HINDSIGHT: THE UNDONE COREY PERRY DEAL

Robin Brownlee
April 07 2011 10:05AM

Rising star Corey Perry is just now entering his prime years as an NHL player and he's already a legitimate Hart Trophy candidate as a member of the Anaheim Ducks. Perry could have been, and should have been, an Edmonton Oiler.

In fact, Perry was an Oiler on paper in December of 2003, dealt to Edmonton with a first-round draft pick by Anaheim GM Bryan Murray for Mike Comrie -- with the proviso by GM Kevin Lowe that Comrie and agent Ritch Winter work out a contract with Murray and that Lowe would have the opportunity to speak to Winter and Comrie before signing off.

After Winter and Murray came to terms on a two-year contract at $1.65 million a season, Lowe picked up the phone and informed Winter there was a condition to completing the trade -- that Comrie make a payment of $2.5 million to the Oilers to "top up" the transaction.

The deal came undone, Perry stayed in Anaheim and later in December Lowe dealt Comrie to the Philadelphia Flyers for Jeff Woywitka and draft picks that turned into Rob Schremp and Danny Syvret.

If Lowe only knew then what we all know now.

LOOKING BACK

Fans will never forget the first three months of the 2003-04 season and the bitter split between Comrie and the Oilers. I won't because I was the beat man at The Sun in those days and it was my job to be all over the story as it developed.

I remember the frustration in Murray's voice when I spoke to him on the phone after breaking the news about Lowe's request for that $2.5-million rebate to complete the trade. It's probably the best deal Murray never made. Quite the opposite, it turns out, for Lowe and the Oilers.

I guess it's Perry's hat-trick for the Ducks in a 6-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday that's prompted me to pick at that old scab today rather than keep kicking away at the dead horse that is Edmonton's fifth straight season out of the playoffs.

Perry, 25, has 50 goals and 97 points and is a lock to be one of the top three vote-getters for the Hart Trophy this season. Nothing Lowe got from Philadelphia, or in any subsequent trades with the assets culled from it, even comes close.

BLACK MARK

When critics of Lowe, now insulated in the position of president of hockey operations while Steve Tambellini takes the heat, talk about the worst moves he made during his tenure as GM, they often cite the return he got in the Chris Pronger trade.

I always think back to the undone Perry deal, and what Lowe's demand for that $2.5 million has ultimately cost this franchise. I'm not sure what the answer is exactly because it's impossible to know how things would have played out, but, at best, it was not Lowe's finest hour. I think it was his worst.

While it's fine and good Lowe and Comrie patched things up on a personal level to the point where Mike came back for an underwhelming encore tour of duty with the Oilers, that's cold consolation for long-suffering fans here and now.

But I digress. Let's get back to debating how much the Oilers should offer Ryan Jones in a new contract, or whether they should draft Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Adam Larsson or . . .

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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#1 David S
April 07 2011, 10:22AM
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I'm not entirely sure if the Comrie thing was Lowe or Lowe acting on behalf of the EIG. Either way, a horrendously bad move that made us look like bush leaguers.

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#2 @NateInVegas
April 07 2011, 11:35AM
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Corey Perry was too slow for the OHL..

He barely cracked the best WJHC Team Canada has iced..

Rode the coattails of Getzlaf, Pronger, Niedermayer to a Cup and Olympic Gold...

And is now barely good enough to be mentioned as a Hart Trophy candidate.

He's lucky he didn't end up an Oiler.

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#3 Bucknuck
April 07 2011, 10:18AM
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I suppose I wasn't feeling bitter enough after listening to that entire game last night. I needed to think about the undone Perry deal as well.

Sigh.

I am one of the Lowe apologists simply because I am so grateful for the thrill of 2006, but when I think of Mike Comrie, Ryan Smyth, and Curtis Glencross, I start thinking that perhaps it is time for new blood.

I don't think Tambellini has what it takes to make a winner, and Lowe traded Ryan Smyth away. Maybe both of those guys should just quietly "retire".

I dunno. I am feeling a little morose this morning.

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#4 Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"
April 07 2011, 12:25PM
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I worry a lot about RNH low even strength numbers Vs Power play as compared to Hall's I worry that he could be another Rob Schremp with a bit more upside. Am I wrong or do guys whom have low even strength numbers VS Power play numbers and are small often have a very hard time in the NHL were every one is even bigger and stronger.

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#5 Bob Cob
April 07 2011, 10:26AM
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I believe in the old philosophy "dont cry over spilt milk", whats done is done, the whole Perry scenario is like wondering what Shane Doans career would have been like if the Oilers had drafted him and if the organization would have been better off. The future is the thing to focus on in Edmonton now and sorrounding the young stars with quality 3rd line guys like Ryan Jones. I don't see Jones pulling a Glencross and asking for rediculous amounts of cash, I like Jones and it would be a mistake not to resign him. Also take Nugent-Hopkins, top line centres are harder to find and deal for than top paring defenceman, I think the Whitney trade is evidence of that.

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#6 The Real Scuba Steve
April 07 2011, 10:11AM
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Perry's career might have been different if he came to Edmonton, different line mates, coaching, etc.

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#7 book¡e
April 07 2011, 10:26AM
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You would give up the Robbie Schremp experience just for a Hart Trophy candidate - wow - you better check your priorities!

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#8 Let's Rebuild
April 07 2011, 10:57AM
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book¡e wrote:

You would give up the Robbie Schremp experience just for a Hart Trophy candidate - wow - you better check your priorities!

This is true. The "Shremp experience" taught us all to temper our expectations. Now whenever a player does anything, it is the greatest move we've ever seen. With Perry here we would get far too used to our players living up to or exceeding our expectations.

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#9 John Chambers
April 07 2011, 11:46AM
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This was definitely a bad move by Lowe, but in reality you should only win 50% of the time.

A couple of years later when we traded Pronger to the Ducks, Brian Burke in a fit of bravado "threw in" an additional 1st round draft pick in 2008 if they won the cup in 2007. They did. We got Jordan Eberle from the Ducks basically for free.

Perhaps the lesson is that we shouldn't so much ask that GM's make smart moves so much as they should avoid making bad ones.

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#10 jimmycrackcorn
April 07 2011, 12:32PM
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Remember when Gretzky was sold to LA?

Can we not do this for the rest of the spring/summer? Rehash old wounds.

No way Lowe made that $2.5 Mil call on his own.

We didn't make the playoffs or beat the flames in the last two attempts.

Yet, the future is bright. Another #1 overall pick (keeping fingers crossed) and lots of experience for the young guys.

Calgary didn't make the playoffs and will be blown up this summer. 5 years till they are a contender for the playoffs again....at least. Doesn't that make the sun shine just a little brighter??

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#11 Jon
April 07 2011, 12:40PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

You are referencing a poster from HF on this as a credible way to back up your recollection of events? It didn't go the way your HF expert suggests.

You recall fans and media favouring Woywitka over Perry? Some fans maybe, Media?

What MSM person wrote or said, "Getting Jeff Woywitka and picks for Comrie is a better trade than Perry and a first-rounder from Anaheim?" I don't recall that.

Many!

I recall a number of reasons for this...quantity of assets (it was Comrie + 3rd for Perry + 1st vs. Comrie for Woywitka + 1st + 3rd), defensive weakness of the Oilers, more NHL ready prospect, Eastern Conference team, and just in general Woywitka being preferred over Perry. I'm not sure what you're remembering, but the large scouting concensus on Perry was that he was a project and that he was too soft and weak. That's not the description of a player that thrills fans or media, and that was the case back then. I'd love to provide you with a link, but unfortunately archives of MSM articles back then are a lot harder to find than HF posts. However, I did find a Jim Kelley article complimenting Woywitka (but not directly comparing the two deals), and an Eric Francis article (that was summarized in a post but the link was subscriber only) arguing the Philly deal > Anaheim deal. So Eric Francis is one MSM guy, but I do recall other media guys saying the same thing.

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#12 Archaeologuy
April 07 2011, 12:55PM
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Lebowski wrote:

Katz just told us (thru Stauffer on Oilers Lunch) that Quebec City is definitly in play.

In play for...

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#13 Dyckster
April 07 2011, 01:05PM
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Jiimbones wrote:

Let's move forward and apply the learnings. Comrie and Schremp could not sustain long NHL Careers as top 6 forwards because they were either one dimensional or did not skate well enough or both.

Are management and fans smart enough to see that Omark does not have the skating ability or complete skill set to contribute to a championship team?

Moving Omark over the summer will tell me Tambellini is capable of building a winning team by moving a one dimensional player against the wishes of most of the fans.

What his one dimension as you see it? Cuz the way I see it, other than his slightly suspect skating, this guy is gold.

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#14 IHeartHemsky
April 07 2011, 01:20PM
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So sad..but all the past mistakes have brought us to now with Hall, Ebs +...so it makes these horrible mistakes a lot better.

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#15 Archaeologuy
April 07 2011, 01:52PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

It's not like Steve doesnt have his own strikes against him.

The Khabibulin Signing, Trading Visnovski for Ryan "Sweet Feet" Whitney, the Heatley Saga, and two of the worst ever Oiler seasons in back to back years.

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#17 Dan the Man
April 07 2011, 02:34PM
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Rick wrote:

I dunno Robin even 75 pts seems like a stretch considering the Oilers turned a guaranteed 100 pt guy like Schremp into waiver material.

And no I didn't see any MSM guys call Schremp as a 100 pt guy...

I hope you were kidding....

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#18 Dennis
April 07 2011, 02:35PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I'm in a great mood today and I feel no need to pile on anybody. It's an observation written because it's somewhat timely given that Perry just hit 50 goals and is building momentum as a Hart Trophy candidate.

And one more time: I'm not for a second assuming Perry would have developed into what he is now with this sad-sack outfit, but even if he'd turned into a 75-point player at the top end here, that's damn sure better than what came out of the Philly deal. Yes or no?

I thought something was different;)

I think this move was the first time we saw Lowe's pride and spitefulness influence his decision-making.

The Oilers gave Comrie a good contract when he first inked and felt like he owed them something when he came up the second time. MacT surmised - and correctly in hindsight but it also looked prophetic at the time - that Comrie couldn't match against other team's top lines and this would influence what he would be paid.

Things got worse and worse and Lowe didn't want to send Comrie to his destination of choice without clawing back some of the bonus money they paid him.

I remember the Oilers farming team coming here to St. John's and I went to watch Woywitka and Lynch play and the latter looked much more well-rounded than the former.

I laughed at the time because we had an offensive dman but without the offense. Great skater and decent passer but no shot or vision.

A lot like Brewer and Smid in that respect.

One of these days I'd like to see the definitive piece on Comrie as an Oiler. For the longest time we waited for that complimentry centre for Weight and there was a lot of talk about signing Comrie and bringing him in. He looked good right off the hop and almost immeadiately got to play with smyth and carter while weight took zholtok and cleary. The oilers nearly won a playoff round that year and then in '02 comrie was most nights the only offensive player worth watching and especially when old 94 got hurt.

but his plus minus plummeted the next year and he was done.

he had a good year in '06 but it's mostly been mediocrity.

I doubt anyone would have guessed that after having watched his first 129 games as an Oiler.

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#19 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
April 07 2011, 02:42PM
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Death Metal Nightmare wrote:

Kevin Lowe crapped the bed 10 times over on that deal. but this fact will remain: Corey Perry would not be as good as he is in this matrix of players (or their past players leading up to the present). so crying over spilled-50-goal-milk is ridiculous when he probably would have finished up with 30 (maybe) and most of his potential would be going to waste in this Freak Circus.

hes playing on a team with offensive depth, maturity and guys who know how to play their roles. it gives him space to thrive. he also has Getzlaf helping him and that kid Bobby Ryan.

comparing his production - which still takes a lot of effort on his part - within the matrix of the Oilers... obviously not the same environment... and with that, he'd struggle to create an environment that fosters 50 goals.

4-5 more years were still looking at here, even if Tambo makes all the right moves.

I've got to say I'm finding it quite funny how many people are clinging to this notion that his numbers would be SUBSTANTIALLY worse here.

Thier are piles and piles of players that move from team to team (or even on the same team as those team dynamics change) that produce at (or very close) to where they produced on other teams.

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#20 Hemmertime
April 07 2011, 04:21PM
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Death Metal Nightmare wrote:

no kidding. id rather keep him around that Sam Gagner's miniature vulture butt. Omark creates offense. Gagner opportunizes on offense.

Brett Hull is in the Hall of Fame. He was king of "oppotunizes on offence". Being where the puck ends up is a lot of times luck, but if it happens consistently I think its safe to call it a skill

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#22 JohnQPublic
April 07 2011, 09:58PM
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I don't agree. Perry would have been amazing in Edmonton, but given the state of the EIG and the market at the time I thought Comrie got what was coming to him. The same with Smyth. You want to be a mercenary, you're treated like one.

Murray definitely got screwed, but he made up for that after leaking the name of the players in the Heatley deal. Tit for tat, now we're even.

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#23 They're $hittie
April 07 2011, 10:09AM
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what a DOMINANT PLAYER

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#24 OvenChicken8 - Team JSBM
April 07 2011, 10:10AM
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I'd lock Jones up with Gilbert Brule type money, draft Couturier and cry over our missed opportunity on Corey Perry.

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#25 They're $hittie
April 07 2011, 10:13AM
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but let back up a minute, would he be this good on the oilers. Perry is a great player and I would love to have him here. But having Getzlaf follow the same great development path as him sure had to help. One compliments the other and it took them to king status.

How good would one Sedin be if the other wasn't there to aid the other in development.

But yes, what was Lowe thinking.

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#26 The Real Scuba Steve
April 07 2011, 10:17AM
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They're $hittie wrote:

but let back up a minute, would he be this good on the oilers. Perry is a great player and I would love to have him here. But having Getzlaf follow the same great development path as him sure had to help. One compliments the other and it took them to king status.

How good would one Sedin be if the other wasn't there to aid the other in development.

But yes, what was Lowe thinking.

Lowe lets his ego cloud his mind sometimes when it comes to disgruntled players that he has to trade.

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They're $hittie wrote:

but let back up a minute, would he be this good on the oilers. Perry is a great player and I would love to have him here. But having Getzlaf follow the same great development path as him sure had to help. One compliments the other and it took them to king status.

How good would one Sedin be if the other wasn't there to aid the other in development.

But yes, what was Lowe thinking.

I agree about the whole would Perry be that great here theory or would he even be here theory.

As for Lowe doing that, was any fan really opposed to it? Comrie was public enemy #1 and I don't remember fans saying that Lowe was an idiot for asking for that money at the time.

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#28 The Real Scuba Steve
April 07 2011, 10:22AM
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Bucknuck wrote:

I suppose I wasn't feeling bitter enough after listening to that entire game last night. I needed to think about the undone Perry deal as well.

Sigh.

I am one of the Lowe apologists simply because I am so grateful for the thrill of 2006, but when I think of Mike Comrie, Ryan Smyth, and Curtis Glencross, I start thinking that perhaps it is time for new blood.

I don't think Tambellini has what it takes to make a winner, and Lowe traded Ryan Smyth away. Maybe both of those guys should just quietly "retire".

I dunno. I am feeling a little morose this morning.

I agree but when is Lowes contract up?, and will he be back?

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#29 Spydyr
April 07 2011, 10:24AM
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Could have, should have, would have. Hindsight is 20/20. Watching the Oil get schooled by a team that cared brings everyone back to earth. Hope Oklahoma makes the playoffs so half the big team gets a chance to play for something this year. The last few games has shown just how important size and desire are.Hope Tambo was evaluating....sigh

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#30 ubermiguel
April 07 2011, 10:57AM
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Definitely Lowe's worst moment. But if he makes that deal does he make the Pronger deal in 2005? That's the one that got us within one win of the promised land.

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#31 friday the FISTteenth
April 07 2011, 11:03AM
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I could be wrong, but wouldn't 2.5 million in cash be something the ownership was asking for, rather than Lowe?

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#32 Bill Rizer
April 07 2011, 11:04AM
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I remember back when this happened and thinking the Perry deal was far superior than the Woywitka deal. Not that I could predict the future, but Perry seemed like a much better prospect at the time. Present context just makes it worse. I think it shows how bad Lowe truly was for this organization - and maybe still is.

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#33 Rick
April 07 2011, 11:10AM
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You know the franchise has turned a corner when we go from talking about how great the olden days were to how poor some of the decisions used to be (USED to be?).

Anyways, of course that also all hinges on the assumptions that the Oilers could have developed him with the same success the Ducks did.

That's no small assumption.

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#34 D
April 07 2011, 11:16AM
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It was a bad move by Oilers management. But, as many of the posters here have mentioned, Perry's development in Edmonton would have likely been different.

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#35 Jon
April 07 2011, 11:41AM
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It's unfortunate the way it turned out but hockey-wise it's definitely NOT one of Lowe's worst moments (perhaps ethically though).

Perry was not looked as a better prospect than Woywitka, and I recall fans and media in general favoring Woywitka over Perry. Perry was thought of as slow, soft, and skinny. I googled to find some comments from way back then that would back up my memories, and I think this post from a poster on HF sums it up well:

"I'm sure the trade talks went like this.

Lowe: Can we have Chistov? BM: No Lowe: Can we have Lupul? BM: No Lowe: Can we have McDonald? BM: No Lowe: Can we have Getzlaf? BM: No Lowe: Can we have Perry? BM: Hmmm, sure but remember. You asked for him. The Ducks didn't offer Perry up for trade."

Obviously, things are a lot different now but no one can read the future, and it's hard to fault Lowe for not being able to do that...Perry's attributes at the time would never make people think that he would transform himself from a slow, slight, and soft winger to the tough, big, and physical winger that he is today.

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#36 Hoovisonfire
April 07 2011, 11:43AM
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If you want to cry over spilled milk, just go read past draft lists.

Didn't we miss on Perry, and Parise?

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#38 Dodd
April 07 2011, 11:58AM
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I usually have to tsk tsk at ON posters who assume that just because player A is great he would be great on any team. I'm surprised to see that from a seasoned writer. Things Brownlee is well aware of:

More goes into a hot player than talent alone: How he's used. Who he's teamed with. How he's managed in practice and in the locker room. More often than not a mediocre player blossoms when given a very particular set of circumstances, just as an "elite" player disappears when his circumstances change.

Is Perry very good? Of course. Would he be as successful now if he became an Oiler in 2003? Would he be as good now if he hadn't learned how to win a cup? Would he be an equally dominant Canuck or Islander?

I think we have enough to be frustrated about right now without trying hard to find more.

I heard we came to Jones with an offer already, so prepare for the backlash when he's gone.

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#39 Lebowski
April 07 2011, 12:00PM
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Robin: Will we ever know whose call this was on Perry and Comrie? We heard about Comrie and not much else for months in 2003. When the Perry deal was announced I was ecstatic. He was tough, mean and could score. Then the biggest bush league move by Lowe (on EIG's directive?). Stauffer had Winter on shortly after and I was quite impressed with what he had to say and how he said it.

Surely someone must know if it was Lowe's idea or that of the EIG. Inquiring minds want to know!

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#41 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
April 07 2011, 12:07PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

I agree about the whole would Perry be that great here theory or would he even be here theory.

As for Lowe doing that, was any fan really opposed to it? Comrie was public enemy #1 and I don't remember fans saying that Lowe was an idiot for asking for that money at the time.

That is the hypocritical nature of the Oiler fan.

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#42 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
April 07 2011, 12:09PM
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friday the FISTteenth wrote:

I could be wrong, but wouldn't 2.5 million in cash be something the ownership was asking for, rather than Lowe?

I've made that argument before but it's the "in thing" to blame Lowe (though not so much anymore)

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#43 Dodd
April 07 2011, 12:10PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

"I always think back to the undone Perry deal, and what Lowe's demand for that $2.5 million has ultimately cost this franchise. I'm not sure what the answer is exactly because it's impossible to know how things would have played out, but, at best, it was not Lowe's finest hour. I think it was his worst."

What did I assume about Perry?

"Perry, 25, has 50 goals and 97 points and is a lock to be one of the top three vote-getters for the Hart Trophy this season. Nothing Lowe got from Philadelphia, or in any subsequent trades with the assets culled from it, even comes close."

The assumption here is that Perry's Hart Trophy production could have been as an Oiler.

I'm nitpicking here, Robin, as the rest of us are. While we're in a bad mood, why don't we re-address what we got for Pronger? Or Smyth?

The whole article just has that "piling on" feel to it, while we are hurting from present problems, not just the un-changeable past.

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#44 Smokey
April 07 2011, 12:15PM
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Slow day, so we have to blabber about what ifs. Lets talk about All Time Oilers Team instead. Some one else mentioned it on Lowetide. Here's mine. i dont care about looking up Right and Left Wingers, so don't crap on me.

Kurri, Gretzky, Tikkanen Anderson, Messier, Linseman Simpson, Weight, Guerin Smyth, Marchant, Hall

Arnott, Semenko

Pronger, Lowe Huddy, Coffey Muni, Smith

Mironov, Hamilton

Fuhr, Joseph, Roloson

Fuhr, Joseph,

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#45 Smokey
April 07 2011, 12:16PM
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My post got ef'd up, wat da

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#46 oilers1974
April 07 2011, 12:18PM
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Just another in a long list of reasons to be nervous about Lowe and Tambo rebuilding this team. It just really doesn't appear that they are good evaluators of talent, or even understand the elements it takes to build a winning team.

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#48 They're $hittie
April 07 2011, 12:22PM
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Perry - Memorial Cup, World Juniors, Stanley Cup, Olympic Gold, Probably Hart and Maurice Trophies, Outside Chance on Art Ross, World Championship and World Cup to follow. What did niedemeyer tell this guy to get him to mimick how he just does nothing but win. When Canada came out to the ice in the gold medal game, you can see it on his face "boys i got this" and he did. What a mentor!

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#49 Rexall Robots
April 07 2011, 12:22PM
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Interesting to note that Anaheim selected none other than Ladislav Smid with their first pick of the 2004 draft.

Presumably, that would have been the first round pick included in the Comrie/Perry deal,no?

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#50 Archaeologuy
April 07 2011, 12:28PM
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EJ McGuire just passed away

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