I was going to go out to Millennium Place today and watch the Edmonton Oilers, but I’ve come down with whatever’s laid the rest of my family low and decided to stay home. Besides, cold sweats, aching joints, fever and the urge to puke or crap myself is more appealing.
With Thursday’s uninspired 1-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the books, the NHL trade deadline looming and my fat head thicker than usual, I’ve got to admit I don’t have any answers.
Not for what ails the Oilers. Not for GM Steve Tambellini. Not for fans still shaking their heads after watching their heroes get outclassed at every turn by the Blue Jackets. I did, however, have a retort for the adult-proof cap on the medicine bottle containing the drugs I hope will lessen the urge I have to establish a new record for projectile vomiting. It’s called a pair of vice-grips.
No, all I’ve got are questions, observations and complaints, each tainted by nausea and torqued by a ring of fire that makes it difficult to be the positive, care-free guy I usually am.
Still, I’d rather be me than Tambellini.
- What does it say about the character of the Oilers when a 39-year-old goaltender, who was pegged by many to be kicked to the curb when the season began, is your best player against Columbus? And where would this team, the one that was supposed to be a Northwest Division contender, be without Dwayne Roloson?
- Anybody who bought the load of bologna offered by Craig MacTavish in pre-season — when he talked about finishing atop the Northwest Division and feeling the need to quell all the optimism he felt — into self-loathing now like a rube roped into a pyramid scheme?
- Between bloated contracts for the likes of Shawn Horcoff and Dustin Penner and being saddled with under-achievers like Erik Cole and Robert Nilsson, does Tambellini have a player over the age of 22 not named Ales Hemsky who anybody would want at the deadline?
- Anybody with a functioning brain steam who thinks tweaking this line-up, even with a rental forward good enough to play top six minutes, will be enough to get the Oilers into the playoffs and past Detroit or San Jose in the first round?
- I know this is heresy, but is there anybody from the group of Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, Nilsson, Ladislav Smid and Theo Peckham a lock to be more than a good player? Is there a franchise building block in there?
- Do the Oilers have as much young talent in the above group as Columbus? How about Chicago? Or Anaheim? Phoenix? Nashville? So, is the future, say the next three or four years, really that rosy?
- How do the Oilers five best players — let’s go with Hemsky, Sheldon Souray, Horcoff, Lubomir Visnovsky and Tom Gilbert — stack up against the top five in San Jose and Detroit? How about Vancouver? Calgary? So, how promising is the immediate future?
- If Hemsky’s contract is Kevin Lowe’s finest moment, does his offer-sheet to Penner and the stack of dough thrown at Horcoff rate as his biggest gaffes? I know, it’s a rhetorical question…
- Criticized as a tool, an oaf and a mouth-breathing stooge in his war of words with Lowe, and with reason in terms of STFU Quotient, is bombastic Brian Burke looking a little smarter now? How’s that Bobby Ryan kid?
And another thing…
- How much, if any, will past moves by Lowe affect Tambellini in trying to make trades? Will Darcy Regier answer Tambellini’s calls? Will Burke, his old boss in Vancouver, talk trade with the Oilers?
- With the deadline approaching and Marc Pouliot (not to mention JF Jacques and Nilsson) available as a sweetener in deals to anybody who wants them, do you ever imagine Zach Parise in Edmonton silks? And how does someone NOT get fired over that?
- How much help is on the way when you look at Springfield and prospects still in major junior or college hockey? And, while you’re answering that, are you among the 90 per cent of fans who overvalue the Oilers young talent? Oh, you just wait until Jordan Eberle gets here, Buster. It’ll be different.
- Is a playoff spot and five-and-out against the Red Wings or the Sharks really enough to make you shrug at the answers to the above questions? Good luck with that.
— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.