Of course it Stinks: Suck it up

Robin Brownlee
September 22 2013 03:11PM

Of course it stinks that the Edmonton Oilers will start the 2013-14 season without Sam Gagner, who has a broken jaw after a stupid and dangerous play by Zack Kassian of the Vancouver Canucks Saturday. This we know.

Gagner lost several teeth and had his jaw broken in two places after Kassian missed him with an attempted hit along the boards and then whipped his stick around at head-level, catching the Oiler centre in the mouth.

Gagner could be out for a month – possibly longer if he needs surgery to have his jaw wired shut. We don’t know for sure yet because there's been no definitive word from the Oilers, who skated at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park today.

With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also expected to miss the start of the season while he recovers from shoulder surgery, first-year coach Dallas Eakins has next-to-no depth down the middle as the Oilers prepare to face the Winnipeg Jets in their season opener Oct. 1.

After Taylor Hall, making the switch to pivot with RNH out, the men in the middle as of now are Boyd Gordon and two more from the mix of Mark Arcobello, Anton Lander and Will Acton – unless GM Craig MacTavish picks up the phone and makes a deal.

WHAT NOW?

While it's understandable if fans lament the timing of the injury or bicker about the need for more toughness in the line-up – there is merit in the argument but dressing a hammer against the Canucks wouldn’t have prevented the knucklehead play by Kassian – that isn't going to heal Gagner's busted jaw. The Oilers can moan or suck it up. Hall, for one, will go with the latter.

"I feel bad for him, but we're going to have make up for it," Hall said. "It looks like I'm going to be playing a bit more centre than I had originally planned. That's just the way it goes sometimes. I mean, not everything is going to go according to plan and this is one of those things."

"Whatever you have to do to help this team win," said Gordon, who will be pressed into duty as the second-line centre. "If I've got to move up, or whatever the case, sometimes when you lose one of your better players, I think it brings everybody together and makes everybody bear down a little bit more and focus on what they have to do to help the team win."

Until we have a more definitive time frame on Gagner, there's no way of knowing if MacTavish will come into play, as in looking outside the organization for help. Most likely, the cavalry will have to ride to the rescue from within, for better or worse – more Hall, Gordon and the rest.

Yes, it stinks. Carry on.

ROSTER CUTS

The Oilers trimmed their roster to 33 today (20 forwards, 11 defensemen and two goaltenders).

Assigned to Oklahoma City of the AHL were: Richard Bachman, Brad Hunt, Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin, Ryan Martindale, Andrew Miller and Ty Rimmer. Jujhar Khaira was returned to Everett of the WHL.

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 Puck Dynasty
September 22 2013, 03:19PM
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One glance at the headline in my RSS feed, and I just knew this was written by Brownlee. Possibly the most "Robin Brownlee" post yet!

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#2 marty62
September 22 2013, 03:21PM
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Seen alot of doom and gloom with Sammy's injury, and its finally a sign that some of his naysayers are acknowledging that he is an important player on this team. yes, the Oilers will struggle a bit, but I liked Hall's reaction... referenced how well the Senators came together last year when they lost Karlsson and Spezza. I think Eakins will use this to motivate these kids. And we may be surprised who steps up and shows they belong in the NHL. I look forward to seeing how this group reacts to this injury.

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#3 extroy
September 22 2013, 03:23PM
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Fist injury of the year.... :( hopefully not a sign

Anybody going to see the Oilers against the Canucks at Rexall Place tonight? I got a sweeeeeeeeeeet pair of seats in the lower bowl from a friend. Picked 'em up for just $250 for the pair. Woooohooooo! Goilers!

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#4 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
September 22 2013, 03:24PM
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Will Mac T check

the waiver wire for a

stopgap measure C?*

*once the waiver wire heats up of course

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#5 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
September 22 2013, 03:25PM
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extroy wrote:

Fist injury of the year.... :( hopefully not a sign

Anybody going to see the Oilers against the Canucks at Rexall Place tonight? I got a sweeeeeeeeeeet pair of seats in the lower bowl from a friend. Picked 'em up for just $250 for the pair. Woooohooooo! Goilers!

Prepare for the wrath

of Brownlee. Nobody fists

on his articles*

*even fail 3rd post fists....dumbass

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#6 StHenriOilBomb
September 22 2013, 03:38PM
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Dangerous play leading to direct stick contact to the head. Any chance of a suspension? I know it was unintentional, but so were a handful of the suspended hits from last year.

I also know that this does little to help the Oilers, but it would go some distance to helping feel like the NHL actually cares more about safety than the optics of Shanny and his office.

Also, screw Kassian. He missed the check by 3 feet and then flailed. I do the same thing when I miss a check so that the opposing player doesn't skate away scott free... I make sure to keep my stick at waste height though. This wasn't entirely innocent, even if the head=shot part of it was.

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#7 Will
September 22 2013, 03:56PM
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With all the great stories coming out of preseason (as is usually the case... Omark, I'm looking in your direction), the one I'm not hearing is that our defense has been really good and it's not yet been a complete vet line up out there.

I mean, 5 to 1, 5 to 2 v Vancouver. Again I know it's preseason so they also haven't dressed a big gun line up, but that's really encouraging.

Hall's Faceoff win percentage might end up being a team best by the time he moves back to wing.

In the short term, correct me if I'm wrong but I don't believe Malhotra has had try outs with any team as of yet. See if he'll bite on a two way contract for one year. Bring him in and if he turns out to be player then you have some help in the interm, and you have also solved your fourth line center situation when Gags and Nuge are healthy again. If he stinks, well not much risk in a two way one year contract.

Also, I know it's not ideal, but this situation might be what Hall needed to get the push to center. If he shows well this could give Eakins all kinds of line combinations through the season. And it would give Mac T a few more options to build the team going forward.

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#8 Oilcruzer
September 22 2013, 03:56PM
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Of great interest,

The upcoming suspensions.

Lest this be legal.

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#9 Hair bag
September 22 2013, 03:56PM
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StHenriOilBomb wrote:

Dangerous play leading to direct stick contact to the head. Any chance of a suspension? I know it was unintentional, but so were a handful of the suspended hits from last year.

I also know that this does little to help the Oilers, but it would go some distance to helping feel like the NHL actually cares more about safety than the optics of Shanny and his office.

Also, screw Kassian. He missed the check by 3 feet and then flailed. I do the same thing when I miss a check so that the opposing player doesn't skate away scott free... I make sure to keep my stick at waste height though. This wasn't entirely innocent, even if the head=shot part of it was.

I agree. The rules say you are responsible for your stick at all times and this was a totally reckless play - I hope that he gets suspended but I doubt it will happen. It wasn't even like he was falling or something, he just blatantly swung his stick around head high, probably like you said to try and slow Gagne down.

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#10 Hair bag
September 22 2013, 03:56PM
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StHenriOilBomb wrote:

Dangerous play leading to direct stick contact to the head. Any chance of a suspension? I know it was unintentional, but so were a handful of the suspended hits from last year.

I also know that this does little to help the Oilers, but it would go some distance to helping feel like the NHL actually cares more about safety than the optics of Shanny and his office.

Also, screw Kassian. He missed the check by 3 feet and then flailed. I do the same thing when I miss a check so that the opposing player doesn't skate away scott free... I make sure to keep my stick at waste height though. This wasn't entirely innocent, even if the head=shot part of it was.

I agree. The rules say you are responsible for your stick at all times and this was a totally reckless play - I hope that he gets suspended but I doubt it will happen. It wasn't even like he was falling or something, he just blatantly swung his stick around head high, probably like you said to try and slow Gagne down.

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#12 Westcoastoil
September 22 2013, 04:09PM
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With the play of Nurse and Marincin + the volume of veteran D- is Klefbom the chip you trade for a C? Presumably he'd bring back more than most of the other prospects

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#14 michael
September 22 2013, 04:14PM
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Is Fedun on your opening day roster? He is on mine. 4 points and he seems to read the play well. Larsen? Meh.

Brown. Locked and loaded for the roster. Eager. Outside looking in. Hamilton brings more offense and is better suited to Eakins system. Lander OKC bound.

Gagner out. Omark in. "Runt in,runt out".

Is Nick Shultz and Oiler on opening day? I'd bet against it. Trade bait to bolster center for sure.

Is it ever going to get easy for this team. The injury bug is already afflicting this team and the season hasn't even started.

This final week is going to fun to watch. Loved the Fedun and Hamilton interviews on HNIC.

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#15 michael
September 22 2013, 04:18PM
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Westcoastoil wrote:

With the play of Nurse and Marincin + the volume of veteran D- is Klefbom the chip you trade for a C? Presumably he'd bring back more than most of the other prospects

Sure we trade Oscar. Only if the guy coming back is named Galchenyuk. Or Courtier

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#16 LoweBlow
September 22 2013, 04:27PM
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If there are no suspensions, there will be retribution. Oil need a nuclear deterrent.

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#18 YFC Prez
September 22 2013, 04:37PM
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Oilcruzer wrote:

Of great interest,

The upcoming suspensions.

Lest this be legal.

Props for the haiku Yoda Style!

I'm also really interested in seeing how they hand out the suspensions.

Stupid and reckless stick work by Kassian putting Gagner out ....3 to 4 games, I have no idea what Shanahan will do here though, nothing will surprise me. He Hasn't been exactly consistent with his dealings on these dangerous plays.

The head shot by Weiss I imagine will get more games off and seems the more suspendable play according to what the league has done recently. That elbow should get him 5 games IMO.

Was it just me or was there some serious head hunting going on in that game by the Nucks? I really hope that was a one off and not the new norm under Torts...could be a long season.

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#19 John Chambers
September 22 2013, 04:39PM
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Here's an idea: let's rush Nuge back into action!

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#20 michael
September 22 2013, 04:39PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

If you can name one nose-bender who is capable of playing a regular shift and is available, I'm with you.

Guys who sit on the bench 57 minutes a night twitching and blowing snot bubbles are a luxury most teams can't afford.

Does he have to be forward? I am more in favor of a Marty McSorley type/Jeff Beukeboom kind of player. Insert into lineup as needed. When needed.

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#21 oilfaninvic
September 22 2013, 04:40PM
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This will not be the disaster we think... Hall Arcobello Gordon Lander and lots of help on the wings.

Kassian will get 6 reg season games

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#23 madjam
September 22 2013, 05:02PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

As per Bob McKenzie on Twitter: NHL wants the Kassian hearing in-person, so history tells us he'll get at least five games.

Weise will have his hearing on the phone.

5 games is pittance and will do nothing to stop this sort of action in the future . Minimum 20 and that will get everyones attention .If all he gets is 5 then it's open season on all star players -worth the penalty . I'd like to see it double or more if injury is to star players - relly get the message across and spare the fans their star players . Preferrential treatment for good of al fans .

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#24 Walter Sobchak
September 22 2013, 05:06PM
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My guess is the Oilers will now move Eberle to centre.

Best time is now to see if he can do it, when games matter less.

That's the Oilers best short term solution IMO, if Eberle is not the answer come opening day then you can make a trade. IIRC Eberle was drafted as a centre by the Oilers...

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#25 Spydyr
September 22 2013, 05:09PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

As per Bob McKenzie on Twitter: NHL wants the Kassian hearing in-person, so history tells us he'll get at least five games.

Weise will have his hearing on the phone.

Hey it could be worse.What if Weise had connected full on with his head shot at Hall. The season is way to early to not look for some bright spots.

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#26 tuck3r
September 22 2013, 05:16PM
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extroy wrote:

Fist injury of the year.... :( hopefully not a sign

Anybody going to see the Oilers against the Canucks at Rexall Place tonight? I got a sweeeeeeeeeeet pair of seats in the lower bowl from a friend. Picked 'em up for just $250 for the pair. Woooohooooo! Goilers!

Might want to double check who your 'friends' are...game was LAST night.

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#27 John Chambers
September 22 2013, 05:26PM
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LoweBlow wrote:

If there are no suspensions, there will be retribution. Oil need a nuclear deterrent.

They need someone to cross-check Kassian in the mouth next game, or spear a Sedins in the jugular.

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#28 Wingin'It
September 22 2013, 05:31PM
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Wow...that should be a suspension for a LONG time. But more concerning than that is that noone on the Oilers took a stand. Gonna be a long season!

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#29 Mr common sense
September 22 2013, 05:33PM
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marty62 wrote:

Seen alot of doom and gloom with Sammy's injury, and its finally a sign that some of his naysayers are acknowledging that he is an important player on this team. yes, the Oilers will struggle a bit, but I liked Hall's reaction... referenced how well the Senators came together last year when they lost Karlsson and Spezza. I think Eakins will use this to motivate these kids. And we may be surprised who steps up and shows they belong in the NHL. I look forward to seeing how this group reacts to this injury.

I was waiting for someone to say this.

And no, because fans are now concerned with the C position, does not mean, we love sam gagner. Truth is, as juicy as the line sounds with Perron, gagner and yak, they are much much much too weak to face our Pacific division opponents. Perron looks relaxed out there and yak is def looking sharp but this line would get physically crushed by LA, SJ, VAn and Ana.

I wish Sam well but this will be a good and early slap in the face reminder that we need as much brawn as we have skill to compete. I laugh when I am told that the oil are following the Det and Chi model. Oh ya? Lol no problem......have you heard of 6'2 225lbs C Franzen? Or top C John Toews and monster Brian Bickell?

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#30 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
September 22 2013, 05:44PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Hey it could be worse.What if Weise had connected full on with his head shot at Hall. The season is way to early to not look for some bright spots.

Not to worry Spyder....if Hall had been lost for the season......The League would have suspended Weise for at least 50 games....after all what matters is that things are fair..........BLUE RIBBONS FOR EVERYONE!!!

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#31 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
September 22 2013, 05:45PM
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tuck3r wrote:

Might want to double check who your 'friends' are...game was LAST night.

He was making a funny.........it was prop worthy.....

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#32 Dennis
September 22 2013, 06:03PM
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Apparently Gagner's jaw has not been wired shut, which is promising news. He's still out for a few weeks probably but he won't be out as long as if it was wired shut.

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/sports/hockey/edmonton-oilers/Edmonton+Oilers+centre+Gagner/8944440/story.html

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#33 marty 62
September 22 2013, 06:09PM
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Mr Common Sense Wrote:

I was waiting for someone to say this.

And no, because fans are now concerned with the C position, does not mean, we love sam gagner. Truth is, as juicy as the line sounds with Perron, gagner and yak, they are much much much too weak to face our Pacific division opponents. Perron looks relaxed out there and yak is def looking sharp but this line would get physically crushed by LA, SJ, VAn and Ana.

I wish Sam well but this will be a good and early slap in the face reminder that we need as much brawn as we have skill to compete. I laugh when I am told that the oil are following the Det and Chi model. Oh ya? Lol no problem......have you heard of 6'2 225lbs C Franzen? Or top C John Toews and monster Brian Bickell?

Yeah, it would nice to be able to pluck 6' 3" Centers that can play top 6 mins, but they dont grow on trees. I was just pointing out that maybe this will be a chance for guys like Hamilton to get a shot to showcase their skills. He made a sweet pass to Yak on that PPG.

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#34 Larry
September 22 2013, 06:11PM
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John Chambers wrote:

Here's an idea: let's rush Nuge back into action!

Sarcasm is the lowest form of humour...

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#35 Tim in Kelowna
September 22 2013, 06:14PM
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I really feel for Sam. There are few injuries more frustrating or uncomfortable than a broken jaw. Not only will he miss considerable time, but he'll likely lose a ton of weight over the next 4-6 weeks. I get the sense that there aren't many guys that work harder than Gagner in the off season and this is yet another TC/early season set back.

I remember in 2011 when he looked incredible coming into training camp, he was 20% faster and looked ready to take the next step. But he sprained his ankle and his great offseason was squandered. This time he must be really frustrated because it looked like he was ready to improve on an outstanding 2013 season.

Hopefully this forces MacT to finally make a deal for that 2nd/3rd line centre we never got this summer. I suppose 2 of Arcobello/Acton/Lander might be up for the job, but if we want to make the playoffs the Oilers will have to have a good Oct/Nov. That's a pretty serious gamble.

Plus, let's face it, the Oilers need another quality centreman anyway.

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#36 Larry
September 22 2013, 06:18PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

My guess is the Oilers will now move Eberle to centre.

Best time is now to see if he can do it, when games matter less.

That's the Oilers best short term solution IMO, if Eberle is not the answer come opening day then you can make a trade. IIRC Eberle was drafted as a centre by the Oilers...

Your high...

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#37 Poolanov
September 22 2013, 06:20PM
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They should suspend him for his next 2 games against the Oilers!!! Only makes sense.

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#38 Larry
September 22 2013, 06:22PM
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extroy wrote:

Fist injury of the year.... :( hopefully not a sign

Anybody going to see the Oilers against the Canucks at Rexall Place tonight? I got a sweeeeeeeeeeet pair of seats in the lower bowl from a friend. Picked 'em up for just $250 for the pair. Woooohooooo! Goilers!

Hahaha! You're not very smart...

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#39 Jroc
September 22 2013, 06:55PM
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Mueller. Mueller.

Mueller. Mueller

Ferris mueller

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#40 Big Cap
September 22 2013, 07:05PM
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@Robin Brownlee

It seems that Eakins will be playing his best players the most amount of time throughout the game. That includes PP and PK and ES. If that's the case if your not in the Top 9, just how much ice time will anyone on the 4th line see? Personally I would rather have a Heavyweight sitting on the pine rather than another skilled smallish forward.

There is also a lot more a Heavyweight brings to a game than the 3 minutes a night he does play. He adds a major boost to his team and also serves the opponent notice he'll be watching and ready.

Lastly how is it other teams "afford" to have a tough guy on their roster and yet no one is talented enough to crack ours?

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#41 JJ
September 22 2013, 07:08PM
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You know, I'm not usually too accepting of violence against women.. However, if said violence is directed towards the Sedin Sisters, then, under these circumstances, I say go for it.

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#42 Greg the Hammer Valentine
September 22 2013, 07:17PM
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Do you think we jinxed the Oilers with all that talk about how little depth they have at center and how it would end in tragedy? Somehow I fell partly responsible...

There must be some resonably priced stop-gap centers out there. I'm thinking Pirri in Chicago or Goc in Florida.

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#43 thebiggestmanintheworld
September 22 2013, 07:33PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

You would consider trading Oscar Klefbom to fill a hole for an injury that will keep Gagner out 4-8 weeks?

That hole at center was pretty big, before Gagner went down...

I'm not advocating a Klefbom trade or anything, but we've needed centers since before Klefbom was even drafted...

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#44 Time Travelling Sean
September 22 2013, 07:34PM
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Arcobello has looked invisible from the games I've seen, but this seems to be an amazing opportunity to get consistent games in with highly skilled players.

I'm rooting for him.

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#45 hags9000
September 22 2013, 07:36PM
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I think Eberle is more naturally suited to play C than Hall. He will do great.

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#46 DSF
September 22 2013, 07:37PM
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Greg the Hammer Valentine wrote:

Do you think we jinxed the Oilers with all that talk about how little depth they have at center and how it would end in tragedy? Somehow I fell partly responsible...

There must be some resonably priced stop-gap centers out there. I'm thinking Pirri in Chicago or Goc in Florida.

Why, exactly, would Chicago or Florida move their reasonably priced centres?

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#48 David S
September 22 2013, 07:59PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

If you can name one nose-bender who is capable of playing a regular shift and is available, I'm with you.

Guys who sit on the bench 57 minutes a night twitching and blowing snot bubbles are a luxury most teams can't afford.

^ THIS.

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#49 nick
September 22 2013, 08:00PM
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Teams take such liberties with the Oilers because there is no worry of retribution. Time for McT to get a tough guy here. Who cares if he plays 3 minutes a game need him on the bench. On another note who the heck does Eakins think he is?? Mike Babcock?? He is a damn rookie coach should be behind the bench learning how to run an NHL bench not in the stands watching. I see why this guy wants a young team as a veteran team would tune him out real fast. Earn your stripes Eakins

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#50 Mr common sense
September 22 2013, 08:08PM
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nick wrote:

Teams take such liberties with the Oilers because there is no worry of retribution. Time for McT to get a tough guy here. Who cares if he plays 3 minutes a game need him on the bench. On another note who the heck does Eakins think he is?? Mike Babcock?? He is a damn rookie coach should be behind the bench learning how to run an NHL bench not in the stands watching. I see why this guy wants a young team as a veteran team would tune him out real fast. Earn your stripes Eakins

Exactly. Or I should say......common sense

What happens when the renter doesn't pay on time and the landlord says nothing.

What happens when little Johnny doesn't listen to his parents and there is no punishment given to Johnny ever?

What happens when you don't take care of weeds in the garden when there are only a handful of them?

Answer: Watch tsn tonight and see what David clarkson does when the Sabre goes after Kessel. Then watch the Oiler 'responses' to yesterday's acts on hall and gagner. And no I'm not condoning a Putin-like response but tell me if you think anyone will freely go after Kessel again

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