those defensemen and goaltenders I was talking about earlier.
  4. College free agents and overage juniors. Brian Burke has done a nice job acquiring some depth in the organization using this method of procurement, and the Oilers seemed to have been bullied out of the race in recent years. There's talent there.
  5. Attracting NHL free agents. The Oilers will one day be a franchise on the rise, rich with talented youth. Veterans will come here, and the Oilers should do everything they can to ensure those veterans look upon Edmonton as a quality option. Good coaching, good practice facilities, and a brand new building that is nothing less than state of the art.

Steve Tambellini has an excellent opportunity here. This summer he's improved the team (although I don't think he went far enough, or hasn't yet) and the procurement department delivered at least two bullets at the draft (Hall, Pitlick). And yet there's still a feeling that the organization is burning daylight, perhaps not making enough progress in important areas (like defense). Steve Tambellini is a long way from the finish line, and tomorrow is not promised to him. Plenty of good hockey men have given years of their lives to an organization only to be replaced just before glory arrives.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#51 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
August 17 2010, 11:30AM
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@Master Lok

Unless you are hoping for the playoffs does it really matter if Strudwick may end up in a top 4 role?

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#52 Master Lok
August 17 2010, 11:55AM
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Crash wrote:

You're looking for guarantees? If you read my post you'll notice that I mentioned how much better the Oilers will be will depend on just how good the young guys are.

You're right there are no guarantees that Gagner, Cogliano, Brule or the team in general will be better than last year. Just as there is no guarantee they won't be.

If you're convinced that Souray won't be in the lineup then why not just wait and see what comes of his movement out or what happens after he is moved out. Why not wait and see how good Peckham or Petry or Plante or anyone else might turn out to be. What's the rush? This is a rebuild. You best get used to the idea of it.

I hope that this new coaching staff will teach and allow the young guys to learn thru their mistakes and let them play thru it rather. Will their be mistakes...you bet there will be. Let the horses run and see what happens.

You asked about the PK...why are you so worried about it? I've stated before and will again. I'd like to see the Oilers start using more of their skilled guys to kill penalties just as top teams and top coaches in the NHL do. I'd still use guys like Horcoff and Fraser to kill penalties but I'd also throw in Penner, Hemsky, Gagner, Cogliano, Brule and yes even Hall and Eberle who killed penalties for their respective junior teams. Especially when the Oilers are down a goal or two in the second half of games. What's wrong with the concept of using your most skilled guys with the most hockey sense, the best puck handling abilities and the smartest guys to kill penalties?

What have you got to lose? Let them all play in all situations. After all there's no guarantee they can't succeed.

@Crash Who said I'm looking for guarantees? I think you might want to re-read my post. While you did say how much better the Oilers will be depend on how good the young guys are, I'm suggesting that there are NO guarantees to player development.

You can let your young players make mistakes, but there's also no guarantee that they'll be better for it - you can't plug a square into a round hole. You want to try Hemsky, Gagner, Cogliano on the PK? These guys can't even play defensively well EVEN STRENGTH, never mind short a man. Setting them up for failure isn't exactly a great path to development. After all, why not pair these guys with old glacier-slow defensemen, and almost-rookie goaltenders and see how well they do. Ooops, that's apparently the plan.

While there's no guarantee they can't succeed, there's also no guarantee that they won't fail.

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#53 Master Lok
August 17 2010, 11:57AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

Unless you are hoping for the playoffs does it really matter if Strudwick may end up in a top 4 role?

Sure, because the upteenth time that the young rookies will be fishing the puck out of their net may be disheartening to their young psyche. How about giving them some support with a veteran and competent linemate, defenseman or goaltender?

It's not about playoffs. It's about development.

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#54 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 17 2010, 11:58AM
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Who are these "top teams" and "top coaches" using skill guys on the PK?

Plekanec/Langkow/Kesler were the only three "skill guys" in the top 30 for min/game on the PK amoungst forwards and they are all more 2 way guys in the Horcoff mold.

The only real offense first guys in the top 60 for PK-min/game are Marleau and Nash in 31st and 45th, and I guess you could count Richards at 56 but he's more of an all around guy.

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#55 book¡e
August 17 2010, 12:00PM
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Article in the Journal that Pelle Eklund is being considered for the European Pro Scout.

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#56 Crash
August 17 2010, 12:08PM
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Master Lok wrote:

@Crash Who said I'm looking for guarantees? I think you might want to re-read my post. While you did say how much better the Oilers will be depend on how good the young guys are, I'm suggesting that there are NO guarantees to player development.

You can let your young players make mistakes, but there's also no guarantee that they'll be better for it - you can't plug a square into a round hole. You want to try Hemsky, Gagner, Cogliano on the PK? These guys can't even play defensively well EVEN STRENGTH, never mind short a man. Setting them up for failure isn't exactly a great path to development. After all, why not pair these guys with old glacier-slow defensemen, and almost-rookie goaltenders and see how well they do. Ooops, that's apparently the plan.

While there's no guarantee they can't succeed, there's also no guarantee that they won't fail.

I did read your post, you said there's no guarantee that Gagner, Cogliano, Brule will be better....to me it suggests you want some sort of guarantee. So just who is out there that is going to give you this guarantee you feel you need?

Again you state, you can let your young players make mistakes but there's no guarantee that they'll be better for it. Again you are hinting that you want some sort of guarantee.

And who says that Gagner, Cogliano and Hemsky can't play well defensively even strength...You? Who says this is setting them up for failure, you?

In case you didn't notice this team is going to be a young team and some if not all of them are going to have to play in different situations.

Again I ask what is your plan that is going to give you these guarantees that will make it so the young guys never fail or have to learn from mistakes they make?

Sorry but there are no guarantees with any move you make.

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#57 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
August 17 2010, 12:10PM
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@Master Lok

Yes but what do you do with that depth while everyone is healthy? You can't exactly be bringing guys up and down through waivers all the time.

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#58 madjam
August 17 2010, 12:41PM
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Take a look at other teams that have gone with a lot of rookies lately and they are all doing pretty darn good . The only reason ours might continue to do bad is if we have a poorer core group - which is what we have in comparison to nearly all clubs . We need a firmer more competent base - not the many fringe ones we have now !

Why some of you are so high on our fringe players escapes me ? Go with the youth, and deal fringe players for a more respectfull base before , during and after next season . Lets not destroy or retard another season in the basement , waiting for fringe players to have banner seasons , which is most unlikely to begin with .

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#59 speeds
August 17 2010, 12:46PM
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#57:

Why ever count on all players being healthy?

Even if they did, they could always send Eberle and/or MPS down, without waivers, to clear 1/2 roster spots for a couple weeks in the unlikely event that 13/14 other forwards on one way contracts are all healthy at the same time.

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#60 pelham grenville
August 17 2010, 01:01PM
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LT dunno 'bout Empty Garden but I did think that i might wanna give ST a ChaunceyGardener blast thought better of it though...i just can't wait for this thing to start.

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#61 D-Man
August 17 2010, 01:11PM
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madjam wrote:

Take a look at other teams that have gone with a lot of rookies lately and they are all doing pretty darn good . The only reason ours might continue to do bad is if we have a poorer core group - which is what we have in comparison to nearly all clubs . We need a firmer more competent base - not the many fringe ones we have now !

Why some of you are so high on our fringe players escapes me ? Go with the youth, and deal fringe players for a more respectfull base before , during and after next season . Lets not destroy or retard another season in the basement , waiting for fringe players to have banner seasons , which is most unlikely to begin with .

All teams need fringe players as not all rookies may be NHL ready. Are Hall, Eberle and MPS ready? Arguably - Hall, Eberle - yes, MPS - good possibility, Omark - maybe. I don't think putting rookies into the lineup for the sake of the fans are good idea to the long term health of the franchise. The sink or swim attitude could potentially damage the physical or mental well-being of an eighteen or nineteen year old kid. Although I agree with you that we can't wait forever, we also need to remember that we're also in this for the long haul.

We also have to remember we don't have too many rookies to step in to replace our fringe players. I'm guessing you would define your fringe players as Jacques, Jones, Stortini, Frasor, and Strudwick?? If you'd look at our depth chart, I can't see any bodies that you could replace them for (and have the grit/intensity the above players provide). You have Peckham who could replace Strudwick, Hartkinen (that you've mentioned before; unlikely as a 6th round draft pick), Lander (who's already committed to Sweden for one more year) and Plante (who's not fast enough yet to play NHL hockey)...

Most NHL experts have already said with our "fringe players" that we're ending up 15th in the West. Potentially, we're looking at another top five pick in the 2011-2012 draft.

Patience is the key here. I don't think Oilers Nation is any higher on fringe players than you are; I think some of us are taking a bit more of a conservative and realistic point of view.

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#62 Master Lok
August 17 2010, 01:16PM
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Crash wrote:

I did read your post, you said there's no guarantee that Gagner, Cogliano, Brule will be better....to me it suggests you want some sort of guarantee. So just who is out there that is going to give you this guarantee you feel you need?

Again you state, you can let your young players make mistakes but there's no guarantee that they'll be better for it. Again you are hinting that you want some sort of guarantee.

And who says that Gagner, Cogliano and Hemsky can't play well defensively even strength...You? Who says this is setting them up for failure, you?

In case you didn't notice this team is going to be a young team and some if not all of them are going to have to play in different situations.

Again I ask what is your plan that is going to give you these guarantees that will make it so the young guys never fail or have to learn from mistakes they make?

Sorry but there are no guarantees with any move you make.

@Crash ffs, When I said "there's no guarantee" - that does not mean that I'm expecting a guarantee. What I'm suggesting is that there's just as equal a likelihood that a player will NOT perform as they WILL perform.

For example. Master Lok : "There's no guarantee that players making mistakes will be better for it."

Interpretation: "There's just as likely a scenario that the players will continue to make the same mistakes and improve only marginally."

Does that make any sense?

For development purposes, you don't put young players into situations where they will fail. For example, putting a rookie like Eberle or Hall on the PK against the Vancouver Powerplay where the Sedins will just cycle them silly is not a "learning experience". It's a set up for failure. You put them out in safer situations, like the powerplay, or against the opposition 4th line for example, until they can start dominating the opposition.

And did you not watch all last season? How can you not tell that Cogliano, and Gagner can't play well defensively against the opposition top lines? Learn from past mistakes, don't repeat them.

How long have you been reading Lowetide articles Crash? LT has been writing about stuff like this for years. I'm not putting anything new that LT hasn't already written miles about.

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#63 Crash
August 17 2010, 01:57PM
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Master Lok wrote:

@Crash ffs, When I said "there's no guarantee" - that does not mean that I'm expecting a guarantee. What I'm suggesting is that there's just as equal a likelihood that a player will NOT perform as they WILL perform.

For example. Master Lok : "There's no guarantee that players making mistakes will be better for it."

Interpretation: "There's just as likely a scenario that the players will continue to make the same mistakes and improve only marginally."

Does that make any sense?

For development purposes, you don't put young players into situations where they will fail. For example, putting a rookie like Eberle or Hall on the PK against the Vancouver Powerplay where the Sedins will just cycle them silly is not a "learning experience". It's a set up for failure. You put them out in safer situations, like the powerplay, or against the opposition 4th line for example, until they can start dominating the opposition.

And did you not watch all last season? How can you not tell that Cogliano, and Gagner can't play well defensively against the opposition top lines? Learn from past mistakes, don't repeat them.

How long have you been reading Lowetide articles Crash? LT has been writing about stuff like this for years. I'm not putting anything new that LT hasn't already written miles about.

Fact: This team is young and some of the young players are going to have to face opposition that is better than the 4th line. Unless we can convince the other team to never use any other line.

So you are telling me that John Tavares, Matt Duchene, Tyler Myers, etc. were all sheltered from playing against top opposition?

And one thing I've learned from sport is that things change. From one season to the next, they change. If your personnel changes for the better your numbers can all of a sudden change. If your team becomes more talented or has more drive then you all of a sudden become a better player. As players get older at the start of their careers they learn and in most cases become better players going into the next season.

You can't just brush Cogliano, Brule, Gagner as the same players as they were last year.

I'm not suggesting that Hall and Eberle kill penalties together at the same time and I'm not even suggesting they spend an enormous amount of time killing penalties. There are young players that kill penalties and do just fine. Evander Kane killed penalties, Ryan O'Reilly killed penalties, Tyler Myers killed penalties, Victor Hedman killed penalties. That they did so goes against what you are preaching.

There aren't enough safe situations to shelter everyone from sometimes failing. Unfortunately young players have to sometimes face failure, there's no way around it no matter how many articles LT writes.

If you are a veteran well established team with loads of talent and there are one or two young guys then by all means shelter away but this team is infinitely young and you CAN'T shelter them at all times. Between Hall, Paajarvi, Eberle, Gagner, Cogliano, Brule, Omark and whatever other young players there are they are going to have to learn to play against some of the big boys otherwise they are not going to see the ice because other teams I don't think are going to buy into playing their 4th lines for 20 minutes a night.

The culture of the Oilers has changed. The youth movement is upon us in droves. I'd be willing to bet that Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi, Gagner, Brule, Cogliano won't just be facing 4th lines next season. I suppose the Oilers could have just hung on to Nilsson, O'Sullivan and Moreau.

Oh and up until LT joined ON I hadn't read any of his articles

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#64 Fungibly Numb
August 17 2010, 04:15PM
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Finally. I was waiting for someone to get around to naming an article with this title.

The assessment in the article seems to make certain assumptions that need not be true. For example, there are reasonable people that think that spending high draft picks on goalies and even defenders doesn't make sense, that it is possible to build contenders without franchise goalies, and that good defenders are available every year so there's no reason to panic out of a better pick in the early rounds.

A more difficult issue of the article is that it forces you to presuppose the rebuilding objective is winning the cup.

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#65 madjam
August 17 2010, 04:27PM
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Most of our young rookies were bought up on an abundance of the cycle game , and are all adept at playing and defending against it . D-Man and i disagree on that as well i guess . I'm sold on rookies . Others that are more conservative seem to prefer the fringe route . The fringe route to me is basement talk and acceptance , and i truly hope Oilers don't follow that route to try a proper rebuild . I do not find a proper rebuild to be part and parcel with mainly a fringe hockey players base .

The two to me are opposits of one another ! I want to see a proper rebuild with a well rounded base , not a fringe base . Why keep delaying our rebuild with questionable fringe players to begin with is my question ? It's not going to benefit club or the rookies to be honest . You want to punish the rookies in the AHL because your scared you can't put a "safety blanket " around them ( Mother Hubbard scenario )? They'll do just fine , don't worry so much about them .

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#66 D-Man
August 17 2010, 04:47PM
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@madjam

We're talking a difference of and additional two to three roster spots correct?? You're making the assumption that sticking a rookie into a losing situation will only improve his game over time. Some players like Hall or Eberle have that fire to learn from that and improve. Some talented players such as Nilsson or O'Sullivan (small skilled players like Omark) failed miserably. Now maybe comparing all three are apples and oranges, but in short - that's a huge risk you're taking with what you'd define as a proper rebuild.

The three roster spots we're debating about won't make much of a difference from pulling us much further out of the basement this year than you'd think.

Either way, being a "newbie" to Oilers Nation, I truly appreciate the debate and differing opinions. I'm really stoked to see how many people out there care about our Oilers.

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#67 madjam
August 17 2010, 05:40PM
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D-Man wrote:

We're talking a difference of and additional two to three roster spots correct?? You're making the assumption that sticking a rookie into a losing situation will only improve his game over time. Some players like Hall or Eberle have that fire to learn from that and improve. Some talented players such as Nilsson or O'Sullivan (small skilled players like Omark) failed miserably. Now maybe comparing all three are apples and oranges, but in short - that's a huge risk you're taking with what you'd define as a proper rebuild.

The three roster spots we're debating about won't make much of a difference from pulling us much further out of the basement this year than you'd think.

Either way, being a "newbie" to Oilers Nation, I truly appreciate the debate and differing opinions. I'm really stoked to see how many people out there care about our Oilers.

Once again i disagree your putting the rookies into a losing situation . The losing situation is to punish their Psyche sending them to the minors, and allowing fringe less talented players unlikely to make much of a difference or contribution to replace them on the main squad . It's not like a lot of those fringe players are anything more than temporary fillins to begin with on most squads.

If fringe players contribute much more than them , fine send the rookie underachievers back to AHL or wherever . But if they are close to equal, or little difference, go with the rookies . Oiler fan base would find it much more entertaining as well , lets not forget . Ties go to the rookies with far more room to contribute and grow ! I'm really excited to see what a dynamic reinvigorated Horcoff can/might do centering our two high flying Swedes (Omark and Svensson ).

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#68 russ99
August 18 2010, 06:29PM
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Not to worry on defense, Marincin looks like he's going to be special.

He needs 2 years in the OHL to develop and some decent luck to avoid injury, but there's a good chance you may be able to pencil him in no lower than the 3rd D in Edmonton afterward and for some years to come.

With Whitney and Gilbert still relatively young we need 1-2 of the current D crop to step up, and to draft another potential impact kid early in the draft next year.

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#69 madjam
August 19 2010, 01:57PM
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russ99 wrote:

Not to worry on defense, Marincin looks like he's going to be special.

He needs 2 years in the OHL to develop and some decent luck to avoid injury, but there's a good chance you may be able to pencil him in no lower than the 3rd D in Edmonton afterward and for some years to come.

With Whitney and Gilbert still relatively young we need 1-2 of the current D crop to step up, and to draft another potential impact kid early in the draft next year.

We already have a very strong rookie crop to form around without another top pick next season . I would not like to see the Oilers waste another season like last year trying to procur another top 5 pick . If they are still to finish in bottom 5 either way , then do with more rookies rather than uninspiring fringe players at least !

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