THE BOYS UNDER THE BUS

Robin Brownlee
December 22 2013 12:06PM

The latest lump in the truckload of coal the Edmonton Oilers have been shoveling under the Christmas trees of their fans for eight seasons came in Saturday's 6-0 drubbing at the hands of the St. Louis Blues. What an ugly, ugly scene it was.

On a utterly forgettable night for a fallen franchise, scenes from Hockey Night in Canada's telecast showed sections of empty seats with five minutes to play with fans long gone to the parking lot, president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe fidgeting with his cellphone and, finally, an Oiler jersey laying on the ice, tossed there by one of the paying customers.

With HNIC's After Hours segment waiting for Taylor Hall to emerge from a dressing room that remained closed for 10 minutes after the game, the CBC panel filled with a post-mortem on the Oilers, losers of six straight games and dead in the water at 11-24-3.

In the room, goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who was supposed to have been a sideshow but instead finds himself having joined one, talked about how the Oilers deserved to be booed. Jordan Eberle talked about being sick of what's happening here. Coach Dallas Eakins, less than half a full season into his tenure behind the bench, said much the same thing.

The blah, blah, blah we've heard before, but that shot of the Oiler jersey cast on the ice like so much trash sticks with me. I've never seen that before, and I've seen a lot in the old rink on Gretzky Drive.

THE WORST OF TIMES?

With the venom being spewed by rightfully frustrated fans and the empty seats I'm seeing, despite more than 300 straight official sell-outs at Rexall Place in the books, this is clearly the worst of times since the oh-so-forgettable early 1990s. Back then, owner Peter Pocklington was selling off what was left of the five-time Stanley Cup champions and letting the rest of the team die on the vine. Lots of crowds under 10,000 back then.

I'm not sure which era was worse – the 1992-93 team captained by current GM Craig MacTavish went 26-50-8 for 60 points – but arguing that is setting the bar woefully low. What I do know is nobody with a functioning brain expected much from the raft of mediocre players on that roster. The expectations now are different, and should be, with the likes of Hall, Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on this edition of the team – any one of them would have been the best player on that pitiful 1992-93 team.

Edmonton's management and its spinners have been selling hope for four seasons since the tear-it-down rebuild "officially" began. Fans, obviously loyal to a fault, have been buying in, filling the rink, purchasing souvenirs, parking and over-priced beer. All to watch a team that's won just 45 of its last 123 home games.

Now, paid for or not, empty seats. And no, as team president Patrick LaForge suggested with a straight face, it's not "brutal weather." Now, that jersey thrown on the ice. Was it deposited there by an over-served patron in a fit of drunken defiance? A long-time season ticket holder sick of what they've seen? Both? No matter, it's trouble.

OVER TO YOU, BOSS

I don't know if we'll ever see attendance sink to the levels of the ugly 1990s – I doubt it – but unless something changes drastically, and in a hurry, we're going to see more empty seats, more jerseys on the ice and, worse, more of the kind of indifference Pocklington cultivated as owner.

Drastic change means starting at the top of hockey operations. That means the dirty deed falls to owner Daryl Katz, who has a management group and coaching and scouting staffs filled with old friends and old Oilers. With his initial investment in the team already showing a tidy profit, according to the latest values published for NHL teams, will Katz be so inclined? Not today or tomorrow – it makes no sense – but this off-season?

I can see an argument for MacTavish and Eakins getting more time to do their jobs. I see no such case for managers, coaches or scouts who have been collecting pay cheques for all or most of this eight-year stretch of futility and frustration. The names we know, and Lowe is the obvious starting point.

Will Katz make those calls this off-season? Will he tell his friends that it's time for them to move along? Will he shake their hands and wish them well? If Katz, for whatever reason, isn't inclined to do that – in a city and for a fan base that's committed to building him a new downtown arena – in the name of finally delivering on the hope he's been selling, what's the message?

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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#1 TonyT
December 22 2013, 12:13PM
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FLA the rat toss DET octopus EDM the jersey

I congratulate whoever made that statement last night. We've all ranted till we've been blue in the face. I knew way to get a message across? Let's hope someone, anyone, is listening...

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#2 Gerald R. Ford
December 22 2013, 06:37PM
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MMAX wrote:

Can't wait to hear what Stauffer has to say on his show.

No need to wait:

12:05 - 12:15: Tree planting

12:15 - 12:30: Glory days of South Side Athletic Club

12:30 - 12:35: Royal Pizza interlude

12:35 - 12:50: Obscure Golden Bears anecdote

12:50 - 1:00: Ruth's Chris interlude

1:05 - 1:20: Gratuitous name-dropping session / I know inside stuff that you guys aren't important enough to know, so, zip it, because everything's going right on schedule.

1:20 - 1:40: This is actually only, for all intents and purposes, like, Day 4 of the rebuild, not YEAR 7, so everyone be patient, etc.

1:40 - 1:50: All six goals the Blues got were screwjobs by the refs.

1:50 - 1:58: Ungrateful little people who throw jerseys on the ice are traitors to Katz nation, and should be pointed out to security.

1:59 - 2:00: Merry Christmas, I'm off to count my fat stacks.

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#3 Arius Mumin
December 22 2013, 12:30PM
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Keep the jerseys on the ice coming.

Instead those expensive beers Rexall will be known for serving "jerseys on ice".

If anyone wants to sell me some lower bowl seats, I will go and throw both my Smyth and Hemsky jerseys on the ice at the next home game.

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#4 Monique
December 22 2013, 12:28PM
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Finally someone calling out Katz, If you were beside me I'd suck those big balls

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#5 Spaz
December 22 2013, 12:26PM
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We had such high hopes for this season, could this result be anything but the Hockey Gods damning Kevin Lowe's hubris for his six-rings statement?

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#6 Walter Sobchak
December 22 2013, 12:28PM
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Good read RB.

This team is a bloody mess!

I’m at a loss as to where you would even start to fix this?

Defense, Offense, Goal ,Owner, POHO , Management, Coach , Assistant Coach’s, Amateur scouts, Pro Scouts………….

It’s all a nightmare, I mean, where do you start fixing this?

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#7 Oiler Al
December 22 2013, 12:51PM
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Robin, the best dam write up in a long time by anyone here at ON.

No more spinning stories of the great 5 year rebuild. Rebuild means improving some year by year... this is not the case. Don't need to look at charts and stats spins all day long... This is a terribly built team, every fan can see that except the management and some of the shrinking scribes within the Edmonton media.

Robin, thanks for calling it out... Katz is the only guy that can start the real rebuild and turn this train wreck around... IT HAS TO START RIGHT AT THE TOP...

At this point I am not evern sure if MacT is the right guy for the GM, never mind getting down to the coaching.

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#8 Verno1
December 22 2013, 12:56PM
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@TonyT

Kevin Lowe was the one who disbanded our AHL franchise, and farmed out all of our players to other systems. Does anyone really thing a competing nhl team would play our players ahead of theirs. Strike one. Then he had to nerve to say fans that didn't go to game didn't matter. Strike 2. His stanley cup ring comment Strike 3. I think MacT deserves a chance to right the ship, this is a guy who quit, left to get a degree, worked for TSN, and coached for another organization. He deserves a chance to right the ship. Kevin Lowe's arrogance alone should get him fired, Hey Kevin...The 80's are gone, what have you done for us lately!!!!

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#9 RexHolez
December 22 2013, 12:30PM
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Who is this mysterious jersey tosser? Was he a tier 1 fan, or just one of those tier 2 fans that had to climb down past security to get close enough

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#10 He Who Knows
December 22 2013, 01:47PM
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Shea Weber would restructure his contract not to come here at this present time. The organization is very shady since Katz took over. Sheldon Souray should be given a standing ovation next time he comes into town. He was fed up beyond belief before he went public. Call him a primadonna or whatever but he said it was never the city or fans. It was management.

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#11 Rama Lama
December 22 2013, 12:20PM
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Firing KLowe would be a very welcoming gesture by Katz and would send a much needed message of hope, for the Oilers faithful.

I for a second do not believe that the players have mailed it in........it's just they are all the same types of players. Every media, pundit, fans have said that the OIlers need to get tougher, meaner, and bigger.........Mac T should have done more in the offseason......rookie GM mistake.

Next year should be entertaining.......please Santa let it be that way.

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#12 Robin Brownlee
December 22 2013, 07:31PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

"Oiler's Now" has turned into a brutal propaganda machine for Katz and Co, I used to have a lot of time for Bob when he had his "Inside Sports" he continually called out Oiler Management and coaching, and then he used his show to convince his trusting listeners that Katz was good, EIG was no longer needed. I don't expect him to lose his job but quit finding new ways to justify this mess. He never say's my tweets or texts on air since I asked him if Taylor Hall's mom was on a tree planting crew, he has no sense of ha ha.

None of you will want to hear this, especially given the state of frustration fans are in now, but fixating on Bob Stauffer and the people at 630 CHED is misplacing your anger. They are not the problem.

As far as NHL rightsholders go, 630 CHED is actually far more critical of the team they cover than most stations. You don't have to believe me, but I'm telling you it's so -- and I'm doing it as somebody who is on the air twice a week on a competing station.

If you want to say some of the edge -- even a lot of it -- has been taken off Bob's criticism of the team since he signed on with them, that's fair ball. He is an employee of the team and he can't go after the Oilers, be it management, coaches or the organization in general, as he would if he was still in his old gig at TEAM 1260. You cannot do it in your workplace and he cannot do it in his.

The problem is way higher up the food chain. Going after Stauffer and the radio crew solves nothing. They are doing their jobs.

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#13 Forrestt
December 22 2013, 12:25PM
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Also one last point. Hall look scared to initiate last night, and has for a lot of the season. Where's his fire to jab somebody back once and a while. Take a stick, give a stick. Wrestle with somebody. He needs to look over at Perron and realize that not every agitating moment will end in a fight.

The Oilers need to get in the "Christmas Spirit". More GIVING and less RECEIVING!

The jersey on the ice was "PRICELESS". It speaks to so oilers fans on so many levels! Whats a $200 jersey if your giving up your $200 a seat ticket for every game. Small price to pay imo...

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#14 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
December 22 2013, 01:28PM
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What concerns me about this, is managements view that what the team is going through right now should be an acceptable part of this process. They keep preaching patience and calm while they try and create the illusion that everything is in control.

This town needs a pi$$ed off Terry Jones, or the old Bob Stauffer before he had his spine radically removed. Instead, we'll see ole Bobby polishing that same turd during the coming weeks. Lowe sure looks to be keeping a close eye on all those carrying press passes to that dressing room. Kevin the Tyrant, rules this hockey town with an iron fist.

I'd pay good money to see John MacKinnon ram that question down Lowes throat again and again and again.

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#15 DAVE
December 22 2013, 01:00PM
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It's time for the weasels to show some respect, and resign.

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#16 Rick Stroppel
December 22 2013, 04:16PM
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MERRY CHRISTMAS!

1. What a wonderful Christmas present for Ralph Krueger and his wife! She was in the room when McTavish fired Ralph by skype.

2. Obvious now why Bryzgalov hasn't put any paint on his mask.

3. Katz thinks Edmonton needs the Oilers. We don't need the Oilers. We need NHL hockey. When Katz went to Seattle, city counsel should have sent a delegation to Phoenix, Tampa and Carolina. Wouldn't it be great to see a REAL NHL team playing in the new arena!

4. Yakupov is an "Alexander Daigle" style bust. Minus 26: numbers do not lie. I would try to trade him to Toronto or Ottawa for a package that includes their first round pick this year. Maybe they saw him light it up in the OHL and they can be sucked in to thinking he will make it in the NHL. Unlike Daigle, Yakupov will not suffer the indignity of dragging his sorry butt around the league as a 3-4 line player. He will eventually high-tail it back to the KHL where his selfish, one way style of play will be much appreciated.

5. Lowe, McTavish and Eakins are going nowhere this year. Those three and Katz really like each other, because they are all basically the same person. They don't need any help, they have got it all figured out. As long as these four arrogant jackasses are in charge, this franchise is going nowhere.

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#17 mlcselli
December 22 2013, 02:06PM
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The arrogance of Kevin Lowe will never allow him to step down. The foolishness (and absence), of Katz will never allow him to fire Lowe. The nerve of these two asshats laughing at us spending our hard earned money year after year, to support this gong show, and fund a new arena, makes me sick. Once upon a time I used to get pissed off when I would read a comment that was insulting, in any way, regarding the Oilers; now I agree with lots of them, and make a few comments myself. The level of expectation for the Oilers could not sink any further. How can the fans force a change that the management is unwilling to recognize is necessary

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#18 Batfink
December 22 2013, 04:11PM
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ALLCAPSRAGE wrote:

How about a boycott of the national anthem? Nobody sits in their seats until the puck is dropped. It would send a message if there was nobody in the stands for even a short period of time at the start of the game as opposed to the end.

Showing disrespect to the national anthem is not the way to go about this. It isn't Canada's or 'Merica's fault the Oil is 5hite.

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#19 6 ring circus
December 22 2013, 05:12PM
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My two season seats will be empty tomorrow vs the Jet's.I had enough quite some time ago and this is the final straw for me.I will no longer support this team as long as K Lowe is their and if Katz does not make significant changes. I'm done being taken for granted,if any one wants a old time oilers jersey to throw on the ice let me know .I will gladly donate one ,it's even a Lowe jersey!!!!

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#20 Shane
December 22 2013, 06:48PM
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There is only one way that Kevin Lowe will leave edmonton and that is if the fans start "fire Lowe" chants and he resigns from his position.

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#21 Kr55
December 22 2013, 11:52PM
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Why wait until the off-season to fire Lowe? A new qualified person needs to be brought in ASAP to evaluate the team to make the best possible moves in this off-season when the cap is being raised. Waiting to get rid of Lowe until the off-season likely means another lost season next year because whoever replaces him will be getting up to speed while every other team is making all the moves they want with the Oilers not in the mix. There is nothing useful Lowe can do for this team between now and the off-season. The sooner Lowe is gone the better off the Oilers will be.

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#22 Todd
December 22 2013, 02:38PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

You're onto something there Gord.

6 or 8 fans gathered in the same isle to deposit their jerseys over the glass creating a "pile" would create considerably more attention than yesterdays solo act did.

I think throwing your jersey on the ice is stupid. Disrespect but mostly a waste of money. That said, the group toss is an AMAZING idea. I swear if someone organizes it I will join. I'll bring my $150 jersey and toss it in the ice. Imagine 10 fans in a row one by one pealing off their jerseys and tossing them in a pile. It would make the national sports news and be a serious slap in the face to the cronies running this team. Let me know which aisle and what game, I'm 100% in.

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#23 vetinari
December 22 2013, 12:15PM
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I posted in this in the previous thread and it is just as appropriate here---

Take a lesson from "Breaking Bad": "No more half measures..."

Katz:

There are problems with your management team.

There are problems with your mix of coaches and assistant coaches.

There are problems with the current roster of players and how they relate to the coaches.

Where do you want to start because the ball is in your court?

I suppose that as long as this investment continues to make you money, there is no incentive for you to change business practices.

I only hope that you get to feel the pain that we all do in some small way, whether it's a fan boycott for all games from February to the end of the year, or some other collective action by the fans (anyone have management's e-mail addresses?).

Just a little piece of free advice for you, Mr. Katz-- when your management team is the basically the one that got you into this mess, maybe you should hire a consultant from outside of the organization to do a review of what's currently wrong from top to bottom... but that would only be needed if you actually thought that there was a problem and that the problem needed to be fixed.

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#24 He Who Knows
December 22 2013, 01:32PM
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BTW, Stu is an insignificant bastard. Its not hard to pick the 1st overalls. His only gem was Eberle. Fire him! Viva la revolucion! Lets go Che on their asses.

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#25 VK63
December 22 2013, 12:37PM
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I mentioned to a buddy last night. A jersey on the ice, wow. Haven't seen that since that playoffs loss by the flames in Calgary When that iggy jersey got tossed. That guy did it with a lot of dramatics. Ran down to the glass and in a fit of indignation ripped the silks off and tossed it over the glass. Big cheer from the few remajning flames fans who witnessed it too.

The Oilers are a sad sad state of affairs to be sure. Completely broken. And now embarrassing themselves by running their mouths on the ice and disrespecting their opponents... Good stuff lads... Top shelf.

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#26 Kevin
December 22 2013, 12:59PM
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Robin- thumbs up for this read. From a long time Ol fan please keep this up. We can only hope that media types like yourself can some how provoke needed change.

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#27 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
December 22 2013, 11:10PM
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Hard to believe just eliminating the donuts, would have such an impact on this hockey club.

No donuts, and then no ranch dressing for the veggies. No wonder things are falling apart under these conditions.

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#28 gilaubin
December 22 2013, 04:12PM
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@nick

I have to agree. Ever since Kevin Lowe has been here it has been a struggle. Katz trying to surround himself with his old Oiler buddies from the glory days is not the answer. AS much as he would love to win a cup with them. it will never happen. Lots of hockey people have been available but LOwe is carful to hire people he can control. Brian Burke, Ken Hitchkock, Sutter. I have been a die hard fan for 40 years and it is sad to see this happen. I use to be really affected by the oilers winning and losing but now I am not even watching most of the games. I can't imagine how fans that are spending 100.00 to go watch live. I am in total disgust with the effort by the players but these guys got to this level because they could play. Our managent and coaching is destroying them. Please Mr Katz run this team the way you know you should. Start with getting rid of Kevin Lowe. You wouldn't put up with this if this was Rexall and you surely didn't build success by hiring friends

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#29 Renegade
December 22 2013, 01:09PM
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I like how some people keep saying play bad for the first over all pick.... hmm... how has that worked out for us so far?

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#30 outdoorzguy
December 22 2013, 02:38PM
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We have a man child who owns this team and loves his living hockey cards because he can actually talk to them instead of putting them in a scrap book and who is non-verbal and non-existent. We have a President of the team who hopes the weather gets better because that is what is causing empty seats. We have a President of Hockey Operations who is non-existent and has alienated the fans. We have a Scott Howson???? We have a Mark Messier???? We have a GM who has no experience. We have at best an AHL coach. We have 3 assistant coaches??? We have, as it stands now in its current form a 29th or 30th place team, again. We have a media who won't ask the tough questions (one was asked a year ago and we got the 6 ring answer, but thats been it). We have fans who will put up with this crap because they buy the rebuild sales crap. We get what we accept!!! Mediocrity? Complacency? Insolence?

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#31 kale
December 22 2013, 05:08PM
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I wonder if Rexall will start selling disposable jersys at home games

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#32 Loyal Oil
December 23 2013, 12:26AM
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Thank you Mr. Brownlee. Finally some courage from an ON writer. Jersey Toss and chanting great next steps. What about fan billboards like they did in Denver. "Mr. Katz, the taxpayers of this town have provided you with $100 million dollars, please reciprocate by providing us with NHL hockey". Other suggestions for a billboard?

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#33 Sevenseven
December 22 2013, 01:08PM
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I can't believe my tax dollars are going to a building for that abortion of an NHL "Orginization" to play in. What a mess. What free agent, overpayed or not, is going to want to play here. How many "Bold moves" can fix this? Katz, send a message to this organization and the rest of the world by firing Klowe! If we want to overpay someone, let's overpay a smart, proven NHL gm/president/team overlord to rebuild this team right. Or even better yet Kevin Lowe, resign! You should be ashamed of yourself!!!

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#34 6 ring circus
December 22 2013, 01:12PM
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Katz is the king and Lowe his fool or just maybe, Lowe is the king of the rings and Katz is the fool who has all the gold!!! Can anyone give one reason why Lowe still has a job ?

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#35 nick
December 22 2013, 02:09PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

This is totally off the record Jay, but I'm 110% in agreement with you. I often bite my lip in hopes of eluding the cyber swirley that often occurs when I let beetlejuice out of his cage/ my latest Weber proposal.

Weber is the big fish the Oilers desperately need, but that's just between you and me, eh, nudge nudge wink wink, say na more.

Unfortunately fellows, Mr. Weber has a No Trade Clause which means he controls where he goes. Do you really think he would take a trade to Edmonton? Wake up now your dream is over. Danny Heatley wouldn't take it and there is no chance that Weber would ever end up in Edmonton

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#36 Cam
December 22 2013, 01:26PM
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Brownlee you beautiful bastard... BULLSEYE! It's happening... The chain reaction of events finally gathering momentum just as Donald Sutherlands Black Ops character in JFK opined. There is no stopping the momentum of what is now happening. Kevin Lowe will go, whether he knows it right now or not. The beginning of the final chapter was his incredulous Press Conference announcing MacT's hire. Last night will be remembered (the sweater), and will prove to be the ultimate undoing of The Man In the Molded Micron's. RIP Mr. Lowe. You Sir, are no longer welcome in this town. Thank you for a good year in 2006, but you're expiry date is now past due.

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#37 David S
December 22 2013, 04:34PM
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nullterm wrote:

I'd chip in for a full page reprint of this article. Make it happen Nation!

If Wanye and the boys at ON HQ were on it, they'd run a crowdsourcing post here at the site. Collect enough donations for a pull pager in the Sun and Journal, with the rest going to charity. Sign it on behalf of the fan base here and put the ON logo at the bottom of the page.

Book it. This would be one of the greatest marketing stunts in the history of the city.

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#38 ColourMeImpressed
December 22 2013, 06:55PM
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Shane wrote:

There is only one way that Kevin Lowe will leave edmonton and that is if the fans start "fire Lowe" chants and he resigns from his position.

Worked for "Fire Wilson" in Toronto.

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#39 Jersey salesman
December 22 2013, 01:36PM
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One suggestion to any potential jersey throwers, wait till Saturdays CBC game so that it will actually get some press. I think it's a great way to get our frustration across for whoever is willing and can afford it.

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#40 Batfink
December 22 2013, 03:41PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Maybe someone with media pull could organize and Jersey toss like the Teddy bear toss.Then give the jerseys to underprivileged kids.Do it for the Jets game and the kids get a nice Christmas present.

What have them kids ever done to you?

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#41 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
December 22 2013, 01:53PM
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@Serious Gord

You're onto something there Gord.

6 or 8 fans gathered in the same isle to deposit their jerseys over the glass creating a "pile" would create considerably more attention than yesterdays solo act did.

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#42 nick
December 22 2013, 02:18PM
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Oiler Al wrote:

Robin, the best dam write up in a long time by anyone here at ON.

No more spinning stories of the great 5 year rebuild. Rebuild means improving some year by year... this is not the case. Don't need to look at charts and stats spins all day long... This is a terribly built team, every fan can see that except the management and some of the shrinking scribes within the Edmonton media.

Robin, thanks for calling it out... Katz is the only guy that can start the real rebuild and turn this train wreck around... IT HAS TO START RIGHT AT THE TOP...

At this point I am not evern sure if MacT is the right guy for the GM, never mind getting down to the coaching.

MacT is not the right guy for the job and neither is Eakins. They need an experienced NHL coach here, like a Hitchcock or someone of that ilk. They also require an experience GM without a question. The only way to start fixing this disaster is to fire everyone from K Lowe down. Only one that should be left standing is Joey Moss and start from the bottom and build a respectable coaching staff and management team. Who watched Eakins yesterday at the game, never moved never talked just stood there like a lost sheep. Sorry Dallas that little boy had it right YOU SUCK. This team was much more competitive under Krueger and Renney and they both got fired. Hmmm go figure

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#43 Serious Gord
December 22 2013, 04:07PM
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Ryan2` wrote:

Why should Eakins and MacT be given more time?

MacT was "in training" last year and given a head start for a GM by being able to assess the players for an entire season before being handed the keys to the car. Sure, he won the Perron trade right now, but did it make the team any better? Could he have used the MPS trading chip (he was a decent commodity at the time) + another prospect and pick for a true #2 D-Man? That would have helped the team way more than another small, skilled forward (btw, how much "edge" has he played with the past couple of games against bigger teams?).

His other signature moves were two bad contracts: 1) overpaying in term and price for a smallish, end of career d-man from the area, and, even worse, 2) severely overpaying for a small, defensively clueless after 7 years, average skating at best, centerman who MacT considers a cornerstone piece moving forward. Both contracts are dead money, IMHO, as they take up significant cap space that could be put to better use elsewhere and basically make the players untradeable for 3 years.

Craig also had a questionable eye for talent as a coach (remember his MacFavorites like Petersen, Thoreson and Pouliot?) and dumped on players that the team sure could use now that he did not like such as Greene, Brodziak, Penner, etc.

As far as Eakins, being at the game yesterday you could see the difference between a well coached team with structure and commitment to team play (Hitchcock trademark since back in the day with Midget AAA in Sherwood Park) vs. a team with no structure, no commitment to team play and a fragile confidence. The Oilers were much more organized under Kruger last year with an even weaker roster (as bad as their d is this year, at least all of them can turn both ways unlike Ryan Whitney last season). As weak as Ralph was from an NHL strategy point of view, Eakins is even worse. Right now the Oilers as still playing Junior or AHL level hockey out there, and it shows against any close to or playoff team.

IMHO, Eakins' first mistake was playing two career AHLers he liked, Acton and Hamilton, when they were clearly not up to NHL level play. At work, how does it look to the rest of the team when the manager's kid/nephew/niece/etc. steps right into a job above their level without earning it? How much does that hurt a manager's credibility as well as team morale? That sent the wrong message to the team from the get go and the players still do not buy in.

It is not only Eakins' that needs to go, though. When you watch the next Oilers game take a look at how often their D just rims the puck instead of making a tape-to-tape pass to start a breakout vs. the opponents D. Back in the Charlie Huddy era, the Oilers' d-men would actually start a breakout with a quick and accurate pass. Since Steve Smith has been in charge the d-men have started to just rim the puck, which either keeps the forwards penned in or results in a turnover at the red line which is just dumped back in. My son's Novice team is better at making tape-to-tape passes under duress to start a breakout than the Oilers defence is. The reason - we coach them that making a good first pass is key to a break out.

Excellent analysis.

Conspicuously absent from the mainstream sports journo discussion is specific critiques of the head coach. It seems that the "we have changed coaches four times already, we can't do it again" mantra has silenced this important discussion.

I personally was opposed to it from the very beginning for all the reasons outlined before. Particularly galling is that Eakins has been signed for four frickin years. Is Babcock even signed for that long?

Loyalty and far too generous terms seems to be a fatal hallmark of MacT's.

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#44 Manfly
December 23 2013, 12:12AM
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@JJ....the dude sent a strong message to the team, and if most of them didn't see it, they will have been made aware of it by now. I say kudos to the guy for having the stones to do it !

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#45 Samwise Gange
December 22 2013, 02:58PM
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If you fire Mr Lowe, I still won't backcheck.

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#46 Ryan2`
December 22 2013, 03:42PM
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Why should Eakins and MacT be given more time?

MacT was "in training" last year and given a head start for a GM by being able to assess the players for an entire season before being handed the keys to the car. Sure, he won the Perron trade right now, but did it make the team any better? Could he have used the MPS trading chip (he was a decent commodity at the time) + another prospect and pick for a true #2 D-Man? That would have helped the team way more than another small, skilled forward (btw, how much "edge" has he played with the past couple of games against bigger teams?).

His other signature moves were two bad contracts: 1) overpaying in term and price for a smallish, end of career d-man from the area, and, even worse, 2) severely overpaying for a small, defensively clueless after 7 years, average skating at best, centerman who MacT considers a cornerstone piece moving forward. Both contracts are dead money, IMHO, as they take up significant cap space that could be put to better use elsewhere and basically make the players untradeable for 3 years.

Craig also had a questionable eye for talent as a coach (remember his MacFavorites like Petersen, Thoreson and Pouliot?) and dumped on players that the team sure could use now that he did not like such as Greene, Brodziak, Penner, etc.

As far as Eakins, being at the game yesterday you could see the difference between a well coached team with structure and commitment to team play (Hitchcock trademark since back in the day with Midget AAA in Sherwood Park) vs. a team with no structure, no commitment to team play and a fragile confidence. The Oilers were much more organized under Kruger last year with an even weaker roster (as bad as their d is this year, at least all of them can turn both ways unlike Ryan Whitney last season). As weak as Ralph was from an NHL strategy point of view, Eakins is even worse. Right now the Oilers as still playing Junior or AHL level hockey out there, and it shows against any close to or playoff team.

IMHO, Eakins' first mistake was playing two career AHLers he liked, Acton and Hamilton, when they were clearly not up to NHL level play. At work, how does it look to the rest of the team when the manager's kid/nephew/niece/etc. steps right into a job above their level without earning it? How much does that hurt a manager's credibility as well as team morale? That sent the wrong message to the team from the get go and the players still do not buy in.

It is not only Eakins' that needs to go, though. When you watch the next Oilers game take a look at how often their D just rims the puck instead of making a tape-to-tape pass to start a breakout vs. the opponents D. Back in the Charlie Huddy era, the Oilers' d-men would actually start a breakout with a quick and accurate pass. Since Steve Smith has been in charge the d-men have started to just rim the puck, which either keeps the forwards penned in or results in a turnover at the red line which is just dumped back in. My son's Novice team is better at making tape-to-tape passes under duress to start a breakout than the Oilers defence is. The reason - we coach them that making a good first pass is key to a break out.

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#47 THRNHJE
December 22 2013, 12:59PM
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We are in play bad for ekblad mode? If this is the case keep gagner and his lack of faceoffs and defense in order to suck D for Mac D next year. Then our team is unreal by the time the new arena is done right guys? Right?

All going according to the KLowes plans. Sometimes you gotta lose for a decade to win. Trust him, he knows a bit about winning, if there is ever any concern about that.

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#48 tim martin
December 22 2013, 01:37PM
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this is what happens when you give kids millions of dollars before they have proven that they deserve it. would you put your soul into a job if you have it made before you start.

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#49 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 22 2013, 05:05PM
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Take the 17k donate it to charity (Stollery is always nice) sign it from "The Group to Fire Kevin Lowe." let media know ahead of time

just sayin

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#50 K_Mart
December 22 2013, 07:00PM
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Gerald R. Ford wrote:

No need to wait:

12:05 - 12:15: Tree planting

12:15 - 12:30: Glory days of South Side Athletic Club

12:30 - 12:35: Royal Pizza interlude

12:35 - 12:50: Obscure Golden Bears anecdote

12:50 - 1:00: Ruth's Chris interlude

1:05 - 1:20: Gratuitous name-dropping session / I know inside stuff that you guys aren't important enough to know, so, zip it, because everything's going right on schedule.

1:20 - 1:40: This is actually only, for all intents and purposes, like, Day 4 of the rebuild, not YEAR 7, so everyone be patient, etc.

1:40 - 1:50: All six goals the Blues got were screwjobs by the refs.

1:50 - 1:58: Ungrateful little people who throw jerseys on the ice are traitors to Katz nation, and should be pointed out to security.

1:59 - 2:00: Merry Christmas, I'm off to count my fat stacks.

So accurate it's scary.

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