Making the best of a bad situation is usually easier said than done, but when it’s the only option, you can either play the cards you’re dealt and suck it up or fold your hand, pee your pants and curl up in a corner sobbing at the injustice of it all.
That’s pretty much where Steve Tambellini sits today after failing to get Dany Heatley to stop sucking his thumb long enough to agree to a trade that would make him an Edmonton Oiler during a summer in which he’s managed exactly one notable player personnel move — the overpayment that is the four-year contract inked by Nikolai Khabibulin.
Tambellini still hasn’t addressed the need for a first-line left-winger, hasn’t added a checking centre who can kill penalties and win face-offs and he hasn’t done anything to replace the production lost when Ales Kotalik was allowed to walk as an unrestricted free agent.
That said, and with the challenges obvious to anybody with a functioning brain stem, I don’t see any need for fans make like Mr. Leahy and assume a prone position with a big pee stain on the front of their pants.
Call me naïve, or a rights holder even, but there’s got to be a way to turn a fistful of jokers into a decent hand, or at least something to bluff with. What could possibly go wrong?
THE PDP SOLUTION
The way I see it, Dustin Penner remains the best option from the personnel under contract now as this team’s first-line left-winger.
I don’t think being included in the Ottawa package for Heatley with Andrew Cogliano and Ladislav Smid is going to bother Penner a bit — at least not as much as the subtraction of Craig MacTavish behind the bench is going to help him.
If I’m Pat Quinn and Tom Renney, I’ve already made a call to Penner that he better arrive for training camp in the best shape of his life because I’m going to play his ass off in the first 20 games of the season and see what happens. First-line time. First-unit power play time. The works.
Will Penner score 40-50 goals even under optimum circumstances? Not a chance. Could he manage 35? If PDP has any spine and even one shred of pride under that spare tire, I think so. How better to shove it to MacT than succeed in his absence?
If Penner can’t succeed here this year after cashing cheques he hasn’t earned for two seasons, he can’t succeed here at all.
What’s the option? Sit him out? Bury him on the fourth line? Bury him in the minors? That’s cutting off your nose to spite your face.
OUTSIDE THE BOX
— I never got caught up in the YouTube ga-ga over the offensive wizardry of Rob Schremp, but if I’m Quinn and Renney I’m giving the kid a real look this pre-season in a position where he can succeed.
Schremp was never going to get a sniff here under MacTavish. If he isn’t too far gone, if he isn’t sulking at how he’s been treated and if he wasn’t wrecked by the horrid season he just had in Springfield, maybe there’s a chance he can show something.
While I’m not betting the house on it, Schremp might surprise his critics if he’s encouraged for being what he is, a creator of offence, instead of being criticized for what he’s not. Nothing to lose. It’s time.
— Gilbert Brule has a job to lose at training camp. He’s faster, more skilled and grittier than Kyle Brodziak. Is there any reason he shouldn’t be able to fill his spot and role on this roster?
— If J.F. Jacques and a draft pick or prospect won’t get it done, offer the Washington Capitals Cogliano for David Steckel.
— Let teams know Ethan Moreau and Steve Staios are available, cheap. Let a handful of teams know that Tom Gilbert or Denis Grebeshkov are available, not cheap.
— So Michael Nylander, on the outs in Washington, thinks Edmonton might be a good place to play? Really? Is that so? Is that right? Nothing personal about the way you flipped off the Oilers the first time and pulled a fast one on Kevin Lowe, eh? No chance.
— Charlie Huddy should still be employed here.
— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on Team 1260.