MIND GAMES

Brian Sutherby
October 17 2013 11:42AM

Sitting at 1-5-1 many frustrated fans are left wondering why coaches and players around the team are now talking more about improvement and positive things when the results still aren’t there.

As a guy in my first month of watching Oiler games, I too have been very frustrated at times watching this squad and I haven’t been around for the last 7 years.

I get it.

FRUSTRATION MOUNTING

Many things need to be improved fast for this team to remain in contention and get to the level expected of them this season. One thing I can assure you is that no one is more frustrated than the coaching staff and players. Fans may disagree but losing is just awful for everyone.

As a player, sleeping after bad games is nearly impossible. You lay there replaying everything in your mind till all hours of the night. Few things are worse than having to watch video of horrible play after horrible play while the coach is ripping you in front of your peers.

There is nothing fun about answering the tough questions to the media or reading about how bad you are in the papers. It’s an awful feeling letting a fan base down when expectations are high.

You have to be mentally strong to play this game, but all those things weigh on a player and after a week or more of that kind of atmosphere, negativity can completely take over. If everyone can feel the mood of the dressing room start to sag, that is not good.

WHY SO POSITIVE?

After the first couple losses you saw some anger, some frustration, and the benching of a young star. After the last couple games you're starting to hear positive things or a focus on improvement from the team. When you watch the Pittsburgh game it may be hard to disagree.

Maybe it’s not recognizable but you see this all the time during losing skids. A flip flop of a coach’s message from negative to positive even though the only thing growing is in the loss column.

When player confidence is low the coaching staff has to read the dressing room and the body language of his players.

SEEN IT ALL BEFORE

I’ve been on good teams and I’ve been on terrible teams. Often times when you get on a win streak by the second or third game, instead of the coach remaining positive and buttering guys up he decides to use this opportunity to keep everyone level headed and tear into a few guys or focus on the things that need improvement.

Conversely, when a losing streak hits three or four games and the sky is falling, all of the sudden the coach is the happiest person in the world and you are thinking what the hell?

I think you are beginning to see the Coaching staff relaxing their tough stance of late. Eakins has to get these guys to feel good about themselves again while showing them the good things they have done to improve their play. Continuing to harp on the losses right now will only add to the stress of guys fighting the puck or thinking about mistakes.

I’m sure you have heard it before from players that they need to be reacting on the ice and not thinking. The minute you start to second guess yourself as a player you are in trouble.

ROLLER COASTER

This does not mean losing is acceptable. This does not mean that players and coaches are not as disgusted as you, the fan. It just means the coach has likely sensed that the yelling and tough love has exhausted itself for now and is having a more negative impact.

An 82 game season is full of emotional ups and downs and many times throughout the season the coach has to change the psyche of the dressing room.

I think this is one of those times. It’s up to the coach to get his players in the best possible mind set to win a hockey game. It doesn’t matter how, just win.

MAIL BAG

I would like to start a weekly Q & A piece on here. I love interacting with hockey minds and think it would be fun to provide some insight into certain questions you guys may have whether it’s Oiler related or just hockey related. Hit me up at brian@oilersnation.com or on twitter @briansutherby. Fire away and I will answer the best one’s in a weekly piece.

C76a4c69c9026575581a01d4ac34111c
A Moose Jaw Warriors alumnus and veteran of 460 NHL games with the Capitals, Ducks and Stars—Sutherby is here to regale us with tales of the WJHC, life as an NHL player and much more from a Pro’s perspective. Co-Host's the Jason Gregor show on TSN1260 on Tuesday's from 3-5. Twitter:@briansutherby
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#1 WONGER
October 17 2013, 11:47AM
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The Oilers need about six SUTHERBY's up front-guys who can play and are seriously tough- FUNCTIONAL TOUGHNESS- why don't you come out of retirement and sign with the OIL???

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#3 Manfly
October 17 2013, 12:00PM
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yup, intensity seems to be lacking on this team year after year. my hope is that Moroz and Khaira can step up in the next couple of years. they are exactly what this team needs!!

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#4 YakZ
October 17 2013, 12:14PM
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Hey Suds,

Great article and perspective from a player! It's easy to be a backseat coach or GM as a fan. Is coaching in the NHL in the cards for you or as an hockey analyst perhaps?

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#5 Smokey
October 17 2013, 12:23PM
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Sorry to hijack the thread. Why is TSN quoting a Shares blog. Its the stupidest rumour I've heard in a long time Yakcity + for Vanek/Miller. Why would MacT entertain trading the future for expiring contracts, and 10 million has to go the other way. So basically filling in the blanks, Hemsky and Dubby and Jones or Schultz.

Its so stupid I'm scared theirs teeth in it.

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#6 Jamison
October 17 2013, 12:29PM
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Great article. Seriously. Really enjoy your perspective.

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#7 Bucknuck
October 17 2013, 12:37PM
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Manfly wrote:

yup, intensity seems to be lacking on this team year after year. my hope is that Moroz and Khaira can step up in the next couple of years. they are exactly what this team needs!!

I was sure impressed with Khaira. He seems like the 'real deal'. He's two years from making a difference, but knowing there are some value (entry level) contracts on the horizon involving big bodies that can play gives me more optimism.

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#8 Tammy
October 17 2013, 12:45PM
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A true fan sticks with their club through wins AND losses! Yes, it is frustrating but bashing the Oilers doesn't help either. If you are not happy watching.... find a new team or just don't watch hockey!

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#9 The Hall Way
October 17 2013, 12:49PM
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WONGER wrote:

The Oilers need about six SUTHERBY's up front-guys who can play and are seriously tough- FUNCTIONAL TOUGHNESS- why don't you come out of retirement and sign with the OIL???

Hey?! Why does Sutherby have 2 usernames on this site?!

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#10 Wanye
October 17 2013, 12:50PM
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WONGER wrote:

The Oilers need about six SUTHERBY's up front-guys who can play and are seriously tough- FUNCTIONAL TOUGHNESS- why don't you come out of retirement and sign with the OIL???

I've been saying this for TEN DAMN YEARS

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#12 RJ
October 17 2013, 12:54PM
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drop pass to the nugget, slides it cross ice to yak shootsescores. seasons back on

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#13 OILERSORDEATH
October 17 2013, 12:57PM
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God that roller coaster looks badass!!

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#14 pkam
October 17 2013, 12:59PM
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WONGER wrote:

The Oilers need about six SUTHERBY's up front-guys who can play and are seriously tough- FUNCTIONAL TOUGHNESS- why don't you come out of retirement and sign with the OIL???

Because he wants to stay in Edmonton? Once he signs with the Oilers, he will be chased out of town in a month.

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#15 A-Mc
October 17 2013, 12:59PM
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At what point does the coach start handing out tabs of speed or other illegal drugs?

DO WHAT IT TAKES! O.O

(ikid)

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#17 Bloodsweatandoil
October 17 2013, 01:01PM
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I had a vision in my kraft dinner at lunch, and it wasn't the distraction noodle (it fell on my toe)...It showed 7 macaronis for the Oilers and 3 for the Islanders...

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#18 Quicksilver ballet
October 17 2013, 01:06PM
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Brian

Need a prediction on tonights game, nobody escapes here unscathed.

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#19 vetinari
October 17 2013, 01:16PM
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This team needs some good news, and soon. The best case scenario would be for them to post a shutout or something close to it to put the trade rumours to rest for a new goaltender.

And as for the "mental pressure" for a professional player, it's got to be tough in today's NHL. Years ago, a player only had to ignore the local newspaper and the fans on the street. Now you have to try and tune out 24 hour sports networks, twitter feeds, blogs and everything in between.

My question is how aware is the average player of what these sources are saying about them (and the team) and what effect it has on them?

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#20 madjam
October 17 2013, 01:55PM
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Cry me a river . Oilers ticket prices 4th highest in league from $201.01 to $272.74 , because as they put it "Heightened Expectations " . The paying fans should be livid considering this price increase and results rendered so far . You make that king of money and you should expect the fans to criticize when your not performing up to expectations that you payed dearly for .

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#22 Senator Theo
October 17 2013, 02:14PM
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@madjam

what do ticket prices have to do with wins or losses? What are you suggesting here?

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#23 rob
October 17 2013, 02:19PM
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millar and pysk coming to edmonton,yak,a second and prospect going to buffalo-book it

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#25 WONGER
October 17 2013, 02:22PM
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The Hall Way wrote:

Hey?! Why does Sutherby have 2 usernames on this site?!

He doesn't! I HAVE A TON OF RESPECT FOR HOW HE PLAYED THE GAME!!! He is too modest to toot his own horn, but I always liked the way he played, and I wished he would have been an Oiler!!!

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#26 VK63
October 17 2013, 02:28PM
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the answer to the Oilers woes is evident. The Russian god Perogy has been angered by the removal of the dirty russian SHORCOV and vodka burning legend Khabbi.

Yak and Dubnyk miss them so much they are but siberian bear cubs lost in the deep dark bryzy woods

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#27 pkam
October 17 2013, 02:49PM
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rob wrote:

millar and pysk coming to edmonton,yak,a second and prospect going to buffalo-book it

Book it? Do you know we don't even have a 2nd anymore?

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#28 Rama Lama
October 17 2013, 02:52PM
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If Dubby can dropping and flopping on every shot.......we may have a chance to win this one.

I for one will be clutching my remote and if Dubby let's in a soft one.....I'm changing the channel.

Go Oil!

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#29 NJ
October 17 2013, 03:01PM
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One thing that would send "the required message". All fans stay home for the next home game. Every fan. 16k plus empty seats. Mr Katz would get the message. This is not acceptable.

Someone mentioned a few articles about Sheldon Souray being cancer, or Miller being cancer... Or Bryz. No offense, the cancer here is not any of those. The cancer here is Mr Lowe. Souray was absolutely mismanaged from outside observation. The sooner Mr Katz figures this out, the sooner this team turns around.

If you need further proof, I would just say take a look at how many coaching changes we've had. Painful. Yes, it's a GM call, but I could've made the drafting choices Tambo made. Lowe out Tam in. The jury is out on MacT, I happen to love Perron as a player, but 36 months down the road will decide if MacT was a good decision.

I would say Coach Roy was the coach we should've looked a lil closer at. Goaltending specialist and smart defensively. Our goals for isn't our issue. Our goals against is.

Facts are nobody gives a rip or cares enough to boycott the Oilers. We care so little that we'll continue to watch the Oilers blow it. Yes, even from Hawaii where I'm vacationing, I'll huddle around my ipad mini watching NHL Game Center toot out another loss.

I would love to read an honest breakdown of Lowe's tenur here as GM by one of these writers. That would be a good read.

Shoot me in the head.

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#30 oilerjed
October 17 2013, 03:10PM
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WONGER wrote:

He doesn't! I HAVE A TON OF RESPECT FOR HOW HE PLAYED THE GAME!!! He is too modest to toot his own horn, but I always liked the way he played, and I wished he would have been an Oiler!!!

Its nice to see that you have finally unstuck your Caps Lock key. Ya gotta keep your soda away from your keyboard.

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#31 DSF
October 17 2013, 03:18PM
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Senator Theo wrote:

what do ticket prices have to do with wins or losses? What are you suggesting here?

Interesting that Cap Geek has a new feature that analyzes value of dollars spent on payroll.

Only Philly, New Jersey and Buffalo are worse:

http://www.capgeek.com/bargain-hunter/?mode=teams&stat=P&position=-1&sort=ASC

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#32 DSF
October 17 2013, 03:20PM
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More on the Miller rumours:

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=434353

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#33 madjam
October 17 2013, 03:34PM
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Senator Theo wrote:

what do ticket prices have to do with wins or losses? What are you suggesting here?

It has a lot to do with it . Chicago went up to a 57.12% increase this year ($313.18) because of , as they called it "a possible dynasty club " . I wonder what ours might be if we had a contender ? Toronto (the highest @ 368.60 ) went up because of they now have a "playoff team" . Isles because of playoffs jumped from $74.00 to $151.00 . L.A. dropped down to $126.00 because they did not reach finals last year . Does that answer your question more vividly ? Some of the lower ones . Blues 105.84 ,T.Bay 101.75 , Winn. (3rd highest) 276.69 , Anaheim 91.49 , Colorado 86.40 , Pho. 76.65 . All these fat increases in a lot of teams during a reduction of the cap .

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#34 Oiltimer
October 17 2013, 03:36PM
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I too Ramma

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#35 Oiler63
October 17 2013, 03:40PM
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@DSF

If oilers seriously considered the swap, they need to literally go to hospital and get their brain checked. Two washed up over-the-hill UFA for an RFA number 1 pick forward, that'd be the worst trade in team history.

Not surprised oilers is on Miller's no trade list. Lowe has managed to get oilers on pretty much every NHL player's no trade list.

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#36 DSF
October 17 2013, 03:58PM
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Oiler63 wrote:

If oilers seriously considered the swap, they need to literally go to hospital and get their brain checked. Two washed up over-the-hill UFA for an RFA number 1 pick forward, that'd be the worst trade in team history.

Not surprised oilers is on Miller's no trade list. Lowe has managed to get oilers on pretty much every NHL player's no trade list.

Agree completely, although I'm not sure Miller and Vanek are washed up.

I'd try and get Lehner out of Ottawa or one of Anaheim's spare goaltenders.

Vanek is pretty much a lock to sign in Minnesota next season so I expect Buffalo will try and swing a deal with the Wild closer to the trade deadline when Minnesota can absorb his cap hit.

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#37 borisnikov
October 17 2013, 04:07PM
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I would like to start a weekly Q & A piece on here. I love interacting with hockey minds and think it would be fun to provide some insight into certain questions you guys may have whether it’s Oiler related or just hockey related. Hit me up at brian@oilersnation.com or on twitter @briansutherby. Fire away and I will answer the best one’s in a weekly piece.



Can you also do a worst question/comment of the week just for sh*ts and giggles?

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#38 Wäx Män Riley
October 17 2013, 04:17PM
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DSF wrote:

Agree completely, although I'm not sure Miller and Vanek are washed up.

I'd try and get Lehner out of Ottawa or one of Anaheim's spare goaltenders.

Vanek is pretty much a lock to sign in Minnesota next season so I expect Buffalo will try and swing a deal with the Wild closer to the trade deadline when Minnesota can absorb his cap hit.

Why is Vanek a lock to sign in Minny?

Something has to happen to get you to 60 home playoff dates in the next 10 (9 now?) years.*

*Totally tongue-in-cheek, but really, why do you think he is signing in Minny?

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#39 Sidney Frosby
October 17 2013, 04:53PM
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Wäx Män Riley wrote:

Why is Vanek a lock to sign in Minny?

Something has to happen to get you to 60 home playoff dates in the next 10 (9 now?) years.*

*Totally tongue-in-cheek, but really, why do you think he is signing in Minny?

Becuz Vanek loves Pominville and the movie Fargo....

And Heatley will be begging the Oilers/Senators to hire him after he doesn't get resigned by Minny

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#40 Sidney Frosby
October 17 2013, 04:55PM
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Sidney Frosby wrote:

Becuz Vanek loves Pominville and the movie Fargo....

And Heatley will be begging the Oilers/Senators to hire him after he doesn't get resigned by Minny

Oh and Vanek palyed for the U of Minnesota...And.....Minny will pay up to $95 million dollars..apparently.

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#41 westcoastoil
October 17 2013, 05:05PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

If Dubby can dropping and flopping on every shot.......we may have a chance to win this one.

I for one will be clutching my remote and if Dubby let's in a soft one.....I'm changing the channel.

Go Oil!

You just traded Yak & a 2nd for a 33 year old Miller (who's save % the last 3 years = Dooby) and Davidson/Fedun/Marincin/Larsen/Potter.

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#42 westcoastoil
October 17 2013, 05:06PM
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westcoastoil wrote:

You just traded Yak & a 2nd for a 33 year old Miller (who's save % the last 3 years = Dooby) and Davidson/Fedun/Marincin/Larsen/Potter.

Sorry Rama - meant to quote Pkam's post

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#43 DSF
October 17 2013, 05:08PM
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Wäx Män Riley wrote:

Why is Vanek a lock to sign in Minny?

Something has to happen to get you to 60 home playoff dates in the next 10 (9 now?) years.*

*Totally tongue-in-cheek, but really, why do you think he is signing in Minny?

Oh, let's see.

1) He's already stated he doesn't want to stick around for a rebuild in Buffalo

2) He played his college hockey at the U of Minn.

3) His wife is from Minnesota

4) He lives in Minnesota in the offseason.

5) Dany Heatley's $7.5M is coming off the cap next season

6) He would be joining 2 other Minnesota boys, Suter and Parise on the team.

7) His best friend is Jason Pominville who signed with the Wild in the offseason

8) The Wild are about to become an elite team.

Other than that...I've got nothing.

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#44 BleedingOil
October 17 2013, 05:24PM
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I blame that first goal on Schultz.

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#45 BleedingOil
October 17 2013, 05:26PM
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BleedingOil wrote:

I blame that first goal on Schultz.

throw him in a trade to Buffalo and get Ehrhoff too. Or maybe NYR for Lundquist and Stall. Or STL for Elliot and Shattenkirk.

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#46 Ari Gold
October 17 2013, 05:30PM
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The Oilers need a mass prescription for Effexor and a team of psychologists to work on the entire organization. I smell a psychiatric disorder..

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#47 BleedingOil
October 17 2013, 05:32PM
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Ari Gold wrote:

The Oilers need a mass prescription for Effexor and a team of psychologists to work on the entire organization. I smell a psychiatric disorder..

They have hit the lowest of lows. I have never seen such a long streak of totally inept hockey from a group of talented stars in all my life. I am almost becoming embarrassed to talk about my team.

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#48 Wonger
October 17 2013, 05:41PM
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oilerjed wrote:

Its nice to see that you have finally unstuck your Caps Lock key. Ya gotta keep your soda away from your keyboard.

OK!!!

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#49 Wäx Män Riley
October 17 2013, 05:47PM
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DSF wrote:

Oh, let's see.

1) He's already stated he doesn't want to stick around for a rebuild in Buffalo

2) He played his college hockey at the U of Minn.

3) His wife is from Minnesota

4) He lives in Minnesota in the offseason.

5) Dany Heatley's $7.5M is coming off the cap next season

6) He would be joining 2 other Minnesota boys, Suter and Parise on the team.

7) His best friend is Jason Pominville who signed with the Wild in the offseason

8) The Wild are about to become an elite team.

Other than that...I've got nothing.

Sooooo... are you booking it?

I'll give them all to you except #8.

Boat. Anchor. Contracts.

But we'll see.

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#50 BleedingOil
October 17 2013, 06:24PM
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Schultz is my goat. Every couple shifts he makes a bad pass or misses receiving a pass, trips over blue line, watches an opponent park himself in front of the net or takes a good 3 seconds to wind up for that predictable lame wrist shot of his.

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