TRAINING CAMP: DAY ONE

Jason Gregor
September 11 2013 02:44PM

For all the rookies, today is a great day. It is their first day of main camp, shaking hands with veterans and trying not to look too excited as they attend their first day of training camp. Realistically, the only rookie with a chance to crack the lineup is Oscar Klefbom, but that won't dampen the enthusiasm of the next few days for all the young players.

The rookies aren't the only ones excited though. The veterans are just as giddy about the possibilities that await the 2013/2014 Edmonton Oilers.

For the third straight season they have a new coach, but unlike the previous two head coaches, Dallas Eakins wasn't part of the previous regime and he brings a completely new focus and attitude.

Eakins will be more demanding, and he's going to use the first few days of training camp to gauge the conditioning level and dedication of his players.

The former Toronto Marlies head coach has made it clear he expects his team to be one of the best conditioned teams in the league, and the first few days of on-ice sessions will be fast-paced.

Twenty-five years ago medical day had some interesting story lines, but nowadays all the players are in good to great shape, and now that Theo Peckham is gone, it is unlikely we will hear about any "he's not in great shape" stories today.

Eakins still hasn't had a chance to address his team, but he plans on introducing himself to many of his players today as they move from one testing station to the next.

The players get their eyes checked, they see the dentist, and they get to enjoy a VO2 test, the windgate, agility tests, speed tests and some other pleasurable challenges.

They've all been through it before, and I've noticed that the players aren't intimidated or worried about the tests. Most of the players look at the tests as a challenge. They want to see how they compare to their peers, and see if all the hard work they did in the summer paid off.

Tomorrow all the players will endure an on-ice conditioning test. It is a three minute test. They start at the goal line and go down the ice and back as fast as they can. They do this at every :30 and :00 until three minutes has elapsed. Eakins will monitor the difference between their first skate and their last. The goal is to maintain the same pace throughout.

QUICK HITS...

  • We all know the Oilers want to make the playoffs. It's the goal of every team, and of course the Oilers want to make it, but it was refreshing to hear Eakins' views when he was asked about playoffs."I don't like going big picture. I think if we have our expectations in line and we are able to deliver on a nightly basis...and if you start winning on a nightly basis the big picture takes care of itself.," said Eakins

  • If you don't take care of the small steps, it is hard to compete a task and it was nice hearing a coach address the issues. The Oilers need to learn how to be competitive every night before they can talk or think about making the playoffs.
     
  • Ben Eager has shed some bulk. He's still likely 225 pounds, but he looked much trimmer. Eager played very well for OKC in the playoffs last year, and it will be interesting to see how Eakins uses him. I doubt we will see Eager and Mike Brown in the lineup at the same time, and if the Oilers keep 8 D-men, you can't have one of them as your 13th forward, so it seems like those two could be battling for one spot.
     
  • Eager's size and speed would be very useful, but the question is if can play smart enough in his own zone? If Eager plays hard, and Eakins shows some confidence in him, he might return to the NHL. I don't see many spots up for grabs, but he could push Brown.
     
  • Jesse Joensuu is a legit 6'4". He has decent skill, but if he shows a willingness to use his size down low and in the corners he might get a long look in the top six. Eakins hinted he wants guys with different dimensions and skills among his top-six or top-nine, and Joensuu has what no other skilled forward has; a big frame. I'm curious to see who Eakins plays him with in the preseason.
     
  • I don't care if Joensuu isn't a great skater. Not every player needs to be lighting fast. If his game is good on the boards and in front of the net, how fast does he need to be. The Oilers need to diversify their lineup.
     
  • Eakins hasn't made up his mind, but right now he has Andrew Ference pencilled in to play with Justin Schultz. He admitted he needs to see guys play together, and there is no guarantee pairs will stay together all season, but like most of us expected Ference will get a look with J.Schultz.
     
  • Eakins also wants to find chemistry amongst forward duos, rather than a trio. It is rare to keep a line together all season, and even though Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle have had great success for short stints, we likely won't see line combinations stay consistent all season.
     
  • Don't expect the Oilers to go out and get a heavyweight goon. Eakins doesn't like guys who can't play. If they could find a tough, physical guy who could play, then he'd consider it, but I don't expect the Oilers to find the next Steve MacIntryre.
     
  • Eakins is a very serious guy. It oozes out when he talks to the media and his players. There will be much more accountability this season. You should expect the Oilers to be much more competitive on a nightly basis this year. Time will tell if that equates to more victories, but I'd be surprised if Eakins allows this team to coast through stretches of games, which has happened too often the past three or four years. 

 RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 boxman
September 11 2013, 07:18PM
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All hat, no cattle.....That's the fella you see shaving in the mirror DSF.

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#2 number99
September 11 2013, 05:29PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

Just be positive once

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#3 TOM//MTL
September 11 2013, 04:43PM
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I'm hoping that the AHL stint last year will prove to be a reality check for Eager. If he shows up this year with his head screwed on straight the Oilers could use his speed, size & A-hole factor. I'm rooting for him. I hope he's hungry.

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#4 Ducey
September 11 2013, 05:09PM
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Wonger wrote:

Like the great Brian Burke said you need elite enforcers to protect your skill- you need a safe working environment for your skill. The Oil have tons of skill- they need tons of protection for that skill - BIG MAC will be available on waivers Oct.1. OIL in the same division as Calgary ( McGrattan, Jackman, O'Brien) Vancouver (Sestito, Kassian, Bieksa, Alberts, etc.) and Colorado (Bordeleau, Sarich, Wilson, 55, etc.).It got sickening to watch the kids run every night last year! Mike Brown is super tough but too small for McGrattan (although they had an AHL tilt in 2005). PL3 and MAC are in Pitt - one or both of them will be on waivers Oct1 (PL3 has an AHL contract - MAC is at full NHL 650K this year. BIG JOHN SCOTT would solve all toughness issues for the OIl by himself. DAVID STAPLES IS RIGHT ON THE MONEY!!!! OILERS NEED A GOON. Watch the Saturday split squad games vs Calgary - McGrats will put one of our skill guys on IR for sure with NO RESPONSE!!!!!

You lost me at "the great Brian Burke".

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#5 Leafsblow
September 11 2013, 04:23PM
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Oilers don't need a big heavyweight goon. They need more players to play a tougher shift. Size has very little to do with toughness and being hard to play against.

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#6 Reg Dunlop
September 11 2013, 11:50PM
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DSF wrote:

Eakins is starting to remind me of Kavis Reed.

All hat, no cattle.

We'll see.

A couple of things:

First off, I am embarrassed to ask a geezer such as yourself but what in the world does this even mean?

Second, I get that you are bitter about the mismanagement of the oil during the last decade and it spews out like poison whenever you reference anyone associated with the team. BUT why the grind on the Eskimos? Do you have some imagined beef with that organization? Or are you just stirring the pot out of boredom? This is a sincere thought... Walmart hires blue hairs as greeters, it would give you something to do, maybe feel better about yourself, be a little less curmudgeonly.

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#8 2004Z06
September 11 2013, 03:24PM
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The start of training camp is always a double edged sword. On one hand the dog days of summer are almost over, and on the other, the dog days of summer are almost over.

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I'm excited.

Eakins is very impressive. But so was Ralph. And I loved Renney. I was excited about Pat Quinn, too.

Watch the videos on oilers.nhl.tv. The boys are saying all the usual things. I actually got tired of hearing all 6 guys talk about the same thing.

Let's see where this ship is headed come winter.

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#10 Lochenzo
September 11 2013, 03:25PM
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That 3 minute drill scares me. I know it's a relatively short duration, but to keep the jets on that long. I'd be gassed at 2 minutes and begging for somebody to put me out of my misery after 3 minutes.

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#11 DieHard
September 11 2013, 03:33PM
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This is the most optimistic I've been in a long time. No more hoping to lose for that precious top pick. Don't care no more. I want to win.

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#12 Taylor Gang
September 11 2013, 06:49PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

You'd think with all those Engineers walking around the U of eh, they could figure out a way to update their home ice surroundings. What a bloody dump. The rink is an embarrassment. Just sitting in those shippy dressing rooms alone must be incentive enough for the Oiler rookies to try harder so they don't end up there. That rink makes Rexall look like the Taj Mahal.

What ever happened to the get Weber talk of yesteryear? At least you were passionate. Now you're like my girlfriend when mother nature comes around once a month...

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#13 French Toast Mafia
September 12 2013, 08:52AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

You'd think with all those Engineers walking around the U of eh, they could figure out a way to update their home ice surroundings. What a bloody dump. The rink is an embarrassment. Just sitting in those shippy dressing rooms alone must be incentive enough for the Oiler rookies to try harder so they don't end up there. That rink makes Rexall look like the Taj Mahal.

You do know that people don't pay 200 bucks to go watch a game at the U of A hey? The university has a lot of stuff to pay for (the salary of their president....), this isn't the NCAA where teams get millions of dollars a year just to show up on the football field.

You have arguably the best Canadian university hockey team on a year-by-year basis, super cheap seats, and even cheaper beer... I don't know what more you could ask for.

Unless you've become too good to even sit in the Claire Drake with the rest of the bums who just love cheap beer and good hockey.

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#14 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
September 11 2013, 03:01PM
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So why the talk of a heavyweight from McKenzie? I just don't get it. You have Eager and Brown, then milhouse names Rosehill and Peluso as guys the Oilers would target.

It makes no sense.

At least Macintyre makes sense for Sestito and McGrattan, but another middleweight that plays 5 minutes a night just has me confused.

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#15 Racki
September 11 2013, 04:53PM
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@Leafsblow

I used to be a big advocate of carrying a goon on your team, but I've changed my ways. I don't think they really have any use nowadays. If you can't play NHL hockey, you shouldn't be playing NHL hockey.

I know the word out there from Bob McKenzie was that the Oilers were shopping for a heavyweight, but I can't see why they'd bother. As much as many people don't like Mike Brown, he's more likely to fight the guys that the Oilers skill guys should be worrying about (your Clutterbuck types.. although thankfully he's in the other conference) than a heavyweight will. In fact there's probably zero chance a heavyweight would fight those types or even intimidate those types. Mike Brown and guys like him aren't going to stop the Clutterbucks from running around either, but at least it will satisfy my inherit need to have my taste of revenge. :P

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#16 Alsker
September 11 2013, 10:50PM
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DSF wrote:

Eakins is starting to remind me of Kavis Reed.

All hat, no cattle.

We'll see.

Really hate to feed the troll...but seriously....looking to break your record of trashes for one comment...epic fail dude, simply epic fail....

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#17 brian_d
September 11 2013, 02:58PM
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Long time lurker, first time poster here. Love most all ON blogs. If Ference is paired with Schultz, assuming the top pairing is Smid and Petry. Would a dynamic duo of J. Shultz and Petry be too vulnerable in their own end? They'd definitely keep the puck moving!

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#18 Batfink
September 11 2013, 03:03PM
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@brian_d

Welcome Brian!

@ Gregor: Just you talking about Eager, I believe another duty of the coach is to develop players. Who knows, maybe Eakins can re-invigorate and perhaps tweak some players games, who we thought were out of the picture. Would be a nice bonus.

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#19 **
September 11 2013, 08:24PM
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DSF wrote:

Eakins is starting to remind me of Kavis Reed.

All hat, no cattle.

We'll see.

Reed is like the crazy angry hobo yelling at a corner for no reason. Eakins is like a drill sergeant who doesn't take crap from anyone.

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#20 David S
September 11 2013, 03:57PM
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Wonger wrote:

Like the great Brian Burke said you need elite enforcers to protect your skill- you need a safe working environment for your skill. The Oil have tons of skill- they need tons of protection for that skill - BIG MAC will be available on waivers Oct.1. OIL in the same division as Calgary ( McGrattan, Jackman, O'Brien) Vancouver (Sestito, Kassian, Bieksa, Alberts, etc.) and Colorado (Bordeleau, Sarich, Wilson, 55, etc.).It got sickening to watch the kids run every night last year! Mike Brown is super tough but too small for McGrattan (although they had an AHL tilt in 2005). PL3 and MAC are in Pitt - one or both of them will be on waivers Oct1 (PL3 has an AHL contract - MAC is at full NHL 650K this year. BIG JOHN SCOTT would solve all toughness issues for the OIl by himself. DAVID STAPLES IS RIGHT ON THE MONEY!!!! OILERS NEED A GOON. Watch the Saturday split squad games vs Calgary - McGrats will put one of our skill guys on IR for sure with NO RESPONSE!!!!!

Oh god.

Kent nailed it on the last article. If Calgary has McGrattan out on the ice the game's already out of reach and Eakins can sit his stars. So it ends up they won't get hit by their designated face-puncher in a last-minute-of-the-game retaliation move (which will be sure to get him a multi-game suspension anyways).

McGrattan. Good one man. Good one.

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#22 Manfly
September 11 2013, 08:16PM
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^what we really need is more wins!!

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#23 Wonger
September 11 2013, 03:34PM
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Like the great Brian Burke said you need elite enforcers to protect your skill- you need a safe working environment for your skill. The Oil have tons of skill- they need tons of protection for that skill - BIG MAC will be available on waivers Oct.1. OIL in the same division as Calgary ( McGrattan, Jackman, O'Brien) Vancouver (Sestito, Kassian, Bieksa, Alberts, etc.) and Colorado (Bordeleau, Sarich, Wilson, 55, etc.).It got sickening to watch the kids run every night last year! Mike Brown is super tough but too small for McGrattan (although they had an AHL tilt in 2005). PL3 and MAC are in Pitt - one or both of them will be on waivers Oct1 (PL3 has an AHL contract - MAC is at full NHL 650K this year. BIG JOHN SCOTT would solve all toughness issues for the OIl by himself. DAVID STAPLES IS RIGHT ON THE MONEY!!!! OILERS NEED A GOON. Watch the Saturday split squad games vs Calgary - McGrats will put one of our skill guys on IR for sure with NO RESPONSE!!!!!

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#24 MessyEH!
September 11 2013, 04:37PM
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David S wrote:

~"OILERS NEED A GOON!"~

*Edited - Too far.

The last thing the Oilers need is unskilled players. I hope Eakins can coach Brown and Eager into PK Specialists. Both players have shown they can really play hockey. If Eakins can get them killing Penalties and playing the opposition to a stand still, then we'll have a truly effective 4th line.

Smyth may surprise us. If any player was going to push themselves to the limit I beleive it would be Ryan Smyth. Hopefully he comes to camp ready to battle in front of the net.

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#25 Johe
September 11 2013, 06:42PM
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Leafsblow wrote:

Oilers don't need a big heavyweight goon. They need more players to play a tougher shift. Size has very little to do with toughness and being hard to play against.

Yes! To me toughness is never quitting. You get knocked down you get right back up. You lose the puck you work your tail off to get it back. Speed, tenacity, passion, and skill. That's the type of team the Oilers should strive to be.

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#26 David S
September 11 2013, 03:52PM
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brian_d wrote:

Long time lurker, first time poster here. Love most all ON blogs. If Ference is paired with Schultz, assuming the top pairing is Smid and Petry. Would a dynamic duo of J. Shultz and Petry be too vulnerable in their own end? They'd definitely keep the puck moving!

*Watches as new guys come onto the site every fall*

Hey lookit all the fresh mea...Uhhh...WELCOME ABOARD BRIAN!

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#27 Quicksilver ballet
September 11 2013, 05:10PM
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You'd think with all those Engineers walking around the U of eh, they could figure out a way to update their home ice surroundings. What a bloody dump. The rink is an embarrassment. Just sitting in those shippy dressing rooms alone must be incentive enough for the Oiler rookies to try harder so they don't end up there. That rink makes Rexall look like the Taj Mahal.

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#28 Devolution
September 11 2013, 10:10PM
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DSF wrote:

Eakins is starting to remind me of Kavis Reed.

All hat, no cattle.

We'll see.

Training camp. Day 1.

It is pretty early to write off the coach.

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#30 DSF
September 11 2013, 07:02PM
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Eakins is starting to remind me of Kavis Reed.

All hat, no cattle.

We'll see.

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#31 vetinari
September 11 2013, 03:20PM
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brian_d wrote:

Long time lurker, first time poster here. Love most all ON blogs. If Ference is paired with Schultz, assuming the top pairing is Smid and Petry. Would a dynamic duo of J. Shultz and Petry be too vulnerable in their own end? They'd definitely keep the puck moving!

brian_d, welcome to the boards...

As for a Schultz Jr. and Petry combination, I think that would be a killer PP combination but 5-on-5, maybe a little too risky.

I can't wait to see how the team starts the season. If the players aren't used to Eakins level of conditioning, I see a real danger of the team hitting a lull by New Years or so. Also, the more vigorous practices and off-days are, the greater the risk of injury is to the players.

Excuse me while I grab my remote, my jersey and a beer from the fridge-- hockey is back!!!

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#32 Chilly Canadian
September 11 2013, 03:55PM
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I'm all for optimism, but I'm not expecting Joensuu to make the top six, or even the top nine! He was a bubble player on the Isles, what makes you think he'll be any better here? I understand the whole late bloomer thing but I just don't get the hype. Stop looking so hard for the "big man who plays hard but has soft hands" player that it covers your glasses with mud.

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#33 Geoff
September 11 2013, 05:53PM
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LOL i love the opening comment in the dallas eakins Raw interview. "Enjoy those donuts cause you won't see them again"

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#34 Papamike
September 11 2013, 07:19PM
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DSF wrote:

Eakins is starting to remind me of Kavis Reed.

All hat, no cattle.

We'll see.

Now that is funny, right there

hard to compare, one is a coach, the other is not.

GO STAMPS GO!

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#35 Manfly
September 11 2013, 07:55PM
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your right Papamike....

Eakins = coach..... Kavis = not

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#36 Dog Train
September 11 2013, 08:45PM
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Talk is cheap and pretty soon the team will have their chance to write their story. I like that Eakins is more no-nonsense than Renney or Krueger. It's time to cut the crap and get serious about building a winner here.

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#37 Big Cap
September 12 2013, 01:50AM
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For those who believe that we don't need a Heavyweight or there's no room in the game for one, then why do alot of other teams in our division all have one??

Mike Brown fits a great role for us, but no true Heavyweight or light heavyweight is the slightest worried about Brown.

Its completely embarrassing to watch guys like Regher or McGratton run free with the no fear.

Booguard was a non factor once Big Mac was there to saw him off as an equal. How many guys did the Boogyman put out on our team in years past?

This is Oil Country - We Don't Get Pushed Around!

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#38 j
September 12 2013, 08:13AM
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@Big Cap

Hmmm - didn't we have a number of tough guys all those years Regher ran 'free'? Didn't seem to help much as he played against our top two lines. I understand the concept of having a facepuncher. I really do. I have been a fan of the team since Semenko and met him in a few occasions. Great guy. But it doesn't help you win many hockey games. Period. You can make the case that from time to time a fight has changed momentum but, as pointed out by Willis (I believe) the stats don't support it. And wouldn't a goal from the fourth line change the momentum even more? How about a good fore-checking shift? I think the fourth line can be much more effective with actual hockey players taking the ice.

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#39 **
September 11 2013, 08:29PM
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Taylor Gang wrote:

What ever happened to the get Weber talk of yesteryear? At least you were passionate. Now you're like my girlfriend when mother nature comes around once a month...

I worked at the equipment "room" (it was the space under the bleachers) at the Clare Drake. I got to see the locker rooms and the whole facility. It is terrible. The smell of humanity never goes away, it is old, crammed. That facility is in serious need of a reno.

It has no business being the home of one of the top 4 university hockey teams in the country that invented the game!!!!

It's like Alabama playing football at foote field. At least it has artificial turf.

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#40 Chaz
September 12 2013, 10:59AM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

A couple of things:

First off, I am embarrassed to ask a geezer such as yourself but what in the world does this even mean?

Second, I get that you are bitter about the mismanagement of the oil during the last decade and it spews out like poison whenever you reference anyone associated with the team. BUT why the grind on the Eskimos? Do you have some imagined beef with that organization? Or are you just stirring the pot out of boredom? This is a sincere thought... Walmart hires blue hairs as greeters, it would give you something to do, maybe feel better about yourself, be a little less curmudgeonly.

^ This!

DSF, your negativity is never-ending. Now I know why Tigers eat their young.

Good Grief!

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#41 David S
September 11 2013, 03:59PM
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~"OILERS NEED A GOON!"~

*Edited - Too far.

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#42 Slapshotzky
September 11 2013, 04:22PM
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Great article Jason. I'm hoping Dallas does well with this team. The last few seasons, and since the playoffs really, things have felt grim and hopeless. With MacT at the helm and Dallas as coach there is reason to be hopeful again. Glad to be done with the Tambo era.

(thanks for the draft picks though Tamby!)

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#43 WhattaMike
September 11 2013, 04:57PM
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IMO, I wish we could find more Bill Guerin type guys...ones who could skate, score, fight, and play two way hockey. Billy was about 6'2" atll and averaged about 220 lbs...(very good size player).

I also have to say I would like to see Joensuu get a trial shot to line up with Hall and RNH or Gagner and Ebs....or even Gagner and Yak.

Putting Perron then with Gordon and Hemsky would make a fine scoring type 3rd line in this case with even the fourth line of Jones, Smyth and Lander/Acton being good.

line 1: Hall-RNH-Eberle Line 2: Joensuu-Gagner-Yak Line 3: Perron-Gordon-Hemsky Line 4: Smyth-Lander/Acton-Jones

Choice for Extras: Eager, Brown, Hamilton

Omark... will likely get on waivers by the end of TC but maybe he can be a first type call up from OKC this year and then be able to show the Oilers he has improved much more as a two way guy.

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#44 CurtyB
September 11 2013, 07:58PM
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We don't need an enforcer. But we do need more fights!

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#45 **
September 11 2013, 09:32PM
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DSF wrote:

Donuts?

Seriously?

I feel bad for Terry Jones

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#46 Wäx Män Riley
September 11 2013, 09:58PM
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DSF wrote:

Eakins is starting to remind me of Kavis Reed.

All hat, no cattle.

We'll see.

why?

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#47 Rama Lama
September 11 2013, 06:17PM
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What about all those choclate chip cookies that Yaks, RNH, Hall and Schultz were eating at that nice ladies house? You know the clip from the Oilers website.

Eating donughts is no different than putting two spoons of sugar in you coffee........much to do about nothing.

If Eakins can revive players like Eager, Jones, I will be impressed.

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#48 DSF
September 11 2013, 08:40PM
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** wrote:

Reed is like the crazy angry hobo yelling at a corner for no reason. Eakins is like a drill sergeant who doesn't take crap from anyone.

Donuts?

Seriously?

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#49 book¡e
September 12 2013, 09:39AM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

A couple of things:

First off, I am embarrassed to ask a geezer such as yourself but what in the world does this even mean?

Second, I get that you are bitter about the mismanagement of the oil during the last decade and it spews out like poison whenever you reference anyone associated with the team. BUT why the grind on the Eskimos? Do you have some imagined beef with that organization? Or are you just stirring the pot out of boredom? This is a sincere thought... Walmart hires blue hairs as greeters, it would give you something to do, maybe feel better about yourself, be a little less curmudgeonly.

To be fair to DSF - the Eskimos are on their worst losing streak in 42 years - criticism may be justified there.

Avatar
#50 Ivan Drago
September 11 2013, 03:26PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
+1
3
props

Hey Gregor, when Nuge is playing, and Hall, Ebs, Yak, Perron, and Gags are all healthy, who do you think would drop down to the 3rd line if Joensuu does well in a top 6 role? 3 scoring lines maybe?

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