Here we sit outside the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs as though we’re an underage drinker who has been thrown out of a bar. We can see everyone having a good time inside, yet there’s a big burly chap at the door who insists we aren’t welcome at the party. As we walk sadly down the street with the cheers of other teams’ fans echoing in our ears, we can’t help but look at the decisions facing Kevin Lowe and think “Yeah, we totally know what he should do.”
‘Cause we totally do, you know?
Anyway, one of the biggest questions facing the team now that the youth is starting to get locked up in long-term deals clearly surrounds Joni Pitkanen. Our esteemed colleague Robin Brownlee has called Pitkanen “a future Norris Candidate” but has also lovingly referred to him as having the “pain threshold of a four-year-old.”
Now we have to be honest with you, lambs. We didn’t really see all of the hullabuloo about this guy when he was in Philadelphia. He was always mentioned as being “awesome” but the fact that the Oil play the Flyers every other decade, coupled with our unwillingness to watch other teams in the regular season limited our knowledge of Pitkanen to the highlight reels.
Everyone looks good in the highlights. Unless you’re the D-man picking his jock strap out of the corner, or the goalie getting lit up for three in the second period, highlight reels are not the place to judge a player. It’s kind of like meeting a new lady. You can’t judge her when you pick her up for a first date. EVERYONE can pull themselves together for a first date. It’s at 5am after the sixth date when you’ve just robbed a liquor store and you come to her house covered in blood and needing a place to hide that you can judge what kind of stuff your new girlfriend is made of.
It’s exactly the same with J-Pits. He looks good on the highlight reels but how does he looked now that he’s standing at his door in a bathrobe and curlers, debating whether or not to let you hide in his crawl space until the heat is off? Does he still look as good as the first time you picked him up to take him to a Sizzler for the $9.95 buffet? Does J-Pits make sense at $2.5 million if he is only going to play 63 games per year? For that matter, how does it feel to pay Souray $6,250,000 for his 26-game, three-goal season? Nice. Can the Oil really afford to have $10 million worth of defenceman sitting in the press box while Curtis Glencross takes pucks off the eyeball for $522,000 per year? What kind of message does that send to the rest of the lads in the room?
On the other hand, the Oil are in a tough place not wanting to run the risk of letting a “future Norris Candidate” slip through their fingers. One can’t imagine that watching Pitkanen potentially light it up with another team going to sit well with the OilersNation if we’re sitting in ninth place at the end of next season. If he leaves and starts to light it up, the calls for the head of Kevin Lowe will so loud that they reach Daryl Katz sitting in a solid gold tower on Jasper Avenue.
Given the troubling tendency to allow all star defencemen to leave town, it might be worth a one-year deal to see what the guy is really made of. He had an injured groin among other things this year, and that can really stick with a player—especially one whose game depends on fluid skating. We pulled a groin once, it hurt.
We can’t decide. What do you think Nation?