SPITBALLING ON A RAINY DAY

Robin Brownlee
June 10 2012 02:15PM

Retired tough guy Georges Laraque is publicly pitching a return to the NHL, which is something I told you was coming back on April 1, and you can bet he will be running that idea – probably already has -- past the Edmonton Oilers.

From Jim Matheson's Hockey World in The Edmonton Journal today: "I told my agent (Steve Kotlowitz) I’d sign anywhere. I’ll take a physical. I’ll sign a one-year minimum (salary). I’d come in like a rookie," said Laraque, who last played during the 2009-10 season, getting into 61 games over two years with the Habs until they bought him out of the final year of his three-year contract. He’s played 645 NHL games, in all with the Edmonton Oilers, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh and Montreal.

"At my age I wouldn’t expect to play every game and if I went from nine minutes a game to four or five, that’s fine. I could be a veteran role player. I can’t see how a team could turn me down with those terms if they want toughness. I want to end on my own terms and I have something to prove. I’m going to be so motivated to play again." Matheson's story is here.

Laraque, 35, was bought out of his last contract by Montreal and a lot of people have assumed he'd just fade away, but his decline as a player was as much about his health as anything. Laraque struggled with herniated discs in his back, and as somebody who has dealt with that, I can tell you there are few things as debilitating – just in day-to-day life, let alone trying to play hockey at the NHL level.

I'll let other people so inclined debate the merits of a return by Laraque and if he'd fit in with the Oilers here and now, but he's healthy again, as referenced in today's piece written by Matheson, and that makes a world of difference. Laraque speaks about hs desire to return on his Facebook page here.

I'd like to see Laraque at least get the chance to go out on his own terms and put a miserable end to his NHL career in Montreal behind him, but that's just me. More important in the bigger picture, Laraque is friends with Edmonton owner Daryl Katz and if he really wants another look-see from the Oilers under terms that make sense, he'll get it.

Take that to the bank.

THIS AND THAT

I'm enjoying the "Should the Oilers . . ." series of articles by Jonathan Willis about the possibilities of pursuing players via trade or free agency. You can find them here and here. They promote discussion, debate and traffic, which is the point of what we do here at Oilersnation. As an added bonus, they set-up relevant follow-ups for the person writing them.

If you conclude the Oilers should pursue a player and they do, you look pretty smart. If they don't pursue that player, you've got a built-in follow up pissing and moaning that they didn't (especially if that player has a great season somewhere else). Same thing if you say they shouldn't and they do (especially if the player turns into Cam Barker). Either way, you can wag your finger and tsk tsk. The material writes itself.

AND . . .

If I was writing the next item for Canadian Press or another MSM outlet, I wouldn't pass it along because I haven't been able to get any verification from anybody in the know, but I'm not, so I will, even if it's fodder for those prone to whining "Brownlee, you used to be a journalist, not a blogger writing in his pajamas and taking swigs from a big jug of Sprite . . ."

Somebody I know insists that Brent Sutter already has been told he's got the job as Edmonton's next coach, which flies in the face of most the reports I've seen and what GM Steve Tambellini has said on the record.

Possible? Sure. Verifiable? Not with Tambellini and president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe tighter than clams these days. It also conflicts with the insistence by 630 CHED radio man Bob Stauffer associate coach Ralph Krueger is a serious contender for the job. This version of the coaching sweepstakes doesn't jibe with what I've heard.

If Sutter ends up with (or already has) the job, I wonder if he might want to re-visit supposed interest the Oilers have had in Jarome Iginla in the past? That sounds way out there, doesn't it? Doesn't it? Just asking.

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 Haywood Jablome
June 10 2012, 02:23PM
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Laraque looking to throw his fists around for the Oilers once again.

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#2 maverick
June 10 2012, 02:34PM
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Please no Laraque, been there done that, do we really need to watch him ask guys to fight again? We need reaction

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#3 Rama Lama
June 10 2012, 02:37PM
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George for Captain............yes he deserves another chance!

He is exactly what this team needs a policeman that can play fairly sound fourth line minutes. Regardless of his political views, he understands how to keep meat heads in the league from getting too carried away.

He is more offensively talented than Horcoff and Belenger so moving him up to the third line ocassionally is fine.

George for captain!

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#4 Cowbell_Feva
June 10 2012, 02:43PM
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HAHA..funny because its true. Georgie does have more offensive talent than Horc's!!

As far as Iggy coming to Edmonton, let's get serious Reuben. There is no chance in hell he would come to Edmonton at this point in his career. Especially coming from down the QEII. We're not talking Steve Staios here.

I hope the Oil have a bunch of balls in the air leading up to the draft, because if we come out with another #1 pick, and thats it, we will be in for another year of exciting basement-dwelling hockey.

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#5 Gret99zky
June 10 2012, 02:44PM
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Oh, no. Another too old but wants to be an Oiler again.

Iggy would never screw up his legacy by signing in with the Oilers.

Sutter had better get the very most out of the line-up especially the never accountable always entitled vets.

Will Sutter keep Bucky and company or will we see some more new faces?

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#6 aguy
June 10 2012, 02:53PM
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Laraque over Hordichuk, just saying...

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#7 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
June 10 2012, 02:57PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

He is exactly what this team needs a policeman that can play fairly sound fourth line minutes. Regardless of his political views, he understands how to keep meat heads in the league from getting too carried away.

cool story bro.

so the oilers need a 35ish year old former enforcer who hasnt played in 2 years and has about 60 NHL games played since the end of the 07-08 season?

georges laraque from 2000-2004ish is what the oilers need. the 2012 version makes for a good story at training camp, but thats probably about it.

offer him a camp invite, write the stories for 3 weeks, and give the man a PR role with the team off the ice.

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#8 John B.
June 10 2012, 03:01PM
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Love the back-handed compliment to JW. Even though you say "the material writes itself", he's done a good job of looking into specific players and their contract situations (like Latendresse).

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#9 Peff
June 10 2012, 03:04PM
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Nope , don't want him .....not after he craped on Wayne !!!! Next

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#10 Quicksilver ballet
June 10 2012, 03:08PM
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Stop the suck. Pray for another season long work stoppage.

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#11 jordan
June 10 2012, 03:09PM
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i've heard too that sutter is a sure thing, and that apparently since december there have been talks between oil and flames about "bringing iggy home". sounds like bull to me though.

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#12 The Oilers Shot Clock
June 10 2012, 03:09PM
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Old George can be our Theo Fluery at camp this year. Let him play a few exibitions, and even pencil him into the shootout roster for fun. He can be one of the final cuts. When interviewed the day of the cut he will seem gracious and humble, and two weeks later he'll dirt the organization and claim its a joke he didnt make the team.Wether or not the experience makes his next book is anyones guess.

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#13 No Way
June 10 2012, 03:14PM
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I say that this is a waste of a training camp roster spot. I say that he should attend the OKC training camp as a walk on and see how he does there.

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#14 The Oilers Shot Clock
June 10 2012, 03:15PM
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I do miss how he could bully his way to the front of the net with the puck using just his reach. It was all so slow motion. They were like scoring chances that didnt really happen.

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#15 OilerLand
June 10 2012, 03:17PM
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Iggy? One can dream I suppose.

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#16 knee deep in it
June 10 2012, 03:37PM
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Iginla isn't going anywhere because Flames ownership loves him. Iggy was also a big part of why Sutter isn't there anymore, he wanted to tranistion the Flames to a younger, faster club.

The real prize might be Jokinen. He had 61 pts last year and a renewed fitness program. He could easily be our 2nd line centre and he might follow Sutter.

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#17 a lg dubl dubl
June 10 2012, 03:37PM
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Id take Laraque back forsure. He wouldnt take away time from guys like Hartikinen, or PRV and imo he's an upgrade from Hordichuck, not to slam Darcy but he didnt really intimidate guys for throwing a mean hit on 1 of the kids other than giving a toungue lashing and a hairy eyeball.

Having Eager and Laraque on the 4th line sounds pretty good to me, or Eager on the 3rd line if Smyth doesnt resign, 2 heavy's on 2 lines could deter the other team from taking liberties.

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#18 a lg dubl dubl
June 10 2012, 03:40PM
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@knee deep

Just say no to Jokeinin for the love of all that is holy just say no!!!!

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#19 gongshow hockey
June 10 2012, 03:49PM
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Biggest mistake they made was letting him go after the cup run, that's when other teams started taking runs/shots/etc at not only the skilled players but the whole team...I would take him back instantly to give the kids some breathing room and to not let other teams take any liberties with anyone(when he's in the line up). Even having him in the line up once in awhile could possibly save a few injuries which could lead to more wins/points in the standings...it may not be a sure thing but it's a gamble I would like to see the oilers take

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#20 eastcoastoil
June 10 2012, 04:15PM
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@a lg dubl dubl

Whats wrong with Jokinen. Cap geek has him at 3mil, his stats say he's a 6'2", 210, averages 50-60 points a season to go along with 50-60 PIMS. He is also a UFA. Also looks like he plays a full season. Looks like a better version of Horcoff at half the price

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#21 ALEX STEENBERGER
June 10 2012, 04:21PM
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LARAQUE is not coming to EDM to play hockey. He is coming to fight and protect the kids. If LARAQUE was known for his hockey skills he would never have made the NHL.

If anyone were even to look at Halls or Nuge or Ebz the wrong way, we need an ENFORCER like LARAQUE to come in and beat the daylights out of them. Maybe teams would think twice when doing that cheap stuff with our stars.

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#22 Adam D
June 10 2012, 04:25PM
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If management and coaching is insistent on wasting a roster spot on an enforcer, it might as well be Big Georges.

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#23 eastcoastoil
June 10 2012, 04:27PM
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Big George would be a upgrade over Hordi. He has 100 more career points with just a few more games played. Question marks would be health but according to the post he ran a 90km marathon with no issues. Other question would be willingness to drop the mitts along with playing a forth line role not a goal scorer from what I remember. Big George on the forth, where does that leave eager

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#24 Greg Stink | ESPN
June 10 2012, 04:29PM
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The Oilers Shot Clock wrote:

Old George can be our Theo Fluery at camp this year. Let him play a few exibitions, and even pencil him into the shootout roster for fun. He can be one of the final cuts. When interviewed the day of the cut he will seem gracious and humble, and two weeks later he'll dirt the organization and claim its a joke he didnt make the team.Wether or not the experience makes his next book is anyones guess.

I was at that final preseason game in Calgary. Theo scored one goal during regulation. When he went out to centre ice to take his shootout, the crowed was chanting "Fluery ! Fluery!" He scored and the Flames won, it was great.

I also noticed he was standing at the Flames blue line a lot waiting for the heads up pass, while the rest of the team was back checking and trying to get the puck out of their zone.

As far as Laraque goes, sure I would like to see him back. I think the Laraque we would see would be a much more effective Laraque than we saw his last few years in the NHL. Just do it, 1 year deal. There is nothing wrong with having depth in this position to give the toughness a different look as the games go on.

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#25 Never
June 10 2012, 04:40PM
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Sorry ... George can not play hockey ... my main in memory of George is that he used to freeze the puck behind the opposing goalie and then the play would die. You need a tough guy who can actually play ! Besides I am not sure that his massive ego would not just be a hinderance in the dressing room.

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#26 a lg dubl dubl
June 10 2012, 04:46PM
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@knee deep

Just reminds me of Anson Carter when he played with the sisters, and wasnt last year pretty much a "comeback year" the years before that he seemed to drift through the season and thats on the same line as Iggy.

Id rather have Gagner on my 2nd line; 25, 40-50 points(probably will hit 60 if he stays on the 2nd line with Hemsky and PRV), may not be 200+ lbs but still will stand up for team when he feels it nessesary. O and he's cheaper than Jokenin.

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#27 a lg dubl dubl
June 10 2012, 04:53PM
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@eastcostoil

George did say he understands if he doesnt play every game, and happy to play 5 min/game.

Id put Eager on the 3rd line if Smyth doesnt resign, or put them both on the 4th.

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#28 Digger
June 10 2012, 04:57PM
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Strange, I seem to recall scads of Oiler fans who couldn't stand how Laraque's presence never seemed to deter anyone because Georges had that code of honour that he'd rather cut his pinkie finger off than break, so he'd only ever fight his fellow goons. I don't see how a much older Laraque would play any differently now.

The fighter who wanted to do something, ANYTHING other than fight...we want this on our team why, exactly?

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#30 Sailge
June 10 2012, 05:12PM
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Also bring back Jason Smith, Staois, Greene, Stoll, Pisani, Moreau, Torres, Spacek, Peca, Samsonov, heck even MacT. Roil is what, 45 years old now let's grab him again, too.

But seriously, it's fun to read all the who should we sign, who should we trade for articles here at ON recently.

It's hard, er, impossible to get excited about any of the good ones because management is way too incompetent to make anything of significance happen.

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#31 Reality Check to the head
June 10 2012, 05:18PM
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Iggy in Edmonton, maybe five years ago. Are we not trying to get younger and faster? Iggy is a great talent, but on the decline.

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#32 Dodd
June 10 2012, 05:34PM
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a lg dubl dubl wrote:

@knee deep

Just say no to Jokeinin for the love of all that is holy just say no!!!!

Can't believe you would never entertain the idea of Jokinen (61 pts last year) yet you're campaigning for Laroque.

Anyone wanting Laroque back wants 2004 Laroque. 8 years later, no idea how slow (er) he is, how out of shape and defensively liable he would be, but they want him because he's a tough guy after a whistle.

Our team needs a Clutterbuck - a player who skates well enough to make players PAY for nailing our stars - DURING play, please. Anyone (Hordi included) can ask for a fight at faceoff. That rarely diffuses the cheap shots during play.

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#33 @NateInVegas
June 10 2012, 05:35PM
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Iginla would be a solid 3rd line RW here in a few years..

It's not like his shot is going away on the PP... A few one-timers from RNH on the PP could keep his goal totals near 25-30 for awhile.

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#34 Reality Check to the head
June 10 2012, 05:46PM
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The problem with Laraque was that he could not keep up with speed of the game. However, without the ailing back issues and playing at 245lbs it would make for an interesting preseason tryout. BTW, how many times do we play the Flamers and canucks in the preseason? Twice I believe. Nice to see Laraque take on (out) a few of their players.

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#35 a lg dubl dubl
June 10 2012, 06:11PM
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@dodd

Have you looked up Jokein's stats from 08-10?

Gimme Gagner any day of the week thanks, last yr was a fluke imo.

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#36 Jimmer
June 10 2012, 06:19PM
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George...Yes. On the following conditions:

(1) Two way contract (2) He needs to be physical with "every player" on the ice not just the other team's tough guy.

The big one is (2). The moment he stops being an equal opportunity pest/enforcer...he is sent down to OKC and buried there.

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#37 Mitch
June 10 2012, 06:38PM
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@Brownlee if Sutter has been given the job what is the hold up on an annoucement. Is it because Darryl still in the finals?

Also for Big Georges I have no problem with it, I question his quickness not sure if he can keep up to todays pace. What is important is I can tell he's ready to embrace this role even if it means 3-5 minutes a night. It's so important that players on this team understand thier roles maybe Big George can help teammates embrace this. I would take 27 over 94 right now. I would like to see him at 225lbs to 230lbs I think 245 is to heavy.

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#38 ubermiguel
June 10 2012, 07:05PM
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Iggy can pull a Ray Bourque and come here in a couple of years. How sweet would it be to see Iggy in Oilers silks lifting the Cup over his head? And not just to piss off Calgary, but because he's a class-act by all accounts.

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#39 mlcselli
June 10 2012, 07:19PM
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Poor George doesn't seem to know what to do with himself. One day he's a hockey player, another day he's an author telling everyone about the players taking steroids, another day he's into politics. Now he wants to come back into the Oilers fold and almost sounds like he'd volunteer. Pay him less and play him less. Sounds desperate to me. I always liked him, but his time is over. As far as Sutter goes, I think he'd be a benefit to have behind the bench. Iggy may end up on another team, but not ours. Love to have him though.

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#40 mlcselli
June 10 2012, 07:22PM
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Poor George doesn't seem to know what to do with himself. One day he's a hockey player, another day he's an author telling everyone about the players taking steroids, another day he's into politics. Now he wants to come back into the Oilers fold and almost sounds like he'd volunteer. Pay him less and play him less. Sounds desperate to me. I always liked him, but his time is over. As far as Sutter goes, I think he'd be a benefit to have behind the bench. Iggy may end up on another team, but not ours. Love to have him though.

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#41 Rama Lama
June 10 2012, 07:44PM
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OK......I will be happy if he just gets a chance, sort of like Theo.

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#43 @Oilanderp
June 10 2012, 08:18PM
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@knee deep in it

The real prize might be Jokinen.

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA.

Good one.

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#44 @Oilanderp
June 10 2012, 08:26PM
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BRING ON THE LARAQUE!!!! I honest don't give a rat's a** what he plays like, as long as it is clear that he can walk out and take the 5 min major and 10 minute misconduct for punching any offender right in the face. Take the suspension, it doesn't matter. Scare the bejesus out of em George. Honestly, take the insitgator, it's worth it. Give the old boy a camp invite it can't hurt.

Go Oil!

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#45 stevezie
June 10 2012, 08:32PM
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I understand the con argument, but I for one am all too happy to have a half-baked unverified rumour passed on. Isn't this why a lowly blog would associate with someone with real connections? To hear juicy gossip before it's in the news?

I like Laroque as a person and hope it works out for him, but I'm one of those sissies who considers pure enforcers a waste of a roster spot. In his prime George could play a bit too, but even if he's healthy he's still 35. Sail on, George, I hope you land on your feet somewhere, but not here.

Iggy would make perfect sense here, depending on his future contract demands. No way Calgary trades him to us, and I have my doubts he'd sign here for fear of ruining his legacy, which he clearly cares about. The Battle ain't what it was, but I think it'll be enough to keep this logical thing from happening. Good, I say. Sports aren't supposed to be rational.

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#46 Dog Train
June 10 2012, 08:53PM
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Pass on George. How is he an upgrade on Hordichuk (who i would rather us not re-sign) other than his popularity? Great for George if he wants to return but I hope that it's somewhere else. He wasn't a great player in his prime and as motivated as he might be, father time catches up with everybody and especially with somebody who plays his style of game. We need to get out of this cycle of recycling old players and coaches or we'll begin to look like the Flames.

I really hope that the Oilers are keeping an open mind as far as the head coach goes. Think outside the box. Guys like Dan Bylsma and Guy Boucher have proven that NHL experience is not always necessary to have success in your first stint as a head coach. I really hope that we give Jon Cooper a serious look if Tampa lets us talk to him.

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#47 Reg Dunlop
June 10 2012, 08:58PM
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Has everyone lost their minds? Is it ergot poisoning? Big Georges, Iggy, Ollie? We need young, agressive speed not old washed-up sticky slow. Dodd has it right; we need an instigator not a reactor made obsolete by the rules. There must be some hungry, fast-skating prospects out there willing to slash, chop,face wash and generally be an ass.

Secondly,with all due respect Mr. Brownlee, why do we always see pics of old Einstein? He was on top of his game at 25,by the end with the wild hair he was cutting out paper dolls and talking to his dog. On second thought, maybe drooling Einstein is a fitting image for my oil=FUBB

Finally, whats with the pic of Alice the Goon? I love Popeye, I love Popeye. Anyone else raised on Popcorn Playhouse? Oh, thats Sutter... or is it?

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#48 stevezie
June 10 2012, 09:03PM
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@Reg Dunlop

You consider Iginla washed up? I disagree.

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#49 Reg Dunlop
June 10 2012, 09:27PM
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@Stevezie

I guess 'washed up' might be exaggerating, but he can see Washed Up from where his lawn chair sits. At 35, like Smitty, there is no upside. And I don't see the flames unloading him with the veteran-phile coach they signed.

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