PDP: say it ain’t so

How many of you here in the Nation woke up today, looked at the point leaders in the league and did a double take? Dustin Penner on the first page… WTF?

No one and I mean no one; thought Dustin Penner would be the Oilers best, and most productive player seven games into the season. If you are still struggling getting a grasp on the NEW Penner, don’t fret you aren’t alone.

Penner’s nine points has him tied for 13th, and his five goals are top ten in the league. Not only is Penner scoring, he is killing penalties and is consistently moving his feet. Penner looks quicker, and while he is loathe to admit it, he’s in better shape.

It doesn’t hurt that Pat Quinn is his coach, and not Craig MacTavish, but I won’t lay all the blame on MacTavish for Penner’s underachieving last two seasons. Penner hasn’t been dedicated enough since signing his twenty-one million dollar deal, until this past summer.

Penner’s off-season conditioning program is paying off, but there’s more than just hard work happening here.

Penner was humiliated and embarrassed last season. Being the coach’s public whipping boy stung him, and I’m sure the Fat Penner references got to him. Penner is quick-witted, with a dry sense of humour, and likes to keep thing light-hearted, but it looks like he took all the pot shots to heart, and set out to prove people wrong.

Penner spent over a month of his summer working out and wondering if he’d be an Oiler or a Senator come September. Do you think that might have motivated him?

Regardless of what motivated him, Penner is living up to his contract so far this year.

First Mike Comrie comes back to Edmonton, and rather than hearing boos, he has his name chanted from the Rexall rowdies, and now Penner is winning over Oiler fans, who for the past two years would have traded him for a bag of pucks and 50 donairs.

Do you think it is possible that we hear chants of "Penn-er, Penn-er!" before the season is over?

If Comrie can win over the fans, why can’t Penner? Seven games won’t erase the memory of the past two seasons, but in sports “what have you done for me lately” reigns supreme, and it seems that many Oiler fans are teetering on the brink of becoming “Dusciples” of the “Pennecostal” church.

BRULE BUSTING OUT

While Penner continues to be the story in Oilerville, very quietly Gilbert Brule has gotten off to a great start. Four goals and seven points has the 6th overall pick in 2005 playing like a top ten pick.

Brule seems to have found the game that the Blue Jackets liked when they called his name four summers ago. He is hitting, using his speed to generate chances and most importantly he has re-discovered his offensive flair.

I said it all summer that Brule was better option than Marc Pouliot as the 4th line center, because Brule plays with the edge necessary to be part of an energy unit. I didn’t think he’d find is offensive game so quickly, in fact, I wasn’t sure if he’d ever find it again.

It is very early to suggest that Brule will come close to producing like this all season, but Quinn loves how he plays, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him finding ways to use Brule even more.

Considering that Brule, Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner all need new contracts at the end of the season, I can’t see how all three of them stay in Edmonton. One of them will be moved. Who would you move? From where I sit it seems likely that one of them will be moved, but I wonder if the organization would allow Steve Tambellini to trade Sam Gagner?

WIN OILERS TICKETS

Currently on Just A Game we are running a contest where the winner wins a pair of Oiler tickets to see the Red Wings Oct 29th, the Sharks Nov 27th and the Predators on Dec 17th. One winner, three Oiler games.

A few weeks ago I came across this article on Spike.com showcasing the ten most annoying sports fans.

What we are looking for is the three most annoying hockey fans. In a short paragraph for each team, submit why they annoy you. Be witty, cut deeply, display your annoyance with words, but it has to be readable on air. Sir Brownlee, I and Dan Barnes are the final judges. Deadline is Wednesday at 6 p.m. Submit your entry to justagame@theteam1260.com. Good luck. Winner will be announced on air on Thursday.

  • Hemmertime

    My buddy and I discussed this last night, no matter how good Penner does in Edmonton over the next 2 years I think hes gone. I don't think he will forget the last 2 years of being called Fat, hes gonna sign elsewhere. So lets hope for a decent 2 seasons out of him.

    • Jason Gregor

      Penner has this year, and then two more so you get three years potentially. You are right he heard all the cat calls, but if he plays well and the fans support him, I don't think he will care how he was treated back then.

      He only has to look at Comrie to see that both sides can kiss and make up. Guys don't hold grudges.

  • Reggie

    Here's what I noticed in the stats as well.
    Ryan Smith 10 pts (cap hit $6.25M).
    Penner 9 pts (cap hit $4.25M).

    Penner is not playing with a top center like Kopitar 12 pts (cap hit $6.8M).

    The Kings played one more game than the Oilers.

  • Slapshot

    I for one am happy that Penner is playing well and I to blame Mac T for the way he has played in the past.He would be hard pressed to score goals from the press box and sitting on the bench.Tambalini has his work cut out for him, he will have to make moves to get under the cap and sign players,It should be very interesting how it all shapes out.Why did K Lowe have to sign Horcoff to that contract.

  • Muji 狗

    Trade deadbeat mack-daddy, dump Nilsson, try to dump Staios, and re-sign all the kids. It's not like Cogs and Sam are in a position to demand anything more than $2.5M at this point in their careers anyway. They're good for their age, but not good NHLers (yet).

    • MrOiler

      agreed but dump nilsson staios and pisani and pouliot. sign gagner to 2.5 cogs 2 comrie 2 brule 1 JFJ .925 stone .900 reddox .515 grebeshkov 3.150 peckham .600 JDD 1 dubnyk and were under the current cap by 1,233

  • Hemmertime

    That second goal Penner scored the other night is a goal I can gaurantee you he would not have socred last yr. He fought hard and pushed right through the defensman on the blue line to work his way to the net and pot that one. That would not have happened last yr. I dont care who's fault last yr was with Penner, if he continues to play like this I will get over it quickly.

    • When he busted out of his zone with all that speed up the left side, I saw the 2 on his jersey and didn't realize it was Penner, seriously thought it was Jacques for a second, quel jets!!

  • I think last year JW pointed out that the Oilers scored more with the least amount of goals against when Penner was on the ice. Turns out those stats werent some strange abnormality, they were evidence that Penner had more to give (especially when a coach decided to let the guy play)

    All three young centers need new contracts? How will the Oilers ever afford this? My solution is say goodbye to the likes of Nilsson, Staios, Pisani, and start thinking about how important guys like O'Sullivan are going to be when the Eberle's and MPS's are ready to take spots on the roster. (and im not saying that they will be as effective right away but how much better will Patty O be than another guy playing 2nd/3rd line minutes?)

  • Hemmertime

    I've always told my friends that Penner would be valuable in the playoffs (after watching his performance with Anaheim). Seeing him produce in the regular season (so far) is a bonus for me. Incidently, I was at the Flames game last week and the guys behind me were all over Penner with 2008 jokes about Penner not hitting; Penner does not hit!! Get over it, he does have sweet hands, especially for a big guy.

    • Lofty

      I dont know how anyone could be a Penner supporter over the last 2 years. He didnt play well and didnt earn his pay, now he is. I like how he has changed his game and hope he can keep it up.

          • Alon

            Says you, but what evidence can you provide to support that claim?

            Did Penner play to the best of his abilities? No, and we are seeing that now. But even for the last 2 years Penner was better then he looked, and the drop off in Horcoff's and Hemsky's ppg production (around 30 points/year or 0.35 ppg) when they werent playing with him, only serves to prove that.

  • Andrew B

    Undoubtedly its Cogliano thats leaving, it's a matter of process of elimination;

    -The team will not trade Sam Gagner who is probably the face of this franchise, or if not, damn close to it. He is the direct result of dealing away Ryan Smyth.

    -They will also not trade Brule because he brings physical intangibles the others do not. He also would likely come at a cheaper cap hit.

    • I'd have to agree, esp. since they already attempted to move Cogs. It's too bad since I like his game a lot.

      I'd vote for keeping a young play-maker at this point given we seem to have some goal scoring prospects in the system. If the team stays realistic and can avoid handing out big contracts to the kids we will be all right over the next few years. I don't think G,C,B should get the money the gave 77 & 37. We need to stop paying for potential… of course the whole league needs to stop doing that too.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Hilarious that no one still is ready to admit that Mact was a huge part of Penner's underachieving.

    Quick question Gregor
    Would you commit yourself to your job 100% if your boss was never happy with your preformance? Or would you do it only 80% and keep getting the pay check?

    Penner had no chance last year on Mact's team. He was too busy on the 4 th line or sitting press box with Nilsson while Liam Reddox and Ethan Moreau were getting 1 st line time!

    • Jason Gregor

      What about the first year, when he didn't work that hard, and wasn't in great shape? He came into camp his first year as an Oiler in bad shape.

      If you are the boss, would you be happy if one of your highest paid employees wasn't committed?

      Penner is in better shape, and that is the biggest factor. Of course a new coach helps, but if Penner had worked this hard under MacTavish I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have been benched.

      You blaming all of it on MacT means you are giving Penner a free pass, and that is ridiculous.

      • Crash

        Hi I've been reading the articles and posts on this site now for over a year and have been meaning to get involved for some time now…finally this has broken my silence. I've been a fan of Gregor on 1260 and really enjoy the inside stuff. I've been another quiet Penner supporter since day one. It's well documented that Gregor is less than enthused with Penner both on his radio program and here in the nation almost to the point where I'd swear he is related to MacT. I think what MacT hated most about Penner was that he is such a laid back guy…doesn't seem to take things too seriously. While I agree that Penner may not have been in tip top shape when he arrived here the numbers speak for themselves.

        Cmon Gregor, there was a lengthy article which was posted on some of these sites spelling it out quite well the virtues and successes that this team has had when Penner is on the ice. I can't remember who wrote the article but it spelled out quite clearly the Oilers success with him on the ice in 5 on 5 situations and on the ice when they are on the PP. So maybe Penner could have been doing better over the past couple of years but let me ask all you Penner haters…how much would you say a player is worth that is going to lead your team in scoring goals?…which is what Penner did in year one…then last year for some reason after all that success MacT in his infinite know all wisdom takes him off the PP, places him on the checking line on his off wing and can't understand why he isn't having success…yet he still scores 17 goals and is the top +/- forward on the team. Yet he continues to get crapped on by the know all MacT…and of course a bunch of you jump on the MacT bandwagon and crap all over Penner continuously…like I said maybe there is more for him to give but given the anchor he was saddled with in MacT and the treatment from the fans here even with the numbers showing the success with him on the ice I'd say he's handled things quite well…

        I only hope Penner himself knows there are some of us fans out there that are on his side…chock me up as one of those.

        • Jason Gregor

          Crash,

          Glad to see you get involved. I respect that you are a fan of Penner, but can you honestly say his effort was where it should have been the previous years.

          Yes, MacTavish's public spat was over the line, but they also had multiple behind-closed-door meetings. Mactavish's display was one of a desperate coach.

          If he hadn't mentioned the contract I wouldn't have had any issue with what he did. He said Penner needed to work harder, because as he has shown so far this year, when he puts for the proper effort he can be a force.

          I rip a player when I don't feel his play is up to par, and when he is playing well I will give him credit. I ripped Penner because of his lack of effort. Clearly he has skill, I've never doubted that, but his effort last year was not close to where it should have been.

          And do you think that 47 points is worthy of $4.25 million? Sure he led a horrible team in goal scoring two years ago, I'm not sure that is what he should be hanging his hat on.

          Glad to see you get involved.

          • Crash

            Jason,

            I haven't really done the research to find out what 4 million dollar players do as far as overall stats go…I suspect quite often a persons stats go hand in hand with how well the team plays as a whole…if the team is a good team and is coached well then I suspect the numbers would be better than if the team is a good team and is not coached well (ala a MacT coached team)….you said it yourself, he lead a horrible team in goal scoring. So if they were a horrible team how can you really expect anyone to have top notch numbers. Of course I am of the opinion that the coach himself has been responsible for many years of this team being a horrible team…even the Stanley cup run year was almost a non playoff season…I've sat in the stands and questioned MacT mulitple times since I became a season ticket holder in 2005. He boggled my mind on numberous occasions…maybe we could discuss it over a pop someday, lol.

            In addressing Penner's effort last year. I believe that when you're in a work environment whereby you don't feel you're being treated as an equal to everyone else on the payroll that it would be difficult to maintain focus and desire. Yes the players make lots of money but they're still just people. I've seen many of MacT's favs get free passes for multiple errors and bone headed penalties only to continue to be rewarded. I know it would drag me down yet still Penner was tops in +/- on the team and still managed 17 goals even though he was 7th amongst forwards in PP ice time last year and I believe he was also 7th amongst forwards in 5 on 5 time…as I mentioned before I think given the anchor Penner had as a head coach and the treatment he's received from so many fans in Oil country that he held it together quite well…you can see how much fun he is having this year without MacT around and when you feel like an equal to everyone else I can see how that would motivate you to give more…it's human nature.

            Thanks for the welcome…Crash in Red Deer

    • Slapshot

      I'm pretty confident that Penner forced himself into the dog house. MacT should shoulder some of the blame for Penner's season, but alot of it needs to be put on Penner's shoulders too.

      • Slapshot

        How so?

        Mact and the media called out Penner before he even played a game for the Oilers?

        Thats Penners fault for winning a cup and celebrating a summer instead of putting in 5 months of training in like the oilers vet's that hadnt made the playoffs?

        Just curious?

        • Jason Gregor

          Please fill me in on when MacTavish called out Penner before he even played a game for them???

          In Penner's first year with the Oilers he played the 4th most minutes of any forward, only Hemsky, Horcoff and Stoll averaged more. So tell me how he wasn't given a great opportunity here? He played four minutes more a game under MacTavish than he did in Anaheim.

          He was benched last year because he was playing like crap. If you are going to recall history, at least recall it properly.