The lowdown on Lowtide


I got a kick out of Jason Gregor’s interview with Ron Low on TEAM 1260 Monday. It brought back some great memories. There were a lot of laughs working the beat when Low was coaching the Edmonton Oilers, even when he didn’t have great talent to work with.

Lowtide is one of the good guys in the game — as Tommy McVie once said, “If you can’t get along with Ronnie, you’re the asshole” — but he’s been off the hockey merry-go-round since being let go by the Ottawa Senators.

Whenever I see or hear Low, I flash back to Feb. 19, 1999 at the Airport Marriott in Los Angeles and to an incident that marked the beginning of the end for Boris Mironov and Andrei Kovalenko as Oilers.

It was the night before that spawned the infamous “I was out looking for Kovy” line from Mironov, who never did admit he’d been out on a big-time bender with Kovalenko. And it also produced one of the most memorable WTF moments from Low when he realized I had the scoop and the details were destined to wind up in the pages of the Edmonton Journal.

Fun with Bobo

I’d checked out of the hotel the morning after a 3-2 loss to the Kings and stepped out front to wait for the team bus to the airport when I spotted Mironov in a cab.

I assumed he was getting ready to leave, so I walked over to ask if I could catch a ride. It turns out a blotto Boris wasn’t leaving the hotel, he was just getting back from a night out. Mironov got out of the hack and started walking, in a manner of speaking, toward the lobby with the cab driver in hot pursuit.

“Hey, buddy, you’ve got to pay the fare. Hey, buddy…” Boris kept veering toward the door without looking back. Just before the cabbie put the arm on Bobo, which wouldn’t have led to anything good, I stepped in. “How much?” I asked. “Twenty-two bucks,” the driver said. I gave him $30 US. “No problem, keep the change.”

It was at that point Low walked out. I said, “Did you see Boris?” Low hadn’t, so I explained what happened. “You didn’t see that,” says Low, who headed back into the hotel in pursuit of Mironov.

In explaining to Low what happened, Bobo hatched the “I was out looking for Kovy” angle. Suffice to say, Mironov, thinking Kovalenko had, ahem, gone missing, obviously stopped in every bar in town “looking” for his winger.

At the airport, a still-gooned Mironov thanked me for stepping in and pressed $30 into my hand. At that point, it looked like everything would stay on the bus. Problem is, Kovalenko missed the flight. It became news.

I wrote the story, complete with front-page photo of a dishevelled Kovalenko arriving in Edmonton later the same evening. Mark Spector wrote a column. Spec and I absolutely killed The Sun. As the credit card commercial goes, the cab fare was $30, but the look on Low’s face that morning was priceless.

Tough call

I don’t have a feel for which way Steve Tambellini is going to lean in picking a successor to Craig MacTavish, but no matter who gets the job it’s going to be the biggest hire of Tambellini’s brief tenure as GM.

Does he go with who and what he knows and favour experience in Pat Quinn or Marc Crawford, or will he take a look at Geoff Ward, Todd Richards, Rob Daum or Scott Arniel, none of whom have been NHL head coaches?

I have an inkling — and that’s all it is — Tambellini will opt for experience, and think Quinn tops the short-list in that category because of the history he has with him.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t see a coach without an established NHL record of success walking into that dressing room and commanding the respect of the veterans.

Then again, whether Tambellini opts for experience or a new face, he should make it clear to the players in no uncertain terms the next guy is his guy and they’d better fall in line. Those who don’t will be moved along.

For what it’s worth, count me among those who think a systems whiz like Daum, should he not get the head coaching position, would complement Quinn as an assistant.

I’m telling you…

Oilers fans who take consolation in watching the Calgary Flames take the pipe in the first-round of the playoffs yet again — that Schadenfreude thing — lack self-esteem and need to get a life. “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha, stupid Calgary, lost to the Blackhawks. Nice job, Jarome, you loser.” The way I see it, Oiler fans razzing their Flamer buddies for biting the first-round weenie is a bit like two guys with diarrhea racing for one seat in the outhouse. The first guy soils himself two steps from the one-holer but takes solace in watching the second guy lose his stuff with one hand on the door. In the end, they both stink.

From a selfish point of view, I’d like to see Low throw his hat in the ring for the Oilers coaching job. He’s a great quote. He coaches a puck pressure, up-tempo style. Alas, it isn’t going to happen.

Daum could end up back behind the bench in Springfield, but that’s not a conversation he’s had with Tambellini yet and one that won’t happen until the boss decides which way he’ll go with the candidates for the big job.

Nice of the San Jose Sharks to spit the bit in the first round again. That’ll free up Richards for his interview with Tambellini.

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