Onward and upward


Now that I’ve had a good cry after hearing Edmonton Oilers assistant GM Kevin Prendergast admit the team has “given up hope” in its pursuit of Dany Heatley, I will wring out my notepad and try to move on.

So, rest assured, will GM Steve Tambellini. Like Jonathan Willis, I’m not of the mind Tambellini has curled up in the fetal position muttering “Dany, Dany, Dany,” paralyzed into inaction after being spurned. Not even close.

I don’t believe that, while there remains a need for a finisher on left wing alongside Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky, the Oilers can’t fill the other holes they had in the line-up last season and make up for the devastating additional losses of Kyle Brodziak. Ales Kotalik and Liam Reddox.

Nor do I buy the argument Tambellini, Pat Quinn and Tom Renney will have a problem with Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano and Ladislav Smid in terms of mending fences.

Yes, it would’ve been a bonus to dump Penner’s contract, but I can’t believe he won’t be better, even sulking, under Quinn and Renney than he was after being repeatedly shown up and mis-used by Craig MacTavish.

Likewise, I see finding a way to better utilize Cogliano more of a challenge than soothing any hurt feelings. As for Smid, well, he had issues before he was tossed into the Heatley package. I’m led to believe he’s past what had him contemplating a trade early in the season. He’ll get past this.

So must the faithful.


What Tambellini needs to do, and is doing, now is work the phones to fill the holes that are obvious to everybody.

As for left wing on the top line, I’d like to see Tambellini place a call to Pennsylvania and inquire about Simon Gagne or Scott Hartnell. Or maybe he should ring L.A. about Dustin Brown. Alex Tanguay? Not so much.

Nothing that’s happened so far has changed the fact Tambellini has assets on the back end he can trade. Denis Grebeshkov going to arbitration is a minor distraction, nothing more.

As for finding a handy, defensive-minded centre who can win face-offs and kill penalties, Manny Malhotra, as I pitched earlier this off-season, remains the best option, even if it’ll take an overpay — like that’s stopped the Oilers in the past three seasons.

I’m led to believe Tambellini is looking to make a move to address that need and that, despite being focused on Heatley for weeks, he’s kicking some tires. I don’t have a name for you, but if he hasn’t put a call into Malhotra, I’d be flabbergasted.

Free agent Blair Betts is sitting there, and has said he’d be happy to don Oilers silks. The Oilers have a passing interest, but they already have a centre who can kill penalties and win less than 50 per cent of his face-offs. His name is Gilbert Brule.


I’m not going to take a “don’t worry, be happy” stance here because I don’t believe that signing Nikolai Khabibulin to a 14-year contract and jettisoning Brodziak to open things up for Brule puts the Oilers into a playoff spot in 2009-10. How much of an upgrade, really, is Khabibulin over Dwayne Roloson?

At the same time, I’m not going to lose any sleep over the swing-and-miss on Heatley, but you already knew that. And, as previously mentioned, I’m not willing to write-off PDP despite all the ragging I’ve done on him. If Quinn and Renney stroke him the right way, he could shove it to the critics in the coming season. Not likely, but possible.

The challenges we know, as does Tambellini. I’d suggest a step back and a deep breath over the next couple of weeks. Take the kids to Capital Ex. Go to Commonwealth Stadium and boo the Eskimos. Anything.

Let Tambellini do his job.


— Without face-to-face interaction on the internet, bafflegab has become the secret pinkie handshake among fans on message boards. In addition to nerd-speak like “playing the toughs” and “doing the heavy lifting” and “butter-soft minutes,” we get the following lingo from somebody named PDO over at HF Boards in the ongoing debate about the value of acquiring Heatley:
“Yes. We’re a better team if he comes here,” opines PDO. “Second he goes top cheddar on Luongo we all forget about how long it took to get him here.”

Yes, the second Heatley goes “top cheddar” — a shooter picking the top corner has morphed from going top shelf to top cheese — on Luongo, I’ll be buying his jersey. Can Heatley go “top havarti” or “top feta” on Luongo?

— While I’m at it, is there room for interpretation of “butter-soft minutes,” given the difference in texture between room temperature butter and refrigerator butter?

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

  • NBOilerFan

    Here is some interesting stuff from Pierre LeBrun from back on July 10th – This sheds some real light on where the Heatley deal is going… he will eb a Shark next year.

    Speaking of Heatley …
    Senators owner Eugene Melnyk went on Ottawa radio Thursday and suggested there's always the chance Heatley stays put and plays for the team next season despite his trade request.

    That worked out really well for Alexei Yashin last time around.

    So what are Heatley's options if the Sens don't move him? Well, he could always stay home and not report to camp, but I'm told he's simply not going to do that. He won't violate his NHL contract. But how do you repair the damage done in that market?

    If I'm the Senators, I still seek out a trade all summer long. Murray told us Friday there was nothing new to report on the Heatley front.

    The San Jose Sharks had some talks with the Senators a few weeks ago. At this point, Sharks GM Doug Wilson has yet to make the kind of moves we've been anticipating to shake up that roster. Mind you, there's a lot of time before camp opens in September and I've believed all along Wilson has viewed this as a summer-long project.

    Still, San Jose just looks like the most promising option for everyone concerned in the Heatley affair. Sharks assistant GM Wayne Thomas is a good friend of the Heatley family, and imagine having Joe Thornton with 50-goal man Heatley at his side? Yikes. But again, Melnyk is angry he had to pay out a $4 million bonus to Heatley earlier this month. Somehow, the Sharks would have to eat a couple of Sens contracts going the other way and that's an issue right now. The re-signings of Ryane Clowe, Rob Blake and Kent Huskins put the Sharks close to the $58.6 million salary cap as we type.

  • Actually, now you’re flat out wrong when it comes to Vanek and Penner.

    The offer sheets to Vanek and Penner had a significant effect on RFA’s cashing in. While Lowe’s moves haven’t resulted in a raft of offer sheets since, the threat is there and os is the motivation to lock up younger players for as long as possible.

    In my mind, you can draw a direct connection between the inflated salaries and terms being handed players coming out of entry level deals and the Lowe offer sheets.

    I love to blame Kevin Lowe for things as much as the next guy, but this might be the one area in which he gets too much. Was the Penner deal an horrific overpayment? Sure. Were RFA salaries going to rise anyway? I think so, because of the salary cap and floor.

    If you're a team like, say, Nashville, and you're now required to spend more money than you otherwise would, how do you want to do it? Do you want to spend extra money on whatever UFA's you can convince to come to Nashville? Or would you rather spend more money on your own RFA types and buy out some of their UFA years? Enough of those deals and the market was changing anyway.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Why is it that the phrase Lame duck Franchise is starting to suit us better and better all the time?

    I'd be on the horn to Holmgren and start in on Gagne, i'd still do the Heatley thing if that ever happens.
    I'd poop can anyone not named Hemsky Horcs Souray Vishnovsky and Khabibulin, our top six forwards and top four defense are 75% of the team anyways.

    Make any sense Robin?…..would that put us in the top third of the league again?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Robin Brownlee wrote:

    @ Quicksilver ballet:
    Uh, no.

    So you think a new goaltender will be the heart transplant we need?……guess it's just more of the same this coming season.:(

    I thought the players were gripping there sticks a little too tight last year, this year may be worse.


    "Considering he’d like to play for Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics, does anyone else find it curious that Dany Heatley has said no to playing in two Canadian cities? Talk about writting a book on how to sabotage your public image."