Being a man of principle, Edmonton Oilers boss Kevin Lowe made it clear this week he doesn’t hold former player agent Mike Gillis, now the GM of the Vancouver Canucks, in high regard. Lowe remains rightfully unhappy about being shunned by Michael Nylander, who backed out of a deal with the Oilers last summer when his wife tugged on the trousers and pulled out the hammer, informing hubby there was no way she was coming to Edmonton. Nylander’s agent was none other than Gillis, and Lowe doesn’t think he handled the situation as ethically as he should have. Suffice to say, Lowe won’t be picking up the phone to talk trade with Gillis in his new capacity any time soon. "We haven’t done many deals with Vancouver, although Dave Nonis and I had many conversations,” Lowe told Darren Dreger of TSN. "I suspect we won’t be doing any in the future." Lowe went on to say: "A lot of deals are done based on honesty and trust. He (Gillis) is going to be in tough earning trust. To orchestrate a trade, you have to have that trust going in." Pardon? Putting aside the fact Nylander stiffed in Washington after spurning the Oilers for an $18.5-million deal with the Capitals, is this the same Lowe who asked Mike Comrie to pay $2.5 million to complete a trade to the Anaheim Ducks? The same Lowe who, according to agent Ritch Winter, never said a word to Anaheim GM Bryan Murray about the money component as a requirement to get the trade completed? The same Lowe who told Murray and Winter they could begin working on a new contract, then made the $2.5 million stipulation at the 11th hour? That Lowe? Hmm.
The Oilers have always looked after their own, and that’s unlikely to change under incoming owner Daryl Katz, who was a hardcore fan long before making his billions with Rexall. As tight as Katz is with Lowe and other Oilers he cheered for and became friends with in the 1980s, nepotism—the unconditional embrace of those who’ve worn the Oil Drop—might get cranked up a notch.
- Talk persists Craig Simpson will leave the TV booth again, this time for a front office job with the Oilers—likely in the capacity of an assistant GM to Lowe. What, exactly, qualifies Simpson? The answer escapes me. Oh, wait, 20 years ago, he scored 56 goals one season.
I’m wondering if some of the players who didn’t enjoy Simpson acting as the vocal hammer for pal Craig MacTavish as an assistant coach will like him any better if he’s kicked upstairs.
- Still on the Once-An-Oiler-Always-An-Oiler front, I keep hearing former captain and devout company man Kelly Buchberger will be promoted to MacTavish’s staff after spending this season running the AHL show in Springfield.
If that move comes at the expense of Rob Daum, as opposed to being an addition to the existing staff, it’s a mistake. Daum brought new ideas and a new perspective to the strategic mix. Daum complements assistants Bill Moores and Charlie Huddy. Daum can coach talent. Bucky?
- Nobody asked, but the first three names that come to mind ahead of Simpson if the Oilers really are looking to add to the front office are Doug Armstrong (he’s still getting a cheque from Dallas), Winter (when hell freezes over) and Nonis (he’ll end up in Anaheim with Burke).
- So, Joni Pitkanen will play for Finland at the World Championships. I’d have thought he’d need time to rest and let all those bumps and bruises that had him in and out of the Oilers line-up. The same could be said for Mathieu Garon, who’ll be Canada’s third stopper.
—Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 5pm on Total Sports with Bob Stauffer on Team 1260.