DEEP THOUGHTS XXIV: TIES THAT BIND

Robin Brownlee
August 03 2012 08:49AM

Edmonton Oilers

Craig MacTavish has the title of vice-president of hockey operations in his third go-round with the Edmonton Oilers. I don't think it'll be more than a season or two until he's general manager, and I'm betting he'll be good at it.

I can't put my finger on an exact over/under as to when the former Oiler captain and coach, hired this summer to work alongside president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, will take over from current boss Steve Tambellini, but I see it happening. I don't have any inside information on this, it's just a gut-feeling. I'm guessing I'm not alone.

I know Tambellini just got a contract extension – we haven't been told what the term is – but I can see one more season out of the playoffs, which is more of a probability than a possibility, being enough to trigger a shuffle at the top with Tambellini moving out and MacT moving in.

For me, this isn't so much a dump-on-Tambellini bit, which is like shooting fish in a barrel around here, as it is recognition of ties that bind, and those ties between the Oilers and MacTavish, starting with owner Daryl Katz and Lowe at the very top of the food chain, are undeniable.

HISTORY

As far back as their playing days with the Oilers and the New York Rangers, Lowe and MacTavish shared what-ifs about what it might be like to coach and manage a team together. They've already done that, of course, but my sense is there's an encore coming.

Even if the Oilers show substantial improvement this year and push for a playoff spot, which seems more than reasonable, under Tambellini, I think it'll play out that MacTavish will be calling the shots, in tandem with Lowe, by the time the Oilers are actually back in the playoffs. What, 2013-14?

Tambellini is an outsider and the history of this organization – the Once an Oiler, always an Oiler mantra – suggests that'll always be the case. Outsiders, be it Pat Quinn, Tom Renney, Scott Howson, Rob Daum or Ralph Krueger, come and go. Insiders, like Lowe, MacTavish, Kelly Buchberger and Steve Smith, come and go, then come back again. That's how it goes.

MacT as GM? It's a matter of time.

TIME TO MOW THE LAWN AGAIN

Aside from the NHL and NHLPA settling into to hammer out a new CBA, which is obviously no small matter, there is precious little else going on around the hockey world. One need only look at the headlines on national websites like TSN and Sportsnet to see that.

. . . "Owen Nolan to host fishing, hunting show" I'd rather watch Steve MacIntyre host a show about hunting bears with nothing but his bare hands.

. . . "Canucks' Malhotra to participate in Vancouver pride parade" Political statement or does Malhotra have something to tell us?

. . . "Jets promote Simmons to assistant GM" Now, if we're talking Gene Simmons or Richard Simmons, you've got a news item. Sadly, no. The Jets have promoted Larry Simmons. You know, Larry Simmons, right?

. . . "Report: Tiger's ex-wife dating San Jose Shark" Apparently, Elin Nordegren is boffing Sharks defenseman Douglas Murray. Glad to see Elin tearing it up a bit after bashing in Tiger's teeth with a three-iron (she must have liked the look).

BRAVE NEW WORLD

I think it's time NHL teams accept that non-MSM bloggers are here to stay and start issuing them press credentials and granting access to players.

"Hey, Darcy, I'm doing a story on goons and knuckle-draggers and I'd like to talk to you . . ." Or "Taylor, I think the Oilers made a big mistake burning the first year of your ELC in 2010-11 and I'd like your thoughts on the big picture I'm painting here . . ." Or "Nuge, screw the boxcars and PPG, your QUALCOMP/real Corsi/something something numbers prove beyond a doubt Gabriel Landeskog deserved the Calder Trophy. Whaddaya say?"

Move aside, spineless MSM fartcatchers. Now the tough questions can be asked and the truth finally be told. I'd pay to see it.

PARTING THOUGHTS

. . . The Bronte 5000 pegs Jordan Eberle at 29-38-67 for 2012-13. And yes, the software has been updated since I had everybody on the Edmonton roster except Laddy Smid scoring 40 points in the Lucky 13 Pool two seasons ago.

. . . Buchberger has been an assistant coach through the tenures of MacTavish, Quinn and Renney. Now, he'll ride shotgun for Krueger. To borrow from an infamous text message, "Bucky isn’t going anywhere."

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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#51 Mike
August 03 2012, 10:11AM
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'. . "Canucks' Malhotra to participate in Vancouver pride parade" Political statement or does Malhotra have something to tell us?'

LOL. I bet he's gay. Oh good one Robin. I hope you starting doing fart jokes soon too!

With this sort of high quality writing among non-MSM bloggers how can the NHL not give you guys credentials and access to players?

Leave the jokes to Wayne. He is a comedic genius and should be given anything he wants.

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#53 BlacqueJacque
August 03 2012, 10:14AM
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Stack Pad Save wrote:

I am pretty sure that what you just wrote is the exact point Brownlee was trying to make by saying he would pay to see bloggers ask the"hardball" questions. I don't think he felt the need to spell it out in as as much detail as you did.

*whooooooooooooooosh*

Robin's point just went way over my head.

Good catch.

Apologies, Robin.

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#54 OilDieHard
August 03 2012, 10:15AM
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i would have no problem seeing MacT for one year as a head coach here again when Kruger falls flat on his face and we're a lotto team again....then firing Tambo when his contract is up and hiring MacT as the new GM. no problem at all!!

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#55 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
August 03 2012, 10:15AM
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Stack Pad Save wrote:

I could be mistaken but I believe the same thing happened with the GM's for Pittsburgh and Chicago with the GM who got all the draft picks and selected well was not the GM in the season they won their cups. It makes sense, incompetent GM creates a bad team, lucks out at the draft, or by shear impossibility of failing by having so many opportunities to draft high restocks the shelves. Owner then goes and fires incompetent GM and replaces him with a person that knows what they are doing and that GM makes good decisions to help win a cup.

In PIT and CHI case it didn't matter who the GM was they had incompetent ownership that couldn't or wouldn't pay the price to dress a competitive team.

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#56 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 03 2012, 10:17AM
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gcw_rocks wrote:

Handing the reigns to MacT will be a disaster. What this team needs is a fresh perpsective, which can only be acheived by punting the entire management team. KLowe has been in charge through this whole process and its been a disaster. Tambo only knows player development systems, cause that's what he did in Vancouver. Other than that, the guy has zero origonal ideas to go with Lowe's bad ones. So, why would we think bringing in a guy who thinks like Lowe is going to improve things?

Naive to the extreme or spent WAY too much time drinking the boys on the bus brand kool-aid.

What would make you think MacT thinks like Lowe?

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#57 LoDog
August 03 2012, 10:20AM
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Don't see MacT being GM. It is a management group, changing his title means nothing.

And no to bloggers getting credentials. It will never happen but if it did, my god it would end badly. I can just imagine the questions Douchy McDouchebag would ask and then get punched in the face.

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#58 TeddyTurnbuckle
August 03 2012, 10:21AM
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No joke about the Canucks is inappropriate. I think Mac T may be GM some day but I don't think it should be for a few years. He needs a little seasoning in management first to avoid any rookie mistakes. I'm a huge Mac T fan and think he is one of the best quotes in the game. He doesn't take any crap and he keeps all the media guys inline. I also don't mind Tambo either. He brings a ton of management experience, takes a beating from the fans in Edmonton and doesn't waiver from the rebuild plan. At the end of the day he brought in Hall, Nuge and Yakupov and Shultz. Another GM may have tried to speed up the rebuild and dealt a 1st round pick so lets give Tambo some credit. Finishing last isn't as easy as everyone thinks. That being said he does need to make a trade to round out this team this summer.

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#59 Westcoastoil
August 03 2012, 10:32AM
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Isn't the most important question here who is the beautiful lady?

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#60 Eastern Oil
August 03 2012, 10:34AM
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@ Mike

As Robin said, and I apologize if I am making the wrong assumption, it was not meant to be a joke. Both a political statement and/or a personal stand should be respected and applauded.

Robin Brownlee:

"It is 2012 but the fact no active NHL player -- from a group that numbers 700 or so in any given season -- has come out says something about the hockey/sporting world as a whole".

It will be very hard ground to break when it does happen.

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#61 -30-
August 03 2012, 10:34AM
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@ Robin, so true about MSM fart catchers. We know who they are in this city. They NEVER ask the hard questions for fear of being shut out. Whether it be Eskimo stories or Oilers, the sycophants make it difficult for ever other earnest newshound.

Local MSM aren't that bad but there are a few columnists that are an embarrassment to the profession.

Let's get back to the days of Cam Cole fearlessly going into the Esks dressing room and facing Dan Kepley. That takes balls.

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#62 Dave
August 03 2012, 10:41AM
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"You are being heavy handed. There is no joke and there is no punchline. Like you, I don't care if Malhotra is gay or not. Doesn't matter a bit.

Then be professional and don't say it in the first place. It was as inappropriate as subtle inuendos about race, religion, or... handicaps. I wonder if that would be published as quickly, sir?

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#63 Halfwise
August 03 2012, 10:54AM
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Westcoastoil wrote:

Isn't the most important question here who is the beautiful lady?

Right click on any photo, then hit "save picture as" and read the filename. In this case you will find it is the same person mentioned 5 paragraphs later in the article.

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#64 Pouzar99
August 03 2012, 11:04AM
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I said I didn't want to make a huge issue out of this and I don't. If Robin wants to claim he wasn't making a joke about Malhotra's sexual orientation that is fine with me. Lets just say it wasn't well expressed and agree that there is a line here and we agree not to cross it. And now back to hockey.

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#65 Quicksilver ballet
August 03 2012, 11:12AM
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Speaking of lawns, here's a fine cost effective how to demo...

http://youtu.be/bz3DOYHzUIk

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#66 The Fish
August 03 2012, 11:15AM
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. "Canucks' Malhotra to participate in Vancouver pride parade" Political statement or does Malhotra have something to tell us?

Stupidest comment ever.

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#67 Ales Hallsky
August 03 2012, 11:31AM
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Ties that bind? Or Ties that BLIND?

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#68 WheresYourTowel
August 03 2012, 11:39AM
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IMPORTANT, READ FIRST: I applaud all the NHLers who are taking part in the You Can Play project and attending gay pride events. What follows has nothing to do with my personal opinion on gay marriage which, for the record, I am in favor of.

Has anyone seen any comments telling Malhotra to "shut up and play hockey" like we did following Tim Thomas's statements regarding Chick-Fil-A? Everything I have seen directed to Malhotra with regard to this "story" has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive.

Why is it that Tim Thomas needs to "shut up and play hockey" according to so many while Malhotra is praised? I understand the difference between championing positive social change and spreading bigotry. I have to admit that personally I think Thomas is dead wrong and admire Malhotra's actions especially considering his profession.

I'm don't think that Thomas should keep his mouth shut because he's a hockey player and it's not his place. I think he should keep his mouth shut because I think his opinion is idiotic. I just came to this realization and I'm not really sure I like what it says about me.

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#69 Stack Pad Save
August 03 2012, 11:44AM
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The Fish wrote:

. "Canucks' Malhotra to participate in Vancouver pride parade" Political statement or does Malhotra have something to tell us?

Stupidest comment ever.

Stupidest comment ever is a bit of a hyperbole, but speculating on a hockey blog about someone's sexual orientation only allows for the website to momentarily bring it down to a level on par with TMZ.

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#70 Mike
August 03 2012, 12:09PM
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@Robin Brownlee

Exactly, you're a journalist, and people expect, or at least used to expect, more from your field than making comments that could be taken from youtube's commentary section.

I have no idea why you thought questioning Malhotra's sexuality would be something to comment on because he was attending a parade. It might be generational thing,I don't know. I'm sure the similar things were being said about other people who put their necks out to support other disadvantaged groups during the 50's and 60's.

I guess it's my fault for being an elitist and still holding the fourth estate to a higher standard than the ramblings of the general public.

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#71 madjam
August 03 2012, 12:24PM
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Sounds like a "lame duck " Gm to me . If they can not form a decent base around all the elite talent we have here they should all go .

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#72 Dave
August 03 2012, 12:28PM
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No, this has to do with clear, concise journalism that upholds a professional standard. That is what separates professional writers from all else. RB failed at this in this article. Once a professional, always expected to retain that level of professionalism... regardless what you do. If you want to slough off that standard it is incumbant upon you to ensure you are either not commenting/involved in your professional area or are doing so behind very closed doors with those you trust.

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#73 george99
August 03 2012, 12:29PM
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I find it refreshing that Malholtra took a stand whether it be political or lending moral support for Brian Burke - or simply, for a cause. Players typically tow the party line - choosing instead to zip their lips and remain silent on any issue. I like someone - anyone - who stands up for what they believe in and shows their face in the process. Who cares what Malholtra's reasons were for walking in the parade. Far too easy for a few of you out there to cast judgement on someone while in the comfy and faceless confines of your virtual home.

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#74 Guggenheim
August 03 2012, 12:38PM
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"she must have liked the look"

Robin, that's terrific. Thanks for the laugh.

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#75 DieHard
August 03 2012, 12:44PM
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The Fish wrote:

. "Canucks' Malhotra to participate in Vancouver pride parade" Political statement or does Malhotra have something to tell us?

Stupidest comment ever.

I believe the LGBT community have the same sense of humor as everyone else (in that some people have one and some don't). You don't.

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#76 Rama Lama
August 03 2012, 12:44PM
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I can just see Katz's saying to Lowe, " does Tamby ever answer a question"?

I'm with your gut feeling RB.........Tamby is as good as gone. Can't wait for that day.

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#77 Jimbo
August 03 2012, 12:52PM
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Big fan Robin but it looks like you're just trying to spin your mistake and are being defensive.

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#78 Spydyr
August 03 2012, 12:54PM
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Some happy fun news here man those Canucks

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/sports/hockey/edmonton-oilers/Mark+Messier+wins+million+arbitration/7037440/story.html

Isn't Lowe's official title : VP in charge of talking about all things 1985?

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#79 Eddie Edmonton
August 03 2012, 01:50PM
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@Robin Brownlee

MacT won't replace ST.

You're forgetting about Coffey, Gretzky and Messier. Those boys will come back one day as well and will need positions in the Oilganization.

I can see Coffey as an assistant coach. One of Gretzky and Messier will be the coach and the other a GM.

Would Gretzky make a good GM? Would Messier make a good GM or a better coach?

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#80 Reality Check to the head
August 03 2012, 01:53PM
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Stack pad save wrote:

"I could be mistaken but I believe the same thing happened with the GM's for Pittsburgh and Chicago with the GM who got all the draft picks and selected well was not the GM in the season they won their cups. It makes sense, incompetent GM creates a bad team, lucks out at the draft, or by shear impossibility of failing by having so many opportunities to draft high restocks the shelves. Owner then goes and fires incompetent GM and replaces him with a person that knows what they are doing and that GM makes good decisions to help win a cup."

Then we should really be getting rid of Lowe then. I am not saying Tambo did not do a multitude of things wrong, but the ship started sinking badly before Tambo took over.

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#81 The Fish
August 03 2012, 01:58PM
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DieHard wrote:

I believe the LGBT community have the same sense of humor as everyone else (in that some people have one and some don't). You don't.

I am sure the LGBT community have the same sense of humor. I was merely pointing out that it was pedestrian humor in this case.

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#82 Cody anderson
August 03 2012, 02:14PM
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Mike wrote:

Exactly, you're a journalist, and people expect, or at least used to expect, more from your field than making comments that could be taken from youtube's commentary section.

I have no idea why you thought questioning Malhotra's sexuality would be something to comment on because he was attending a parade. It might be generational thing,I don't know. I'm sure the similar things were being said about other people who put their necks out to support other disadvantaged groups during the 50's and 60's.

I guess it's my fault for being an elitist and still holding the fourth estate to a higher standard than the ramblings of the general public.

Lighten up dude!

The second I read that Malhotra was attending the parade the first thought that popped into my head was "had he just came out of the closet?"

That is not gay bashing, that is an initial reaction. I then read the rest of that article and found out that he is doing it to support a friend and a cause.

You are probably right. I bet people asked if the 1st white person to join the Matin Luther King march was really black.

If you get offended by every joke, comment, or opinion that is different then yours, or that could potentially be taken in a way that could offend someone, then you are very likely to give yourself an aneurism.

The title of the article and the other examples of how slow the news is were funny and showed that this was a light non offensive comment.

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#83 Pouzar99
August 03 2012, 03:23PM
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@Cody anderson

Cody, is the first thing that crosses your mind when you read that Mayor Steven Mandel has marched in the gay parade yet again that he just came out of the closet?

This just in. Many, many of the people who march in the gay parade are NOT gay, not that that matters. It is a fun celebration and a statement of support for the LGBT community, who need our support.

I am not trying to hammer Robin, I'm just pointing out that these jokes are inappropriate and not funny, just as jokes about blacks and Jews and First Nations people are inappropriate. This is not about people being thin-skinned its about people being insensitive.

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#84 TikkTalk
August 03 2012, 03:56PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

Robin said it wasn't a joke.

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#85 2004Z06
August 03 2012, 04:20PM
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Ok Vetinari's comment was priceless. I suppose I shouldn't say that here. I might be offending interpretive dance afficionados.

Lighten up! Now I have a lawn to mow.....

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#86 TikkTalk
August 03 2012, 04:24PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

I don't know what you do to relax but I am here for hockey stuff, not jokes I literally used to make in junior high. If you're going to make bigoted statements be like CK Lewis and Chris Rock. Ironic.

This is why bloggers don't get access, no accountability for saying silly things.

i just hope this doesn't become a thing with Robin, I really enjoy his articles. It's like when Grandpa says something racist. WHY GRANDPA WHY! He's such a JEW!

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#87 R-DAWG
August 03 2012, 04:32PM
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@blue31

Did you misread my post Jason, or are you just being a dick on Positive Friday.?

BURN!!

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#88 DSF
August 03 2012, 04:40PM
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ubermiguel wrote:

What's with everyone reading Robin's comment as intolerant? I read it like he's just waiting for the first trailblazing openly gay NHL player, and it might be Malhotra, and that would be news-worthy. No insults, no gay-bashing, just wondering who the courageous individual is going to be.

Malhotra is married to Steve Nash's sister.

I doubt he is your man.

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#89 bazmagoo
August 03 2012, 05:58PM
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The pride parade is a massive day in Vancouver, with the entire community enjoying the fact that the city is civilized and tolerant of types of people.

Sadly, not something an Alberta redneck would understand.

Malholtra taking part just means he wants to be part of the overall community and make an appearance, as many straight people do every year.

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The Soup Fascist wrote:

Not directed specifically at you, but "tolerant" is a word I cannot stand. No matter one's race, gender or orientation what have they done that requires them to be "tolerated"?

I "tolerate" my kids fighting, my mother-in-law's visits and Canuck fans. If someone has to be "tolerant" of Blacks, Gays or any other person who has never committed an act against them - that says something about that individual, not the people being "tolerated".

Not a rant against you bazmagoo. Just that "tolerant" is a word I can't ... Well ... Tolerate.

Edit: BTW. Not sure if you are grouping all Albertans or people who disagree with you as Rednecks. That would be a bigoted and extremely ironic statement.

You just blew my mind dude! I had this same convo with some peeps a while ago. Props!

Just to try and lighten up the mood around here, I have a great knock knock joke for you. You have to start it though.

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#91 steelymac
August 03 2012, 07:18PM
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Yes Manny is in the parade.I believe he is driving the float with the two green guys on it.Not that there is anything wrong with that.Lighten up people.

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#92 The Real Scuba Steve
August 03 2012, 08:43PM
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Great, another idiot for another idiot. The old boys on the bus will probably run this team for a another generation.

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#93 Mitch
August 03 2012, 10:24PM
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Robin I think the same as you, MacT will one day wear the G.M. title. Would it be safe to say that MacT has more pull than Tambi right now?

As a G.M. in todays game I give thumbs up to Paul Holmgrem he is very active not scared of change looks like Philly will always be competitive.

I don't know that Edm can make the playoffs, I think they will put up better totals this coming yr but it may mean no playoffs.

I also feel Tambi would be a good set up man a background guy. MacT is a Oiler there is no doubt, the job should be his.

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#94 Dog Train
August 04 2012, 12:16AM
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Gotta love the dog days of summer.

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#95 voom04
August 04 2012, 12:28AM
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Notice how the bible thumpers have to get there 2bits in,I don`t c anything in the article that has 2 do with religion, no offence,just sayin

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#96 nunyour
August 04 2012, 10:09AM
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JDP wrote:

Santa Claus could be the next gm....regardless Kevin Lowe calls all the shots.

you are bang on, Kevin Lowe is the puppet master ,and Tambo is his sheild

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#97 The Fish
August 04 2012, 01:23PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

Thanks to The Fish and Pouzar 99 for pointing out to us lowly ON readers what is appropriate or what is funny.

Huge Will Ferrel fan. Very likely "pedestrian" to the highbrow crowd and certainly inappropriate (the "pole position"comment in Talladegha Nights is quite a shocker). I shall burn the DVDs (not many books to burn at my place) immediately.

This is a freakin hockey website that occasionally delves into beer, chicks and politically incorrect commments. Please get over yourselves.

You are so funny and smart and cool. Just because you defend Brownlee doesn't mean that he is going to be your best friend.

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#98 The Soup Fascist
August 04 2012, 02:34PM
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Brownlee doesn't need or I presume want me to defend him. And I have plenty of friends.

Relax pal. Maybe we should stick to hockey and not social commentary and avoid the drama. We are out of high school - right?

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#99 OutDoorRink
August 04 2012, 03:40PM
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Elin is amazingly hot and much too nice of a person to be knocking about with an old pro like Eldrick.

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#100 Wax Man Riley
August 04 2012, 11:35PM
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@Reality Check to the head

Then we should really be getting rid of Lowe then. I am not saying Tambo did not do a multitude of things wrong, but the ship started sinking badly before Tambo took over.

Ya!! What did Lowe ever do with this team when he had the title of GM?

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