High Five

Lowetide
September 13 2010 07:13AM

The absolute highlight of the weekend for Oilers fans had to be watching the rookies last night. All the stars were out on a clear night for the future. Hall, Eberle and Magnus Pääjärvi showed tremendous skill and the ability to be in the right place at the right time (I call it Steve Shutt syndrome) and dominated the ice. There are going to be growing pains for this team, but the future looks bright and there will be plenty to cheer about in  2010-11.

Terry Jones slid an article into the slipstream Saturday that had some interesting items. The article is here. The Renney quote about "1-3-5" is another positive indicator about management's approach (no quick fixes!) and he also said this: 

  • “Before they disbanded the national team with Hockey Canada, I worked in something of a hockey laboratory. You’d train for two weeks and then go out on the roads for two weeks. There was a lot of technical and tactical."

I believe that is the kind of approach required with this team. The kind of approach that Roger Neilson took when coaching the Peterborough Petes, who did some amazing things with that OHL team (Craig Ramsay arrived in the NHL as a quality 2-way player. He has stated many times that Imlach's Sabres had to overcome the NHL coaching, and Ramsay had a wealth of knowledge that had been driven into his brain from Neilson, That Petes team was legendary--one time Neilson had defenseman Ron Stackhouse defend a penalty shot instead of the goalie, and another time when his team was up by a goal late Neilson sent out three extra players with a few seconds left. If he got a penalty, so what?) including training a generation of quality NHL players. The basics. If Renney can build on what they've already learned, this team will maximize on the available talent.

Last night's game was splendid in so many ways. After making sure the gifted kids are healthy and have ten fingers and toes, it was heartening to see Tyler Pitlick play at such a high level. Quoting Jason Gregor:

  • PITLICK: Isn't afraid to hit. Had a big hit behind the net that led to a good scoring chance early. He uses his size wisely, especially when shielding the puck. He has very good offensive instincts, and he and Paajarvi played found some chemistry early. Looking forward to watching him at Rexall this year; when the Tigers play the Oil Kings.

That item comes from the article below, and contains a very nice rundown of the entire game (and a few other interesting items). The other thing I noticed last night was the size on defense. There were tall trees every shift, and I checked after the game to make sure my eyes saw it right. Here are the stats on last night's blue:

  • Alex Plante 6.04, 225
  • Johan Motin 6.01, 202
  • Jeremie Blain 6.02, 190
  • Brandon Davidson 6.01, 190
  • Martin Marincin 6.04, 187
  • Nolan Toigo 6.01, 187

Tall trees. Marincin has an enormous wingspan and Plante is healthy and looked solid (almost got beaten wide early but closed the gap very well and then played a steady game) and Brandon Davidson also showed some calm feet. The Oilers badly need to have at least a couple of these young men develop into NHL players, and last nights debut for this six gave some hope (even if it is a rookie game).

I think that is the theme for the season: baby steps.

C2a6955161684b5e3189319acfa5ebe4
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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#1 book¡e
September 13 2010, 07:19AM
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The nice thing about getting the 1st overall, is you also get the 31st overall.

Let's hope Pitlick turns out to be a real player.

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#2 Reggie
September 13 2010, 07:50AM
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@book¡e

Actually, the two are not directly related. If the Oilers finished 28th, but won the lotto, they could have first overall, but when then get 33rd.

Finishing last gets them a lotto pick, which turned out to be the #1, and the 31st.

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#3 EasyOil
September 13 2010, 08:22AM
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Any thoughts on how Kristians Pelss played LT? From what I saw, kid has some wheels and some nifty moves. Also showed some compete level on at least one occasion where he battled in the corner and kept possession for several seconds all on his lonesome. This kid is a total mystery to everyone it seems, yet I find myself hoping this kid turns out. He definitely playing in the Dub this year?

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#4 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
September 13 2010, 08:24AM
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Good to hear Pitlick's showing good.

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#5 OilDieHard
September 13 2010, 08:25AM
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@bookie....i was stoked when we got Pitlick at #31, and i too hope he pans out for us. he looks very talented! i was also impressed with the play of goalie Olivier Roy. i'm a big fan of his, was glad we were able to still get him where we did in the previous draft and hope he really is our goalie of the future! Davidson was a steal in the 6th round after being ranked as high as #48 in the 2nd round by NHL.com. he appears to have a bright future as well!

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#6 Fresh Mess
September 13 2010, 08:30AM
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Mothers, hide your daughters! Eric Tillman is coming to town.

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#7 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
September 13 2010, 08:49AM
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I'm thinking more and more that Renney is the right coach for this team. That Terry Jones piece was pretty good.

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#8 Dave
September 13 2010, 09:26AM
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Thought that the radio broadcast was a good debut except he needs another word or phrase for "wrister".

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#9 Jamie B.
September 13 2010, 09:50AM
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Reggie wrote:

Actually, the two are not directly related. If the Oilers finished 28th, but won the lotto, they could have first overall, but when then get 33rd.

Finishing last gets them a lotto pick, which turned out to be the #1, and the 31st.

Edit: Oh, never mind, I'm an idiot and read that wrong. Sorry, shouldn't comment when I'm still half asleep.

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#10 Ender
September 13 2010, 10:27AM
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The big quote for me in the Jones story was this one:

There are those who don’t think it would be a bad thing for this team to finish at the bottom of the standings and get another early pick in the draft.

But not Renney.

“I’d rather these young players begin to develop a winning attitude right now than getting one more top player,” he said. “I’d rather they’d start their careers by experiencing something nobody thought they could.”

Nice. I know it may not be realistic to expect playoffs for the first time in five years after just finishing 30th last year (and 30th with a lot of room to spare) but I am not endorsing another Dive for Five. Last year, it was a necessary evil. A second straight year, though, would just be a cop-out. We went down to the basement and got what we needed. Now we get our ass back upstairs and get to work. I'd much rather shoot for eighth in the West this year and miss by 4 points than set the target on last place and hit it dead center. Time to climb, boys.

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#11 Archaeologuy
September 13 2010, 10:52AM
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@Ender

See, I'm very torn about what would be best for the Oil. I still see the team missing depth at Centre, and I would love to see the club pick up one via the draft.

On the other hand the team has had 5 straight 1st selections in the draft that look like NHL players and it's about time the Oil get back to winning.

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#12 rubbertrout
September 13 2010, 11:10AM
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I'm just sticking with my typical pre-season prediction of suggesting that the Oil will go 82-0-0-0 enroute to a series of sweeps and sipping from the chalice.

Seems reasonable no?

I'm really waiting for Wanye's stars and goats. This year we might have a few guys to choose from as stars.

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#13 Chaz
September 13 2010, 11:14AM
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Ender wrote:

The big quote for me in the Jones story was this one:

There are those who don’t think it would be a bad thing for this team to finish at the bottom of the standings and get another early pick in the draft.

But not Renney.

“I’d rather these young players begin to develop a winning attitude right now than getting one more top player,” he said. “I’d rather they’d start their careers by experiencing something nobody thought they could.”

Nice. I know it may not be realistic to expect playoffs for the first time in five years after just finishing 30th last year (and 30th with a lot of room to spare) but I am not endorsing another Dive for Five. Last year, it was a necessary evil. A second straight year, though, would just be a cop-out. We went down to the basement and got what we needed. Now we get our ass back upstairs and get to work. I'd much rather shoot for eighth in the West this year and miss by 4 points than set the target on last place and hit it dead center. Time to climb, boys.

Totally agree. Had a conversation/arguement with my buddy this weekend, and I love that Renney pretty much repeated what I said (~He must have somehow been listening to me~).

Building a winning team and attitude will do more for this team going forward than another lottery pick. With Hemsky and Khabbie back, I don't think we'd be in the run for a lottery pick anyways so let's start our rebuild by exceeding expectations now, not next year. Losing is too painful and we've had enough of it already!

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#14 OILERSORDEATH
September 13 2010, 11:23AM
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Now imagine throwing Hemsky, Gags, Bru into the mix with MPS, Hall and Eberle. It will make these kids that much better playing with atuall pros! I thought Hartikanen was really good out there, he was banging bodies and created turnovers.

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#15 David S
September 13 2010, 11:34AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

See, I'm very torn about what would be best for the Oil. I still see the team missing depth at Centre, and I would love to see the club pick up one via the draft.

On the other hand the team has had 5 straight 1st selections in the draft that look like NHL players and it's about time the Oil get back to winning.

Or we could acquire a decent centre in a year or two when it looks like this team is on the upswing. The only reason we're having no luck so far doing this is because no solid player would seriously want to play on a losing team if they had a choice. Lets face it. We made losing an art form last year.

There's probably more than a few options out there right now or in the near future. My thought is you build through the draft for positional need (an NO, not goalies - there's whacks of them out there for cheap) when you can't acquire through trades or free-agent signings.

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#16 I'm a Scientist!
September 13 2010, 11:35AM
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@Ender

I couldn't agree more. I think a lot of the MSM is playing down the Oilers... too young and inexperienced, crappy defense, goalie mayhem... but I honestly think we are going to do better than projected! Even if we end up with as many man-games lost to injury, i think we are MUCH better prepared to deal with it because of the additions to the Barons!

Dive for Five be damned...let's start pulling for the Climb for Nine!

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#17 Ender
September 13 2010, 11:49AM
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I'm a Scientist! wrote:

I couldn't agree more. I think a lot of the MSM is playing down the Oilers... too young and inexperienced, crappy defense, goalie mayhem... but I honestly think we are going to do better than projected! Even if we end up with as many man-games lost to injury, i think we are MUCH better prepared to deal with it because of the additions to the Barons!

Dive for Five be damned...let's start pulling for the Climb for Nine!

I agree that I think the MSM is off about the Oil. TSN projects us in 30th but says Calgary is 22nd? I'm going to enjoy laughing at them over that one.

Targeting ninth, though? We may end up there and spin it as a victory, but I don't think you set finishing just out of the playoffs as a goal going in. If I'm Magnus or Taylor, I don't know how motivated that gets me.

How about 'Date with Eight'?

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#18 ubermiguel
September 13 2010, 11:53AM
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Ender wrote:

I agree that I think the MSM is off about the Oil. TSN projects us in 30th but says Calgary is 22nd? I'm going to enjoy laughing at them over that one.

Targeting ninth, though? We may end up there and spin it as a victory, but I don't think you set finishing just out of the playoffs as a goal going in. If I'm Magnus or Taylor, I don't know how motivated that gets me.

How about 'Date with Eight'?

Is "Best in the North West" to optimistic? I'll save that one for Year 3.

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#19 PabstBR55
September 13 2010, 12:02PM
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It's a real guessing game as to where they'll finish, but my feeling is that it will be between 74 and 86 points.

74 if they start slow, experience some critical injuries, trade a quality player for a prospect over the course of the season, and if the rookies don't adapt to the NHL game quickly.

In any event, it can't be as calamitous as last year.

86 if they get decent goaltending, have their key players stay healthy, and have a rookie of the year candidate ... or two.

There are too many other good teams in the conference to reasonably expect to make the playoffs. People will suggest that Colorado did last year, but they had incredible goaltending.

If there is an upside, it's that our division is probably the weakest in the NHL. Will be fun to watch.

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#20 Chris.
September 13 2010, 12:06PM
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Ender wrote:

I agree that I think the MSM is off about the Oil. TSN projects us in 30th but says Calgary is 22nd? I'm going to enjoy laughing at them over that one.

Targeting ninth, though? We may end up there and spin it as a victory, but I don't think you set finishing just out of the playoffs as a goal going in. If I'm Magnus or Taylor, I don't know how motivated that gets me.

How about 'Date with Eight'?

I love all the pre-season optimism... but lack of experience, poor goaltending, poor goaltending, and poor penalty killing, and (did I mention poor goaltending?); will likely keep the Oilers at, or near the lottery next draft. How many games will Renny give Khabibulin to find his form after a tumultuous and difficult year? Ask Tiger if personal distractions can affect performance.

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#21 Archaeologuy
September 13 2010, 12:22PM
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@David S

Decent (read: Franchise quality) centres are hard to acquire. I'd rather draft one than pay through the nose to pick up a free agent or trade away one of the kids to get a C.

Obviously the Oilers need to take the BPA in the draft, but I bet Chicago is thanking the hockey gods they didnt win the lottery in 2006 and had taken Erik Johnson instead of Toews.

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#22 David S
September 13 2010, 12:27PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Decent (read: Franchise quality) centres are hard to acquire. I'd rather draft one than pay through the nose to pick up a free agent or trade away one of the kids to get a C.

Obviously the Oilers need to take the BPA in the draft, but I bet Chicago is thanking the hockey gods they didnt win the lottery in 2006 and had taken Erik Johnson instead of Toews.

Yeah. I'd have to agree with you if acquiring a decent centre was as hard as you say. Then of course you'd say "screw it" and develop your own. Of course then we'd have to artfully tank another season and it seems Renney isn't too keen on having his young guys live through that. I get the feeling he wants them to compete and let the chips fall where they may. Although I bet Quinn thought the same thing last fall and look how that turned out.

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#23 David S
September 13 2010, 12:28PM
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BTW - Those rabbits high-fiving is freaking hilarious!

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#24 I'm a Scientist!
September 13 2010, 12:35PM
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@Ender

I am on board with the 'Date with Eight' slogan! The SuperComputer couldn't come up with something that rhymed with eighth, so i went with Climb for Nine. Yours is better.

*sips Kool-Aid*

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#25 Gerald R. Ford
September 13 2010, 12:44PM
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Hehehe. Love the bunnies. Lowetide's pics are the best. Anyway, I'm with Rennie. The DFF was an inevitability, and it was fun having ANYTHING to cheer for last year, but enough with the loser attitude. Playoffs would be a miracle, I think we all know that, but "winning" for this group would be just learning how to be hard to play against. Gimme some goals, some scraps, and a positive move in that direction, and I'll be happy this season.

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#26 Ben Dover
September 13 2010, 12:50PM
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@I'm a Scientist!

Blind Faith for Eighth

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#27 stilljrm
September 13 2010, 12:52PM
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shutt's daughters are smoking hot.

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#28 Boris
September 13 2010, 12:56PM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

Mothers, hide your daughters! Eric Tillman is coming to town.

Classless

Who would prop that???

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#29 loilfan
September 13 2010, 01:10PM
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Out of curiosity, who are wearing the C and A's for the rookies? I see Eberle has one of the A's.

Injuries aside, I see no way how we can be in last place again. If you take any team and they lose their best forward, their best d-man and starting goalie for most of the year, of course they'll drop like a rock in the standings.

My goal this year would be to make it into the Top 20 in the league. I would be extremely surprised if we make it to the playoffs.

Talent-a-plenty for top-twenty!

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#30 Ender
September 13 2010, 01:16PM
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Chris. wrote:

I love all the pre-season optimism... but lack of experience, poor goaltending, poor goaltending, and poor penalty killing, and (did I mention poor goaltending?); will likely keep the Oilers at, or near the lottery next draft. How many games will Renny give Khabibulin to find his form after a tumultuous and difficult year? Ask Tiger if personal distractions can affect performance.

I think that was Renney's point. The Oilers have no business making the playoffs this year. How much does that do for his team's confidence, then, when against all odds they become this year's Colorado?

If they perform at reasonable expectations, then of course this is going to be the long year everyone predicts with another shiny booby-prize at the end of it. I'm just hoping that somehow they catch enough lightning in their bottle to power them to a dance-invitation when everyone says it can't be done. I think that's what Renney's hoping too, and that makes me like this coach a lot.

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#31 Senator Theo
September 13 2010, 01:36PM
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Win a lot N' Don't finish at the bot'm

Sounds smoother read out loud than typed out.

I love those bunnies too - I hope we have that kind of enthusiasm on this team this year.

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#32 OilerPunch
September 13 2010, 01:43PM
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I agree LT but could we change the theme to " Baby Steps" as a reference to the movie What about Bob?

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#33 Archaeologuy
September 13 2010, 01:43PM
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@Ender

It can happen. Lightning can be caught in that bottle. It just needs all the things that went wrong last season to go right this time.

Healthy vets. Steps forward from the likes of Gagner, Cogliano, and Brule. Rookies living up to the hype. Whitney and Gilbert proving last year's chemistry wasnt a flash in the pan. Foster and Smid playing well together in greater roles. The 5-7 defensemen not being liabilities on the ice. One of the 4 goalies stopping pucks at a regular rate.

A lot of dominos need to fall, but it CAN happen.

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#34 TheManWithNoName
September 13 2010, 01:44PM
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Chris. wrote:

I love all the pre-season optimism... but lack of experience, poor goaltending, poor goaltending, and poor penalty killing, and (did I mention poor goaltending?); will likely keep the Oilers at, or near the lottery next draft. How many games will Renny give Khabibulin to find his form after a tumultuous and difficult year? Ask Tiger if personal distractions can affect performance.

I know people are all over the goaltending, and I know certain people seem to feel that the team has nothing to do with the goaltending. I also know that Deslauriers and Dubnyk let in some really bad goals.

However.

Look at last years' defense. Look at the inability of last years' forwards to play remotely defensively.

I really don't think goaltending is the issue here.

I also have a hard time believing that this year's team is worst than last year's, as well as believing that if injury hell hadn't struck last year the team would have finished below 10th in the conf.

Sure, the lottery might happen, but short of the Oilers Plague returning (staying?) I don't think it's particularly likely.

I mean, have you looked at Anaheim's defense this year?

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#35 David S
September 13 2010, 02:02PM
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Let in "some" really bad goals?

Some? SOME?????

*Loosens tie. Opens top button. Grabs paper bag with makeshift Oilers logo from desk drawer and starts breathing deeply into it to prevent passing out from hyperventilation*

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#36 I'm a Scientist!
September 13 2010, 02:07PM
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@TheManWithNoName

Whoops, that's embarassing...I fixed that up for you!

I mean, have you looked at Anaheim's defense Calgary this year?
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#37 Milli
September 13 2010, 02:23PM
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I'm lovin the "date with eight". I realy have a tough time believing that we can be near 30th again. Really though, I do think that alot hinges on Khabby, Hemmer and Penner. If the first two are healthy and if Penner stays like he was last year, that buys the kids some adjustment time. Man I can't wait for some real hockey, hockey that you get excited about.....It's been a while!

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#38 TheManWithNoName
September 13 2010, 02:27PM
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David S wrote:

Let in "some" really bad goals?

Some? SOME?????

*Loosens tie. Opens top button. Grabs paper bag with makeshift Oilers logo from desk drawer and starts breathing deeply into it to prevent passing out from hyperventilation*

Sorry. Would it be better if I said JDD let in a *lot* of bad goals and some *really* bad goals while DD only let in some bad goals?

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#39 Fresh Mess
September 13 2010, 02:28PM
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Boris wrote:

Classless

Who would prop that???

Maybe someone with a teenage daughter.

But don't hate, it's not my fault. I took a sleeping pill and a muscle relaxant and was totally 'out of it' when I made that post.

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#40 Boris
September 13 2010, 02:31PM
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David S wrote:

Let in "some" really bad goals?

Some? SOME?????

*Loosens tie. Opens top button. Grabs paper bag with makeshift Oilers logo from desk drawer and starts breathing deeply into it to prevent passing out from hyperventilation*

That made me laugh!

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#41 jake
September 13 2010, 02:36PM
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I would welcome another top 5 pick. I want scoring along the way however. I want the team to be solid for years and years (no wheel spinning here remember).

Another 2 (maybe Penner/Hemmer gets you 3) picks in the top 35 picks next year wouldn't bother me a bit.

It wouldn't be as painful because the expectations are low now anyway and the hockey simply cannot be worse than last year.

Cela dit, if they get into 8th, fantastic.

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#42 Bookie
September 13 2010, 02:46PM
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Boris wrote:

Classless

Who would prop that???

I actually think that the attacks on Tillman have been prone to hyperbole. What he did was stupid, immature, and totally irresponsible. It also could have a real impact on the girl involved. However, there is a huge difference between what he did and Graham James or with pedophile priests.

With that said, I cannot fathom that an organization would hire him to be the face of the team. It is insane. A whole world of candidates and you pick the damaged goods. Its just terrible PR. It's also terrible management as the guy at the helm has a long ways to go before he can command full respect from all of those that work for him. I know that if someone I worked with did that, I would have a hard time taking him seriously or respecting him.

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#43 Ender
September 13 2010, 02:53PM
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@ TheManWithNoName

Still No Name, eh?

[wink]

Good to hear from you.

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#44 Pajamah
September 13 2010, 02:56PM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

Maybe someone with a teenage daughter.

But don't hate, it's not my fault. I took a sleeping pill and a muscle relaxant and was totally 'out of it' when I made that post.

I thought the original post was funny.

This one though.........pure comedic genius Kudos man, kudos

**thrusts at you inappropriately** ***Subsequently gets fired by the Saskatchewan Roughriders***

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#45 KenMcC
September 13 2010, 03:00PM
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I'm a Scientist! wrote:

I am on board with the 'Date with Eight' slogan! The SuperComputer couldn't come up with something that rhymed with eighth, so i went with Climb for Nine. Yours is better.

*sips Kool-Aid*

I also want the team to experience success and go for it this year. The goal needs to be Worthy and Attainable. High fives for ninth will feel a little empty, I think. The difference between 9th and 8th is huge considering everyone from 11th to 7th is in the mix.

We need a meaningful goal that is independent of most of the Western conference teams. Let's make sure we are the Best Team in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta -- ensuring Calgary is the FAIRY OF THE PRAIRIES.

- Worthy yes. Attainable - I think so. High Fives.

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#46 Robin Brownlee
September 13 2010, 03:10PM
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Ender wrote:

@ TheManWithNoName

Still No Name, eh?

[wink]

Good to hear from you.

Somebody who got run but is back using a different fake name? Tell me more.

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#47 Steve
September 13 2010, 03:15PM
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Here's my ideal season (my ideal season would involve a Stanley Cup, but keeping it within the plausible range): the Oilers are an entertaining team that's always near the bottom of the standings, but is in the game most nights. They have a bad streak shortly after the all-star break which drops them to 30th, then they finish the season with a hot streak that pushes them up to 26th. Then they win the lottery. The players go into the off-season feeling good about the team as-is (since it finished so strongly with so many players who can only expect to be better the following year), and feel even better when they consider that another first overall is on the way.

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#48 Ender
September 13 2010, 03:16PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Somebody who got run but is back using a different fake name? Tell me more.

No, inside joke.

'Ender' from stillnoname.com is a pretty smart guy. We happen to share the same name.

Maybe we should start an Ender clan to balance to Ogden monopoly on here. Of course, we'd need a Third.

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#49 David S
September 13 2010, 03:24PM
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Ender wrote:

No, inside joke.

'Ender' from stillnoname.com is a pretty smart guy. We happen to share the same name.

Maybe we should start an Ender clan to balance to Ogden monopoly on here. Of course, we'd need a Third.

Jeez man. All this time I thought you WERE Ender from stillnoname.com.

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#50 TheManWithNoName
September 13 2010, 03:26PM
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Ender wrote:

No, inside joke.

'Ender' from stillnoname.com is a pretty smart guy. We happen to share the same name.

Maybe we should start an Ender clan to balance to Ogden monopoly on here. Of course, we'd need a Third.

Sorry Ender, I think he got that much. I'm pretty sure he was just slamming me without provocation - you know, sarcasm and all that.

Of course I could be wrong. After all, Brownlee is all professional and stuff, so of course he'd never stoop to such a thing.

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