A fine mess

Was Ethan Moreau doing what a captain had to do against the Dallas Stars Thursday, or did the E-Train look like he’d come off the rails by taking selfish, boneheaded penalties that led to a costly 4-2 loss at the American Airlines Center?

In a melee sparked by Steve Ott’s blindside of Tom Gilbert — a hit that prompted Moreau to, first, pile on Ott after Dwayne Roloson and Laddy Smid had already responded, and, second, to flail away at Dallas defenceman Nicklas Grossman — my vote is for the latter.

Five minutes to Moreau for losing it, none to Grossman for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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As far as Moreau’s double-minor, one for tripping and another for roughing, that led to the eventual winning goal by Fabian Brunnstrom early in the second period, same thing.

Tripping? OK. A headlock and the stinky glove? Not so much. Not at all, in fact. Stupid penalties. Selfish penalties. Nothing to do with playing tough. Nothing to do with leadership. And nothing to do with the tough, honest hockey Moreau has made a career on.

Leadership?

Of course, not everybody sees it the way I do. Long-time Oiler fan and journalist David Staples, at the Cult of Hockey at The Journal, saw Moreau’s ill-timed fits of temper as some sort of Messier Moment:

“Whatever the Oilers did wrong in the past, they responded properly this time, first with goalie feisty Dwayne Roloson coming in to give Ott a bash, then with snarly Ladislav Smid jumping on the guy, and finally with the fierce captain, Ethan Moreau, piling on and punching Ott in the head.

It did my heart well, I tell you. For once, the Oilers looked like a team, as opposed to a collection of paycheque men.”

As you’d expect, Craig MacTavish didn’t take issue with Moreau’s response, either. Said MacTavish: “There’s nobody that does it better than Steve Ott. He picks his spots. He’s an effective player. We did have the right response on the hit on Gibby, but it was a Steve Ott-type game.”

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Sorry, coach, no sale. The right response? Throwing punches at Grossman, who kept his gloves on (yet managed to end up on top of Moreau) and taking the extra five?

It’s not the first time Moreau has taken ill-timed, costly penalties this season, so he doesn’t get a pass for a one-off. While I’m not in the camp of people yelling for Moreau to be stripped of the captaincy, let’s get real here. Moreau lost his temper. He took stupid penalties on two different occasions that led to the Oilers losing a game they had to win.

Correct me if I’m wrong

  • Shouldn’t fans who think it would be a great move for the Oilers to acquire Alexei Kovalev from Montreal at least find out why the Habs chose to sit their best player at a critical point in the season before they jump to conclusions? Arguments about whether Kovalev would help in the stretch drive aside — he certainly would, if he felt like it — it would seem prudent to find out what the issues are before clamouring for Steve Tambellini to pull the trigger on anything, no?
  • While Dwayne Roloson has performed better than I thought he could or would since Mathieu Garon was traded, MacTavish is now in the position of having to ride the 39-year-old all the way to the finish line. It’s 14 straight starts and counting. The wheels have to fall off Roli, don’t they?
  • Saturday’s game against Calgary will get the obligatory hype we’ve come to expect, but the Oilers aren’t catching the Flames for the Northwest Division title. Not a chance. I agree with what MacTavish suggested several weeks ago: I see the Oilers playoff hopes hinging on the three games they have remaining against the Minnesota Wild. If I’m the Oilers, I’m more worried about the Wild, who have two games in hand, than Anaheim.
  • While there’s been the suggestion Tambellini will wait until closer to the trade deadline to make any moves, I believe the return of Fernando Pisani next week could set things in motion. Just a gut feeling on that front.

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


  • Rick

    I blame Brownlee and Gregor for the Ott incident last night.

    If you guys had only forwarded a copy of your interview from last week with him to the Oilers players they would have been prepared for his antics. He pretty much scripted exactly what ultimately went down.

    Not an excuse for Moreau's game last night because he deserves all the egg's that get thrown at him for what he did, but the extra 2 for roughing in the second period was a bush league call. I just can't sort out the selective vision that the refs seem to be getting afflicted with more and more these days.

    Ironically though they killed that penalty and it was the stupid hooking call that burned them…as it should be.

  • shakey

    If this was a one-off bad timed spurt of selfishness for Moreau then I say let it go, he usually helps this team. But this wasn't. This is a pattern that is getting more and more obvious as the season goes on. It looks like he is trying to win the game on every shift. It's been said on here before that players will gladly try to kill a penalty that comes from hard work and hustle. Moreau's brain-cramps have hurt this team when they really need solid leadership. I'm all for standing up for your team and playing hard but the extra penalty after the trip and the useless sucker punches to Grossman did nothing but hurt the team.

  • Jack "FMNF" Bauer

    That double minor was absolutely bogus though. Sure they scored on the first half of that penalty which was the tripping, but the reffing last night, was like how it always is in the NHL, atrocious. These are the worst officals in sport. They do an awful job.

    You know whats funny about Moreau losing his temper? He looks like hes barely awake when he does it.

  • Hoodlum

    If the Oilers had of killed off the double minor and eventually squeeked out a win, you would be saying that Moreau's penalty was a momentum changer and you would be praising him. You bash the guy for trying to spark an emotionless team. If he didn't do what he does, you would still question is leadership and weather or not he should be captain. He's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. As for Kovelev, he seems to have a problem with the younger guys on Montreals team, although I don't know what the habits are of the younger guys on our team, I believe that we are a younger team than Montreal and if he had a problem with the young guys there, he's not going to run away from those problems in Edmonton

  • swany

    Bob on 630 ched hinted that there was a deal in place for a D man but with the set back of Pies it will be another week before the deal will be made, doesn't that say they would be moving a forward?

  • swany

    swany wrote:

    Bob on 630 ched hinted that there was a deal in place for a D man but with the set back of Pies it will be another week before the deal will be made, doesn’t that say they would be moving a forward?

    And as for Moreau thank god my kids weren't home as the F bombs were going off, total lack of leadership, you should know when to do that and when not to as a captain, I new he would get a double minor on that play as he wouldn't let the guy out of the headlock, as for the fighting major MAKE sure the other guy goes off as well stupid penalties.

  • Robin B

    Rice wrote:

    Are you suggesting that there should be a new face behind the C?

    "While I’m not in the camp of people yelling for Moreau to be stripped of the captaincy, let’s get real here. Moreau lost his temper. He took stupid penalties on two different occasions that led to the Oilers losing a game they had to win."

    Does it sound like that's what I'm suggesting?

  • swany

    Rice wrote:

    Are you suggesting that there should be a new face behind the C?

    C= Souray or should, Moreau wasn't the only stupid penalty taker. Hemmer and Horc both took dumb ass penalties too.

  • This is deeply disturbing, Robin – I strongly agree with every single point you make here.

    Given the sheer volume of waiver eligible forwards next season, I assume you expect to see a forward moved – would Marc Pouliot or Robert Nilsson (aside from the rather obvious Erik Cole) be likely candidates?

  • swany

    Robin B wrote:

    Rice wrote:
    Are you suggesting that there should be a new face behind the C?
    “While I’m not in the camp of people yelling for Moreau to be stripped of the captaincy, let’s get real here. Moreau lost his temper. He took stupid penalties on two different occasions that led to the Oilers losing a game they had to win.”
    Does it sound like that’s what I’m suggesting?

    And right after Horc scored to tie it all the mo going the Oilers way and he takes a double minor, I couldn't believe it.

  • For everyone whining about poor Moreau getting ripped off by the referees, are they naturally biased against him or is he just unlucky?

    Moreau's one of the league leaders in non-coincidental penalties taken; he's personally put the Oilers in a shorthanded situation 21 times this season. That's every second game, folks.

    He's having a nice year against some tough players scoring-wise, but Ethan Moreau is not, and has never been a disciplined player. It's a flaw in his game, and the team would be better off if he corrected it.

  • Bob Cob

    Completely agree with you Robin, in a game you have to win you cant have your captain, or anyone else taking selfish penalties. I didn't get a good look at the hit on Smid, was it cheap or clean? I ask because it seems that any hard hit, clean or cheap, warrants a fight in retaliation immediately and that is one thing that really drives me crazy. If it's a good, hard hit dont retaliate and put your team down a man, get the number of the guy, hit him when the chance comes and get retribution that way but dont retaliate stupidly because you didn't have your head up.
    Speaking playing with your head up, does Laddy Smid ever play with his head up? He seems to get hit in vulneralble positiions, and hit hard, on a regular basis.

    Keep your head up Smid!

  • shakey

    Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

    Dude, Van Riemsdyk was the #2 pick in ‘07. It’ll take a LOT more than Cole to get him.

    Maybe Pouliot and Cole? Pouliot played with Crosby in junior you know?

  • Robin B

    Hoodlum wrote:

    If the Oilers had of killed off the double minor and eventually squeeked out a win, you would be saying that Moreau’s penalty was a momentum changer and you would be praising him. You bash the guy for trying to spark an emotionless team. If he didn’t do what he does, you would still question is leadership and weather or not he should be captain. He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

    Read what's written before getting carried away. I don't question whether Ethan should be captain. I've known him a long time and he has a lot of qualities that make him a good leader, not the least of which are that's he's competitive in the extreme and he'll do whatever it takes to win.
    The problem is, it's those very qualities that cause him to step over the line at inopportune times — like Thursday. Criticism over a specific indiscretion, like not being in control against Dallas, does not translate to me wanting the C pulled off his jersey.

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    This is deeply disturbing, Robin – I strongly agree with every single point you make here.
    Given the sheer volume of waiver eligible forwards next season, I assume you expect to see a forward moved – would Marc Pouliot or Robert Nilsson (aside from the rather obvious Erik Cole) be likely candidates?

    Perhaps there is hope, then, that we're actually watching the same game from time to time.

    And, yes, aside from Cole, Pouliot (even if he has little or no value) and Nilsson make the most sense on a lot of levels. As I suggested, we could see some movement by the Oilers after Pisani gets back, which means Tambellini could make a move as early as next weekend with several days to spare before the deadline.

  • Milli

    I have always thought Moreau was a great choice for the C. At the time, he was the guy, there was no doubt. From what I see today, Souray is the leader. But, does that mean he should get the C, I say no. Moreau was a team leader long before he had the C. If Moreau is dealt, then yes, it seems like the natural choice. More of a concern is the lack of scoring on this team, and with the dmen who are injured, a real problem.

  • Jack "FMNF" Bauer

    I do fear that Moreau has developed that Matt Greene syndrome. Are the refs taking an extra look at Ethan? I dont think there is any question about that. Thats natural in sport where refs go into a game and keep a 3rd eye on certain players. How is it Ethan can get 2 for roughing when he face washes a player after a scrum, yet Souray can one punch a guy with his left hand and not get anything? One guy has the respect of the refs, the other does not.

  • @ Jack "FMNF" Bauer:

    I'm thinking it's because Michalek dropped to the ice like he'd been shot when Souray gave him that little punch. The refs were standing right there,and I'm sure they caught on to Michalek's embellishment and just decided to call nothing rather than offsetting penalties for roughing/diving.

  • Kid

    Ethan cost us the game last night plain and simple and Hempsky just doesnt seam interested but that just how I feel.

    Ott did his job last night and Hempsky was a non factor. He needs to find away to not let those types of players get to him and just play cause if he doesn't, with the types of teams we need to beat to get into the playoffs, we dont stand a chance.

    Hempsky needs someone other than Penner and Horcoff to play with and I dont think Kovalev is the anwser. Keith Ktachuck would be a much better fit and not be so expensive. We dont have the greatest depth as it is and Kovalev would take too much of our current depth.

    If the price is right dont get me wrong get Kovalev but I think the price will be to high and in the long run not worth it.

    If we cant sign Cole by the deadline then we need to trade him cause I dont think he is worth what he is going to be able to get on the free market next year nor do I think he would even want to stay here. He seams more disinterested then hempsky did last night and it has been every game with him other that a small stretch. Van Reimsdyk and Jones look good from the flyers and they could use Cole if not just to keep him from Boston. I know it would take more then just Cole but Jones is the type of dman we need more of and Van reimsdyk would be a great prospect to have.

    Ktachuck and Jones for this year and Van Reimsdyk for the furture would be want I would want to see the Oilers get before the deadline.

  • Rick

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    For everyone whining about poor Moreau getting ripped off by the referees, are they naturally biased against him or is he just unlucky?

    Does it really matter?

    The penalty I questioned was a crap call and looking at it in isolation it shouldn't have been made.

    I would expect any player to do that 10 times out of 10 if faced with the same situation. He didn't hit him, he didn't cheap shot him, he didn't even try to escalate the situation once he was involved. He just tied the Start player up that was pushing and shoving with Staios.

    Let's change the players, if it was Hemsky pushing and shoving with the Star player and Penner was playing the role of Moreau but simply turned away like he does so often most people would be railing against Penner for not doing anything.

    I don't think anyone is absolving Moreau of the stupid calls he deserves, which have been many.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    Kid wrote:

    I know it would take more then just Cole but Jones is the type of dman we need more of and Van reimsdyk would be a great prospect to have.

    Dude, Van Riemsdyk was the #2 pick in '07. It'll take a LOT more than Cole to get him.

  • @ Rick:

    Which was more or less my point. We can talk about how Moreau got ripped off on the second penalty, but even if that's the case, taking stupid penalties is the rule rather than the exception with this player.

    There was a game against Columbus not that long ago, and Moreau got a penalty that most of the fans around here felt was undeserved. On the other hand, he'd gotten away with an obvious cross-check the shift previous. Thus, my contention would be that for the penalties Moreau takes that he doesn't deserve, he also doesn't get called on penalties he does deserve; it all evens out.