Andrew Ference named captain of the Oilers

Jonathan Willis
September 29 2013 08:11AM

 

Dallas Eakins broke the news that Andrew Ference will be the new captain of the Edmonton Oilers when he tweeted the picture above on Sunday morning.

There had been indications that the Oilers might be leaning toward a veteran captain rather than one of the team's young stars, and while Ference is to some degree a surprising choice this is not entirely unexpected news.

Ference brings a wealth of experience to the role. He is 34 years old and has played nearly 1,000 games at the NHL level, split between Pittsburgh and Calgary and Boston. He spent the last two seasons as an alternate captain with a very good Bruins team. Over his career he's been on five reasonably deep playoff runs - with Mario Lemieux in 2000-01, with Jarome Iginla in 2003-04 and multiple times with the Bruins, earning a Stanley Cup ring in 2011.

He's a newcomer, but he's one that should be respected based on what he's done over his career.

Passed over were other obvious candidates. Taylor Hall is the team's best player in the here-and-now. Jordan Eberle was the Oilers' only full-time alternate last season. Sam Gagner's NHL resume doesn't put him in the same class as those two, but Craig MacTavish identified him as a character guy and a team leader over the summer and Gagner has a lot of experience for a player his age (it's worth wondering too whether Gagner's injury impacted his chances).

How much does it matter? Perhaps not a lot; the line of thinking that leaders lead regardless of position is one I have a lot of time for; I also tend to think that in the grand scheme of things naming the right or wrong guy captain doesn't have much impact on goal differential. 

Was it the right choice? Time will tell, but my inclination is to say 'yes.' The off-ice - and especially media - responsibilities that come with the captaincy are probably best given to a veteran in most cases. Choosing an outsider could well be a positive, as the Oilers continue to emphasize the break between the present and the failures of recent years. Picking a guy from a winning organization makes sense for many of the same reasons.

From this (imperfect) vantage point, Ference seems a logical choice.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 Fresh Mess
September 29 2013, 10:27AM
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If The Oilers keep Grebeshkov on the roster they will deserve the disasterous results that follow. I guess we will see what happens once he is off IR.

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#52 Smokey
September 29 2013, 10:29AM
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Soup Facist, my argument is I think Hall was the obvious choice, and I rather see Smytty as a bridge captain then Ference (a good guy) get maligned when and if his skills diminish.

Ference is be an honorable choice.

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#53 Dan 1919
September 29 2013, 11:16AM
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The impatient side of me wanted Hall to get the C, but this is a good move.

It now gives the needed couple years for one of the young guns including RNH (even, but unlikely Yak/Schultz) to step up and grab the Captaincy as the rightful guy. Instead of right now, Hall seems to be the easy pick, but what if RNH, Shultz or Ebs emerges as the CLEAR leader in a season or two.

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#54 Butters
September 29 2013, 03:55PM
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A former Flame is captain of the Oilers?!? The times they-are-a-changin'....

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#55 The Oilers Shot Clock
September 29 2013, 08:27AM
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HAHA...sorry I mean Lowe

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#56 a lg dubl dubl
September 29 2013, 08:32AM
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@The Oilers Shot Clock

lol, ol' "six rings" will always be there

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#57 Velo
September 29 2013, 08:56AM
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This is the best choice. The young guys are here for a long time. If Ference can help mold them off the ice, and they continue to develop on the ice, we will be in for a good ride - both in our community and in Rexall Place.

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#58 The Soup Fascist
September 29 2013, 09:08AM
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Most will likely be ok with this, but if Oilers and Eakins see Hall as the next captain, put an A on him full time and have Ference show him the ropes. And Ference should be prepared to pass on the C early, once Hall has matured into the role, ala Fogolin / Gretzky ...... 30 freaking years ago !! Wow I am old.

"When you can snatch the pebbles from my hand Grasshopper ..."

Yup. I am very old.

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#59 wiseguy
September 29 2013, 10:04AM
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An ex-Flame as our captain. The BOA is officially dead.

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#60 The Soup Fascist
September 29 2013, 10:22AM
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Team Omark wrote:

Down with Wanye! Down with Wanye!

Also, I would rather have Linus Omark as a captain than Snowpants.

Step away from the bong.

I repeat.

Step away from the bong.

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#61 madjam
September 29 2013, 10:41AM
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Odd choice considering most clubs are trending toward younger captains . New Gm , new coach first year , and now new captain just starting his first year as an Oiler . See a trend here ? Wonder how the young stars feel about being passed over ?

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#62 Harry
September 29 2013, 11:03AM
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Love the Gazdic pickup. Dont know much about the guy but hes 6'4" 240 and tough as nails. Exactly what we need.

Now all we need is a decent 3-4 C that doesnt have a brutal contract and all of a sudden were looking allright.

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#63 kawi460
September 29 2013, 12:49PM
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Ference knows how to win and has played in some big games the past few seasons. I think it would have been a lot of pressure for Hall if he was named the Captain and moving to center at the same time.

As for Gazdic. He seems like he is willing to go with all the AHL heavy weights and put up a lot more points then MacIntyre did down there. Should be interesting to see what happens to mac. My guess is OKC once his knee recovers.

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#64 Peter
September 29 2013, 03:01PM
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@Johe

I'm hoping he's back sooner than the projected two months for sure. Ryan Smyth only missed two weeks when he broke his jaw, but everyone heals differently and they may have been different types of breaks. Hopefully Sam will be back closer to the beginning of November, rather than the end of it.

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#65 The Soup Fascist
September 29 2013, 05:28PM
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D'oh-ilers wrote:

Looks like Wanye's source is his cousin Eklund von Gretz.

Not sure if they are related. Wanye is correct occasionally.

Plus Wanye did not list every player on the Oilers and then say, "called it" when the Captain was announced. Fifth cousins, four times removed at best.

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#66 Quicksilver ballet
September 29 2013, 10:24AM
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With Smytty and Ference being at a similar point in their lives. Should be interesting to see if Andrews affliction to fitness rubs off on Ryan Smyth some. Perhaps even extends his career a couple yrs. Be cool to see Ryan Smyth still here when it's hockey that matters for the Oilers again.

Not a popular opinion amongst the masses i'm sure. I just wanted to conform to my usual character.... stick the knife in and twist it on some fellow posters here this morning.

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#67 6 ring circus
September 29 2013, 10:59AM
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Maybe Katz took the picture considering it was taken in his house,or did the powers that be need his permission with there choice as captain ?At this pointe in time it's the right choice for the team.

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#68 kawi460
September 29 2013, 01:03PM
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@Johe

I hope so. His ability to skate with the puck impressed me.

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#69 Tokenhill
September 29 2013, 02:29PM
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Why don't we pick up cory emmerton?

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#70 Smokey
September 29 2013, 09:55AM
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Spydyr wrote:

I'm pretty sure with game he brings the fans here will soon fall in love with Ference.As for his skills declining Ference is a fitness nut like his coach.I could see him playing well for more then two years.How long did Chelios play for ?

And Horcoff was outta shape? Fitness does equate whether a player is effective. Drink some more koolaid. At 34 he was a 3 defencemen on a excellent team. I don't discount that. However in 2 years he is probably a number 6 deman at best. I guess I'm skeptical after blunder after blunder by this organization, I don't trust their ability in any aspect to make decisions. I also.want to see Andrew rode outta town. Horcoff was maligned for 3 years carrying that cross. Its going to be hard on a guy who will be on a decline no matter how good of shape he is in to carry that burden.

Ill admit I may be wrong, but if you want a bridge captain for a year the it should of been Smytty. Hall should be the captain period next year period.

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#71 Team Omark
September 29 2013, 10:20AM
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Down with Wanye! Down with Wanye!

Also, I would rather have Linus Omark as a captain than Snowpants.

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#72 David S
September 29 2013, 03:16PM
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Peter wrote:

I'm hoping he's back sooner than the projected two months for sure. Ryan Smyth only missed two weeks when he broke his jaw, but everyone heals differently and they may have been different types of breaks. Hopefully Sam will be back closer to the beginning of November, rather than the end of it.

He's workin' on it:

https://twitter.com/89SGagner/status/384407178146512896/photo/1

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#73 Peter
September 29 2013, 03:22PM
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@David S

Yep, and looking much better than a few days ago. Tough kid!

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#74 Dyckster
September 29 2013, 08:34AM
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So ya, why is KB in the picture? Old boys club alive and while, "ya sorry Steve, we decided last minute and couldn't get a hold of you". And iOS 7 makes my iPhone 4 operate slower than a Commodore 64.

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#75 Rambelaya
September 29 2013, 08:38AM
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Great decision. It's a break from the past, someone with SC experience who's already dealing with the media, and just let the kids produce.

Hall, enjoy a few more years without the pressure of C, because once you get it you're going to have it for a long, long time.

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#76 Spydyr
September 29 2013, 09:02AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Bizarre comment. If gagner would have been a good choice IYO then hall could not be the next captain. No way would they strip it from gagner two years from now to give it to him unless circumstances were very poor - or SG had been traded. And neither of those two events would be part of a decision to name gagner the captain with the intent of naming hall sometime later.

Someone on his site not naming names predicted Gagner would be named captain.They named Ference instead.Hence the good decision comment.

Since you did ask IMO Gagner would be my 5th or 6th choice for captain.

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#77 Doug
September 29 2013, 10:04AM
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Don't like it. I respect what Andrew Ference has done in his career but a new comer to a team should not be named captain.

Hall should have gotten the "C" with Ference, Eberle and Gagner getting the A.

This team belongs to the kids and they should lead with the veterans like Smyth and Ference as support.

In fact, based on deserving of the C it should have went to Smyth over Ference.

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#78 Fresh Mess
September 29 2013, 10:48AM
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Leafs waive Liles.

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#79 Dennis
September 29 2013, 11:29AM
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Harry wrote:

Passed over? Last time I checked Hal and Ebs are wearing A's and 3 of the 5 have long term 40+milion contracts.

According to the Oilers twitter feed Eakins is actually going to rotate the A's for the season because he doesn't want to assign them permanently to a couple players.

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#80 Johe
September 29 2013, 02:55PM
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@Peter

Yeah I saw that. Hoping he has a speedy recovery, and if I had to bet, I say he's back beginning of November with the full face shield.

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#81 StHenriOilBomb
September 29 2013, 04:12PM
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All day and no word from Wayne Manor...

ARE YOU SCARED?

or just soothing yourself with cheap rum and 9 month old EGG NOG?

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#82 Dog Train
September 29 2013, 05:34PM
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A solid choice. Leaders will lead regardless of being a captain. All of the off-ice and on-ice responsibilities of a captain are best left for a wily vet like Ference. Guys like Hall and Ebs can focus on playing hockey.

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#83 Fresh Mess
September 29 2013, 10:11AM
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Larsen also waived

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#84 Spydyr
September 29 2013, 10:38AM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

If The Oilers keep Grebeshkov on the roster they will deserve the disasterous results that follow. I guess we will see what happens once he is off IR.

Hope they have Grebeshkov's tin foil hat ready to go when he gets back.

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#85 Sidovech
September 29 2013, 11:51AM
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Not sure how Dallas could make this choice at this point. With Andrew's contract and fans high expectations of him to be a number one defence man this could turn into another Horcroff situation quickly. Oilers fan loves a good scapegoat

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#86 HOFFFF
September 29 2013, 03:57PM
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http://wpmedia.blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2012/12/rsz_smytty.jpg

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#87 Zarny
September 29 2013, 10:52PM
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I like Ference as Captain. I don't think who the alpha dog among the young kids is settled. Ference will be a good bridge until the leader among the young kids emerges

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#88 A rye morning
September 30 2013, 05:42AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

No idea, honestly.

I'm not wild about Colborne's upside (in MacTavish's shoes, I wouldn't have dealt for him at that price either) but there's little doubt the Oilers' center depth chart needs help in a big way.

I would rather trade that fourth round pick for Mike Brown, far greater upside.

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#89 Clyde Frog
September 30 2013, 08:17AM
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Dear Mister Wanye,

I would like my hope and a prayer back! I expended both of these items at your article and now lack them.

I will email you my shipping details and am comfortable you will have this resolved to my satisfaction by the end of the week.

Sincerely, Me

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#90 Bparsonsproject
September 29 2013, 08:32AM
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Who is sitting on the mantle behind Eakins? Does anyone else feel a bit creeped out by that?

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#91 Alex Mathis
September 29 2013, 10:18AM
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@Fresh Mess

Intruiging moves which I can't understand. IMO, Larrsen had a good camp. I'm sure he will be replaced by Grebs...stange. Still waiting for a Centerman. MacT is acting in a desperate mood!

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#92 Fresh Mess
September 29 2013, 10:50AM
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clyde wrote:

Good choice for captain. Macintyre must be hurt fairly bad considering the Oilers waiver pick up. Or, do they want more toughness on the farm?

Maybe Smac retires due to injury and collects nice insurance payout.

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#93 Death Metal Nightmare
September 29 2013, 11:46AM
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based on the article, this entire construct of the "captaincy" basically reduces it to something similar to the british monarchy or santa claus.

"it kind of doesnt do anything but on the other hand it kind of does. we privilege the illusion. we don't have the balls to get rid of it because of some other nonsense called tradition and 'culture', yadda yadda... waffles."

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#94 David S
September 29 2013, 02:59PM
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WONGER wrote:

OIL claim GAZDIC off of waivers!!! You are gonna love this sweetheart!!!2nd toughest guy in AHL behind MAC- can skate, score once in a while- 24 years old - WOOOOO!!!! Wonger called it yesterday- also wants to see Jay ROSEHILL in a Oiler uni- Flyers may put him on waivers today!!! Great job MAC T!!!WOO!!!!!!!!!!!

http://youtu.be/sJXZLnMPiQ4

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#95 Talbot17
September 29 2013, 04:54PM
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@Smokey

Yeah lets give the captaincy to the old oiler regime we are trying to get away from.

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#96 dave
September 29 2013, 07:03PM
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But Ference is the shortest guy in the picture !

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#97 Fauxrumors
September 30 2013, 10:04AM
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Ferrence as captain...wow really speaks to the lack of leadership this team has. Definitely worthy of an 'A'...but there is no one else on this team to take the C? Speaks to another season of underwhelming hockey.

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#98 smiliegirl15
September 30 2013, 11:18AM
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Interestingly, yesterday I was wearing my Oilers tee shirt with both the number 21 and a C on it. The name on the back however, is Smith. Bodes well for the Oilers!

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#99 The Soup Fascist
September 29 2013, 10:15AM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

Oilers claim Luke Gadzic from the Dallas Stars as per TSN. Hamilton waived.

Please tell me you have made a terrible mistake and it is - in actuality - Luke ADAM, that has been claimed!

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#100 Smokey
September 29 2013, 10:25AM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

So you don't want to give the C to Ference, a player on a decline? Fair enough, but you follow that up with a comment that you would give the C to Smytty, who - when the injuries sort themselves out - SHOULD be a part-time 4th liner this year.

That is like saying "maybe Britney Spears has had enough to drink, let's let Lindsay Lohan drive".

Eakins thinks Smytty is a first liner, and said he's in good shape.

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