So Long, Jason LaBarbera

Jonathan Willis
December 14 2013 11:55AM

 

The Edmonton Oilers announced this morning that they had traded goaltender Jason LaBarbera to the Chicago Blackhawks for the proverbial bag of pucks.

This is good news for basically everybody involved.

For the Edmonton Oilers...

This means a bunch of things for Edmonton, and basically all of them are good.

First, it means that Ilya Bryzgalov is ready to go. With Devan Dubnyk crashing and burning this season, the Oilers need a starting goalie they have some confidence in, and Bryzgalov has done nothing but play extremely well in Edmonton. 

Second, it gives the team additional flexibility to make other moves, as Bob Stauffer points out:

Third, this restores the natural order to the goaltending depth chart. Edmonton now has two veterans at the NHL level, a good third-string veteran in Oklahoma (Richard Bachman, who filled in ably in Edmonton prior to getting hurt) and space on the farm for Laurent Brossoit, the club's top goaltending prospect. 

For the Chicago Blackhawks...

Chicago has had some injury problems in net, and LaBarbera gives the team some valuable depth.

Finnish rookie Antti Raanta, who the Oilers tried to sign in the summer, has played extremely well in the Blackhawks' net, going 5-0-1 with a 0.926 save percentage after being elevated from the starting role in Rockford to the starting role in Chicago. 

But he's all Chicago has right now. Starter Corey Crawford is expected to miss roughly three weeks thanks to a lower body injury and Raanta's backup right now is Kent Simpson, a rookie pro who has provided the AHL's Rockford Icehogs with a 0.900 save percentage goaltending over 15 games. That's not much of a backup policy.

Mostly, though, it seems likely this move was brought on by Nikolai Khabibulin being Nikolai Khabibulin.

 

Khabibulin has been on injured reserve for a month now with a lower body injury (as per TSN). In the four games he played for the Blackhawks, he posted a 0.811 save percentage. He's been well and thoroughly beaten for an NHL job by Raanta and when everybody's healthy it's hard to see how the 'Hawks could send down the superior goaltender to hang on to a guy who was signed as a veteran stopgap. 

That leaves a hole long-term in Rockford, where Simpson seems unready to take on the starting role. Because of his reasonable contract, LaBarbera can fill that slot and provide Chicago's farm team with exceptional AHL goaltending and the Blackhawks themselves with a reliable third-stringer. 

For LaBarbera...

This is a chance to play.

The Oilers couldn't afford to give LaBarbera a chance to play his way back into form; with Devan Dubnyk imploding and LaBarbera unable to calm the waters the team really had no choice but to go out and find somebody else. It put the goaltending depth chart into disarray, and once the music stopped and everybody got healthy there weren't going to be enough chairs for everyone involved.

LaBarbera goes to a contender, which leaves him the chance of being the backup for a Stanley Cup winner if injuries strike again. While he's probably looking at a long stint in the AHL, that was going to happen regardless, and this move means at least he'll be playing in the minors rather than fighting for time with another solid third-stringer. It gives him an opportunity to rehabilitate a career badly tarnished by his short stint in Edmonton.  

It's a win-win-win.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Dubs-nik
December 14 2013, 12:00PM
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Fistly, who is going to push dubs now, we needed labarbara , Him and dubs are best friends, dubnyk well never be able to lead this team without him, what is up with 6 rings and Mac t

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#2 Serious Gord
December 14 2013, 12:30PM
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First let's make a proper accounting of this. Making labarbera the second tender behind dubnyk was MacT's fault. It is well documented that Bachman was the better tender in preseason but not making labarbera a member of the oil meant possibly losing him.

Well now he is gone - for nothing. And while he was here he managed to lose a few games for the oil.

So score it as a bad move by a rookie GM.

As for Chicago taking him - boy the supply of below average goalies must be pretty low. Then again they did get him for nothing. And after getting the dud khabi from EDM you would think they would have learned a lesson - not to pick up oil cAstoffs.

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#3 Cal
December 14 2013, 04:13PM
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I for one would love to "Fast Track" Laurent Brossoit into back up role for the Oilers ASAP. We all know this season is shot and Dub's contract will probably not be renewed due to his performance. I like Dub very much, but he is not a #1 goaltender. Give Brossoit the experience and exposure now.

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#4 Serious Gord
December 14 2013, 12:47PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I think it's generally dangerous to toss out years of history based on pre-season stuff. LaBarbera had the longer track record of success, and Bachman had been lit up as the backup in Dallas.

In this case it didn't work out, but there always has to be a balance between 'earned a job in camp' and 'let's weigh the long-term over the short-term' and in my view in this instance that balance favoured LaBarbera starting out as the backup.

The results weren't as hoped for but I'm not convinced the process in that case was wrong.

So the preseason performance had no merit? What the heck is the point of having a preseason?

Bachman came with the huge advantage of a two-way contract. Even if they were even in performance Bachman was the better option. Especially in light of how tight the team is in cap and roster size.

MacT went against the consensus and now we must remember that it was a mistake.

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#5 Rheal1
December 14 2013, 12:31PM
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WOW!!! Absolutely WOW for Jason!!!! Christmas came early for LaBarbera!!! Bail out of this deadbeat of a town must be like winning the lottery. Another bold move by macT. I would have moved Dubnyk before Jason.

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#6 Rod from Viking
December 14 2013, 12:02PM
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Couldn't Mac T get Mark McNeil in the deal(hey that rhyme's)

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#7 Rheal1
December 14 2013, 12:34PM
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Rheal1 wrote:

WOW!!! Absolutely WOW for Jason!!!! Christmas came early for LaBarbera!!! Bail out of this deadbeat of a town must be like winning the lottery. Another bold move by macT. I would have moved Dubnyk before Jason.

I meant deadbeat of a managed team. Future considerations? How about eternal gratitude from Labarbera?

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#8 Oilerz4life
December 14 2013, 03:45PM
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Start Bryzgalov, make Bachman the backup and move Dubnyk down to OKC.

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#9 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 14 2013, 03:48PM
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Side point but does this make the Smid trade any clearer? The thought was there was more coming but obviously there isnt. I have no clue why he was traded for what we got. Yet i still see people thinking macT does the little things right. Are we Oiler fans as delusional as the Oilers?

Just horrendous to think that mediocrity is a step up for our hockey club

sorry just had to vent a little more

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#10 barry.moore23
December 14 2013, 12:32PM
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Can you imagine how much it must suck being the 'future consideration ? "rats I don't believe I got traded to Edmonton :(". Hahaha

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#11 Ari Gold
December 14 2013, 12:20PM
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Lucky Jason. He's gone from the bottom to a cup contender. He must be ecstatic. I kind of envy him.

I wonder if I could be traded for a Hawks fan? Toews, Kane, Chelsea Dagger!

How much was left for that $1million contract? How much did that bag of pucks cost?

I can't imagine how many other players want off of this team. No matter how much they shuffle players, you can't grow anything out of salted earth.

Take care Jason, do your best to forget the misery that is the Edmonton Oilers.

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#12 Rheal1
December 14 2013, 01:54PM
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Forget about any hypothetical "bold moves" until the trade deadline. Breezer's back & I can guarantee that Dubnyk has played is last game for as long as possible. It would be absolute incompetence from Eakins to start that guy ever again, as long as the Bryz is healthy. Trades might as well happen when convenient though... Time to take this imploded team into a rebuild mode since there was never one to start with. What is KLOWE thinking about now?

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#13 Rheal1
December 14 2013, 02:00PM
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Why do the Oilers suck?

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#14 Spydyr
December 14 2013, 04:59PM
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Rheal1 wrote:

Agreed. Better yet buy him out.

I would save the last buy out for Gagner this summer.

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#15 Rod from Viking
December 14 2013, 12:05PM
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I guess this is accountability,he wouldn't jump off the bench and go after Kassian last night so he is gone.

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#16 Oilers21
December 14 2013, 02:32PM
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I refuse to blame Dubnyk for the Oilers being an embarrassment of a team. How could anyone play goal behind our sad excuse for a "defense" corps and forwards that refuse to backcheck and make dreadful decisions with the puck which leave the goalie hung out to dry?? The only games we stand any chance of winning are when Dubnyk stands on his head. Is he the best or most consistent goalie in the league? No. Is he responsible for this ongoing futility? Hell no.

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#17 outdoorzguy
December 14 2013, 03:26PM
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DUBNYK SHOULD NOT START ANOTHER GAME FOR THE OILERS!!! That kid from the U of A played better at the Bruins practice than Dubnyk could even hope for. I can't wait for the next game...same lousy lineup, same bad coaches, same terrible mismanagement and same atrocious absent leadership. I can't believe there will be people in the seats for the next home game. I can't believe anyone would buy anything with an Oiler logo on it. THIS IS BEYOND AN EMBARRASMENT, ITS DISGUSTING!!

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#18 Oilergasm
December 14 2013, 08:09PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Maybe in NHL13.

Besides St.Louis has our second for Perron.

Better luck next time.

Edit: You mean someone like say Smid?

Can you honestly say at anytime since the Smid trade "If only we still had Smid we coulda won that game"

Looking back, since the trade we've had a somewhat respectable record and the flames have dropped off( I know they've also had key injuries)

Maybe the Smid trade was one of the culture changes that we've been hearing about. Also freeing up cap space if someone of significance comes available.

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#19 Jackson
December 14 2013, 03:18PM
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Anyone who follows the Oilers know they are a horrible team. 8th straight year no playoffs.

It's more than likely most fans will never see Oilers win another Stanley Cup.

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#20 Spydyr
December 14 2013, 05:08PM
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Rheal1 wrote:

No way! Package Gagner with our 2nd for a good stay at home, shut down, shot blocking Dman. Right at trade deadline.

Maybe in NHL13.

Besides St.Louis has our second for Perron.

Better luck next time.

Edit: You mean someone like say Smid?

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#21 Young Oil
December 14 2013, 12:01PM
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I like the way MacT does the little things. Got a pick and a roster spot for something we got for nothing.

Hopefully the roster spot is the precursor for a big thing.

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#22 Quintana
December 14 2013, 12:11PM
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Dubs-nik wrote:

Fistly, who is going to push dubs now, we needed labarbara , Him and dubs are best friends, dubnyk well never be able to lead this team without him, what is up with 6 rings and Mac t

Dubs gone next year, he's useless at best a backup golie. Thanks "6 rings"

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#23 Spydyr
December 14 2013, 01:53PM
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Wonder if they offered Dubnyk for futures and Chicago did not want to pay his contract.

I sure would of made that offer.

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#24 Oilerz4life
December 14 2013, 03:52PM
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LA's third string backup is better than our starter. I wonder if when Quick comes back if we can trade Dubnyk for Jones. Bryzgalov/Jones tandem would be sick.

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#25 Rheal1
December 14 2013, 03:54PM
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Oilerz4life wrote:

Start Bryzgalov, make Bachman the backup and move Dubnyk down to OKC.

Agreed. Better yet buy him out.

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#26 jeanshorts
December 14 2013, 12:54PM
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"With the CLASSY Labarbera off to Chicago.."

PHEEEEEWWWWWW! This whole time I was worried he was UN-CLASSY and might have even been bad in the room!

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#27 TV6
December 14 2013, 01:18PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

First let's make a proper accounting of this. Making labarbera the second tender behind dubnyk was MacT's fault. It is well documented that Bachman was the better tender in preseason but not making labarbera a member of the oil meant possibly losing him.

Well now he is gone - for nothing. And while he was here he managed to lose a few games for the oil.

So score it as a bad move by a rookie GM.

As for Chicago taking him - boy the supply of below average goalies must be pretty low. Then again they did get him for nothing. And after getting the dud khabi from EDM you would think they would have learned a lesson - not to pick up oil cAstoffs.

It's the same rhetoric over & over again from you every single time... Just like you do on the call-in shows.

Sadly... Your stink reaches ALL the way down here to California.

Don't you ever get bored of your repetitive thought process & magniloquence at some point..?

I LUV the way you point the finger at MacT for a bad pick-up, but when the Stanley Cup Champion GM does the exact same thing, you applaud him.

Your hypocrisy is laughable, not too mention tediously pedestrian.

Future considerations mean "nothing"... For a pick-up that cost MacT nothing in the 1st place... I wonder what your definition of "nothing" is when it comes to "anything"..?

There is 'nothing' more ironic & gelastic than pointing the finger 1 way when it is pointing straight at yourself.

At least you didn't mention Gagner or Hemsky this time... (that may be a 1st)

Bloody Ridiculous...

Merry Ho~Ho..!

x6

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#28 He Who Knows
December 14 2013, 01:36PM
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Kevin Lowe show your face to the public so we can chuck eggs at you. The city of Edmonton despises you.

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#29 Spydyr
December 14 2013, 02:21PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

I actually felt sorry for Dubynk last night, I was a goaltender and I couldn't imagine playing for a team that can't get the puck out of our end, letting opposing players free lance around the net , playing with no heart against a team that broke the jaw on one of your character guys, this has to be driving Mac T crazy as well as everyone else. Do you think his skype to Labarbra started with"You are in a better place now".

I feel sorry too.Sorry Dubnyk is the Oilers starting goalie.

He never earned it.They paid like a starter before he earned it.Next year he will be what he really is. A back-up, most likely for another team.

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#30 Rheal1
December 14 2013, 02:35PM
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MacT should purge the assistant coaches. That is clearly the only option he has at this time. Bring in Todd Nelson to assist.

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#31 Greenlingj
December 14 2013, 02:42PM
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Man this board is a steaming pool of teenage girl angst.

The writing was on the wall that either Dubnyk or LaBarbera were gonna be shipped out the moment Bryzgalov showed you all what a starter is supposed to look like.

Everyone wanted to see the sideshow and he was lights out after the rust came off. I hope Dubnyk finds his game buts its been bad no contest on that.

We hardly knew ya as an Oiler but best of luck in Chicago Jason keep chasing that dream.

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#32 outdoorzguy
December 14 2013, 03:16PM
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Does Kevin Lowe approve these BOLD MOVES? He's a useless fixture in the Oiler organization. Serves no purpose other than calling Katz in Vancouver to tell him we lost again. As for McTavish, I've just moved him up a notch on the GM pedestal. He's at the same level now as Garth Snow. Hey Lowe/Katz, Jay Feaster is available. His Calgary rebuild was years ahead of the Oilers', and it only started this year!! Ours has been going on for a decade. How do these idiots keep their jobs???

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#33 Spydyr
December 14 2013, 05:00PM
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Cal wrote:

I for one would love to "Fast Track" Laurent Brossoit into back up role for the Oilers ASAP. We all know this season is shot and Dub's contract will probably not be renewed due to his performance. I like Dub very much, but he is not a #1 goaltender. Give Brossoit the experience and exposure now.

How has fast tracking worked for the Oilers in the past?

Yeah, maybe not.

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#34 Rheal1
December 14 2013, 05:05PM
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Spydyr wrote:

I would save the last buy out for Gagner this summer.

No way! Package Gagner with our 2nd for a good stay at home, shut down, shot blocking Dman. Right at trade deadline.

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#35 Zarny
December 14 2013, 12:01PM
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Good. Moves a contract out. Only time will tell if LaBarbera's career will continue; but it was clearly not going to be in Edm.

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#36 tileguy
December 14 2013, 12:32PM
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And Thornton gets 15 games, what an exciting day!

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#38 Spydyr
December 14 2013, 01:35PM
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If the Hawks are taking our leftovers.See if they want Gagner, Hemsky,Jones ,Dubnyk or any of the defencemen.They do have about eight third pairing defencemen available.

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#39 Johnnydapunk
December 14 2013, 02:20PM
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I have no issues with this move, I thought that you weren't allowed "future considerations" trades anymore, guess that isn't the case. One less contract and despite people complaining about MacT signing him, give credit where it is due in that he made the mess (signing Barbs) who didn't seem like a terrible backup based on numbers and history, and as that hasn't worked, MacT has cleaned up his mess quite tidily (trading him off). Least he is not oblivious to everything.

I am sure MacT is trying to make some deals, but I'm also sure that a lot of people will be holding their cards close to their chest and maybe are even a bit leery of trading with him as the Perron trade turned into a steal and GMs don't like to look silly. He is at least doing some housecleaning which is always good.

I said this in another post, but how weird is it that the defending Stanley cup champs now have 2 former Oiler goalies on their roster.

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#40 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
December 14 2013, 03:05PM
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After seeing Brian Burke do his thing this week as president. We sure know he has no small role in the day to day operations the Flames. Being an NHL GM isn't what it use to be.

Kevin Lowe is still very much in control of every Oiler related move.

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#41 Smokey
December 14 2013, 05:03PM
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I hope Barbie gets to play in the SCP and carries Chicago to a cup. The notion that that the Oilers could not allow him to get back into form is silly. We are not going anywhere. We gave Sam Gagner 15 games to return form, and Dubby cost us like ten games...

Anyways go Oilers...I just want to beat Calgary and I'll be happy this year.

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#42 outdoorzguy
December 14 2013, 05:15PM
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@Jordan Nugent-Hallkins

Who really is in charge? The owner? All he wants is your money. McTavish? Not based on these bold moves. The President of Hockey Operations? He'd have to get his head out of the owners lap to have a clue what's going on. Scott Howson? Not sure what he does for a job. Mark Messier? He's just a living hockey card for the owner.

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#43 hall the time
December 14 2013, 05:48PM
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outdoorzguy wrote:

Who really is in charge? The owner? All he wants is your money. McTavish? Not based on these bold moves. The President of Hockey Operations? He'd have to get his head out of the owners lap to have a clue what's going on. Scott Howson? Not sure what he does for a job. Mark Messier? He's just a living hockey card for the owner.

Who really is in charge is Steve Smith and Kelly Buckberger.

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#44 Fresh Mess
December 14 2013, 10:20PM
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Spydyr wrote:

I would save the last buy out for Gagner this summer.

And then hopefully a new owner could buy out Katz. And then Lowe and MacT could be bought out of their contracts. And the new owner could buy his own arena.

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#45 john
December 15 2013, 03:52AM
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Why is everybody so hook up on Smid? He's not the savior of the team, all the young guns are soft, they are easy to defend against. We need more players in Perron, some players not back down from the goons of other teams. All of the ex-Oilers are playing well with other teams, why is that? WE gave Dustin Penner $5 millions a year and he did dick all here. Now he lead the league in plus and minus. They are all lazy and under performed in Edmonton for some reasons

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#46 Rama Lama
December 14 2013, 12:18PM
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Now thats bold!!!

I'm curious JW........with the announcement of the cap going up do you see trades becoming more of a reality? I think it's fair to say that trading was near impossible over the last five years.......it use to be teams could address their shortcomings through trades, but this never happens anymore?

I know that the cap increases next year, but could this announcement speed things up?

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#47 Samson Loveblast
December 14 2013, 01:59PM
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Great that Bryz is ready to go again, the team needs him. Still disappointing about Raanta, he likely would have had a long term deal signed sealed and delivered by now at probably twice the money that he'll get in Chicago, had he opted to go with the Oil.

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#48 hemi
December 14 2013, 02:07PM
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As Oil fans, why do we always wait for the big trade when these little tweakings take place? It reminds me of a very bad chess player whom thinks he/she knows how to make the right moves in anticipation of becoming the winner but never does.

Management equals the bad chess player. New game please?

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#49 camdog
December 14 2013, 04:31PM
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Cal wrote:

I for one would love to "Fast Track" Laurent Brossoit into back up role for the Oilers ASAP. We all know this season is shot and Dub's contract will probably not be renewed due to his performance. I like Dub very much, but he is not a #1 goaltender. Give Brossoit the experience and exposure now.

Brossoit isn't even a good AHL goalie right now. When we traded for him Calgary had him playing in the East Coast hockey league. If Brossoit had been playing against the Canucks the other night he would have easily given up 10-12 goals. There is no fast tracking Brossoit. Maybe try Bachman out, but Brossoit isn't even a realistic option right now.

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#50 MMAX
December 14 2013, 04:36PM
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Lucky Labarbera. He's probably happy to get out.

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