Stink in Motown

stink

I almost crapped myself outside Joe Louis Arena one time, but never inside it like the Edmonton Oilers did during the first 18 minutes of an 8-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings today.

My near-movement came several years back courtesy of a street person looking for money. With hand extended, the hulking bum sprang from behind a pillar under an overpass near The Joe as Boris Mironov and I were waiting for a taxi. He wanted Mironov’s purple snakeskin shoes.

The Oilers, meanwhile, soiled themselves good and plenty in the Murder City, spotting the Red Wings a 5-0 lead by the 18:02 mark of the opening period, making it an easy day for the newspaper guys and a tough afternoon for their broadcast buddies with Sportsnet.

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Which brings me, albeit awkwardly, to some thoughts about the distinctly different roles of the many people who travel with the Oilers under the vague umbrella of “media.”

DECISIVE IS GOOD

In the decade I travelled with the team, days like today always meant an easy write and a relaxed the trip to the airport, even if the team was mad as hell and everybody had a look on their face like somebody had farted in the bus.

I never cared who won the game — really. Given that travelling writers usually had just 30 minutes from the time the dressing room doors opened after a game to get our interviews, go through our notes, write our stories, pack up and get to the bus, my only wish was that one of the teams take control of the game — the earlier, the better. Selfish? Sure.

Today’s can of corn was what we used to call a laugher.  When it’s 3-0 less than six minutes in and 5-0 before the first intermission, you’ve got that baby written by the start of the second period. Leave three or four gaps for quotes, be ready to tweak a little if the game swings wildly or somebody breaks a leg and kick back. Start on that “Kevin Lowe — Dynasty Builder” feature. In a way, it’s almost too bad it was wasted on an afternoon game.

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SCRIBBLING FOOL

You didn’t often get a 5-0 bulge to work with like hall-of-famer Jim Matheson did today. And it’s welcome, believe me.

More games than not, you have to wait until the final 10 minutes for the game to swing one way or another, or you’re going to overtime or a shootout. Other times, you’re deleting the 500 words you wrote when it was 3-0 because it’s now 3-3 with 48 seconds to go.

That’s hair-on-fire stuff, and I don’t have any to spare after climbing aboard the bus still smoking so many times over the years, much to the amusement of Rod Phillips. And the bus doesn’t wait, like the time Kevin Lowe, sour after a loss, left me at the United Center in Chicago.

I can’t speak for Matheson or anybody else, but if the game was 2-0 for the Oilers after a period, I wanted it 3-0 or 4-0 for them as soon as possible so I could get started. If it was 2-0 for the Red Wings, well, same thing.

The “somebody decide this thing before the final 35 seconds” prayer was most needed for west coast games, where the first version of your game story is due at the buzzer. Yes, at the buzzer. What better way to come off as an illiterate buffoon?

THE HOUSEMEN

It’s a different story for the broadcast rightsholders, and while I poke fun at them more than I should, I felt for play-by-play man Kevin Quinn and analyst Louie DeBrusk today.

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A blowout is great for Quinn and DeBrusk if the right team is ahead, but if the Oilers are only blowing, like they did in the first period, it makes for a long afternoon. Today, given the Oilers have already been smoked 9-2 by Chicago and 10-2 by Buffalo this season, certainly qualifies.

It had to be tough to sound positive after Dwayne Roloson gave Dan Clearly a hack between the legs 42 seconds in, prompting the Red Wings to spend most of the rest of the day returning the favour by sacking the Oilers on the score board.

As members of the rightsholders broadcast, Quinn and DeBrusk are looking for positive spin. That’s their job. They don’t hold themselves out as objective observers. So, while the beat guys are merrily tapping away when it’s 5-0, KQ and Louie have their work cut out.

Same with Sports Central host Evanka Osmak, who said during the first intermission: “Hopefully, the Oilers can get on the board and climb out of that 5-0 deficit.” Or not.

TOUGH GIG

With it 6-0 through 40 minutes, Quinn and DeBrusk didn’t have the option of lamenting yet another brutal start by the Good Guys or pointing out to Oilers defencemen that moving your feet in pursuit of an opposing forward cutting to the net is a good thing.

They’re left looking for the silver lining. That means talking about “winning” the third period. About building momentum going into Minnesota. About how good Jeff Deslauriers looked in relief of Dwayne Roloson — which he did, compared, to ahem, his last bit of mop-up duty.

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At least the Oilers gave them something to worth with when Zack Stortini, Dustin Penner and Marc Pouliot narrowed it to 6-3. Quinn’s teeth were still vibrating from those goals when he said: “If you want to look at things as half full, you’ve got to look at this third period.”

Half full of what? Which brings me back to Boris and I . . .

— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.


  • Robin,

    I find myself following the Oilers closer now than ever, I guess you could attribute my heightened interest to a sort of morbid curiosity, like slowing down as you pass a car wreck to look for carnage.

    The more I watch and learn about this group brass has assembled the more confused I get and the more disheartened I get because every other perfomance sheds a new negative light or reveals a new gaping hole for this team.

    If you were GM from this point on right through to training camp next fall, what moves would you make (or attempt) and what identity would you like to see this team forge for itself?

    Keep up the quality writing, too!

  • RobinB

    @ Woody:

    Flash card anwers in no particular order . . .

    1. Move one of my puck-carrying defenceman in a package for a first-line left winger.

    2. Enlist Andrew Cogliano in face-off school over the summer so he can have a legit shot as my No. 2 centre and kill more penalties.

    3. Make a call on Gilbert Brule. He's either good enough to play in my top six or he's an asset I move, perhaps as part of item No. 1.

    4. Scour the free agent market for a reliable shutdown defenceman. Failing that, groom Theo Peckham as that guy.

    5. If the team misses the playoffs, the coaching staff is gone. Rob Daum gets a spot as an assistant on the new staff.

    6. If the team makes the playoffs, I'm still assessing the coaches with the possibility of making a change based on progress, post-season etc etc. And I'm still looking at moves 1-5.

    Between now and the trade deadline . . . find out if I've got a chance to re-sign and for how much. If not, move him . . .

  • oilersseasonticketholdersince99

    This team is a joke.The EIG sold them at the right time they must be laughung all the way to the bank.Does Daryl Katz even exist? he had one press conference and since then he has been the invisable man,maybe he will start listing when Rexall place is half full.Has kevin Lowe given up, know that he is President and does not have to be held accountable? Can someone, anyone with in the Oilers organization explain to us fans what the hell is going on and when are they going to do something or are we expected to pay and watch this sad excuse for a hockey team?

  • RobinB

    @ oilersseasonticketholdersince99:
    What is Katz supposed to say?
    He's paying Kevin Lowe, Steve Tambellini, Kevin Prendergast, a coaching staff and a hockey staff to make decisions.
    If the team misses the playoffs for another season, these people should have to answer for it. It's the team they put together.

  • oilersseasonticketholdersince99

    RobinB wrote:

    @ oilersseasonticketholdersince99:
    What is Katz supposed to say?
    He’s paying Kevin Lowe, Steve Tambellini, Kevin Prendergast, a coaching staff and a hockey staff to make decisions.
    If the team misses the playoffs for another season, these people should have to answer for it. It’s the team they put together.

    Any comment from Mr Katz would be good,it would at least show the season ticket holders and the fan base that he is around and cares somewhat as to the on ice product and what is happening. Before Mr Katz bought the team, was it not reported that one of the problems selling to him was that he was not avaiable for comment and rarely if ever makes himself avaiable to the media? Do you really beleive K lowe and the rest of management are going to be held accountable if they miss the play offs? From what I have seen from this owner and management group we may see some minor player moves,no coaching or mangement changes amd the same old boys club will be running the show no matter how poorly we play.

  • Hockey Gods

    @ oilersseasonticketholdersince99:
    Dude you have to chill on the Katz making an appearnce thing.

    1) The EIG was 37 people who said nothing and made no appearances, were you calling them out too?

    2) The only teams with outspoken owners are debacles of an organization. NYI, TB and OTT all have owners who you see in the media, are those teams you want the Oilers to model themselves after. Can you even tell anyone who owns the Red Wings, Blue Jakets, Wild, Flames… I can go on. Probably not, an owners job is to pay the bills and hire the people to run the team, if the they are making staements in themedia it's ussually for the wrong reasons.

  • Hockey Gods

    @ The Towel Boy:
    Thanks Buddy, man people whining is pissing me off. I too want to the team to play more consistant, start better and actually put in an effort, I want mact to quit playing AHL level players, and I am sick of seeing them get blown out. But why whine about and now blame the owner… who has been at the helm for 7 whole months.

    Yes Tambo (who isn't a puppet IMO) needs to make a trade, Yes Mact needs to go, and Klowe… well what can they do now he's been promoted. But all we as fans can do is cheer our butts off and hope for the best. We Fans can cry for Firings, trades, or whatever but there isn't bloody thing us fans can do in the meantime except support the boys who wear the jersey now.

    Robin, great article, I love the behind the scenes stuff, keep it coming. I noted something RobinB wrote:

    Scour the free agent market for a reliable shutdown defenceman. Failing that, groom Theo Peckham as that guy.

    Francois Beauchemin is a UFA this year, do you think he would be a good one for the Oil to persue, or who would your prized pig be?

  • rindog

    @ Hockey Gods:
    Hockey Gods wrote:

    Francois Beauchemin is a UFA this year, do you think he would be a good one for the Oil to persue, or who would your prized pig be?

    IMO – Beauchemin should already be an Oiler!!! The fact that we didn't get him in the Pronger trade still boggles my mind.

    I would love to go after him this summer. I am thinking it would take about $5 million per year to get him though. Even if we get rid of Grebs, can we really afford that much on our D and still get the top line forward that we DESPERATELY need?

    I have resigned myself to the fact that we might have to go the way of a Marik Malik or a Paul Ranger to fill the need that RB talks about???

  • Scotty Eh

    So that's 3 humiliating lop-sided losses so far this year. Brings back memories from the early-mid 90s, doesn't it?

    How many more putrid games do the Oilers have to play this season before we see anything out of the coaching staff other than emotionless excuses, and singling out the usual whipping boys for punishment. Is it too much to ask for to see a bag skate after one of these stinkers?

    I know that MacT was given much credit for his coaching the Oilers to a somewhat respectable showing last year in the face of the myriad of problems that they encountered, but I'm not sure if he knows exactly what he's doing this year.

  • Fiveandagame

    ROBIN BROWNLEE SAID:
    " after Dwayne Roloson gave Dan Clearly a hack between the legs 42 seconds in, prompting the Red Wings to spend most of the rest of the day returning the favour by sacking the Oilers on the score board."

    HA!

    Robin Brownlee will be appearing at Yuk Yuks for the remainder of the 08/09 Oiler season….and as long as MacT coaches the team.

    I didn't think it was possible but RB put a positive spin on this game. An easy article to write….easy like an obituary, you know how it ends.

  • raged

    Haha good ending, as much disdain i have for Kevin and Louie, they are still waaaaaay better than the jobbers that call the Calgary games.

    The only positive I can come up with over the last week in Oilerville is the play of number 12, he has been good, reaaaaaal good. If we can beat Minnesota today that washes out the beatdowns weve taken from Detroit and Chicago, as far as a playoff spot goes.

  • Oilerguy

    Lets face it, the Oil are just not good enough. As far as i am concerned the only players worth keeping are Hemsky, Souray, Cogliano and Visnovsky. Sam Gagner is a complete joke, he can't handle the puck, he's soft and gets bumped off the puck, and people say he is supposed to be the face of the franchise, give me a break.

    I think it's time for everybody to stop buying tickets around here until management does something with this team. We are paying to watch a crap team in a crappy building.

    It's the only franchise in sports that rewards our coaches year after year for coaching a team to endless beatings.

  • charlie

    Typical, typical, typical. If 90 points gets you in, the Oil need to go 17-12-1 in the next 30 games. If they drop 5 or 6 straight, panic. If they lose against the wings without 4 or 5 starters, DON'T panic.

    Geezus, I know we're Oilers fans, but c'mon. We'll make the playoffs, we're better than everyone below us, we'll beat the Sharks if we're 8th, the next round will be tough, and at the end of the day lets face it:

    WE'RE SOME OF THE ONLY FANS IN HOCKEY WHO GIVE EACH OTHER HEART ATTACKS EVERY F*N SEASON.

    We'll make the second round. MacT will still have a job. Fans need to chill. It's a game, and we're not too bad. MacT has his favorites, and we have to deal with that for now. We're never going to have a team of Hemmers, and we're never going to have a team of MAP's. We'll have a mix, and we'll be underdogs, and we'll do what we can.

    In the mean time, when we suck, we suck. When we're good, we're OK.

    As someone said a few days ago, it ain't asy being a Royals fan. Lets all pull up our pants and support our team. F*n MacT blender?? How bout the Edmonton media blender?! How mny articles and sites were talking about the sophomore slump before Sam & Andrew had even skated this fall??

    Fans – CHILL. We're doing alright. It's the yearly drama for an average team. Just because we have a loaded owner for one year doen't mean we can all of a sudden have a team of Zetterbergs and Malkins. We're Oilers fans. WE'RE OILERS FANS!!!!

    Enough drama. Let's Go Oil.

  • Milli

    Robin,
    I have a few questions, maybe you have an answer or 2.

    It sure seems that this team has a total lack of leadership, which surprises me with guys like Souray, Moreau and Staios. Am I mistaken?

    Do you think that MacT might do Klo a favor and sack himself if this continues?

    Do you think if Klo or Katz thought this team was gonna be this BRUTAL, they would have promoted MacT to a safe position last summer to spare him from the enevitable axe if this continues?

    Great read, thanks.

  • pmg2

    RobinB wrote:

    @ Woody:
    Flash card anwers in no particular order . . .
    1. Move one of my puck-carrying defenceman in a package for a first-line left winger.
    2. Enlist Andrew Cogliano in face-off school over the summer so he can have a legit shot as my No. 2 centre and kill more penalties.
    3. Make a call on Gilbert Brule. He’s either good enough to play in my top six or he’s an asset I move, perhaps as part of item No. 1.
    4. Scour the free agent market for a reliable shutdown defenceman. Failing that, groom Theo Peckham as that guy.
    5. If the team misses the playoffs, the coaching staff is gone. Rob Daum gets a spot as an assistant on the new staff.
    6. If the team makes the playoffs, I’m still assessing the coaches with the possibility of making a change based on progress, post-season etc etc. And I’m still looking at moves 1-5.
    Between now and the trade deadline . . . find out if I’ve got a chance to re-sign and for how much. If not, move him . . .

    Excellent Analogy RB. If I losing a defenceman like Gilbert, however Visnovsky's value for this year's trade deadline is dropped given his injury. SOuray is too valuable…he can be tough, has a great shot, and is reasonable consistent than most on this team. Gilbert's salary is a concern though. I like Theo Peckham for grooming. I especially liked it when he tuned in Matt Cooke rather soundly, …given Cooke's brash play against the Oil for number of years.

    I have no reservation on bringing up Brule. To hell with his 3 games leftover for waiver purposes. Keep him here. If he shows signs of blooming, lat Gagne sit a couple games or so in the press box. In my humble opinion it won't hurt him to have a lok from up above. He should learn from watching the game from a "slo-mo" perspective.

    I further believe that it was an error of sorts in shoving ROb Daum onto the back burner. I firmly believe Bucky should have been in Daum's spot. Bucky gained from some sort of in-house alliance in my humble opinion.

    I would like Eric Cole to stay, but that's a question mark. He is valuable, especially with a better team than this. Given the Oil can be "buyers" at the trade deadline, this team should be better. Easier said than done.

    My last comment following yesterday's debacle. I believe there are several players who have been rewarded (overpaid) by management as a result of a good season (or a half – as in Horcoff) and loyalty. Just think – if we are close to the top of the cap, why are we struggling mightily ? I know there a myriad of reasons, but,….in theory shouldn't we be better for the amount we are investing here ? Or are we the 90's NY Rangers who got nowhere for spending thru the roof and had a collection of talent which couldn't mesh for an entire season, let alone a month ?

    My prediction today given the Oilers have been outscored 30-9 during their eight-game losing streak at the Xcel Energy Center. —- 4-2 Wild.
    ..Something's got to be done by March !

    I enjoy your show with Gregor. Value your comments. We're blessed with several very knowlegeable media here.
    Thanks,
    pmg2.

  • Clarkenstein

    @ charlie:
    Charlie where do you get those drugs you're on at this time of the day??

    Robin, when you and Gregor had a chat with Hitch the other day I was laughing out loud at some of your questions!!! Almost all of the his answers were in direct contrast to MacT's coaching philosophy. Tell me that isn't the reason you asked all those questions!! Brilliant… loved it!!!

  • klowe

    I won six Stanley Cups.
    I think I know a thing or two about custom made suits.
    We stay at the Hyatt in Detroit.
    I wish there was a Ritz in Minnisota.
    Bucky found a great place for wings yesterday, man crispy and hot.
    Last night I ordered a pizza and put all my rings on. ALL SIX RINGS.
    I sat there thinking about my rings.
    Those guys in Springfield don't have any rings, but there is a Hyatt in Springfield.
    Today I'm going to put my rings on and order a Little Caesars pizza.
    Caesar doesn't have no six rings I can tell you that much.
    I like expensive red wine with my wings and pizza, it gives me class.
    Sometimes I think about hockey.
    I look great in my new suit.
    My hair looks great.
    It's hard to show off hockey genius when I don't have my SIX RINGS on.
    How can I show the hockey world how smart I am without ALL SIX RINGS on MY BOTH HANDS.
    I'm glad Tambellini is here, now me and MacT can go shopping for ties.
    Sometimes I think about Hockey and you just can't teach that.

  • RobinB

    Clarkenstein wrote:

    @ charlie:
    Charlie where do you get those drugs you’re on at this time of the day??
    Robin, when you and Gregor had a chat with Hitch the other day I was laughing out loud at some of your questions!!! Almost all of the his answers were in direct contrast to MacT’s coaching philosophy. Tell me that isn’t the reason you asked all those questions!! Brilliant… loved it!!!

    I've known Hitch for 25 years, so yes, I've got a pretty good handle on his way of doing things, but you've still got to ask because that's the nature of the coaching 101 segment on the show.

    Milli wrote:

    It sure seems that this team has a total lack of leadership, which surprises me with guys like Souray, Moreau and Staios. Am I mistaken?

    I've had some questions about that myself. There definitely was a disconnect between the veterans and the younger guys earlier in the season and, in my opinion, that speaks to leadership.

    Milli wrote:

    Do you think if Klo or Katz thought this team was gonna be this BRUTAL, they would have promoted MacT to a safe position last summer to spare him from the enevitable axe if this continues?

    That's kind of a bizarre take, isn't it? First, do you think the team has been "BRUTAL?" I see them right about where they I thought they would be — hanging around 6th-10th and teasing everybody right until the 82nd game.

    rindog wrote:

    IMO – Beauchemin should already be an Oiler!!! The fact that we didn’t get him in the Pronger trade still boggles my mind.

    I like him, too, but you don't need a $3-5-million player in that role. In the Oilers situation especially, with them really needing a LW who can produce, how do pay a shutdown guy $3-5 million if you're keeping three from the group of Souray, Visnovsky, Gilbert and Grebeshkov?

  • @ Robin:

    "I almost crapped myself outside Joe Louis Arena one time, but never inside it like the Edmonton Oilers did during the first 18 minutes of an 8-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings today."

    That is the best opening line ever! Ever! What a way to wake up. ROFL