LOCKOUT: GOOD FOR THE OILERS?

Jason Gregor
September 10 2012 12:04PM

Could a lockout actually help the Oilers?

The thought of no NHL hockey, especially when they are fighting over billions of dollars, makes everyone's stomach turn, but the Oilers could be one of the few franchises that benefits from a delayed start of the 2012/2013 season.

The Oilers can only improve after seasons of 30th, 30th and 29th place finishes. They have a lot of young players, and they still have a lot of holes to fill before they are a legitimate contender. The good news is the foundation for the future is firmly in place led by Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Nail Yakupov will likely join that group and the Oilers are hoping that Justin Schultz, Devan Dubnyk, Oskar Klefbom and Magnus Paajarvi will emerge as key pieces as well, but the Oilers aren't a Cup contender this year and that is why the only positive of a potential lockout is that it could help the overall development of their franchise.

BIGGEST BENEFACTORS

Getting six weeks in the AHL would make J. Schultz's jump to the NHL from the NCAA much easier. He's played against 18-21 year-old college kids the past few years, so getting his feet wet in the AHL against men while the rest of the NHL had their feet up would be a huge bonus for the former 2nd round pick.

His hockey sense is NHL-ready, but the speed of the game and reaction time in the NHL is much quicker than NCAA. I don't think any player on the Oilers would benefit more from an abbreviated lockout than J. Schultz.

KIDS NEED TO PLAY

It is obvious that Eberle can play and produce in the NHL, but if your best scorers are playing rather than just practicing when the season finally does start they will have a head start on the competition. No other team in the league will rely on their young kids to lead them offensively as the Oilers will this coming season.

If Eberle and RNH are down in OKC scoring points and sharpening their game it will only help the Oilers in a shorter season.

Teemu Hartikainen and/or Magnus Paajarvi would likely get to play alongside Eberle and RNH. It would give both a boost of confidence and they could form some chemistry as a trio.

If the Oilers are eventually going to become a contender they will guys like Hartikainen, Paajarvi, Anton Lander and others to become solid, reliable support players. If they get six weeks of practicing and playing with two of the NHL's brightest young offensive stars it can only help them and it should make the Oilers organization stronger.

WHAT ABOUT HALL?

Hall underwent shoulder surgery in early April with a timeline of six months to recover. He's feeling good and told me last week that he expects to be ready for opening night, October 13th. Players always expect to be ready, and I'm not saying Hall won't be ready, but a few extra weeks of rest won't hurt him.

I'd rather have Hall continue his rehab and strengthen his shoulder than play in OKC. A little extra rest should make his shoulder stronger and hopefully lessen the chance of him re-aggravating it. I'm sure his agent might agree considering Hall will get his NHL salary even if there is a lockout because he is injured.

ANY NEGATIVES?

I'm sure someone will suggest the injury factor, but during the 2004/2005 lockout Jason Spezza, Mike Cammalleri, Eric Staal, Cam Ward and other young NHL stars played, and dominated in the Amercan League. Spezza and Cammalleri both had 100+ points.

Players need to play and it won't do Eberle, J.Schultz and RNH any good just practicing.

I also wouldn't worry that Eberle and company would take away icetime from other young players in the AHL. Realistically, which forwards other than Lander, Paajarvi, Hartikainen and Tyler Pitlick do you see in the Oilers future soon? Maybe Hamilton?

On the backend, J.Schultz needs to play and his icetime won't impact the long-term development of any prospect.

A "WHAT IF" NO ONE WANTS

Let me be clear, a lockout is good for no one, but on the odd chance the NHL and the NHLPA can't come to an agreement the Oilers should benefit from an abbreviated lockout.

They are still in the development stage of their rebuild, and having their young stars playing is the best option.

Letting Eberle and RNH play with some of the other young players in the organization can only improve the overall depth of the organization.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 Wanyes bastard child
September 10 2012, 12:27PM
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So basically they are just toying with my emotions :(

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#2 David S
September 10 2012, 02:49PM
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Well at least that guy could start his posts with "Barons domination to follow" and be reasonably assured that's exactly what will happen.

Yeah OK. I got nothing.

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#3 The Soup Fascist
September 10 2012, 04:03PM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

Hold on, I have an even better idea. CBC can show old reruns of 'Razzledazzle' with Howard the Turtle and a rather slutty Trudy Young. Anyone old enough to remember that show? Ramble on.

Seriously, if hockey doesn't start on schedule I am going to be an even bigger pain in the butt than usual. Already the clowns I work with avoid me like pink-eye. Please for the sake of everyone, Bettman and Fehr... smarten up and get it done.

What kind of Canadian are you, Reg? Has to be classic Beachcombers episodes. If old Relic were around today I would give him Shanny's job. Relic dolling out suspensions would be EPIC!

Only thing I remember Trudy Young from was a couple of terrible Canadian movies and the show with the St. Bernard. Possibly the worst TV show ever made. In the early 1970s CTV may have been the lowest budget network outside of the third world.

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#4 Reg Dunlop
September 10 2012, 01:13PM
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Hold on, I have an even better idea. CBC can show old reruns of 'Razzledazzle' with Howard the Turtle and a rather slutty Trudy Young. Anyone old enough to remember that show? Ramble on.

Seriously, if hockey doesn't start on schedule I am going to be an even bigger pain in the butt than usual. Already the clowns I work with avoid me like pink-eye. Please for the sake of everyone, Bettman and Fehr... smarten up and get it done.

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#6 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
September 10 2012, 12:08PM
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Yesss! Reserved.

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#7 Wanyes bastard child
September 10 2012, 12:15PM
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I heard on the radio this morning that the players are willing to play even if a deal hasn't been reached yet.

Would that work?

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#8 craig1981
September 10 2012, 12:19PM
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I have also thought if the entire season was lost (I really hope not) the Oilers would get an extra year before all the young players contracts expire. Plus the odds of getting the 1st or 2nd overall might be higher than if the play this year.

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#9 freeze
September 10 2012, 12:21PM
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Wanyes bastard child wrote:

I heard on the radio this morning that the players are willing to play even if a deal hasn't been reached yet.

Would that work?

The owners have already stated (via Bettman) that they won't continue under the current agreement.

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#10 Senator Theo
September 10 2012, 12:23PM
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@Wanyes bastard child

If the NHL let them play, it would destroy any leverage they have over the players - what pressure is there on the NHLPA if everyone is still collecting paychecks?

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#11 glenn Schwarz
September 10 2012, 12:24PM
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Great article but it doesn't matter there's a deal in place Bettman and Fehr have agreed to keep it secret until 11:59 of the 14th just can't let all this press get away until they need to announce the new deal. Why else are there no talks planned shhh already have the deal done.

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#12 craig1981
September 10 2012, 12:24PM
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Wanyes bastard child wrote:

I heard on the radio this morning that the players are willing to play even if a deal hasn't been reached yet.

Would that work?

For the NHLPA it would. I think Bettman's biggest chip is knowing that older players and bottom line players with bottom dollar contracts, really don't want to miss time. If the NHL lets them play they lose with advantage. Does my logic hold water?

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#13 Smokey
September 10 2012, 12:30PM
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Sounds like the Montreal Canadians will be playing, they can't be locked out...

http://www.montrealgazette.com/sports/Dave+Stubbs+Players+union+looks+labour+laws+block+lockout/7215111/story.html

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#14 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
September 10 2012, 12:36PM
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Originally i was hoping for the whole season to be wiped out, but knowing the Oilers would be penalized a ball in the drum for each of the last two first overalls, it wouldn't help secure another lotto pick. They'll have to earn it the old fashioned way, a lock out won't help the Oilers going into the next entry draft.

Thank goodness for the 3 nights a week NFL and MLB playoffs.

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#15 Clangger
September 10 2012, 12:36PM
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Smokey wrote:

Sounds like the Montreal Canadians will be playing, they can't be locked out...

http://www.montrealgazette.com/sports/Dave+Stubbs+Players+union+looks+labour+laws+block+lockout/7215111/story.html

Apparently, Flames and Oilers are in a similar situation as Montreal. Sorry, don't have a link to the article, but I read it this morning.

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#16 madjam
September 10 2012, 12:43PM
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A prolonged layoff will be of little value to anyone . If Oilers retain nbr.1 draft for next year then we would benefit immensely . Would maybe also drop Horcoff one year of length and cost of his contract . However , both are unlikely to happen . At least we still have the Oil Kings . KHL has a window of opportunity here, and they will probably seize it, and wisk away many players on more of a permanent note . Long term (5 years) for rookies pay could make KHL a monetary gem for draftees - WAR ON DRAFTEES ?

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#17 Reg Dunlop
September 10 2012, 12:58PM
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Look at the bright side. The inevitable lock-out means CBC has to fill 6 hours of saturday prime time. Will they replay old games like last lock-out? Nothing better than watching a bunch of guys on butter knives with long sideburns who can't skate backwards. I grew up watching Bill White and Carl Brewer and my memory has them dancing on their blades but the video reality is that they were BRUTAL compared to today's stars. Maybe CBC will just show re-runs of Jr Forest Rangers. Kathy was hot and Joe Two Rivers had a killer fringed jacket. Or maybe air 'The Rowdyman' with Gorden Pinsent goin to Toronto lookin for a job. Ramble on Reg.

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#18 justDOit
September 10 2012, 01:22PM
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Pros:

- The more time that the Oilers spend tied for first overall in the league, the better. That won't happen if/when the games are actually played.

- Can't get injured if you're not playing (Yakupov - back AWAY from the treadmill).

- Burning a year off of the dreaded Horc and Khabby contracts.

Cons:

- Have to wait to see how Feaster's latest experiment in Cowtown turns out.

- Burning a year off of ELC's of Hall, Ebs, RNH and others.

- Gotta find another excuse to drink beer. NFL, NBA and MLB don't mean anything to me.

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#19 Sanaa Montana
September 10 2012, 01:24PM
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The lockout is not good for the Oilers.

The Oilers cant make money if there is no season, and losing money is not good for anyone-just ask the PA.;-')

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#20 craig1981
September 10 2012, 01:40PM
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justDOit wrote:

Pros:

- The more time that the Oilers spend tied for first overall in the league, the better. That won't happen if/when the games are actually played.

- Can't get injured if you're not playing (Yakupov - back AWAY from the treadmill).

- Burning a year off of the dreaded Horc and Khabby contracts.

Cons:

- Have to wait to see how Feaster's latest experiment in Cowtown turns out.

- Burning a year off of ELC's of Hall, Ebs, RNH and others.

- Gotta find another excuse to drink beer. NFL, NBA and MLB don't mean anything to me.

If the season is cancelled then the contracts are brought the forward. You won't burn a year on the ELCs or lose a year on Horcoff or Khabby's

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#21 striatic
September 10 2012, 01:55PM
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a shortened season would reduce the sample size of games and potentially benefit the statistically weaker teams - like the oilers.

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#22 Oil Dude
September 10 2012, 01:57PM
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Wanyes bastard child wrote:

I heard on the radio this morning that the players are willing to play even if a deal hasn't been reached yet.

Would that work?

Fehr pulled this stunt when he was involved with the MLB union , the players went on strike right before the playoffs could start.

If the NHL let them do this they would be making themselves look really vunerable. Imagine if they let them play and right before say the Winter Classic the players decide that is enough and go on strike right before game time?

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#23 Dave
September 10 2012, 02:07PM
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craig1981 wrote:

If the season is cancelled then the contracts are brought the forward. You won't burn a year on the ELCs or lose a year on Horcoff or Khabby's

Exactly Craig, if you look at it from this vantage point it would be a negative as the Oilers would be stuck with Sutton, Khabby for one more year (their deals expire this year) and perhaps Whitney (if he stays injured). I don't think Horcoff is going anywhere ever but losing those 3 guys for next season opens up around $9 mill. Of course, if Whitney returns to old form we would have to sign him and take a chunk out of that 9.

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#24 oilerman1000
September 10 2012, 02:23PM
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Hey Gregor....what happends to next years draft if we lose the entire season like what happened in 2004? Will the oilers remain in the #1 position in next years draft like what happened to pittsburgh when they won the Crosby sweepstakes? Can you imagine having Seth Jones or Nathan Mackinnon falling into our lap to go with the a year of the young kids improving! The lockout could be the best thing to ever happen to the oilers!

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#25 RexLibris
September 10 2012, 02:39PM
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My take on this was that it all depended on how heavily each team was leveraged in a particular direction.

For instance, the Oilers are have most of their assets in the developmental stages and so more time to develop gives the franchise a greater net benefit over the loss of ELCs or the aging of a veteran support group.

(If the contracts burn a year without play then Khabibulin, Sutton and others are that much further out the door while the lack of any playing numbers could decrease some of the potential salary demands for Nugent-Hopkins' second contract)

Other teams, say the Calgary Flames for example, who are heavily leveraged in the present through an aging core with rapidly expiring contracts, could be facing a disaster if they fail to capitalize on their immediate investments while not having enough developing talent to provide any significant benefit to a prolonged work stoppage.

Imagine what position the Flames would be in if they were faced with a two week window to sign Iginla before he went to free agency. It would be an opportunity for significant long-term errors.

The Oilers are one of the few teams who could actually emerge from a lockout all the stronger for it. The Flames are one of the many that it could cripple.

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#26 RexLibris
September 10 2012, 02:47PM
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oilerman1000 wrote:

Hey Gregor....what happends to next years draft if we lose the entire season like what happened in 2004? Will the oilers remain in the #1 position in next years draft like what happened to pittsburgh when they won the Crosby sweepstakes? Can you imagine having Seth Jones or Nathan Mackinnon falling into our lap to go with the a year of the young kids improving! The lockout could be the best thing to ever happen to the oilers!

The way the 2005 draft went, teams that had missed the playoffs for three years had three balls in the hopper, minus one for each 1st overall pick they had had in that same time to a maximum debit of two. In other words, if the season were cancelled, and the lottery done all over again as it was in 2005, then the Oilers would be as likely to win 1st overall as the Kings and Flyers.

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#27 Smokey
September 10 2012, 03:21PM
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Oil Dude wrote:

Fehr pulled this stunt when he was involved with the MLB union , the players went on strike right before the playoffs could start.

If the NHL let them do this they would be making themselves look really vunerable. Imagine if they let them play and right before say the Winter Classic the players decide that is enough and go on strike right before game time?

Waynes Bastard Child,

I imagine senarios were different. Why would the players go on strike, they would play under current CBA which is fine with them. They would not pull plug like the MLBPA

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#28 oilers2k14
September 10 2012, 03:59PM
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Maybe we will see Oilers, Flames, and Canadians all get early exhibition starts..

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#29 CaptainLander
September 10 2012, 04:08PM
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@Dave

Any idea of how this works for players on LTR, say Hall sits on the reserve for the whole year or part of the year still collecting the nhl paycheck. I assume this would also eat into his entry level deal, would it not?

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#30 vetinari
September 10 2012, 04:20PM
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RE: starting the season under the old CBA-- Bettman has said that this is not going to happen. From the owners' perspective, not only would this put money into the players' hands but it would also give them negotiating leverage as the season went on if they threatened strike action (at least 16 of 30 teams would be in playoff positions with a further 4-8 teams likely within striking distance-- thus, 20 or more owners would have a vested interested in seeing the season through to the end).

Also, remember when Fehr led the union for the baseball players' association and they went on strike near the end of the 1994 season when the Expos were at the top of the NL? Don't you think that he would love to play that card again?

RE: if the 2012-13 season is wiped out, what happens to the players' contracts for that year?-- during the last lock out, didn't they deem that year to be a year of service under the CBA? In other words, we would rid ourselves of the last year of Khabibulin's contract without actually paying him. Unfortunately, we would also burn the final years of Hall and Eberle's ELC.

RE: where to play the kids if the season is wiped out?-- either send the kids to the AHL or see if there is a European team willing to take a block of the kids (3-5 or so) to let them play together and get experience.

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#31 Dave
September 10 2012, 04:20PM
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CaptainLander wrote:

Any idea of how this works for players on LTR, say Hall sits on the reserve for the whole year or part of the year still collecting the nhl paycheck. I assume this would also eat into his entry level deal, would it not?

I'm not the expert on this topic. I was just going with the idea Craig posted earlier that if there are no games...no one loses contract time.

I'm sure there are better and more knowledgeable contract/lockout people on here that could help us out.

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#32 Jay Gray
September 10 2012, 04:33PM
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If Hall, Eberle, RNH and Schultz somehow all end up playing in OKC, screw the NHL…That's a championship team with those 4 leading the charge. I'd watch…only problem would be coverage. Is it even possible to catch every game? Do they show them online or anything.

But please, don't lock out…..I need you *sniff*

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#33 Seaward
September 10 2012, 04:47PM
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Another great read. Solid points for sure, Jason.

Side note - Apparently someone who REALLY might utilize/benefit from some extra time off with a lockout might be Big Buff.

Bigger Buff? Wow.

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/dustin-byfuglien-apparently-not-locked-refrigerator-summer-photo-053111390--nhl.html?ugccmtnav=v1%2Fcomments%2Fcontext%2F0d7698f0-e791-3de1-bce1-44fad8647939%2Fcomments%3Fcount%3D20%26sortBy%3Dlatest

P.S. - Thanks for the decals, Wanye (and everyone at ON!!!!)

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#34 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
September 10 2012, 05:37PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

What kind of Canadian are you, Reg? Has to be classic Beachcombers episodes. If old Relic were around today I would give him Shanny's job. Relic dolling out suspensions would be EPIC!

Only thing I remember Trudy Young from was a couple of terrible Canadian movies and the show with the St. Bernard. Possibly the worst TV show ever made. In the early 1970s CTV may have been the lowest budget network outside of the third world.

PROPS alone for the Relic reset. That would be a classic.

and I HATED that St. Bernard show(what was the name of that waste of 60 mins?)

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#35 Czar
September 10 2012, 06:00PM
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I believe your referring to George and I must agree!!

How about Howie Meeker's Hockey school? The youngsters could benefit from some good old hockey knowledge!

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#36 6 ring circus
September 10 2012, 06:07PM
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Look at all that talent we have!!!! And Gregor forgot to mention Yakopov ,that's how many potential starts we have .Calgary is hoping for the lock out to last at least five Years, they might be able to put a half decent team together by then.I cant wait for the season to start, should be exiting watching all these Oiler's.

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#37 The Real Scuba Steve
September 10 2012, 06:31PM
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Worked last time, but for 1 season only, who really knows when your in a rebuild.

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#38 The Real Scuba Steve
September 10 2012, 06:43PM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

Look at the bright side. The inevitable lock-out means CBC has to fill 6 hours of saturday prime time. Will they replay old games like last lock-out? Nothing better than watching a bunch of guys on butter knives with long sideburns who can't skate backwards. I grew up watching Bill White and Carl Brewer and my memory has them dancing on their blades but the video reality is that they were BRUTAL compared to today's stars. Maybe CBC will just show re-runs of Jr Forest Rangers. Kathy was hot and Joe Two Rivers had a killer fringed jacket. Or maybe air 'The Rowdyman' with Gorden Pinsent goin to Toronto lookin for a job. Ramble on Reg.

Maybe we will see old Kevin Lowe games when he played and actually helped the Oilers instead of running it into the ground. I still can't believe we still are one of the worst teams since the last lockout, we will always be a small market team no matter what happens down the road.

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#39 Spydyr
September 10 2012, 07:04PM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

Look at the bright side. The inevitable lock-out means CBC has to fill 6 hours of saturday prime time. Will they replay old games like last lock-out? Nothing better than watching a bunch of guys on butter knives with long sideburns who can't skate backwards. I grew up watching Bill White and Carl Brewer and my memory has them dancing on their blades but the video reality is that they were BRUTAL compared to today's stars. Maybe CBC will just show re-runs of Jr Forest Rangers. Kathy was hot and Joe Two Rivers had a killer fringed jacket. Or maybe air 'The Rowdyman' with Gorden Pinsent goin to Toronto lookin for a job. Ramble on Reg.

Play every Stanley Cup deciding game.Start with last years and work back in time.

Who am I kidding it is CBC we will probably get A Tommy Hunter marathon.

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#40 Wanyes bastard child
September 10 2012, 07:09PM
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People still watch the CBC?

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#41 Spydyr
September 10 2012, 07:13PM
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Wanyes bastard child wrote:

People still watch the CBC?

Where else are we going to see Wayne and Shuster re-runs.

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#42 Pouzar99
September 10 2012, 07:18PM
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As pointed out above it would make no sense for the players to strike if they played under the old CBA while negotiations continued because they would extend it unchanged for the next 10 years in a New York minute. The owners would have no leverage over the players that way, however, which is why they won't and didn't accept the NHLPA offer.

A two-month lockout would give Hall's shoulder more time to heal, J Schultz and Yak time to transition to pro hockey, and Paajarvi and Hartikainen more development time to prepare them to fight for roster spots over Petrell and company.

The idea of a lost year and a draft lottery in which we have one ball in the hopper and the Flames have three does not appeal!!

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#43 The Soup Fascist
September 10 2012, 09:53PM
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Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate wrote:

PROPS alone for the Relic reset. That would be a classic.

and I HATED that St. Bernard show(what was the name of that waste of 60 mins?)

GEORGE. It was only 30 mins but seemed like 60. Gotta admit I watched it at as kid. Brutal show.

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#44 Dog Train
September 10 2012, 10:20PM
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I have kind of resigned to the fact that hockey likely won't start until at least mid November. Hope I'm wrong but if not, I hope that Sportsnet and TSN pick up some AHL and CHL hockey coverage.

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#45 dougtheslug
September 10 2012, 10:36PM
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I keep reading that it will be a short lockout because the owners can't afford to lose the network money from the Winter Classic. But doesn't that mean that if the lockout lasts until December, the leverage shifts back to the NHLPA? Can't they refuse to go back to work and squeeze the owners as the deadline for the Winter Classic approaches? It seems to me if the owners don't settle they are painting themselves into a corner and handing all the trump cards back to the players.

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#46 Devolution
September 11 2012, 12:51AM
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Czar wrote:

I believe your referring to George and I must agree!!

How about Howie Meeker's Hockey school? The youngsters could benefit from some good old hockey knowledge!

Like a hoop around a barrel!

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#47 RMGS
September 11 2012, 09:28AM
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Jason's assuming that a lot of top-end Oilers will play in OKC. What changes if some opt for the top Swiss and Finnish leagues (Yakupov will very likely play in the KHL, the world's second-best league)? Edmonton's best players happen to be youngsters with no need to worry about the wife and kids. Under the circumstances, European adventures surely trump minor league bus rides, no?

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#48 gcw_rocks
September 11 2012, 09:47AM
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If the kids play less than 40 NHL games this season, it also delays free agency for them, ala Shea Weber

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#49 RexLibris
September 11 2012, 09:52AM
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Spydyr wrote:

Where else are we going to see Wayne and Shuster re-runs.

Just buy the box set.

http://www.cbcshop.ca/dvds/comedy/wayne-shuster-50-years-of-comedy-dvd-english.html

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