Deep thoughts VI: the do-over


It’s better that the Edmonton Oilers got it right late than never getting it right at all when it comes to putting Rob Daum back behind the bench where he belongs instead of schlepping around as a pro scout.

That’s what the Oilers did today when they announced Daum would be taking over from Jeff Truitt as coach of the AHL’s Springfield Falcons. It’s a step toward undoing a series of events that happened last summer, and should go in the books as the first substantial move made by new GM Steve Tambellini.

It’s a saga that began with the decision to promote Kelly Buchberger to the Oilers as one of Craig MacTavish’s assistants, while Daum was bumped off the staff after one year.

The story, as we’ve all been told, was Daum was inked to a one-year deal as an assistant coach and he knew going into the gig that was the case. When his contract ended, that opened the door for Buchberger.

I’m not sure that’s as much reality as spin. I’d suggest Buchberger wanting a promotion and his relationship with MacTavish is what prompted Daum to be told, “Thanks for coming.”

At the very least, Daum should’ve been made the head coach in Springfield at that point. The problem is, Truitt had already been promised he’d get the top job on the farm if Buchberger moved to the Oilers. Daum’s consolation prize was a position as a pro scout.

Bench boss

With Springfield dead-last in the entire AHL with a record of 16-27-7, there can be little debate Truitt was a failure and that Daum has his work cut out for him. While the Falcons aren’t brimming with talent, Truitt had enough to work with for the team to be better.

It says here Daum, who spent two years with the Houston Aeros and compiled a record of 77-67-16 after a decade as bench boss of the Alberta Golden Bears, where he compiled a 345-79-32 record and won three CIS University Cups, has the coaching chops to turn things around.

Whether Daum’s credentials meant anything at the NHL level in terms of keeping him ahead of Buchberger were a matter of great debate here and elsewhere last summer, I’m guessing there’s not much question in the mind of Tambellini that Daum will do a good job.

It’s also worth mentioning president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, GM at the time Buchberger was promoted, is a staunch backer of Daum, having gained an appreciation for his knowledge of the game over the course of this season as they’ve worked together.

What’s interesting about how this unfolded in the last several days is that Daum was actually sent to Springfield to assess the situation — in essence, to report to Tambellini on what he saw. That had to be difficult as Daum and Truitt are friends.

In any case, Daum is behind the bench where he belongs. As far as the possibility of him showing up back on the Oilers coaching staff at some point, let me spare you much guesswork and speculation. The longer Daum coaches in the system and the closer Tambellini, the only fresh set of eyes in the organization, watches him work, the better the chances are he’ll end up on the Oilers coaching staff.

Fact is, Daum should never have been removed.

Let’s play patty-cake

Those braying that fighting in hockey should be banned must be applauding the latest report that backs their stance, one that’ll turn the game of hockey into patty-cake if the do-gooders have their way.

From the Canadian Press: “A London anti-violence expert is applauding recommendations from a panel on concussions that call for the elimination of fighting from all levels of hockey.

Peter Jaffe said the report could be the tipping point that changes the culture of the game.

“It makes a lot of sense. It is hard to argue with physicians when they talk about the short and long-term dangers of getting punched in the head,” Jaffe said. “I think there are enough parents, enough fans and enough coaches who are concerned about the impact.”

Reporters, as you’d expect, were at the Oilers skate today at Millennium Place looking for reaction. Zack Stortini and Steve MacIntyre got scrummed. Words cannot describe the look on Stortini’s face after the mob had moved on.

Getting punched in the head carries a risk? Really? Here’s a news bulletin — so does getting checked in the boards, dodging frozen rubber pucks and playing a game where people have sticks in their hands and blades on their feet. Let’s get rid of all that, too, shall we?

This and that…

MacIntryre got several grenades tossed his way in the form of questions about facing Georges Laraque when the Montreal Canadiens come calling tomorrow.

Reporters, as you’d expect, were looking for a scintillating sound byte or an inflammatory quote, but MacIntyre played it straight and spoke his mind without saying anything stupid.

“Absolutely,” said MacIntyre, asked if he’s looking forward to facing Laraque and the Canadiens. “We’ve got to win the game, first and foremost, whether I’m playing or not playing.

“I can’t go in thinking of that (fighting Laraque) necessarily. If it happens, it happens. I just have to react and do the best I can.”

  • This isn’t Laraque’s first trip back to Edmonton, of course. In previous times back he’s done nothing in terms of bully-boy stuff against his old team that could spark a showdown. In simple terms, Laraque’s been classy, even though he might have been tempted to make a point with MacTavish in games he played here before they talked things out — when the Oilers were trying to re-sign Laraque last summer before he took Montreal’s offer.
  • So, will Laraque and MacIntyre go? Maybe yes, maybe no. Maybe they have a date already. Would it surprise you if I told you Laraque and MacIntyre exchange text messages?
  • Lubomir Visnovsky out for the season because he’ll need surgery on his right shoulder to repair a torn labrum? Aside from weakening the blueline corps, that puts a big kink in any plans Tambellini has between now and the trade deadline March 4. If there’s any place the Oilers have — make that had — depth was on the back end in terms of offensive defencemen. With Sheldon Souray, Visnovsky, Tom Gilbert and Denis Grebeshkov, Tambellini had bargaining chips. Now, not so much.
  • Fernando Pisani skated with the team today and will accompany them on the next road trip. Expect him back in the line-up before the Oilers return from their four-game swing.

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

  • Tencer's Brain Cell

    Kingsblade responds by saying I'm arrogant, and I take sociology classes. Insightful. Are you 10? He claims my analogy with curling is flawed without saying why. It's funny, because that would have been his only substantive point.

    Of course, I never said that APE's position was that ALL puck battles result in fights. Nonetheless, APE seems to believe that battling for the puck and the physical nature of hockey often leads to fights, and that therefore fighting is part of the game. I think this is obviously false since many players, including many hard nosed battlers, never fight and many sports, especially football, are just as physical and they don't involve regular fights. (All sports have occasional fights, which is fine.) The idea that "fighting is part of hockey," then, has no evidence to back it up and much evidence against it: international hockey, the Olympics, etc. (Gregor's point about regular season games needing fighting to be interesting is unfounded. He points out the obvious; MAYBE eliminating fights will have a detrimental impact. Maybe it will. Of course, there is no evidence it will and some evidence that it won't. This is hardly compelling.)

    Anyway, for some reason, people can't argue about this topic reasonably. I've no idea why.

    Case in point: Gregor -a bright guy- responds to Tyler's reasonable thoughts, which I slightly disagree with, with a series of red herrings and straw men. My favorite of which is, "Show me the prove that fighting causes more concussions than hitting. Most injuries involve broken hands, knuckles and fingers. Not nearly as severe as head injuries." Bravo Jason. Now, who believes that fighting causes more concussions than hitting? Not Tyler, certainly.

    One last thing, I'll admit I should have stated my position about the attitude of Americans towards hockey fights more clearly, especially given the tendency of ON posters to interpret others' comments uncharitably. 1.) Obviously Americans aren't opposed to violence. MMA and boxing are big down here. 2.) Obviously some U.S. fans like hockey fights. But a lot of people like Springer and the WWE too. 3.) Nonetheless, I can't tell you how many American sports fans I meet who laugh at hockey, and the regular fighting in hockey is part of what they laugh at. They equate hockey with the WWE and Springer, and I can't entirely blame them.

    That is, the problem isn't that hockey fights are violent, it's that hockey fights are silly, pointless, unnecessary violence.

    So, if you want to watch the WWE, Springer, Laraque-Boogaard, or Moreau-Tootoo that's fine. But it's not part of hockey. It's not interesting to many fans and it's very likely preventing the game from being respected by serious sports fans in the U.S.

  • Tencer's Brain Cell

    @ kingsblade:

    Players implicitly consent to being body checked the moment they step on the ice. They do not, however, consent to be punched repeatedly in the face, until they drop their gloves. Players implicitly consent to being high sticked, but not "Bertuzzi'd"

    In general, the line you mention just is the NHL rule book. I believe there actually is a good deal of case law that draws this line using what is in bounds within a normal game, and this case law explains why Bertuzzi's hit on Moore was investigated by the authorities, while other hits aren't.

    Nonetheless, I didn't mean to use "assailant" or whatever to mean criminal assault. I thought that was obvious.

  • Tyler wrote:

    I’ve revised my opinion. You don’t argue to fill air. You honestly don’t understand what you’re reading and responding to. Look at my post again – that’s simply not what I’m saying. I’m saying that Robin would weigh the risk against the benefits of a given activity. 1/300,000 chance of getting paralyzed playing hockey? Fine. 1/300,000 chance of getting paralyzed shoving needles into your spine? We’ll pass on that activity.

    Far from it. I went back and re-read it and you said,

    "I guess what I’m saying is that the relative frequency of concussions from fighting to concussions from other hockey related causes isn’t the issue."

    So what is your issue??? Nothing. So YOU, not I, went around in circles. I can read fine thank you, just try to make a point.

    My point of you using 1/300,000 was that it was just as much filling air as you accused me of.

  • kingsblade

    Tencer's Brain Cell wrote:

    He claims my analogy with curling is flawed without saying why.

    I can't believe Mr. Edumacation cannot understand the bloated flaws in such an analogy. Your comparison didn't even make enough sense to bother, or do you really think that comparing fighting in a contact sport to fighting in curling could apply? Using nearly any other sport would make more sense than curling.

    It’s funny, because that would have been his only substantive point.

    Really? Is that why you spend the rest of you post addressing my comments. However, funny enough I never really bothered to make a point, I was simply pointing out the inadequacies of your own.

    Of course, I never said that APE’s position was that ALL puck battles result in fights.

    You say this now, but earlier you said:

    Battling for the puck has to result in fights?

    I love how you point out the strawmen of others but what would you call that?

    Players implicitly consent to being body checked the moment they step on the ice.

    Actually I was referring to the fact that nearly every scrum near the net results in somebody getting punched in the face. Clearly nobody consented to that? Furthermore you stated that players implicitly consent to high-sticking, but an argument could easily be made that this is not the case due to the fact that the action of high sticking is an infraction.

    I believe there actually is a good deal of case law that draws this line using what is in bounds within a normal game, and this case law explains why Bertuzzi’s hit on Moore was investigated by the authorities, while other hits aren’t.

    Perhaps you are not aware of this, but case law does not apply in a criminal case since you cannot be charged with a common law crime, so I cannot see how it could have any bearing on the authorities choosing to investigate. In fact, it is the distinct lack of case law which makes the civil case so interesting.

    What do I know though. I'm only 10.

  • Tencer's Brain Cell

    @ kingsblade:

    Regarding your nitpicking

    There is a clear difference between:

    a.) All puck battles necessarily result in fights


    b.) Some puck battles necessarily result in fights.

    I believe APE believes b.) When saying "Battling for the puck has to result in fights?" I clearly meant b.) also even though I used "has to."

    Indeed, the idea that "fighting is part of hockey" has to mean fights are necessary in hockey or necessary in good, intense, physical hockey. Doesn't APE think good, intense, entertaining hockey "has to" have fighting? Not every game mind you, but many regular season games? Isn't that the position?

    I have no idea if you're right about case law. But there certainly is a law between what's acceptable on the ice and off that's drawn by the standard of what's acceptable in the normal course of a game.

    The rest of what you say isn't really worth replying to. Nonetheless, I'm still not sure why you have such a bee up your butt. I said that people go nuts and start insulting each other, and stop arguing reasonably and fairly, whenever this topic comes up. (You seem to be confirming that.) I said ON posters don't interpret comments charitably. Not a big deal, really.

    You still haven't responded very substantively to anyone's actual arguments either.

    Anyway, this is all getting tedious.

  • kingsblade

    @ Tencer's Brain Cell:
    It isn't the topic of discussion that's abrasive, it's you and your air of superiority. I actually very much enjoy discussing this particular topic.

    I'm not nitpicking, you were. This is essentially how the conversation went between the two of you, whether by direct statement or implication.

    You said: Fights are staged like WWE.
    He said: No, most fights result from player battles.
    You said: So you're saying that if player battles happen then fights have to happen?

    You really can't see what's annoying about a guy who complains about straw men, wanting so desperately to prove his superiority, yet his primary method of debate is the straw man?

    Of course there's laws that determine what's acceptable. It just isn't case law. Once again you were trying to prove your superiority and WERE COMPLETELY WRONG. You had no idea what you were talking about. This is what bothers me.

    I also would love to know how I am not being "reasonable and fair." I have addressed your comments using strict logic. You on the other hand, are the guy who accuses anyone who disagrees with you of irrationality and lack of substance. Have you still not yet noticed that at no point have I expressed my own opinion on the subject? I have only pointed out the flaws of some of your statements in order to show that you are not the epitome of brilliance that you believe yourself to be.

    I actually have not even decided yet which side of the fence I am on in this discussion. I see the strengths and weaknesses of both sides, and would never dream to think that I am have the definitive answer. I'm not debating the issue of fighting with you. I'm asking you not to be such a prick while YOU are debating the issue of fighting. Maybe then people would take your points more seriously.

  • Tencer's Brain Cell

    I don't think I'm superior, kingsblade, though the fact that you keep saying it makes me think you have some kind of problem. You're obviously annoyed, which is fine by me.

    I clearly didn't give a straw man argument against APE. I merely pointed out the obvious, which is that puck battles and intense physical hockey can happen without fights. Therefore, fights are not a necessary part of hockey; they're an unnecessary -I would say boring- addition.

    If APE's position was only, as you seem to suggest, that given the current rules, puck battles sometimes cause players to fight, then he had no reason to disagree with my assertion that fighting could be eliminated from hockey without loss. I'm sure that if football or basketball allowed fighting, intense physical battles would result in fights there, too. My point is that if you change the rules to bar fighting, the same puck battles wouldn't result in fights but they;d be just as intense and entertaining. Again, this is all obvious, given that the discussion at hand is whether to get rid of fighting.

    My point was not that hockey fights are "staged," only that most hockey fights are inauthentic. Surely you at least agree this is true of designated goon fights?

    And finally, I merely said that there is a line drawn between acceptable and unacceptable conduct on the ice drawn by the NHL rule book, which players implicitly agree to. Illegal actions will be those that go well beyond what the rules allow. I'm quite sure this is correct, but I never pretended to have any legal expertise. (I even added the caveat "I think")

    (BTW, I'm surprised your still coming at me like this. It's interesting.)

  • Robin B

    @ Tencer's Brain Cell:
    Here's a thought, agree to disagree and leave it at that.
    This gets laughable. This is the comment area for one item on a hockey website yet it turns into who's-got-the-bigger-dick? contest time after time and you contribute to that as much or more than anybody.
    Surprised he's coming at you like this? Mercy, I don't even care which side of the debate you or kingsblade is on, but he's damn sure right about one thing: the tone of what you write screams "Look how smart I am."

    It's hockey. Can we stop with the strawman references and crap about Plato (from another item)? Plato? What position did he play? We get it. A lot of people have an education.

  • Tencer's Brain Cell


    1. Yes, this has degenerated.

    2. Let me put this in caps to get my point across: I REALLY NO THINK I IS SMARTER THAN U ALL. Seriously, I do think that arguments about fighting in hockey never go anywhere and that the debates here won't ever be done constructively. (These debates degenerate, just like this is.) For example, no one has really addressed Tyler's point with a long thoughtful response. Nor has anyone really said anything about the comparison with the Olympics, other physical sports, etc. In retrospect, there was no need to say these debates always go nowhere, I could've just sat back and watched as the debate went nowhere. Oh well.

    I didn't mean to talk down to anyone, though I have been called an idiot, pretentious, and a smarty pants. Really, who's talking down to who here?

    3. I didn't bring Plato up in that thread, which is where RB threatened to fight Dennis, someone else did. I just responded, because I thought it was fun to write a bit on Plato and because it was relevant to RB's defense. And "Straw man" is not fancy pants talk; it's been used here before and should be used again.

    5. I'll try to sound less pretentious in the future, if you answer my serious question from the "Going eye to eye with Dennis" comments, which was "What information, specifically, do you know that makes your analysis of hockey matters, e.g. prospect evaluation, what trades should be made, where the team is headed, is the coaching a problem- better than a blogger like JW or Lowetide or Dennis, etc? I really think you might have a good answer to this question, and I don't mean to sound facetious or sarcastic when I ask it. Maybe you could give some examples.

  • Robin B

    Tencer's Brain Cell wrote:

    where RB threatened to fight Dennis

    Never happened. You think you're going to get somewhere by repeating this fantasy? Say it often enough and it'll become the truth? Think again.

  • Robin B

    Tencer's Brain Cell wrote:

    5. I’ll try to sound less pretentious in the future, if you answer my serious question from the “Going eye to eye with Dennis” comments, which was “What information, specifically, do you know that makes your analysis of hockey matters, e.g. prospect evaluation, what trades should be made, where the team is headed, is the coaching a problem- better than a blogger like JW or Lowetide or Dennis, etc? I really think you might have a good answer to this question, and I don’t mean to sound facetious or sarcastic when I ask it. Maybe you could give some examples.

    I'll repeat this one more time because you obviously didn't read it in the other comments section.
    Yes, I might have a "good answer," but I don't need to establish my credibility. I don't need to explain myself to Dennis or to you.
    I write what I write. Agree or disagree, I don't care. I'm not here for Debate Club.

    My mistake has been engaging Dennis — to the point he's taken something I said and stretched it into the fallacy you referred to above. He wanted a reaction, he got one, even if it wasn't what he tried to make it out to be to anybody who would listen.

    Dennis established his baseline position long ago: He'e envious of what I do, he believes he could do it better and he thinks I'm a Lowe ass-kisser. He's spent a lot of time taking shots at me and been quite happy to perpetuate the notion since I joined this website that I like kicking bloggers and non-MSM guys around, when it's him who fired the first shot.

    An excerpt from a rant of his about a story I did on Joffrey Lupul three years ago:

    "There are still a lot of stories to write on the '07 Oilers and some of them wouldn't even have to be puff pieces. That's probably not allowed in Oilerville mind you but Brownlee would've been better off writing a piece about how much JFJ misses his dog back in Quebec rather than raising the pen to defend a highly paid local who just isn't doing the job.
    I'd give my left nut to cover the Oilers or any NHL team for that matter and at the end of the day I'd still have one testicle left.
    That'd still be probably one more than Brownlee currently posseses.
    posted by Dennis-IOF at 12/14/2006 12:08:00 PM

    A sampling of his insights since I joined ON:

    "Dec. 18: "Anyway, RB and I will be at loggerheads and that’s cool with me. I took the initial shot when I said he’s been kissing Lowe’s can for lo these last 8 seasons and that wounds the big fella so he comes back with a whining allegation. And I’m sure I make the occasional whine:) and I’m certainly sure that Brownlee continues to pucker up!:)"

    Jan. 22: "RB: You are right. I don’t have a clue because I don’t get to kiss butt in the bowels of Rexall. I am sorry."

    Jan. 22, 7:26 pm: "RB: You have been assuming the position for years so your advice on this matter would be invaluable!"

    So, forgive me if I'm not inclined to spend a lot of time explaining myself or answering your questions . . .
    If you want to come here and read what I write, fine. If not, that's fine, too.

    But, if you do come here and start pitching the stuff Dennis has been hurling my way for three years or trying to agitate me, I won't engage you. I'll simply have the remarks removed. It's as simple as that.
    That's more than enough of my time.