Slow but steady

Jason Strudwick
January 17 2014 07:26AM

When Craig Mactavish took over as Oilers GM he said the Oilers needed to be harder to play against. Move by move he is slowly grinding this Oiler team in that direction.

Since taking over he has added Andrew Ference, Boyd Gordon, David Perron, Luke Gazdic and most recently Matt Hendricks.

This is a group of players that should make playing against the Oilers less enjoyable than it has been. Nearly every game this year, teams play against the Oilers and their teams trainers don't even bother turning on the ice machine. There is no need for ice bags. These games are not physical.

That had to change. The Oilers inability to challenge teams physically or even match it has been a big issue. Take a look at the Pacific Division! These are big heavy teams, with skill, that most nights push the Oilers around. I don't even want to think about the oilers matching up in a seven-game playoff series against the Kings or Blues! They would lose in three.

Hendricks is a player I thought the Oilers needed to bring in last summer. I have no issue with his cap hit per year. The cap will continue to go up and the Oilers are not in a cap crunch. The issue is the term. I wonder what Hendricks will bring in year four.

He is a physical player that should, I hope, help the oilers connect emotionally with their games. You can't win or have success in the NHL without passion and emotion in your game. This Oilers squad is vanilla basically to a man. There are a few exceptions but not enough. I hope Hendricks comes into the dressing room and stirs up the pot. On the ice, I expect him to chirp and drag other guys into getting pissed off!

Think back to when Yakupov got into it with basically the whole Winnipeg Jets team. It was beautiful! That is one of the few times I saw the Oilers bench on their feet and passion on the guys faces. There is no stat to measure the value of passion but I know it is so important to team moral and confidence. Without it, a team sleep walks through games.

There is still work to be done for MacT. He needs to find a way to bring in edgy players to the top six forwards. These players are hard to get. Sorting out the bottom six is the easier job but slowly the team is starting to get some heart.

Old Goalie out, New Goalie in

Does this even matter? NO. It doesn't.

The overall team defence hasn't changed for the Oilers. Why should we expect Ben Scrivens to come in and have more success? This isn't me saying Scrivens can't be a decent goalie. The facts are that any goalie with an Oilers jersey will see shots and chances against that he will not believe.

Scrivens has been playing behind the Los Angeles Kings and that group controls shots against as good as any team in the NHL. Scrivens is in for rude wakeup call here. He will need to be on his toes the whole sixty minutes.

I like the test drive that the rest of the season brings for the oilers to watch Scrivens up close. I am not convinced he is an upgrade on Dubnyk but we can all watch him close up and form an opinion. Keep an eye on his glove had. He holds it to high which makes most saves a downward motion instead of up. That is the harder way.

I see no reason why Scrivens shouldn't start the bulk of the games the rest of this season. I would expect that Bryz will not be back with the oilers next year. So far he has done nothing to suggest he is the man for the Oilers. I think the team will look to a potential UFA like Jaroslav Halak or Jonas Hiller or make a trade for a guy like Cam Ward. The backup will most likely by Scrivens. In other words: two new goalies to start next season.

I believe Dubnyk is a good goalie. He is the luckiest person in Edmonton right now. He probably skipped all the way to Nashville. The Predators have a history of building goalies. The Preds play a pretty good defensive game. Dubnyk will get a chance to work with Mitch Corn, the Preds goalie coach. He has had success with tall goalies.

Public Breakups

I witnessed a breakup at Starbucks this morning. In fact I had a front row seat and decided to live tweet it! Surrounded by 20 or so people this lady gave her man an outright release.

I don't normally get into other peoples nightmares but I was literally sitting right beside them. Once it started I couldn't stop listening.

This poor guy was dropped like he was hot over a double chai latte. I will give him credit he did fight for it but she wasn't buying his "I will change" or "You deserve better from me" lines.

She shut him down and was convinced a breakup was the right way to go. This is where it got painful to watch.

Judging by their conversation I would guess they hadn't been together long. But this guy was determined not to lose her! It was embarrassing to say the least. At some point shouldn't you just take your lumps and move on? Not this guy! It wasn't like Jen Aniston was breaking up with him.

In the end they both got up and gave the most awkward hug I have ever seen. she says "We will be in touch soon". From what I saw there is no chance that will happen.

What is the right way to break up with someone these days? I know for sure doing it at Starbucks at 9:30 AM is a very cold way to do it.

I guess it is better than by text.

5cf6b487166aced0cd781e41bfef915e
Jason hosts the Jason Strudwick show from 9pm to 12am, weeknights on the team 1260. He is an instructor at Mount Carmel Hockey Academy and loves working with the kids. Having played over 650 games in the NHL, Jason has some great stories and unique takes on life in the NHL. He loves Slurpees and Blizzards. Dislikes baggy clothes and close talkers.
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#1 pelhem grenville
January 17 2014, 07:30AM
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...gawd how slow ?

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#2 mayorblaine
January 17 2014, 07:31AM
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slow and steady eh? how about plodding and pathetic.

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#3 Marc
January 17 2014, 07:37AM
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Harder to play against? Fistric was our one hard as nails D man who apparently can play for the best team in the league.....but not the Oilers. We didn't need to get softer on D but did. This team is in a spiral. Sycophantic apologists aside.

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#4 pelhem grenville
January 17 2014, 07:40AM
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...shameful account of the breakup too Jason...

two thirds of your piece...

thanks...

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#5 the tikk
January 17 2014, 07:43AM
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Jason - do you think that the Oilers have a 'structural' problem in their organization when it comes to teaching team defence?

Is there some aspect of whatever's going on between the ECHL/AHL/NHL assistant and head coaches that has resulted in this team-wide inability to identify basic D-zone coverage?

Trades aside, what do you think is the best way to improve this team's defensive play?

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#6 Big Cap
January 17 2014, 07:44AM
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These "minor league" trades and "tweaks" to make our roster a little deeper are fine.

But, there is NO way I trust our current management group to pull off the Big Blockbuster that involves one of our "A-Listers". You only get one chance and I'd bet my last dollar the wouldn't end in out favor!

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#7 barry.moore23
January 17 2014, 07:46AM
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Hahahaha.

QuickSilver Ballet where ya been ?? I miss you.

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#8 BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull
January 17 2014, 07:49AM
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Sam Gagner is Kryptonite to all he plays with. RNH and Hall looked lost and defeated all night playing with him. What a mess this is...

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#9 russ99
January 17 2014, 07:58AM
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The problem is our opponents' best players are 6-8 years older than the best players on our team.

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#10 camdog
January 17 2014, 07:58AM
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"He is a physical player that should, I hope, help the oilers connect emotionally with their games. You can't win or have success in the NHL without passion and emotion in your game. This Oilers squad is vanilla basically to a man. There are a few exceptions but not enough. I hope Hendricks comes into the dressing room and stirs up the pot. On the ice, I expect him to chirp and drag other guys into getting pissed off!"

Basically we replaced Brown with Hendricks, just looks like musical chairs to me...

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#11 wintoon
January 17 2014, 08:03AM
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Gagner is a black hole. He can't play center and since moving to the wing he has proven unable to accept or make a pass, his decisions are those of a rookie lacking confidence, his positioning is poor and his results have been non existent.

If he is not traded at the deadline then the Oilers are doomed to another season of futility. Oilers have to draft a good center at the draft in June. Even a raw rookie will contribute more than Gags (particularily apt nick name).

As for trades, even if the Oilers have to overpay they need to upgrade their defensive top 6. The pro scouts should be able to identify a player (or two) to be realistically targeted. If not, why are they being paid?

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#12 papler
January 17 2014, 08:07AM
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camdog wrote:

"He is a physical player that should, I hope, help the oilers connect emotionally with their games. You can't win or have success in the NHL without passion and emotion in your game. This Oilers squad is vanilla basically to a man. There are a few exceptions but not enough. I hope Hendricks comes into the dressing room and stirs up the pot. On the ice, I expect him to chirp and drag other guys into getting pissed off!"

Basically we replaced Brown with Hendricks, just looks like musical chairs to me...

Exactly. And we switched a 3rd round pick for a fourth rounder.

Dubnyk, Brown and a 3rd out Scrivens, Hendricks and a 4th in

Going sideways and it is called progress... mind boggling

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#13 outdoorzguy
January 17 2014, 08:08AM
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I hope the 4 idiots don't make it to Winnipeg. But when we lose on Saturday afternoon, that should be their last game behind the bench. If it's not, this once proud franchise will have become an abortion of a supposed professional sports organization.

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#14 EP
January 17 2014, 08:10AM
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"I guess it is better than by text."

Or by Skype. That's how MacT rolls.

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#15 Soccer Steve
January 17 2014, 08:17AM
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That cork board with nothing on it behind MacT says it all, doesn't it?

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#16 vetinari
January 17 2014, 08:18AM
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I agree that we need a better mix and balance of players but we stubbornly are trying to re-create the Flyers, or Chicago, or the Maple Leafs without success.

Basically, play to your team's strengths. Krueger seemed to do that better than Eakins. We have a small, young team so use your speed to drive the zone and take control of the centre of the ice for possible one-timers, dekes and shots off the rush-- be content with being outshot if you could make your chances count. Not ideal but a necessary evil given the type of team that we had. Yes, they needed to be better defensively, and they needed bigger bodies in some parts of the lineup, but at least they were heading in the right direction.

Eakins is coaching a small team to try and play like a big, physical team, and you can see our results. Yes, we're hitting more and yes, we're blocking more and yes, we have reduced the shots against by a bit, but the offensive pop is gone from our game, the players look like they are on a death march, and our defence is in shambles-- a young Marty Broduer couldn't backstop this team to success. So why do we try the same tactics over and over if they are not successful?

We seem to be assembling the team that Eakins wants to coach and not use the team that we have properly (which, I would argue, Krueger did with better success).

As for the breakup--- that was cold! In a public place-- what's a guy to do. The only thing worse is if the staff suddenly turned into a Glee flashmob and helped her breakup with him in song--

"We're so happy to see you, but sad to say, she's going to dump your a$$ today!" [jazz hands...]

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#17 The Real Scuba Steve
January 17 2014, 08:19AM
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It's not working, I'm sorry but I see teams like Colorado making more progress that the Oilers have done. The Oiler brain trust made this rebuild a joke, Oilers need to be gritty like sandpaper but need to play the swarm. Let's put Taylor Hall at centre and see how that goes Messier did it 30 years ago so Hall should have no problems. They wait to the off season to signing UFA's only to be shot down every year. Why would Jaroslav Halak or Jonas Hiller want to sign here? I bet you they will take less money to go some where else, all this patience and wait till the off season to regroup is killing the Oilers, we are going to break that 10 year without playoff appearance record.

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#18 dougtheslug
January 17 2014, 08:23AM
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Interesting you make mention of a painful breakup, after telling us about the deckchair shuffling that MacT is doing with the Oiler roster.

Thats about how I feel with the Oil. I don't think this is going to work. We both deserve better. It's not you, it's me.

No, it's actually you. I want to date a real hockey team. Maybe we should see other people.

Thanks for the memories. (Awkward hug)

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#19 -30-
January 17 2014, 08:24AM
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@ Jason, if you're gonna break up DO IT ON OILERS NATION!

KEVIN LOWE IT"S OVER!!!!

-30-

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#20 Twoskidoos
January 17 2014, 08:27AM
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She should have done it by Skype.

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#21 NsxZero
January 17 2014, 08:38AM
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@dougtheslug

Ha thats what I thought when I got to that section. Pretty good analogy with our relationships to the Oilers.

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#22 Hemmercules
January 17 2014, 08:39AM
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I really would like to know what Mact thinks of the coaching right now. He was coach for years and he's upstairs watching this fiasco every game. I hope he has enough balls the clean that bench when the Oilers finish with their worst record ever.

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#23 oilers1168
January 17 2014, 08:39AM
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MacT - Skype

Almost private and almost face to face.

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#24 NsxZero
January 17 2014, 08:41AM
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@oilers1168

Unless he didn't even bother turning on the webcam...

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#25 TheSilentBang64
January 17 2014, 08:54AM
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Maybe they should Skype Kruger and ask him how to get the PP going.

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#26 dougtheslug
January 17 2014, 08:56AM
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NsxZero wrote:

Ha thats what I thought when I got to that section. Pretty good analogy with our relationships to the Oilers.

Except in Jason's story the guy was actually trying to hold on to the girl.

In our case, I don't even think the object of our affection cares one way or the other what we do. They just want us to pick up the tab.

I don't know if that makes the breakup more painful, or less.

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#27 pkam
January 17 2014, 09:01AM
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vetinari wrote:

I agree that we need a better mix and balance of players but we stubbornly are trying to re-create the Flyers, or Chicago, or the Maple Leafs without success.

Basically, play to your team's strengths. Krueger seemed to do that better than Eakins. We have a small, young team so use your speed to drive the zone and take control of the centre of the ice for possible one-timers, dekes and shots off the rush-- be content with being outshot if you could make your chances count. Not ideal but a necessary evil given the type of team that we had. Yes, they needed to be better defensively, and they needed bigger bodies in some parts of the lineup, but at least they were heading in the right direction.

Eakins is coaching a small team to try and play like a big, physical team, and you can see our results. Yes, we're hitting more and yes, we're blocking more and yes, we have reduced the shots against by a bit, but the offensive pop is gone from our game, the players look like they are on a death march, and our defence is in shambles-- a young Marty Broduer couldn't backstop this team to success. So why do we try the same tactics over and over if they are not successful?

We seem to be assembling the team that Eakins wants to coach and not use the team that we have properly (which, I would argue, Krueger did with better success).

As for the breakup--- that was cold! In a public place-- what's a guy to do. The only thing worse is if the staff suddenly turned into a Glee flashmob and helped her breakup with him in song--

"We're so happy to see you, but sad to say, she's going to dump your a$$ today!" [jazz hands...]

I listened to almost all the post practice and and pregame interviews, all I hear from Eakins was to beat our opponents with speed and skill.

He didn't tried to coach to team to play like a big team. You can argue that he is not very successful, but you can't say that is his intend.

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#28 Rama Lama
January 17 2014, 09:07AM
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I love the ringing endorsement Ben Scrivens gave Eakins.........it was like yea I played for him, when asked what he thought about Eakins.

Struds, you said that players never tell the media anything.......totally true, but if you read body language, or the subtle nuances of language delivery, Scrivens bascially told everyone he is not a fan of Eakins.

I know one thing, the whole BPA strategy the Oilers follow is pure poison. It guarantees you will have a bunch of similar players, all trying to be stars. Most teams take what they need, if the skill separation is close, not us. We take the same type of player over and over again. Now we have a bunch of Hobbits that can't win a game and have collectively tanked their value.

While Mac T keeps shuffling the chairs on the Titanic, Lowe keeps polishing his six rings!

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#29 former Notre Dame Hound
January 17 2014, 09:10AM
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@wintoon

My friends say I have Gagneritous....and its nice to see that Im not the only one with this contagious disease...this guy is the #1 problem and like the comment said...he cant take a pass and is so scared to accept one that's the others teams are even passing to this idiot...send him back to a Midget B and bring in a Saskatchewan farm boy...ha

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#30 Fish
January 17 2014, 09:12AM
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Jen Aniston doesn't break up with people. It seems like people always break up with her :(

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#31 Puck JammeR!
January 17 2014, 09:12AM
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Oilers trade Ryan Martindale to Florida for Steve Pinizzotto!

The final piece of the puzzle. Florida just got Pinizzottowned

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#32 pkam
January 17 2014, 09:13AM
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oilers1168 wrote:

MacT - Skype

Almost private and almost face to face.

Kureger was out of Edmonton. I don't know where he was at the time. I heard he might be in Toronto or Switzerland.

So what other options does MacT have? Text Kureger, call Kureger, ask Kureger to fly back to Edmonton to tell him face to face that he is fired, or MacT flied all the way to tell Kureger face to face he is fired, or Skype him? Any other option that I miss?

And which one do you thing is the most appropriate choice?

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#33 K_Mart
January 17 2014, 09:16AM
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Just play Gordon for 60 mins/night, Trap, and pray for a 1-0 SO win every night. Why not.... WHY NOT

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#34 pkam
January 17 2014, 09:21AM
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Twoskidoos wrote:

She should have done it by Skype.

Definitely better than doing it in Starbucks. Could be worse, she could have done it in MacDonald or Tim Hortons.

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#35 sidney frosby
January 17 2014, 09:27AM
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Scott Howsen is a proven winner ---lol

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#36 admiralmark
January 17 2014, 09:27AM
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I admire your optomism Struds. I did like the way the team reacted and supported Yak in that Winnipeg game. But where was the support for Yak last nights game? Not that the hit on Yak was dirty but Cooke and Veilleux were running around all game with impunity.

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#37 Lowe Expectations
January 17 2014, 09:30AM
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She probably found out the guy was an Oiler fan

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#38 Walter Sobchak
January 17 2014, 09:31AM
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The Oilers can't possible go any slower!

The addition of Hendricks really showed the Oilers new found toughness, I especially like how Yakupov had his head rammed in by Cooke, then the Oilers did nothing.

The Oilers need players like, Kesller, Dubinsky, Hartnel, Ott, Clowe, skill veterans, strong and competitive.

Problem is the Oilers have nothing to trade with, zero.

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#39 tileguy
January 17 2014, 09:33AM
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Soccer Steve wrote:

That cork board with nothing on it behind MacT says it all, doesn't it?

Sorry, not sure what it says, can somebody please tell me what it means?

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#40 Truth
January 17 2014, 09:37AM
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Two UFA goalies in Dubnyk and Scrivens.

Dubnyk wins the lottery and goes to play behind a defensive team where he will shine. He'll be making a few bucks in the off-season.

Scrivens impeccable stats as a backup in LA will be washed away behind the Oilers D. He'll go into FA with a sub 0.900 save %.

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#41 Jay
January 17 2014, 09:44AM
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Slow and steadily getting worse

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#42 Sketchy
January 17 2014, 09:44AM
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Dude, why did you have to tell all of oilernation about my breakup? I loved her!!!

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#43 pelhem grenville
January 17 2014, 09:56AM
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barry.moore23 wrote:

Hahahaha.

QuickSilver Ballet where ya been ?? I miss you.

YA>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Q ! >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

WHERE ARE YOU ???

YOU BETTER BE OK MAN !!!!!!!!!!!

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#44 S cottV
January 17 2014, 10:02AM
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Oilers have to create conditions to shelter the fact that too many pucks are going in the back of our net.

It may be 3, 4 - even 5 years before the team has a legitimate back end. Guys like Nurse and maybe this years draft pick - will have to be part of the mix and they will take time to get there.

Sure - trades and ufa's may speed things up but development time will still be a big part of this dilemma.

The last thing the Oilers need right now, is continuance of their run and gun - offence first culture. It is an embarrassment. It over exposes the very area where the team is weakest. It hampers the goalie and d corps development process because there are so many bombs going off - these guys get shell shocked and a major dose of ptsd.

This team needs 3 years of Hitchcock like, Sutter like, Torts like, Maurice like - defense first influence, to at least keep things close - while our back end is under construction.

Eakins is not the guy. He is an inexperienced risk taking run and gun guy - who even wants to run and gun on defence for crying out loud. Under his leadership - the team looks so shakey - so unstable, its downright scary.

What is needed is a tough nuts and bolts veteran coach - who can bring some stability to this mess, by influencing (one way or another) our spoiled brat forwards to play 200 feet of hockey.

Its one thing to have the right philosophy for the times and its another thing to have the ability to influence the player group to do what you want them to do.

Eakins has neither the philosophy or the ability to influence because the players do not take him seriously.

Get someone with the right stuff, that will not be ignored - least of all, by a bunch of spoiled brat forwards...

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#45 He Who Knows
January 17 2014, 10:05AM
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Hey Struds, do the guys in the locker room or when you were there talk about the way the Oilers were being managed? Did you guys know about Souray and his dislike for management before he went public? #lowemustgo

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#46 Rama Lama
January 17 2014, 10:08AM
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S cottV wrote:

Oilers have to create conditions to shelter the fact that too many pucks are going in the back of our net.

It may be 3, 4 - even 5 years before the team has a legitimate back end. Guys like Nurse and maybe this years draft pick - will have to be part of the mix and they will take time to get there.

Sure - trades and ufa's may speed things up but development time will still be a big part of this dilemma.

The last thing the Oilers need right now, is continuance of their run and gun - offence first culture. It is an embarrassment. It over exposes the very area where the team is weakest. It hampers the goalie and d corps development process because there are so many bombs going off - these guys get shell shocked and a major dose of ptsd.

This team needs 3 years of Hitchcock like, Sutter like, Torts like, Maurice like - defense first influence, to at least keep things close - while our back end is under construction.

Eakins is not the guy. He is an inexperienced risk taking run and gun guy - who even wants to run and gun on defence for crying out loud. Under his leadership - the team looks so shakey - so unstable, its downright scary.

What is needed is a tough nuts and bolts veteran coach - who can bring some stability to this mess, by influencing (one way or another) our spoiled brat forwards to play 200 feet of hockey.

Its one thing to have the right philosophy for the times and its another thing to have the ability to influence the player group to do what you want them to do.

Eakins has neither the philosophy or the ability to influence because the players do not take him seriously.

Get someone with the right stuff, that will not be ignored - least of all, by a bunch of spoiled brat forwards...

Brent Sutter

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#47 fasteddy
January 17 2014, 10:08AM
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I find it easier to watch the team lose every game than to read some of these posts......hindsight is always 20/20, and all teams make mistakes on personnel. Try watching junior games on a regular basis and projecting the draft eligible kids; they are rarely the best players on their own teams, let alone no-brainer obvious selections. In my opinion the number one problem with this team is that the kids have had to carry the ball. On teams that are in the playoff hunt year after year, the young guys get worked in slowly. Once in a while a generational talent comes along and can change a teams' fortunes quickly, but that is certainly not the norm.

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#48 S cottV
January 17 2014, 10:16AM
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@Rama Lama

Definately a strong candidate.

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#49 Sisyphus
January 17 2014, 10:22AM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

The Oilers can't possible go any slower!

The addition of Hendricks really showed the Oilers new found toughness, I especially like how Yakupov had his head rammed in by Cooke, then the Oilers did nothing.

The Oilers need players like, Kesller, Dubinsky, Hartnel, Ott, Clowe, skill veterans, strong and competitive.

Problem is the Oilers have nothing to trade with, zero.

Not true. We just don't have anything that we both can and WILL trade with. The very few number of tradeable assets (players that we might have another team interested in) are the same ones MacT has all but said are absolutely untouchable.

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#50 Gbeat
January 17 2014, 10:26AM
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trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Hmmm..

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