The tough side of being a professional athelete

Jason Strudwick
August 16 2012 09:14AM

Chad Johnson (Yunner/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

I have never been a big fan of Chad Johnson, the now former wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins. Although he was entertaining I felt he was always looking out for himself before the team and that is not a trait I would want in a teammate. Too disruptive and a distraction to the team game.

After watching HBO's Hard Knocks showcasing the Miami Dolphins I may have found a soft spot for old 85. As the exchange between coach Joe Philbin and Johnson unfolded in which Joe was cutting Johnson, I was transported back fifteen years or so to the time I was cut by the New York Islanders.

It was my third year pro and I really felt that I was ready to have a very strong showing in camp. I was hoping to maybe make the team or at least position myself to be the first call up player from the AHL.

Right away it was clear I wasn't in the mix for any kind of opportunity. I was practicing with the duds and even more telling was my stall. It was so far away from the main locker room I think I was set up across the street at a local bagel shop! (good breakfast burrito)(solid raspberry lemonade as well)

On day three of camp I was asked to play in a rookie game. Back then they were fight fests! A quick look at our opposing teams lineup, the New York Rangers and then at ours and I realized why I was playing. My team needed toughness. So be it. I would do anything to get noticed. Let's get it on.

Half way through the second period I was just wrapping up my third fight. I was out of the game and feeling pretty good about my chances of having been noticed. Soon after I was sitting in the training room, icing down my hands, which looked like hell. An assistant coach comes in and says Mike Milbury, the G.M., wants to see me.

I thought this meeting could be a promising sign for my camp to turn around until Milbury proceeds to tell me I was being sent down! He says I have no future with his organization and I can have my agent attempt to work out a trade to another team but most likely nobody will want me.

Wow! Talk about a kick in the Crown Royal Bag. I was still sweating from fighting for his organization and he slits my throat. Talk about the tough side of pro sports.

I ended up using that talk as motivation so my story ended a lot differently then I believe Johnson's will but that is a terrible feeling to experience.

Johnson was cut for other reasons then I was. But I recognized the look on his face of utter disappointment. I couldn't imagine going through that on T.V. Brutal.

When the season starts and players are bring sent down to the minors, cut or waived give them a little sympathy. It sucks no matter what age you are.

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Jason hosts the Jason Strudwick show from 9pm to 12am, weeknights on the team 1260. He is an instructor at Mount Carmel Hockey Academy and loves working with the kids. Having played over 650 games in the NHL, Jason has some great stories and unique takes on life in the NHL. He loves Slurpees and Blizzards. Dislikes baggy clothes and close talkers.
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#1 Archaeologuy
August 16 2012, 11:31AM
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I had a very similar experience at a Panagopoulos I worked at when I was 16. Except instead of being cut, I was just dropped from the schedule. And instead of it being from Mike Milbury it was Gary Zub (manager). Oh...and instead it being pro hockey it was part-time work in a Pizza shop.

Actually, come to think of it, it wasnt that similar at all...

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#2 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
August 16 2012, 07:08PM
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@longbottom/P.Biglow

Don't paint me with that brush longbottom. Where's your proof, or are you just flapping your lips again.

What you're doing here, levelling judgement in my direction, is it really any different than earlier claims made in this thread?..... Don't be bellyaching about the toothpick in my eye, when you have a 2x4 stuck in yours.

This stirring it up thing....am i doing it right?

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#3 BeerLeagueLegend
August 16 2012, 11:18AM
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Evaluator wrote:

I have just gained a little respect for Milbury as an evaluator of talent. Although you surivived in the NHL for so long, you never really had performances above replacement value.

Hey pal, Struds was in the show for 600+ games - you're probably some bender who couldn't even crack a church league line-up. Keep the commentary on people's abilities to yourself and go back to crunching numbers on hockeydb

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#4 DaveChamp
August 16 2012, 11:22AM
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Evaluator wrote:

I have just gained a little respect for Milbury as an evaluator of talent. Although you surivived in the NHL for so long, you never really had performances above replacement value.

Written from his mother's basement.

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#5 Robin Brownlee
August 16 2012, 01:26PM
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Evaluator wrote:

I have just gained a little respect for Milbury as an evaluator of talent. Although you surivived in the NHL for so long, you never really had performances above replacement value.

You obviously have zero comprehension of what it takes to play more than 600 games in the NHL, as Strudwick did.

Just getting to the NHL for a cup of coffee, even one game, puts a player in a select percentile. 600 games? What percentage of NHL players get into that many?

Struddy was a ham-and-egger. Every team has them. Every team needs them.

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#6 FastOil
August 16 2012, 01:35PM
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Evaluator

Evaluate this - there is calling it like you see it, and there is being a rude prick for no reason.

Do us a favour and learn the difference.

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#7 Evaluator
August 16 2012, 09:51AM
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I have just gained a little respect for Milbury as an evaluator of talent. Although you surivived in the NHL for so long, you never really had performances above replacement value.

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#8 the big GRIGowski
August 16 2012, 10:32AM
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I have no sympathy for a man who (allegedly) cheated on and physically abused his newlywed wife.

What a dirtbag.

No offense Strud, but the guy deserved to be embarrassed on national TV.

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#10 geoilersgist
August 16 2012, 10:57AM
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Evaluator wrote:

I have just gained a little respect for Milbury as an evaluator of talent. Although you surivived in the NHL for so long, you never really had performances above replacement value.

Haters gonna hate

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#11 Benny Botts
August 16 2012, 11:09AM
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Evaluator wrote:

I have just gained a little respect for Milbury as an evaluator of talent. Although you surivived in the NHL for so long, you never really had performances above replacement value.

Move along pal.

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#12 D
August 16 2012, 11:49AM
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Struds,

Mike Milbury's record speaks for itself. At 600+ games, so does yours. Congrats on a great NHL career and happy retirement.

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#13 jr_christ
August 16 2012, 12:55PM
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Jason Strudwick wrote:

Is this Mike Milbury? Ouch.

@Evaluator

Who the hell cares about your opinion. What a douch-bag thing to say. Go back to Calgary you prick.

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#14 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
August 16 2012, 05:22PM
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What a difference a couple yrs makes...

When Jason was lacing'em up for the Oilers, many, and i mean many here were routinely throwing him under the bus, blaming him for all the Oiler blueline woes. Did i miss something, has he gotten better the last 24 months, or is this some kinda record for the many with short memories here on ON.

Stir the pot Evaluator, it keeps things interesting fo show.

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#15 Morgie99
August 16 2012, 06:50PM
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AT EVALUATOR

Quote, why are we on here if you can't state an opinion ~ from evaluator

An opinion is fine if you aren't directing the author of the article them-self so personally

it's called Grace, you have shown little

YOU IN MY OPINION ARE AN AHOLE!

I'm just being honest, is that the grace you seek, because that is what you deserve for such a cavalier, callous, personal attack against Struds, who by the way is one of the funniest sons of guns to hit the radio

if the objective of your first comment was to clarify you are an oblivious a-hole, you've succeeded

perhaps take this as a life lesson, I'd suggest that if you want to comment make it worthwhile, not a personal attack, like it or not he played 15 seasons, obviously not a star but good enough to be in the show, which even having a chance to do is an accomplishment

Wake up AND grow up EVaLUaTOR

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#16 yawto
August 16 2012, 09:20AM
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My nephew got drafted by the jays this June. He knows the draft is just the fist step to a career in sports. Now the real work begins.

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#17 Robin Williams as Mork
August 16 2012, 09:34AM
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Good on you for taking the demotion as motivation, but Milbury was a hilariously bad GM. He and Matt Millen should have statues erected, in honour of their ineptitude. Milbury's could be him holding a shoe, about to strike.

He's one guy I'd like to kick in the nads for sure. I hope CBC devotes an entire segment to him and Glenn Healey kicking the crap out of each other. MacLean can be the awkward, sweaty ref. PJ Stock as the bumbling announcer.

I have to go e-mail CBC now. Congrats on the retirement, Struds.

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#18 NewAgeSys
August 16 2012, 09:52AM
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Thank you for that insight,it was moveing and defineing of the 100% heart and commitment that professional athletes invest into their careers and lives,and it helped me understand just how committed each and every one of them are to their craft.

I do believe my perspective has evolved in the last five minutes in a positive direction,as a fan I have often leveled criticisms at players without giveing fair and accurate and proper consideration to their personal and emotional dynamics beyond the ice.I am ashamed to say that I honestly believe that somehow I have in a self-serving way consistantly justified the exclusion of the Players perspective as if they were machines--believing that as a fan I had a paid right to de-humanise them in a figureative way by thinking of then as parts instead of people.

Kudos to the efforts all of these athletes give to their trade and to the fans.

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#19 Sloppy Joe
August 16 2012, 10:10AM
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Great article.

As already noted by another poster, Milbury was an epically terrible GM. How he ever landed a job as an "expert" commentator is totally beyond me.

I think there is a bit of a paradox with pro sports ... athletes are idolized on the one hand, but totally commodified on the other - perhaps the unifying factor is that we don't appreciate the humanity of either idols or commodities.

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#20 Abootzky
August 16 2012, 10:13AM
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Big difference: you didn't deserve to be cut. Johnson did. Hurray for you, Jason. Boo for Chad.

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#21 Truth
August 16 2012, 10:17AM
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Well at least Milbury made the right talent assessments leading up to and including the 2000 draft. Has there been a worse GM?

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#22 vetinari
August 16 2012, 11:16AM
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Thanks for the insight Struds... I hope that someday, Milbury turns up at your doorstep looking for a job.

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#23 Chaz
August 16 2012, 11:25AM
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Evaluator wrote:

I have just gained a little respect for Milbury as an evaluator of talent. Although you surivived in the NHL for so long, you never really had performances above replacement value.

Easy to say from your keyboard Troll. Get a life.

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#24 Woogie
August 16 2012, 11:32AM
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http://thehockeywriters.com/top-10-worst-mike-milbury-trades-contracts-and-transactions/

Milbury's top 10 worst transactions

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#25 Jonathan Willis
August 16 2012, 11:36AM
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Mike Milbury, displaying his profound tact and diplomacy. Particularly iven the fact that he called Strudwick up later in that same year, that's just hilariously bad management.

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#26 Thinker
August 16 2012, 11:54AM
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Lucky for you Milbury is an idiot.

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#27 Mark-LW
August 16 2012, 12:30PM
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Hey Willis,

As far as worst GM's in history, where do you think Millbury ranks?

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#28 Eddie Edmonton
August 16 2012, 12:37PM
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Evaluator wrote:

I have just gained a little respect for Milbury as an evaluator of talent. Although you surivived in the NHL for so long, you never really had performances above replacement value.

You must be new to Camp Yes.

Here we are only allowed to agree and praise. No black sheep allowed in this herd. Keep your opinions to yourself if they're aren't someone elses to begin with.

You can refer to him as Teddy Peckman because someone else did, but you can't go saying Stan Ganger on your own.

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#29 Eddie Edmonton
August 16 2012, 12:45PM
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But all jokes aside.

I can't wait for the Tatarian son of Jakup, not only is he coming to take over the Oilers but the entire NHL as well. All hail Nail.!..

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#30 Jonathan Willis
August 16 2012, 12:52PM
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@Mark-LW

He's easily the worst of the modern era, outpacing the MacLeans and Waddells and Fergusons.

All-time? That's a lot tougher. I don't know the league's early years well enough to say.

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#31 DSF
August 16 2012, 01:18PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

He's easily the worst of the modern era, outpacing the MacLeans and Waddells and Fergusons.

All-time? That's a lot tougher. I don't know the league's early years well enough to say.

A couple who are a lot closer to home might soon be in the conversation.

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#32 Evaluator
August 16 2012, 01:35PM
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I am sure Jason Strudwick is a nice enough person, and did have an NHL career that spanned over 600 games. However he had under 60 career points, and only 3 seasons with a +/- above even.

Just saying as terrible as Milbury is as a GM, sending Strudwick down was not some great atrocity. Strudwick is not Chad Johnson, who was cut while being a star in the league.

No need for everyone to get so defensive, if you can't handle opposing opinions, why are you even here?

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#33 druds
August 16 2012, 01:35PM
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Whoa...I thought evaluator was hilarious ...lets not string him up for gods sakes, Struds dealt with it perfectly ....so you guys dont have to put the boots to him.

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#34 Rocknrolla
August 16 2012, 01:42PM
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Crown Royal Bag?

Classic line Struds!!!!!!

I'm gonna use that one!

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#35 Pat Hughes ruled
August 16 2012, 02:13PM
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Studs congrats on the career and for being a sincerely nice guy and team player. It could have been worse. You could have remained an Islander and hey at least your career lasted longer in the NHL than Mike's. It could be worse you could have been a Blue Jacket and have this done to you by Doud Maclean who gets my vote for worst GM ever. CBJ is a shining example of what not to do.

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#36 ubermiguel
August 16 2012, 02:40PM
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Evaluator wrote:

I am sure Jason Strudwick is a nice enough person, and did have an NHL career that spanned over 600 games. However he had under 60 career points, and only 3 seasons with a +/- above even.

Just saying as terrible as Milbury is as a GM, sending Strudwick down was not some great atrocity. Strudwick is not Chad Johnson, who was cut while being a star in the league.

No need for everyone to get so defensive, if you can't handle opposing opinions, why are you even here?

And now by calling Chad Johnson/Ochocinco and "star in the league" you demonstrate a profound lack of knowledge about the NFL too.

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#37 longbottom/P.Biglow
August 16 2012, 03:39PM
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May I say as an older fan Struds, I for one have enjoyed your stories on the radio, the insight on here, and most of all I enjoyed and pulled for you as an underdog player. A fine artical. Like most posters have already written, It just shows how Milbury evaluated talent and his track record.

All praise aside, Would you say when you started out trying to break-in the NHL, most coaches and General Managers were fairly old school trying to break the new up and comers. I had a cousin in the 80's that had a cup of coffee at the flames training camp and he informed me that it was the worst expierence he ever had.

Edit Great to hear you chose Edmonton from all the NHL cities you had played for. Yes not to the Magnitude of Justin Schultz's(Har Har Har) but a great addition to Edmonton.

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#38 Wax Man Riley
August 16 2012, 03:52PM
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DSF wrote:

A couple who are a lot closer to home might soon be in the conversation.

Tambo and Feaster? The former has my vote for sure. Tambo's record speaks for itself. I definitely won't call Lowe a terrible GM, however. You do not build a Western Conference Champion by being a terrible GM.

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#39 Dog Train
August 16 2012, 05:05PM
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Sports can be a very humbling business. Good on you Strudwick for bouncing back from Milbury's demotion and going on to have a long playing career.

As for as Chad Johnson goes, football is a young man's game. It takes a special player to keep on going strong even after the age of 30 for the most part. Johnson's body just can't keep up to his mouth anymore.

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#40 longbottom/P.Biglow
August 16 2012, 06:00PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

What a difference a couple yrs makes...

When Jason was lacing'em up for the Oilers, many, and i mean many here were routinely throwing him under the bus, blaming him for all the Oiler blueline woes. Did i miss something, has he gotten better the last 24 months, or is this some kinda record for the many with short memories here on ON.

Stir the pot Evaluator, it keeps things interesting fo show.

It seems to me that Yes Jason was a goat in many online hockey experts eyes, including yourself if I remember right. But the point being raised here is the fact that he played over 600 NHL games. Now many including myself could only dream of having done that. And to these experts online take a deep breath and look at who you are talking about when you decide to start thrashing people. Jason has handled himself through-out with pride and owned up to games where he has had a tough night with humor. Stir that up sir and try making that interesting.

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#41 RexLibris
August 16 2012, 06:02PM
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As someone whose athletic ability is generally measured by the thimble, I have always respected the accomplishments of professional athletes.

I took to heart what John Short used to say about taking his kids to watch a game "you can cheer for whomever you want. The moment you boo, we go home."

Being cut from an NHL team isn't a mark of disgrace. You've still gotten farther than most of us.

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#42 longbottom/P.Biglow
August 16 2012, 08:09PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Don't paint me with that brush longbottom. Where's your proof, or are you just flapping your lips again.

What you're doing here, levelling judgement in my direction, is it really any different than earlier claims made in this thread?..... Don't be bellyaching about the toothpick in my eye, when you have a 2x4 stuck in yours.

This stirring it up thing....am i doing it right?

Answer as you may. I may sound like a bellyacher to you, in fact if liking and standing up for something is bellyacheing then may I do it all day long. You see while you find it a fine way of life to go around cutting other people down with your fine words and little riddles. I would personally rather look a guy in the eye and say fine job that I couldn't do. As for proof maybe I am wrong but if my feeble old mind runs correctly during the season you have made light of a goat or two in the last few years.

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#43 DSF
August 16 2012, 08:29PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

Tambo and Feaster? The former has my vote for sure. Tambo's record speaks for itself. I definitely won't call Lowe a terrible GM, however. You do not build a Western Conference Champion by being a terrible GM.

Blind squirrel...nut...and so on...

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#44 Jay Gray
August 16 2012, 09:14PM
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Each time a NFL wide receiver goes bankrupt an angel gets his wings.

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#45 loosemoose
August 16 2012, 10:35PM
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I think you were a pretty good NHL player Jason. I mean, not quite as good as Rob and what's his name Neidermayer, but pretty good, never the less.......lol

If you were half the player you are radio personality, you would be in the HHOF for sure though.....epic stories, witty and can carry a conversation smoothly(unlike some TSN pretty boys who won't be named)

keep up the good work kid!

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#46 5inatrailor
August 16 2012, 11:00PM
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I thought eval's post was a funny little dig in a Jason Gregor sorta way. But I don't know eval from enough lurking to say he has the history to join the gobc(good old boys club) If it was meant in sincerity, he's obviously a db. Neither him nor I have earned the respect to even lace up strud's skates. Keep calm and chive on and all that.

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#47 NewAgeSys
August 16 2012, 11:56PM
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I am relatively new here but this is typical of any group dynamic.

The guy took a shot at someone well respected and now we get the flak everywhere.

He voiced his opinion,but it didnt sound as loud as you all make it out to be,for a supposedly educated hockey crowd ths is a pretty lame arse reaction.The poster didnt give any supportive dialog to back up his opinion,there was no more effort there than a fart into the wind.And guys who spend 600 games in the NHL live upwind .

I am sure Struds has heard opinions before,maybe we need an App here that lets people vote posts off a thread when they are found to be unsuitable,a self-moderateing forum maybe??

Listen I pump a hockey system that I created and i catch a lot of weak kneed group flogging from weasels who sniff blood and come crawling over for a little gang banging,and personally I am sick of it,so let er go already,the guy didnt dissect a career he voiced a contrarian opinion in this environment,and that was it,so break it up and remember we dont need to swarn anyone until we see a cry for help ,Struds didnt even flinch so why waste so much energy ,fight that group mob mentality,it is rampant online and it makes forums like schoolyards,if someone posts a short baseless comment by what measure do you all see a need to respond??Why not simply post something that supports your opinion that is contrary to the post and call it a day,who gave anyone the right to swim over and start opening up the big guns??

The visual here is Struds holding back Linus Omark by the top of his head with one hand and laughing,this is the same dynamic as this posts effect on Strudwick.

By the way anyone ever heard of the NHS??Juuuust kidding,ha ha ha that always draws fire away from whoever was takeing it earlier.

Now that I have been here for a bit I feel a little feisty to,there is a broken record lip service specialist here pretending to protect the faith like a true Jeckyl and Hyde,you know who you are little weasel we will meet again on another post,I wont slag you on an unrelated post-that is classless- but you really are something and a regular to boot,the NHS remembers you and your baseless lippy comments which spoke volumes about your actual hockey acumen,a distinct lack of technical or solid rebuttal means you are what is called lippy,it takes a little substance to make a proper reply,tweet tweet.Kind of like the guy who tried to cut Struds,the word Weasel comes to mind and suddenly I see Gary Bettmen with a goatee for some reason.

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#48 Gazmort
August 17 2012, 09:01AM
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@DSF

I'm genuinely curious to know whether you think the Oilers do anything right. Honestly. I can't claim to have ready every comment you've ever made, but between Oilersnation and Lowetide'site, it seems that your comments are never supportive of anything that the Oilers organization does. That's fine, and your arguments seem to be more well crafted than most, but the perpetual "shoulda, woulda, coulda" without recognizing positive things in the organization does affect your credibility.

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#49 Gazmort
August 17 2012, 09:11AM
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@longbottom/P.Biglow

Classy response, longbottom. I don't see anything wrong with what you've said. You're right, Strudwick has 600+ NHL games under his belt. So while I, and everyone else here, think that they know the game and how best to run franchises, the reality is that any person on this site would struggle to even reach the level of ineptitude that Mike Milbury showed as a GM.

This is verging on Brownlee crustiness, but people who rip on players here would never, ever say it to those player's faces. Never. Need to thrash and be uber-clever at your keyboard? Rock n' rolla!

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#50 Muller
August 17 2012, 04:44PM
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Mike Milbury story. Ken Morrow was up in Terrace hockeyville 2009,he told a friend of mine how much him and the other scouts for the Islanders hated Milbury, saying they would scout out players for years and Mike would trade them away before they developed.

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