AT RANDOM: STORTINI GETS RYPED

Robin Brownlee
January 28 2011 12:08AM

I've got to admit I was a surprised by the venom spewed in the direction of Zack Stortini on blogs and call-in shows in the wake of his fight with Krys Barch in Dallas Wednesday.

I'm not sure what Stortini was thinking in his bout against Barch -- I'll ask him after the all-star break -- but it looked to me like he was trying to imitate the kind of defensive posture that Rick Rypien of the Vancouver Canucks used so effectively against him.

Whatever Stortini's reasoning, it didn't work. He got mocked by Barch after the fight, laughed at by a couple of Dallas players, according to what I've been told, and righteously ripped by Oilers fans, who seem to be focusing a lot of pent-up frustration in the direction of No. 46.

There's no question Stortini embarrassed himself with the peek-a-boo tactics he tried against Barch -- I'm guessing he'd like a do-over -- but I'm still surprised by the pointed criticism he took in the aftermath.

I won't go on about what a tough job Stortini and other enforcers have again because he is being paid good money to do a job, and I'm not going to scold our readers for venting, but let's not lose perspective. He lost a fight and looked bad doing it.

What I'm wondering is if he's lost coach Tom Renney.

DOES STORTINI FIT?

I believe Stortini can be a useful fourth-line player on this team, but what I think doesn't matter spit. What matters is what Renney believes and I wonder what was going through his mind on the flight home from Dallas.

My perception, given how many times Stortini has been a healthy scratch this season, is that he was already on thin ice with Renney. I don't know that, but I think it. Could Wednesday have provided Renney with a mental "last straw" as it regards Stortini's usefulness to the Oilers?

As much as I think toughness is an important element in the line-up of a team, particularly one with as many young, smallish players as the Oilers have, I have my doubts there's a need (not to mention room on the roster) for Stortini, J.F. Jacques and Steve MacIntyre.

I'd still keep Stortini over Jacques and run him in tandem with MacIntyre, but that's just me. Again, what matters is Renney's vision, not mine. I can tell you that Jacques has some backers in hockey ops and, to be fair, he seems to have been coming on of late. Simply put, Stortini couldn't have trotted out his failed Rypien imitation at a worse time.

WHERE HE BELONGS

I'm not sure what prompted Jonathan Willis to re-state his position the Oilers and Magnus Paajarvi would have been better served by having him serve another year in the minors or the SEL, but it's a position that makes no sense to me, given what I'm seeing from Paajarvi.

Willis is certainly entitled to his opinion, but I'm suspicious of a premise that hinges on the pitfalls of "burning" a year of an entry level deal when we don't know with any certainty whatsoever what this team and the salary cap will look like a full two seasons from now.

I get the theory, but I feel the same way about this approach as I did when it was applied to Taylor Hall. "Sorry kid. We think you're ready to play in the NHL, but you're going to the minors because there's a bigger picture to consider." Want to guarantee a kid and his agent start eye-balling the door as soon as they get a chance? This is the way.

Unless my eyes are failing me, Paajarvi has overcome a so-so start and has been coming on. I've liked his game a lot of late, and that tells me he is settling in with new teammates and a new city. That's a step he has to make. Isn't that what development is about?

Even with limited ice time and very little time on the power play, Paajarvi is on pace for 30-32 points. Fifteen of his 19 points have come at even strength. Certainly, there's room to grow, but Paajarvi doesn't look out of place to me.

THE WAY I SEE IT

-- I think Ryan Jones has been a pleasant surprise, but I'd like to see him spend more time crashing and banging and less time casting the stink eye at referees when somebody knocks him on his ass and he doesn't get the penalty call he things he deserves. Jones spends too much time for my liking casting longing glances at the referees when somebody starches him. It seems to happen at least once game. Stop begging. Pick yourself up and go back at somebody.

-- I'm assuming Jordan Eberle, Ales Hemsky and Gilbert Brule will be ready to play after the all-star break. Eberle and Hemsky are no-brainers when it comes to dressing if they're ready to go. Brule? Not so much.

-- Memo to Renney: More Devan Dubnyk, Linus Omark and Jeff Petry in the final 33 games. Less Nikolai Khabibulin in goal and Ladislav Smid on the second-unit power play.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#101 Dutchscooter
January 28 2011, 09:14PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

I'm assuming Jordan Eberle, Ales Hemsky and Gilbert Brule will be ready to play after the all-star break. Eberle and Hemsky are no-brainers when it comes to dressing if they're ready to go. Brule? Not so much.

I have to disagree to a certain extent. If Brule is no longer in your plans you should at least be playing him up until the trade deadline. Benching a guy with a 1.85mil contract for next year doesn't do the player or the team any good.

Uh......Brule has been 'hurt' for the last little while, not benched. Hurt with a sniffle, or an ankle injury, or whatever it is this time.

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#102 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 28 2011, 11:39PM
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Dutchscooter wrote:

Uh......Brule has been 'hurt' for the last little while, not benched. Hurt with a sniffle, or an ankle injury, or whatever it is this time.

Uh......

"I'm assuming Jordan Eberle, Ales Hemsky and Gilbert Brule will be ready to play after the all-star break"

They are talking about when he's back from his ankle injury/the sniffle's.

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#103 Sloppy5hole
January 29 2011, 01:01AM
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Standing in there and taking shots while at least attempting to throw some shots back is "showing up". What Stortini did against Barch was not that. Not only that, I'd think we'd all agree that fighting is a part of his clearly defined roll on this team. Because of this, "showing up" or "the gesture" isn't good enough. That isnt something that is going to inspire the bench. If Gagner or Cogliano or even Hall did it then yes, that would inspire. But when one of your supposed tough guys is simply dropping his gloves and holding on (not a single punch directed at Barch) then that does absolutely nothing for the team.

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#104 David S
January 29 2011, 01:35AM
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OK you guys. Watch the fight and listen to the comments about 15 seconds in or so.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gxez4llQ_Yc

Zack was completely gassed before the fight got going. Try mucking it up in front of the other guy's net and THEN get into a 90 second fight. He got caught at the end of his shift with nothing left in the tank, so he did the only thing he could - covered up.

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#105 Robin Brownlee
January 29 2011, 07:33AM
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@Sloppy5hole

". . . (not a single punch directed at Barch)."

This is what you saw?

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#106 Eddie Shore
January 29 2011, 10:44AM
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David S wrote:

OK you guys. Watch the fight and listen to the comments about 15 seconds in or so.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gxez4llQ_Yc

Zack was completely gassed before the fight got going. Try mucking it up in front of the other guy's net and THEN get into a 90 second fight. He got caught at the end of his shift with nothing left in the tank, so he did the only thing he could - covered up.

Any other excuses? Barch was out there too for the same amount of time David.

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#107 Sloppy5hole
January 29 2011, 10:48AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

". . . (not a single punch directed at Barch)."

This is what you saw?

No. I saw Zack throw 4 half hearted shots at Barch. You think his performance was inspiring or uplifting for the team Robin?

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#108 Harlie
January 29 2011, 11:24AM
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"Stortini's in full defence mode, with the right!" haha what an embarrassment.

And I can't believe he didn't square up the second Barch punched him square in the face on the original call.

And didn't Barch fight earlier that game? Shouldn't he have been more gassed than Stortini?

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#109 Robin Brownlee
January 29 2011, 03:14PM
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@Sloppy5hole

I already said what I think above: "There's no question Stortini embarrassed himself with the peek-a-boo tactics he tried against Barch . . ."

You started out by saying Stortini didn't direct a single punch at Barch. In your latest reference, you changed to "four."

Criticize players to your heart's content, but don't embellish -- either by exaggerating or downplaying what actually happened -- in an attempt to justify that criticism. That's pretty straightforward, no?

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#110 Sloppy5hole
January 29 2011, 03:46PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I already said what I think above: "There's no question Stortini embarrassed himself with the peek-a-boo tactics he tried against Barch . . ."

You started out by saying Stortini didn't direct a single punch at Barch. In your latest reference, you changed to "four."

Criticize players to your heart's content, but don't embellish -- either by exaggerating or downplaying what actually happened -- in an attempt to justify that criticism. That's pretty straightforward, no?

I thought it was a slight exaggeration that helped make my point but I guess I won't do that again. As long as you promise to never exaggerate either. Deal?

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#111 Darren
January 30 2011, 05:20PM
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The role of enforcer is precarious. Lose too many times, at the wrong time or in the wrong way and your stint is over. Stortini has lost so many times that I'm surprised he's made it this long. The beating against Barch has to seal his fate as his laughable status in the league is eroded further and it diminishes the Oilers credibility. What team is fearful of playing in Edmonton's barn? What opposing player will think twice about running Hall or Eberle? Huggy Bear (not a complimentary moniker when you're paid to beat others up) has to go immediately. And please spare the rhetoric that he has "playing" skills!

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