GILBERT BRULE: ENCORE?

Robin Brownlee
July 16 2013 11:57PM

I'm not so sure we saw anything resembling the best of Gilbert Brule, the person or the hockey player, during his first tour with the Edmonton Oilers. I find myself wondering if he might be worth a second look now.

I'm contemplating that possibility after reading a piece by Vancouver Province columnist Tony Gallagher today. I always liked the kid, even though he wasn't right and didn't show us enough to stay during his first stop with the Oilers, so I'm hardly impartial on the subject.

Now, having battled depression and a difficult relationship with his father and still only 26, the former Vancouver Giant apparently has his head on straight and is looking to get back into the NHL, where he belongs.

The Vancouver Canucks might be interested in Brule, and I'd suggest the Oilers should be, too. What's the downside of offering Brule a professional tryout before training camp rolls around? There isn’t one.

ON THE COMEBACK

Brule played 117 games with the Oilers from 2008-09 to 2010-11, tallying 26-23-49. His best stretch came in 2009-10, when he scored 17-20-37 in 65 games. That season was seen by some, including me, as his breakthrough year.

It wasn't to be. Burdened by depression and the fractious relationship with his dad, Brule, who was the sixth overall pick by Columbus in the 2005 Entry Draft, instead faded away.

"I went to see a therapist, who prescribed temporary medication, and I really don’t believe in taking drugs for a problem like that," Brule told Gallagher.

"I thought it should have been dealt with in a different way. But the Oilers wanted me back on the ice as soon as possible. It’s a business and I understand that, and I’m not trying to throw the Oilers under the bus; they reacted as any team would and should.

"But the medication didn’t make me better, it made it worse. And all the while I was trying to play through this. Now I’ve talked those issues through, my head is clear, I feel good. It’s actually fun again to be on the ice. That’s the thing with my father. I’m really happy and grateful that he got me into hockey, it’s just that any regular relationship with him while I’m playing isn’t going to work."

A FIT HERE?

I hope Brule gets another chance somewhere in the NHL, and I'd be happy to see him get it here. He's one of the most decent young men you'll ever come across and, like I said, I'm not exactly unbiased on the subject.

That said, being a "good guy" doesn't necessarily make him a fit with the Oilers. I can't help but think, though, that the physical edge Brule plays with for an undersized player and his offensive ability as a secondary scorer makes him a candidate for this line-up.

It would certainly provide Oiler fans with a feel-good story to see the kid back in town. More important, though, he might provide the Oilers with a third-line option they don't have now. I wonder, might GM Craig MacTavish might be contemplating the same thing?

The Oilers, after all, have taken longer shots where reclamation projects are concerned, no?

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

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A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 RJ
July 17 2013, 12:05PM
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@K_Mart

Regression is a possibility, but there are three factors I'd consider relevant:

1) quality of linemates - he could play with Hall & Eberle or Perron & Yakupov. Those would be the best sets of wingers he's ever played with (if Perron is as good as advertised).

2) career apex - from everything I've read, players reach their statistical peak from the age of 24 - 27. This would mean that Sam is just starting to reach his peak in terms of point production.

3) serendipity - I haven't seen any studies, but a lot of players fortuitously reach career highs in a contract year.

I'd bet on him at least matching last year's ppg, if not an outright improvement. Guess we'll see soon enough.

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#52 madjam
July 17 2013, 02:06PM
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John wrote:

+1

I'm impressed , and rather shocked anyone would do such a crazy thing as to check 3 years back . Had no idea it even existed . Do you do this for media as well when you disagree ? If you enjoyed the 3 year search you might be equally impressed of 3 years before that on The Score . Do you do this for all bloggers you disagee with ? By the way I have never played any NHL bought game . Still pretty good at the table game , however . Wow - why would anyone want to do research like that ?

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#53 Word
July 17 2013, 04:37PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Cue the, i'm like Shawn Horcoff, only better comparisons come Monday. Both have huge holes in their game. Outside of Sams better offensive numbers, their statistical differences are minimal. If Horc is a 5.5 player, then Gagner sure looks like the Oilers new 7.5 per yr 2nd/3rd line center.

Bitten arse>Oilers.

I might be real late to the party in responding to this, but I don't think UFA contracts are allowed to be used as comparables in arbitration. Pretty strict rules.

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#54 MKE
July 17 2013, 05:40PM
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madjam wrote:

Last time we made a purchase of a major talent got us a trip to Stanley Cup finals as most recall . The only time in the last 2 decades . Take Hopkins and J.Schultz just as an example only . Cost to resign the two of them might run 10-12M . Might the other elite young talent be better served with as an example - Malkin , Weber or Ovechkin ? Those types we don't have to wait for unknown development to see if they are going to be elite stars . Hall is tettering on elite status , but the other four are still questionable as to whether they will reach top elite level .

Ya because Weber and Ovechkin have proven what in the playoffs? I'll take my chances with the kids

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#55 Neal Vadekar
July 17 2013, 05:41PM
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Any chance we can get the itunes podcasts updated every week? I have subscribed to your podcast on itunes, but all the media is a year old, nothing from 2013 on there. Seems you have to download from the web site only. Thank in advance. Neal

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#56 MKE
July 17 2013, 05:44PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

I think the Oilers can blame themselves for the slow development of these kids to date. Trotting out Hemsky, Horcoff and Belanger types as leaders these last 3 yrs has more or less, differed the urgency for them to take charge of this roster. Have to think they'd be a little further along on that developmental path had they turfed these guys 2 yrs ago. Kane and Toews did alright leading the Blackhawks from close to day 1.

Ya...except Chicago already had Keith, Seabrook, Sharpe, Bolland, Ladd, and Byfuglien BEFORE they ever drafted either of those guys. Alot easier to win with that kind of supporting cast

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#57 seanjohn
July 17 2013, 05:48PM
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why not? why not have a team entirely made up of undersized forwards? buck the trend, go against the curve. be the smallest SC champion in history!!!

he plays big, but he's just another smurf. if he's the best the team can fill the lineup with, then look forward to another top 10 pick.

put me down in the 'not interested' column

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#58 Quicksilver ballet
July 17 2013, 07:25PM
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Word wrote:

I might be real late to the party in responding to this, but I don't think UFA contracts are allowed to be used as comparables in arbitration. Pretty strict rules.

You may be right. If I remember correctly, Horcoff did sign his 6 yr extension before he was eligible for free agency, similar to the sitiation Sam is in now. I'm sure MacTavish isn't going to do the same dumb thing Lowe did 5 yrs ago.

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#59 Quicksilver ballet
July 17 2013, 07:30PM
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MKE wrote:

Ya...except Chicago already had Keith, Seabrook, Sharpe, Bolland, Ladd, and Byfuglien BEFORE they ever drafted either of those guys. Alot easier to win with that kind of supporting cast

LOL!

What a difference between Lowe and Tallon. One guy does his job, and the other only thought he was doing his job. No wonder things were allowed to get this bad, nobody had the balls to keep Lowe in check. 6 ring Lowe a managerial fraud, who knew.

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#60 MKE
July 17 2013, 08:35PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

LOL!

What a difference between Lowe and Tallon. One guy does his job, and the other only thought he was doing his job. No wonder things were allowed to get this bad, nobody had the balls to keep Lowe in check. 6 ring Lowe a managerial fraud, who knew.

I'm now a Lowe fan by any means. But things were really bad in Chicago for a long time. It was a process. It didn't happen over night.

It's a process in Edmonton.

It was a process in Pittsburgh.

It was a process in Boston.

They have the elite pieces. Lets see what MacT can do over the next 2-3 years.

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#61 madjam
July 17 2013, 10:45PM
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Robin : Due to latest report on concussions what new action might league go on recommendations ? do you feel more skilled but softer might get an advantage with new recommendations . I do and I feel size will not be such an issue as it is now . Comparative advantage Oilers ?

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#62 Saytalk
July 18 2013, 01:44PM
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Signing Brule would not help anyone.

The Oilers need more size and more forwards who can backcheck (or at least make some semblance of an effort to backcheck). Brule lacks the former and is mediocre at best on the latter.

As for Brule, I am not a psychiatrist but I could raise the question as to whether Brule wouldn't be better off turning the page on his depressing times here and in Columbus, and attempt his comeback in a more positive (i.e. winning) environment with a better track record for supporting its players? While Brule didn't blame the Oilers for the whole medication thing, it just doesn't sound like he has any good reasons to come running back here.

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