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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#101 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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#102 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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#103 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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#104 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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#105 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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#106 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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#107 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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#108 sidney frosby
January 17 2014, 09:27AM
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Scott Howsen is a proven winner ---lol

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#109 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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#110 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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#111 S cottV
January 17 2014, 10:16AM
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@Rama Lama

Definately a strong candidate.

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#112 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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#113 Lochenzo
January 17 2014, 10:39AM
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Wow, an early morning - before they've had their coffee - breakup. That's perfect!! They won't see it coming and their wits are a little groggy out of the gate. I'll have to remember that one!

I really like the addition of Hendricks. Here's a guy that's spent most of his career in the AHL and made it to the show by working hard and doing the little things right. Taylor Hall, RNH and Yakupov made the direct jump to the NHL based primarily on their high skill level. I hope that these kids learn some of the lessons Hendricks did through the school of hard knocks.

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#114 tileguy
January 17 2014, 10:46AM
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@outdoorzguy

can you send a link please.

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#115 outdoorzguy
January 17 2014, 10:49AM
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tileguy wrote:

can you send a link please.

http://blogs.canoe.ca/slam/hockey/biggest-loser-in-oilers-kings-trade-mrs-scrivens/

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#116 emonkee
January 17 2014, 11:08AM
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outdoorzguy wrote:

So it appears that the media (Anthony Vasquez-Peddie, Edmonton Sun) has driven a wedge into Scrivens...what, two days after we get him? Now we have to look for another goalie in the summer to replace him because of the "Warm" welcome he received. Maybe instead of going after the guys wife, he should have directed his angst at team management and the coaching staff. This organization has a free pass. They don't care what the fans say. The media are on a first name basis with everyone on the team. How long will they get away with this. Go after the guys wife. That's classy Edmonton media. No wonder nobody comes to play here.

I 100% agree. It's not like Edmonton is every player's favorite destination. And now you have an idiot (AVP) posting about the player's family...now that's getting personal.

There is absolutely no remorse from AVP.

"Vasquez-Peddie responded to Ben Scrivens's tweets later in the evening, explaining it was just a tongue-in-cheek feature."

Wonder how he feels if we write about his family.....!

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#117 bazmagoo
January 17 2014, 11:15AM
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Players families should really be off limits for criticism, I even thought it was offside when it happened with Pronger. It's classless, gutless, childish, and most importantly, poor journalism. NHL players lead public lives I'll give you that, but criticism should be kept to their hockey playing abilities/attitudes in the locker room. Give the families some privacy and respect your professional boundaries douchbag!

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#118 Walter Sobchak
January 17 2014, 11:31AM
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Sisyphus wrote:

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.

This is True, but for my point I just said zero assets.

At this point the way Eakins is talking & using Yakupov he might even have lower trade value then Gagner!

It's pretty grim.

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#119 Randaman
January 17 2014, 11:45AM
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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.

CORRECTION! They have lots to trade with but they won't part with a key piece to improve the TEAM! Gags and Eberle are expendable if the right pieces are returned (#2 Center or #2 Defenceman). I like Ebs but something has to give doesn't it? Oh ya, forgot what ineptness we have for management.

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#120 Oiler Al
January 17 2014, 12:39PM
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Jason, you sure that the couple you speak of breaking up at Starbucks, wasnt Katz , talking to Lowe. We would be so lucky. Then again Katz and Lowe are going steady?

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#121 Oilbaron
January 17 2014, 01:15PM
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The defense has always been the team's most glaring weakness. Isn't is about time they find a replacement for Steve Smith???

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#122 Johnnydapunk
January 17 2014, 01:26PM
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@ Mr. Strudwick

Found this article from in goal magazine where Scrivens talks about his high glove hand which might explain the reasoning behind it. Not sure how on topic it is but was good nonetheless.

In Goal Mag Ben Scrivens

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#123 TigerUnderGlass
January 17 2014, 01:51PM
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It wasn't like Jen Aniston was breaking up with him.

I don't believe Jennifer Anniston has ever broken up with anyone.

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#124 Pucker
January 17 2014, 02:09PM
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emonkee wrote:

No one is going to give up a top 4D, especially as we inch toward the playoffs....I doubt MacT can do anything until the off season. To get a top 4D, we have to give up something, not sure what piece yet...

You can ride on Petry all you want, but he is, unfortunately, the best we have got. NSchultz will be gone for sure, either trade deadline or UFA if no taker.

It's pretty thin this year in the UFA pool for D.

Age

Waiting for the off season to do anything???

Oilers seem to be doing that every year. What is the off-season? 2 months. You have maybe 2 weeks of that two months to compete against 29 other teams trying for the one's that will help, while they're pretty well a least desirable destination.

I agree with other Posters. Any goalie that signs here is going to have their resume blown to shreds. Any defenseman is going to have to work his butt off because the puck will be in the defensive zone most the game while howitzers get fired towards the net. Any forward - well there's a lot to list here. . Bottom line is despite the weather and travel associated with Edmonton, the team just isn't good. Given a choice, who's going to pick them? Schultz did but I'm sure he's questioning that decision now.

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#125 emonkee
January 17 2014, 02:38PM
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Pucker wrote:

Waiting for the off season to do anything???

Oilers seem to be doing that every year. What is the off-season? 2 months. You have maybe 2 weeks of that two months to compete against 29 other teams trying for the one's that will help, while they're pretty well a least desirable destination.

I agree with other Posters. Any goalie that signs here is going to have their resume blown to shreds. Any defenseman is going to have to work his butt off because the puck will be in the defensive zone most the game while howitzers get fired towards the net. Any forward - well there's a lot to list here. . Bottom line is despite the weather and travel associated with Edmonton, the team just isn't good. Given a choice, who's going to pick them? Schultz did but I'm sure he's questioning that decision now.

Yes I think Schultz will think twice before resigning here....

what I was saying earlier was the top 4D in the teams that are in playoffs or in playoff contention are most likely not going to be a trading partner for us. And the team looking from the outside aren't going to part ways with their study D unless you give up a key piece.

The UFA is definitely thin. There are only 2 guys we may want that are under 30, and they aren't even the 1LD we want.

Whatever the case is...we will have to overpay for them to come...

You got anyone in mind?

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#126 Johnnydapunk
January 17 2014, 03:03PM
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outdoorzguy wrote:

So it appears that the media (Anthony Vasquez-Peddie, Edmonton Sun) has driven a wedge into Scrivens...what, two days after we get him? Now we have to look for another goalie in the summer to replace him because of the "Warm" welcome he received. Maybe instead of going after the guys wife, he should have directed his angst at team management and the coaching staff. This organization has a free pass. They don't care what the fans say. The media are on a first name basis with everyone on the team. How long will they get away with this. Go after the guys wife. That's classy Edmonton media. No wonder nobody comes to play here.

I think there is one thing that is completely missed by seemingly everyone here.

That Vazquez Peddie Muppet is a writer for the Toronto Sun and writes for the Leafs and Jays, he has nothing to do with Edmonton except for the fact that the Edmonton Sun is part of Quebecor Corp and they share articles nationwide.

I have no idea of the article appeared in the Edmonton Sun or not, either way it would have been online and easily seen and Scrivens must have assumed it was from Edmonton.

What sucks is that everyone Scrivens included, thinks that it was an article by someone who is Edmonton based, which makes the Oil look even worse when it wasn't anything like that.

I hope this isn't like I'm defending Vasquez, but I hope that Scrivens and others see it's not anything to do with Edmonton. Though I am guessing the damage is done already.

This oversight does maybe say something about the rest of the NHL's view on being in Edmonton though, which is not so good.

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#127 By corner, do you mean circle?
January 17 2014, 03:28PM
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@vetinari

I was reading the Hockey News People of Power and Influence issue and Patrick Roy was ranked somewhere in the top 20 I believe. What struck me about the piece was Matt Duchene’s glowing comments about Roy and the system that he implemented in Colorado this year. At one point he says something like “it is impossible to overstate Patrick’s contribution to the team’s success this year.”

Of course I can’t link the article, but I did find this old story from the Denver Post where Duchene says many of the same things: http://www.denverpost.com/avalanche/ci_24395710/matt-duchene-loves-fast-pace-system-and-personal-style-patrick-roy

I thought it was interesting that Duchene felt that the old system implemented by Sacco didn’t fit the team that they actually had, whereas Roy has them playing in a way that utilizes their obvious strengths – speed and skill.

Anyway I’m not saying that the Oilers don’t have glaring holes that need to be addressed or that coaching is the sole reason that they are flirting with dead last once again. However, I also don’t remember the team looking this disengaged in the past and it makes most games utterly joyless to watch. As an Oil fan I know a thing or two about losing and I don’t think their dismal record alone explains why I can’t bring myself to watch the third period most nights.

Maybe Eakins is a coaching prodigy and he will eventually revolutionize not only the Oil, but the NHL as a whole. Maybe not. I do think these Duchene interviews suggest that from the perspective of a young, elite player, on a team full of young, elite players, the right coach and system can make a huge difference to a team’s success.

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#128 Woogie63
January 17 2014, 04:35PM
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Wow is there a lot of distraction at the Oiler brain trust. They seem to be busy shuffling the deck chair. In the meantime,

1) what assets are you going to link together to get a starting goalie/top 2 dman or a 2C

2) have we signed Simpson yet?

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#129 Tikkanese
January 17 2014, 04:42PM
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Kr55 wrote:

Yeah, we were really hard to play against last night when Cooke took out Yak and went on to dominate us almost every shift he had the rest of the night with no Oiler touching him.

Fact remains, this team is getting dominated almost every night now. These supposed hard to play against players are spending more time trying to figure out how to play hockey than actually doing stuff that makes life difficult for the other team. Ference especially looks completely lost out there lately.

I'd take Smid and Fistric making life miserable for other teams forwards in a heartbeat right now to help this butter soft D group and I don't think either are that good of players. But those are guys that are actually hard to play against because they can punish you physically. If we're only talking about compete level here, well, look no further than Eakins if you want to lay blame. He's running this team into the ground (Perron's recent drop in level of play is the most recent example) and we've seen no indication of this amazing ability to motivate that MacT claims he has.

Seriously, on pace for 57 points, worst Oiler season ever. Every team playing their backup against us. The respect this team gets and the respect they deserve drops with every game they play.

LOL at "Smid and Fistric can punish you physically". Fistric sure but only 1/20 games when someone has their head down, but otherwise is way to slow and takes way to many dumb chances at trying to hit people putting himself out of position. Smid tried, but never scared anyone. He at least tried, I'll give him that.

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#130 Kr55
January 17 2014, 04:53PM
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Tikkanese wrote:

LOL at "Smid and Fistric can punish you physically". Fistric sure but only 1/20 games when someone has their head down, but otherwise is way to slow and takes way to many dumb chances at trying to hit people putting himself out of position. Smid tried, but never scared anyone. He at least tried, I'll give him that.

Not just talking about big hits. Those guys were always hacking away at guys and cross-checking them around the net. Now we just have a bunch of guys that try to tap your stick as you pound the puck behind our goalie. The front of the Oilers net is probably the safest place to be in the entire rink now when you play the Oilers.

Look at the 3rd goal for Minny last night that Eakins blames Yakupov for. Minny gets 3 extra shots on net leading to the eventual goal while Ference is standing straight up with no idea what's happening and zero instinct to clear the front of the net until the puck is already going past Scrivens. Yeah, he looked very hard to play against on that one.

Not suggesting Smid and Fistric are the answers, they were not very good hockey players, but as far as hard to play against goes, they would be a big upgrade on his sad sack team. The bigger issue is how MacT has shown he wants guys like Hendricks and Clarkson. That tells me he is taking a terrible approach in trying to get players that are hard to play against and really shouldn't be trusted to turn this team around.

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#131 TigerUnderGlass
January 17 2014, 05:46PM
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Tikkanese wrote:

I cannot believe people are unhappy about getting a type of player that everyone says we need for up to 3.5 years and will always be easily tradeable, or very cheap to buyout if the need be 3 years from now for a failed goalie that was going to be let go to UFA land.

I can't believe anyone who hates Belanger so much is suddenly excited at the idea of trading for a 32 year old 4th liner with a 4 year deal at 1.85M.

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#132 Jnews14
January 17 2014, 07:00PM
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@Joy S. Lee

Well said Joy S. Lee. I think your last comments summarize the what has been driving this team for quite some time now and why it is so flawed. The leadership group of the Oilers still firmly believe they are ahead of the curve because they won cups as players. However, time and time again they are showing they are well behind the rest of the league and are not able to evolve fast enough to come anywhere close to catching up, especially when the only new minds we bring in are friends of Lowe, some who have been employed by Lowe another time in the past.

This leadership group is doomed in its current state. Katz needs to poach a smart hockey mind from a successful organization and let that person take the reins as president if he ever wants this team to compete the NHL again.

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#133 gus1000
January 17 2014, 07:48PM
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Quick tidbit on Perron, they said on the broadcast last night he was battling some illness or ailment the past couple of weeks and is finally starting to feel normal again. Although I agree, the ailment could be a back problem from carrying the team around.

This makes sense for the recent poor play, and he did have a little spark last night. Hopefully he gets back to scoring goals, because we apparently need to average 6 a night to win.

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#134 corky
January 17 2014, 07:56PM
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Perron has been a bright spot. I wonder what mgmt tells these free agents to get to come here? Or is it longer terms and bucks that other teams wouldn't offer (khabby).

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#135 camdog
January 17 2014, 10:46PM
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Woogie63 wrote:

Wow is there a lot of distraction at the Oiler brain trust. They seem to be busy shuffling the deck chair. In the meantime,

1) what assets are you going to link together to get a starting goalie/top 2 dman or a 2C

2) have we signed Simpson yet?

No word on Simpson. With limited draft picks available to trade and with few high rated prospects in the system, short of trading one of the chosen 4 we have no other option but to wait another 2-3 years.

Then again we could just fire Eakins and bring in a coach that knows how to coach NHL players. There are many AHL coaches that are good AHL coaches, that never ever make it in the NHL. George Burnett is one of the top coaches in OHL history. Worst coach of all time to ever coach for the Oilers. Sometimes the transition to the big leagues just doesn't happen. Eakins doesn't deserve a free pass, because of past Oiler failures.

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#136 Cynic
January 17 2014, 11:49PM
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I am shocked. I thought the Sun chain folded years ago. Apparently, the interwebs isn't killing newspapers quickly enough.

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#137 wintoon
January 18 2014, 07:24AM
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Tikkanese wrote:

Oh let's see.

Little things called:

compete level

plays with size

has been known to stick up for teammates

even drops the gloves once in a while... All the Gazdic haters should be rejoicing

You know, things everyone and their dog has been asking for the Oilers to get more of in the top 6, bottom 6 and on defense. He just happens to be a bottom 6 that we have for up to 3.5 years for a failed goalie that was not going to be re-signed in the summer.

He's also more of a winger than a center but is adept at winning faceoffs(about the only thing he shares with Belanger) as well as being a useful penalty killer.

Not every trade can be a David Perron. He's still a big upgrade over Will Acton, Eric Belanger, Lennart Pettrel and even Anton Lander at this point. Why does everyone have to be such "Negative Nancy's" about every little transaction?

Posters please note.

This exchange is obviously between one person who is a hockey nerd (totally statistics focussed)and another who is a hockey player (anhas actually been on a rink).

I wonder which is which?

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#138 copper
January 18 2014, 08:44AM
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@Sisyphus

UFA's Ferrence + Boyd signed last off season. No reason not to expect others to sign this off season. Players take time to develop. Why throw away high end talent now before they develop? The type of players we need, top 6 talent with size, skill and attitude along with top pairing dmen are what ever team wants. Hard to come by and who wants to give them up if they have them?

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#139 D-Unit
January 18 2014, 09:28AM
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S cottV wrote:

Too bad for Yak there is no hockey equivalent to the Harlem Globe Trotters.

He could be the star of the show and beat those Generals every night.

Omark too.

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