Deep Thoughts VII: sick and tired


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.

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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.

Just asking…

  • 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?

Getting here

  • 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.

  • Milli

    If they win one game in the playoffs, I'd be shocked. Something is missing, something big. FMNF's might be a start, but it's sure looking like it'll take alot more than that.

  • Love your Deep Thoughts articles, Robin. It's just too bad that when you lay things out in point form, you begin to realize just how crappy things are right and have been in recent history with this team.

  • Bravo Robin! Perfectly stated our situation, nice to see you can still write when coming down with some sort of strange flu.

    I think that the fans are finally at the point where they realize that we need to start over. Driving home last night being the master of the radio from the passenger seat there were tons of calls questioning the heart & talent & leadership(on & off ice) of this team. On both stations – i couldn't bealieve it.

    The expectations from the people that convincing the paying public to buy this brand of hockey has to be lowered for a couple of seasons. There isn't one person that is going to fix this train wreck this year. Do the same thing as last year – run with the kids & see WTF you have & start over agin next year.

  • Rogue

    I really hope the Oil lose the next 2 games. This may convince the brass to pack it up for this year and start planning for next year. It is one thing to get dominated and abused by Detroit or San Jose, but Columbus??? In your own building??? A must win Game???

    Too small, too soft and no scoring touch. Fix this mess or I WILL start cheering for the FLAMES.

    JESUS TAP DANCING CHRIST, I cant believe I just said that!!

  • sittingatmydesk

    "Besides, cold sweats, aching joints, fever and the urge to puke or crap myself is more appealing."
    I would rather watch that then last night's game…
    I cant believe this team…a bunch of heratless,souless,effortless SOB's. we cant they have any emotion at all. I play sports once a week and im jacked everytime…
    we al blame MAC T but it's not all his fault. If we take the players , put them in a blender ,mix it up all we get is the puke from Robin's toilet…..

  • speeds

    Another question I have is why Moreau faces (seemingly) no repercussions for his recent endless string of penalties?

    I would also be curious to hear why Vaananen wasn't worth taking on waivers.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    @ Robin B:

    Is there any chance of unloading these terrible contracts? Would any playoff-bound GM take something like Horcoff/Penner + JFJ/Pouliot for a pick? I know it's a crappy return, but clearly the Oilers are never going to be an elite team while they're playing 3rd line caliber guys first line money unless the cap goes up to $65 M. If there's any chance at dumping off these bloated contracts for whatever they can get I say do it and go hog-wild on the free agent market…with Tambellini signing the deals and not Lowe.

  • do you ever imagine Zach Parise in Edmonton silks?


    He had the highlight of the night this morning on Sportscenter and I almost tossed my plate of eggs at the TV.
    Every time he scores, gets 30 goals in a season, plays unreal, etc, it just turns the knife more and more.

  • Robin B

    speeds wrote:

    Another question I have is why Moreau faces (seemingly) no repercussions for his recent endless string of penalties?
    I would also be curious to hear why Vaananen wasn’t worth taking on waivers.

    There is a blind loyalty when it comes to captains here that I don't understand. I'm not going to lay all the problems of this team at Moreau's feet, but his penchant for ill-timed penalties makes the grit and try he brings almost a wash, or worse.

    It's like the player wearing the C is off limits. The most heated debate I ever had with Kevin Lowe came several years ago when I suggested he'd be willing to trade Jason Smith to Florida.
    He denied it, even though I'd been told by several people I trust he'd talked with the Panthers. It sparked an argument that had saliva flying in both direction and one that carried over from one day to the next until PR man Bill Tuele locked us in a room for 40 minutes and suggested we work it out. Nobody did.

  • Dennis

    Speeds beat me to both of my points, but, yeah, we could just scratch the surface with those two developments and I think that would tell us more than a little of what we need to now.

    The whole 18 thing has been driving me nuts for the whole season because his goals have come from more luck than anything else and that's clouding the kind of season he's really having.

    Then you have him taking yet another penalty far away from his own end and it's like, how can you expect anyone else to adhere to accountability when this goon's walking around willy-nilly.

  • truebluecopperandblue

    It's time to blow it right up start over have some good young talent. The Oil fans will wait for a rebuild if then enfd result is good. Take what you can get for anybody. Hopefully we can get some prospects in return because we know we can't draft. Maybe its time to get rid of dead weight and play the kids to see if they can actually playlike Brule and Shremp. Trade Rollie while he's worth something let JDD get a shot. Throw in the Towel.


    All those comments dont look good for the oilers present or future.

    However, Burke did leave the ducks in a tough spot mid way through the season. Intersting to see a boss bail out on his own team during the season, pretty pathetic. As for Ryan he is rocking this year but we will see how he does next year as we are well to aware that sophmore jink

  • Dennis

    I'm sure his wife wouldn't appreciate it;) but I like Brownlee better when he's sick!:)

    He comes close to calling Moreau for what he really is – an absolute drag – and he even comes close to giving it to Lowe.

    Get well; but not soon, Robin:)

  • @ APE – FMNF:

    I agree with you on 1 point. The coach's contract is done at the end of the season anyhow. If he had any pride you would hope he would have tried something different instead of sticking to his style of coaching.

    Staufer threw out a whole bunch of Stauferisms on the coach last night. "There is a group of players that are not congruant with the coaching style". LOL – after you decode it you figure out that maybe the 'talent' should be played at their strength instead of forced into playing a system that they can't succeed in.

    KLowe built this team to be fast & talented (on paper) but he still has a coach that won't let the players succeed. The reason we have overpaid bums is the SCF, players like Pisani, Moreau, Staios & now Horcoff. MacT was given the same pass as these guys. His contract was done in 2006 & Lowe blew his load on a coach who took a team to the 7th game of the SCF.

    Like if they are going to keep MacT – wouldn't you think he would get a new contract by now? I don't see the point in keeping a guy when you have no intentions of having him do the same job next year. Get rid of him now, develop some players the rest of the way & find a new coach for next year.

    That is the most frustrating part for me. I know you don't want to be paying for a bunch of unemployed coach's(Ottawa, TB) but why let MacT stay on when yo might not want him back next season? It is easier to get rid of a coaching staff than 20 players…

  • @ Robin B:

    Bang on Robin. This team needs more than a top 6 forward. How many times are they going to bring in a bunch of new players in the summer only to have them leave the following year? This team is cluster funked up and down that roster. We don't even have a 20 goal scorer yet. Kevin Lowe messed this team up with many of those contracts.

  • Robin B

    @ Harlie Chuddy:
    Now, if you've got something from the other end of the plumbing, you have an accurate picture. Not as bad as the mess Tambellini is going to have to clean up, though.

  • Tod

    Gagner is a building block. I think the guy will be the center version of Hemsky. That's what gives me hope for the future. I mean, we might make the playoffs this year despite our #2 center being on pace for 27 points.

  • Elaine

    Robin, your comments on the Oilers could not be more true. They having nothing in Springfield, nothing with the parent club and fading fast. Disgusting effort last night. Did I say, effort? There was none. The roster is full of underachievers. They are not as good as Lowe says they are. They are also too small and gutless. Their decision making is awful. Their draft selections leave a lot to be desired. Bad choices.
    Blow the team up and start over.

  • swany

    I grabbed a beer sat on the couch and waited for my team to come out and just lay down a beating on Cbus…….. still waiting. I new when Boll ran into Roli in the first couple min, when NOBODY did or even SAID a word to him that it was going to be a game with NO commitment. If I could bring back both Smyth's they might be over paid but atleast they put every once of work on the friggen ice. This bunch of over paid so-called players couldn't hold Smitties Jock. Penner and Nilsson I would trade both of them for Smyth. 6.25 to much atleast we knew when the puck dropped he was there to play. Horc does everything BUT SCORE. We have a young group and in my eye we traded the guy who would have taught Gagner and Cogs how to be ready to play as Moreau, Steve haven't done that. Hemmer and our D are the only players that we look to keep. I don't mind losing "when we put in an effort" last night with this big of a game to come out like that is just plain awful.

  • TV

    Robin B wrote:
    "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?"

    @ Robin B:

    While I'm not taking a damn thing away from Parise, as he is a incredibly talented puck player, I still think there was an even bigger mistake made on that Draft day by the Oilers.

    We've all heard that story that the reason the Oilers passed on Zach was because they still had Comrie as their #1 Center, & they wanted to get bigger & stronger down the middle from that point forward.

    Then why in the name of Phil Esposito, did they pass on the big hulking Center that was playing Junior in that god-forsaken-chuckwagon-town only 2.5 hrs south of their own backyard..?

    I give you Exhibit A; Ryan Getzlaf


  • Robin B

    Tod wrote:

    Gagner is a building block. I think the guy will be the center version of Hemsky. That’s what gives me hope for the future. I mean, we might make the playoffs this year despite our #2 center being on pace for 27 points.

    I'm not going to throw baby Gagner out with the bath water, either, but I'm not sure he'll ever be more than a second-line player. Ten years of that makes him a great first-round pick.
    But there's just so many other things that don't line up with the team, and there's no excuse for it under the new CBA. The old crutches are gone.

    I see a team like Columbus on the rise and making the move to compete with Detroit and San Jose before the Oilers do. Their coach and GM are on the same page. They have better young talent. I'd take their top five players over the Oilers top five any day.

    But it took a bold move, as in blowing out GM Doug MacLean and his pals, then bringing in Hitchcock and Howson. I'm not saying the Blue Jackets have become the model for franchise building, but they're damn sure showing more progress than we're seeing here. Same in Chicago.

  • How much help is on the way when you look at Springfield and prospects still in major junior or college hockey?

    Some. There's depth at every position, but I wouldn't want to bet on any of Eberle, Nash, Peckahm, Petry or Omark to turn into better players than whatever Gagner/Cogliano become.

    There is no franchise building block waiting in the wings; at this point, the best bets are the two young centres who can't win faceoffs.

  • Robin B

    @ TV:
    Exactly. They were worried about being too small, but that doesn't explain Getzlaf. Either way, as somebody who attended the draft for many years, I was alway fed the BPA line by Edmonton's scouting staff when I was fishing around for who they might take.
    That went out the window by passing on Parise and Getzlaf and moving down to take Pouliot. Yes, it's hindsight, but it's another example in a long list of wasted drafts that produced the likes of Michael Henrich and Jesse Niiniimaki. Crippling mistakes.