All in the family: Edmonton snubbed again

David Musil grew up in Edmonton. His dad, Frank, you might remember, played for the Edmonton Oilers for three seasons. He’s been employed by the Oilers as a scout since he retired as a player in 2001.

Frank’s baby boy used to have the run of Rexall Place when his dad played here. You’d see him around the dressing room. David would throw on his skates and helmet and wobble around out on the ice after practice.

Zip ahead to 2009, and little David is a six-foot-five defenceman projected by some to be a top-five pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, and he’s coming to North America to play in the Western Hockey League this season.

Call me crazy, but. given the above, I’d have thought the Edmonton Oil Kings, the WHL team owned by the Oilers, might have had a pretty good shot at landing Musil.

Apparently, the Oil Kings had no shot. None. No, David Musil will play the 2009-10 WHL season with the Vancouver Giants. My question is why? My question is how? More on that later.

First. here’s the skinny on Musil’s convoluted journey from the Czech Republic to Vancouver, the unofficial WHL Welcome Wagon for young Czech players, from Greg Drinnan of the Kamloops Daily News. It’s from Drinnan’s Taking Note blog this past Saturday.

How it went down

Drinnan writes:

“So, it would seem the WHL gathered its pooh-bahs in a closet and held a draft of some sort to decide for whom D David Musil, the 16-year-old son of former NHLer Frantisek Musil, should play.

Even though I’m thinking it already had been decided that he would play for the Vancouver Giants and only the Vancouver Giants.

Even with the decision having already been made, it would seem that there was more clandestine activity around this draft than in any of the Jason Bourne movies.

Anyway, the Kootenay Ice — as reported by radio voice Jeff Hollick — won the draft, which means, one supposes, that they got the short straw.

But wait… there’s more.

The Musil family, wanting their son playing major junior hockey, apparently has relocated from Czech Republic to the Lower Mainland area of B.C. Which, if you check a map, isn’t in close proximity to Cranbrook, which is in B.C., but isn’t quite what the Musils had in mind for David, who is said to be one of the top prospects for the NHL’s 2011 draft.

So, enter the Giants.

The Giants apparently have traded a 2010 fifth-round bantam pick and a 2011 first-round bantam pick to the Ice for Musil’s rights.

David Musil, who grew up in Edmonton, stands 6-foot-5. He had one assist in 14 games with Dukla Jihlava in the Czech Elite League. Yes, he was the youngest player in the league. He also had six points in nine games with Dukla Jihlava’s junior side. He also had three points in four games with the Czech U-17 team and two in 13 games with the U-18 team.

But, as a 1993-born player, he wouldn’t have been eligible for the CHL import draft until 2011. Thus, one supposes, the need to hold this special draft, what with the family having relocated to North America.”

Just asking…

So, Frank Musil — did I mention he’s an Oilers scout? — wants his son to play major junior hockey. Makes sense. Likewise, its understandable that he wants to be as close to his son as possible.

So, Frank — did I mention he’s an Oilers scout? — decided to move his family to the Lower Mainland and not to Edmonton, the city in which the team that employs him, plays. The city in which the WHL team the Oilers own, the Oil Kings, play. Got a problem with that?

It just so happens the Oil Kings made a trade with the Chilliwack Bruins with an eye to taking Musil in the 2011 CHL Import Draft. That, and the same line of thinking — that Musil wants his son to play major junior hockey and would prefer to be close to his son — could have landed the younger Musil in Oil Kings silks, no?

If you believe that somebody at some point told Kootenay management Musil would play for Vancouver and nobody else, thus prompting the trade between the Ice and Giants, could that somebody have not steered Musil to the Oil Kings — did I mention the Oilers own the Oil Kings? — through the same channels?

No sniff for Edmonton

Did Frank Musil ever try to steer his son toward the Oil Kings or did he just take a hands-off approach and leave it to somebody else? Did Frank Musil ever give the Oil Kings a heads-up his son wanted to come west?

What are the odds agent Edmonton Ritch Winter and his Sports Corporation, which used to represent the old man, are that somebody else? Do they represent David Musil? I’m guessing Frank Musil didn’t orchestrate this by himself.

Other Sports Corporation clients of Czech origin, notably Marek Schwarz and Andrej Meszaros, also ended up in Vancouver in recent years. Now Musil. Maybe the meal money is better there.

I’m guessing Oil Kings GM is Bob Green isn’t too happy right now. Green had a track record of success in Medicine Hat and he’s put together a pretty decent team here in just three seasons. Musil would have been a prized recruit and prime addition.

I can’t imagine the Oilers, who pay Musil’s salary, are overjoyed about how this went down, either.

Nor should they be.

— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on Team 1260.

  • Chris

    BigE57 wrote:

    It’s funny to me that there are a lot of fans out there that would put the entire Oilers staff on the firing line if they could.

    And, in turn, it's funny to ME, that one of the poorest run franchises in the entire NHL still has so many apologists. Let's just pretent for one second that this is a performance oriented business and that finding late round gems in Europe is important. (Let's also not forget that Grebeskov didn't exactly arrive without his warts.)

    While Musil was making "recommendations", Hakan Anderson's crew was busy drafting professional European players like Hudler, Filppula, and Franzen. IMO, Anderson has set the standard for excellence in scouting… By comparison what has Musil done? Does anyone have a tangible, behind the scenes story… beacause the story on the ice hasn't been pretty.

  • Robin Brownlee

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    Beukaboom wrote:
    Who are the 2 new signings? Depth for springfield?
    A goon for Springfield and a top-level AHL forward who will probably be a tweener.
    These signings are actually old news, though they’re only being officially announced today.

    Why the disdain for tough guys? Maybe I'm reading too much into a simple term, but your repeated use of the word "goon" when referring to them leads me to believe you don't put much value in the job description — even if in this case it fits.

  • Robin Brownlee

    @ BigE57:
    In defence of Frank, he begged the Oilers to take Jiri Hudler at the 2002 draft in Montreal. I remember sitting with Musil in the hotel lobby and he talked glowingly about him because he'd played against Hudler.
    While it could be argued taking Hudler with the Oilers pick was too high — he ended up going 58th to Detroit, largely because he was small — they instead took Jesse Niinimaki. We know how that turned out.

    To be honest, I've always considered Frank to be a really decent guy and I admired him for his work ethic and the kind of honest player he was. This is a guy who once took a job in a meat packing plant in the off-season to supplement his salary when he was with Calgary. And, as you might know, Frank's fitness testing results, even at the end of his career, were absolutely astounding.

    I'm not trying to smear Frank, but it just strikes me as odd how this whole thing went down. I get it that he wants the best for his son. I get it that he's under no obligation to insist that his son play in Edmonton.
    At the same time, he always talked about how he enjoyed his time here, yet it seems Edmonton was never even an outside consideration. As for the Giante being a better team, there's no question of that over the past three years, but I'll be interested to see how much better the Giants are than the Oil Kings this season.

  • Roz

    johnnyshaka wrote:

    How the hell does the CHL even do crap like this? The kid isn’t old enough to be drafted into the CHL yet so why are we even talking about this now? Ridiculous.
    Begs to question, how often does this garbage happen?

    Actually, his draft year if he lived in Western Canada was last year. The thing is the import draft would be in 2011 for him. Since he is moving to Canada they have to draft him. He can't just come over and play for whoever he decides. The other thing is this would be his first eligible year to play in the WHL as no one under the age of 16 can play in the WHL, with a few exceptions like affiliate to a max of X number of games or special permission (John Traveres)

  • BigE57

    @ Robin Brownlee:
    It is funny that the Oil Kings didn't even get a shot at the kid….In the end where better to watch your kids development than with the organization you work for?

    @ Chris:
    Sure Anderson has a great record, and he's had the support of the Red Wings organization all the way along. We don't know what the Oilers organization was expecting from their scouts, as Robin just said Musil wanted them to draft Hudler when they had a chance.

    I'm not apologetic about the way this organization has been run…..I just don't think you execute the soldiers for the Generals mistake.

  • Chris

    @ BigE57:

    These aren't Soldiers… these are paid professionals who aren't keeping pace with their competition. None of us would feel the least bit bad if Tambellini upgraded Nilsson… Why would we be against, or feel bad, if Katz upgraded Musil?

    It is true that I haven't been privy to all the private converastions; I admit I don't have the inside scoop… But the quality of Oiler prospects out of Europe the last ten years has been lacking. The Scouts make the lists. The scouts pick the players. I seriously doubt Oiler GM's disregarded the recommendations of Musil. As a fan, I'd like to see all the entire scouting department reviewed and upgraded: much like the coaching. If Katz can't pay for willing UFA's; he can at least poach the industries finest minds in player procurement and development. Pretty good, or even above average scouting won't win the Oilers any cups.

  • BigE57

    Chris wrote:

    The scouts pick the players. I seriously doubt Oiler GM’s disregarded the recommendations of Musil.

    Did you not read this?

    Robin Brownlee wrote:

    In defence of Frank, he begged the Oilers to take Jiri Hudler at the 2002 draft in Montreal

    These are soldiers, hired to do the job management has outlined for them. No one has been more successful in drafting Europeans than Detroit in recent years but I personally have no clue about their rating system and how they exactly they are evaluating players in order to come up with the gems they do.

    Just as an aside I can see on the Oilers website under the in the system heading that the Oilers have at least 12 European draft picks from the last 9 years, and you can't tell me that the Musil didn't have a hand in scouting MPS (though he was a pretty easy pick) or Lander this year.

    It's fine to base your arguement on Detroits success drafting Europeans but it seems to me they are more the exception than the rule when it comes to scouting out players on either side of the pond.

  • Chris

    @ BigE57:

    You do realize Scouts make a list and then pick the next available BPA according to their list? Hudler wasn't going to go 15th… Prendergast took Niinimaki, probably with Musil's blessing (being that he helped scout him and all)…

    But let's assume Musil is the brightest and the best, and Stu MacGregor and Predergast have repeatedly ignored brilliant Musil advice. Let's look at Oiler European scouting in general: In 2002 alone, the Oilers drafted 6 players out of Europe who have played a combined total of THREE NHL games. In fact, between when Lowe brought Musil on board as part of his "revamped" scouting staff and the lockout; the Oilers have drafted 19 European players. Of that group: only Ales Hemsky and Jussi Markkanen have played more than a few games; and nobody the Oilers have drafted out of Europe post lockout has played a single game. Let's face it, if it weren't for Hemsky, the whole crew would have been sent packing years ago… Let the truth come out after a full review. Who knows? Maybe Musil could be a big part of a RE-revamped scouting staff… Or, more likely, he is a second tier scout: part of a staff assembled years ago under a tight budget.

  • BigE57

    @ Chris:
    You do realize if management trends toward North American players all the European scouting in the world is pretty much useless unless the guy finds the Finnish version of Gretzky…..All I am saying is there is more at play here than just the guys job performance….were the guys that were picked beyond second round ever expected to play in the NHL, maybe but I doubt it, most likely they were to provide organizational depth and over the past few years the farm system has been in a shambles so why is all this Musils fault.

    It's not like I'm calling him a genius here I just think that before rushing to judgement on his performance you should take into account the philosophy of the organization and the overall picture of how it is being managed.

  • jeff

    Does anyone else get the feeling that too many people expected our WHL team to be our affiliate for the Oilers? It's not and it is time to get over this kinda of stuff.

  • Robin Brownlee

    jeff wrote:

    Does anyone else get the feeling that too many people expected our WHL team to be our affiliate for the Oilers? It’s not and it is time to get over this kinda of stuff.

    No, I never once got that feeling, so what is it people are supposed to get over?

  • Robin Brownlee

    Jon Kerber wrote:

    The Vancouver Giants gave up a very legitimate set of assets for a player in a very unique set of circumstances, and in a general sense I’m very excited to see what Frank’s son can do in a league we can all see very often. He’s almost certainly a lock to play in the memorial cup and the whispers are that at this very early stage he’s the favorite to go first overall in 2011.

    A legitimate set of assets?
    Hey, if you're fine about looking the other way, just say so. But don't try to sell hogwash about what the Giants gave up as being anything close to fair compensation for a player you've acknowledged could go first overall in 2011.

  • Phil

    Robin,

    Just for the record Meszaros is a Slovak, not a Czech.

    Because many many people here in North America don't even know or care that there's a difference, which could now be considered a big one by Europeans and anyone else who knows since the two countries have split almost 20 years ago.

    For instance people still think Visnovsky is a Czech when he's a Slovak. Many cases of this in the NHL.

    Anyways… great article and I agree with everything you say yet again, main reason I come to this website is for your pieces.

  • Resolute

    Robin Brownlee wrote:

    jeff wrote:
    Does anyone else get the feeling that too many people expected our WHL team to be our affiliate for the Oilers? It’s not and it is time to get over this kinda of stuff.
    No, I never once got that feeling, so what is it people are supposed to get over?

    Among other things, your sense of entitlement. This is not a feudal system. Just because someone works for you does not mean you own his kids too. Musil made the best decision for himself as a player, and that decision included the very obvious fact that right now, the Giants are a far better team to be on than the Oil Kings. Or the Hitmen, Hurricanes, Chiefs, Blades and Rockets, for that matter.

    As much as you claim that you arent one of those "nobody wants to play for the Oilers, boo hoo" types, that is EXACTLY what you are saying here. Seriously Brownlee, get over yourself.

  • Jackie

    The whole idea of the Musil family staying in Vancouver actually has more to do with Volleyball than hockey. Their daughter is a top volleyball prospect and apparently they feel she'll have a better opportunity to further that in Vancouver. (I know UBC and SFU have a pretty good programs). Hence the desire for David to play with the Giants. It has nothing to do with being anti Edmonton.

  • fritzeg

    @ Jackie:
    I know UBC and SFU have a pretty good programs

    Are you kidding me? UofA Women are ranked number 2 in the country and have been ranked 1 or 2 for a decade. UBC were ranked #5 this year and SFU not even in the top 10.