The injuries continue for the Oilers, and the latest victim is Shawn Horcoff.

We will get the exact extent of his injury after the skate today, but like I said on my show yesterday and Brownlee wrote yesterday, the Oilers will be without their highest paid forward for the next while.

Some will argue that they won’t miss his five points, -5 rating and his 25 shots. Clearly Horcoff has struggled this season, but no other centre has been solid offensively.

Sam Gagner has had a few good games, Gilbert Brule was good until he got sick and Cogliano has had three good games, but otherwise he has been invisible. One, if not two of them has to step up.

Filling Horcoff’s offensive contributions won’t be hard right now, but one of them needs to be better in the draws, and be ready to consistently face the opposition’s best defencemen. Gagner will have the best chance because he’ll be playing with Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky. It isn’t a surprise that Gagner and Horcoff’s most productive game this year came playing with those two.

Gagner will be the guy to slide back on to the top line, but if this team is going to start winning again Cogliano or Brule need to chip in. They can’t win with just one line scoring, and that has been the case for the past six games.

Players need to grab the opportunity when it presents itself, so which centre will step up?

More injury trouble?

Horcoff is out, but he isn’t the only one hurting. Ales Hemsky didn’t skate this morning and he has an undisclosed injury. He won’t say what it is, but when the rest of the team was getting on the ice Hemsky was coming back to the rink after getting some sort of test done. He says he will play tomorrow, but he isn’t 100 per cent healthy.

Ladislav Smid didn’t practice either and I will fill you in on his status after practice.

Theo Peckham was re-assigned to Springfield after the game in Long Island, because Steve Staios looks ready to play. He practiced today and took part in some contact drills and it looks like he will return tomorrow night.

Mike Comrie was also on the ice, and should be ready against the Rangers as well.

New centre?

Based on practice, it looks like Patrick O’Sullivan will be the other centre now that Horcoff is out. He skated with Robert Nilsson and JF Jacques. Zack Stortini skated in Hemsky’s spot with Penner and Gagner. Cogliano was with Ethan Morean and Fernando Pisani, while Brule centred Comrie and MacIntyre. You have to think if Hemsky plays then Stortini will move down and play with Brule and Comrie.

The defence pairings saw Tom Gilbert with Denis Grebeshkov, Taylor Chorney and Lubomir Visnovsky and Jason Strudwick with Steve Staios.

More on Horcoff…

I spoke with Horcoff, and he says that though his injury will put him out of play anywhere from just the next game to two weeks out, he won’t require surgery.

Horcoff was pretty mum on the extent of his injury and wouldn’t say exactly what the issue was, but he didn’t have a brace or sling on or anything, so it’s not super severe… but bad enough that he needs to rest.

Coach Pat Quinn said that Horcoff would be out for 7 to 10 days, "Page two from the trainers’ manual."

Kid Gorgeous

Sheldon Souray was scheduled to do a solo skate today, and Quinn has given him the go-ahead to resume light workouts as well.

    • BarryS

      Phew. My ability to read minds through the internet is no longer what it once was. Never thought to get old enough to agree with such sentiments but, alas, I am both.

  • The injury to Fanelli is so unfortunate and bad for the game. I really feel for him and his family. We could debate forever about whether or not the hit was legal, but that won't solve the real issues.

    1) 16 Year Olds should not be playing Major Junior hockey.

    2) Upper Body Equipment needs to be regulated more effectively.

    3) All players should wear cages and mouthguards at all levels, including the NHL.

    Shoulder and elbow pads need to have some more regulations.

    Hockey Canada, the NHL, Major Junior, AHL and all other pro leagues should have some kind of a hockey summit on equipment.

    Hard plastic should be eliminated if possible – except for helmets I guess.

    They should talk with Dustin Penner and check out Farrell Equipment. I am even thinking about ordering some for myself… Very cool stuff and it could be a great option for the NHL.


  • Petr's Jofa

    What's with all this OHL and equipment talk? This isn't OHLnation or HockeyEquipmentNation, this is Oilersnation? Shouldn't we be discussing big life-changing events affecting the nation. You know like the fact that after years, we finally have an edit button.

  • Petr's Jofa

    A player is responsible for his stick and i's 1 4 or 5. A player should be responsible for his head shot 2 4 or 5. Hit as hard as you want but if you hit the head you do the time.

  • I just read some of the banter between Robin Brownlee and Archaeologuy about the OHL suspension and it's a pretty damn good debate. So here are my two cents:

    There is a difference between being malicious and being careless. Being malicious is Marty McSorley giving a two-handed slash to Donald Brashear's head — definitely worthy of a one-year suspension.

    Being malicious is Todd Bertuzzi sucker-punching Steve Moore in the back of the head before piling on top of him — definitely worthy of a one-year suspension.

    Being careless is when a minor penalty, like a charge or a boarding incident, results in someone being badly hurt — definitely worthy of a five, maybe 10 game suspension at most. I think Jarome Iginla's hit on Sheldon Souray could fall in this category since he was careless with his stick and this play could have resulted in a one, maybe two game suspension.

    And this is the Juniors we are talking about here. So what is wrecking a young hockey player's career going to teach him? Absolutely nothing. This young player probably feels bad enough for hurting the guy and he has to watch it on TSN this week. A five-game suspension would not have been overkill in this matter.

    I grew up in a very small town where we had a handful of guys playing in the WHL. If they didn't make it in the "Big League," they were sometimes treated like outcasts. I can only imagine what this guy in Ontario is going to experience for the rest of his life and it will be pure hell.

    • I have to disagree with your assessment here a bit.

      A careless play is almost as bad as a malicious one. It demonstrates a lack of respect for the safety of your competitors and needs to be eliminated.

      Carelessness amounts to negligence, and it is interesting to note that in terms of liability, a person who commits an act of negligence is just as liable as a person who commits an intentional one. If you are hurt because I pushed you to the ground or if you are hurt because you fell when I carelessly forgot to shovel my sidewalk doesn't make a difference. I am still responsible, and I am equally liable in either situation.

      I'm not saying that there should not be severe punishment for malicious acts by the way, nor even that the punishment should be equal in both situations, just that there should be more serious consequences for dangerously careless acts.

  • Ender

    I am so tired of seeing the argument that punishment should be more severe when the consequences of the misdemeaner are severe. That's such a stupid argument. I know there are many examples of 'justice' being administered that way in our society and even in hockey (ie. high-sticking is 2 min, high-sticking that results in a cut is 4 min) but I can't for the life of me understand why. If putting your stick in someone's face is wrong, it should be just as wrong all the time, regardless of what the outcome is. A guy driving a vehicle when he's drunk is doing something dangerous and wrong every time he does it; whether he is caught or whether he hits someone has nothing to do with the legality or morality or irresponsibility of his actions.

    Should we try to protect hockey players from themselves? I'm not convinced that's the job of the public at large or even the government of the people. Ultimately, you would think the NHLPA whould be looking at more ways to protect their own membership. Bottom line, though, is that if the players themselves don't care if they get hurt, then why should we as fans be getting so worked up about ways to protect people that don't seem to care about protecting themselves?

    Kids getting hurt is something else entirely. A 16-year old is going to view a lot of dangerous activities and convince themselves that they can replicate those activities safely, whether it be playing a full-contact sport or driving a car at high speed. In many cases, they find out that they have grotesquely overestimated their abilities. It is our job as parents to make our children aware of their limitations and the differences between a highly-skilled professional and a gutsy-but-foolish amateur. Toning down the hitting in our kids' hockey leagues is not only worthwhile but should be high-priority. Once our kids reach the age of consent, though, I think we have to assume that we've educated them as best we can and hope that they proceed with wisdom and are able to understand and accept the consequences of their decisions.

    And I love the new edit button.

  • Regarding the hitting debate, I think I echo Brownlee's position somewhat.

    Hitting was introduced as a means to seperate a player from the puck. That was the spirit of the rule.

    Today, hitting is just as often used to intentionally devestate the target players as it is to make a hockey play. The so called mechanics of the hit may very well be clean in terms of what is acceptable but the intent is not in line with the spirit of what is allowed. They are predatory plays.

    Sure in the past there were occassions when those types of hits occured but those hits were as often as not dealt with in a response in part because they stood out from the normal context of teh game so much. Now when it's dealt with on the ice we hear things like "his elbow was in, it happens all the time, it was a clean hit and he shouldn't have to fight because of it". Point being that our perception of how the game is played has changed when it comes to contact.

    Now with all that said, I am often the first one on my feet when it happens because the hit itself is exciting, even if the aftermath is disturbing.

    I guess that makes me a hypocrite but I do think the overall game will be better served if the leagues focus more on the aftermath and less on the initial feeling of excitement.

    • Hockey is a game based on momentum. Being six-foot-four, I was a grinder when I played midget hockey and my coach always told me to finish my checks.

      If I laid a good hit on someone (as the coach wanted me to), especially if they were caught admiring a pass or a shot, we would get the momentum. I am sure this great game was like that during the days of Bobby Orr as it is now. That's why nothing needs to change and this OHL incident isn't a wake up call for hockey.

      Hockey is a rough sport. Football is rough sport, and that includes high school football. MMA is rough sport. NASCAR driving is dangerous, yadda, yadda, yadda.

      Body checking is a part of the game and young Pee-Wee players should body check as they did when I was a young lad. It's up to the coaches to get educated on how to teach their players on how to body check.

      • There is a difference between a good hit and a predatory hit. There is also a difference bewteen a big hit and a predatory hit.

        No where in my post did I suggest that hitting was a problem, it's the intent in which the hits are often being delivered that is the problem.

        As for Pee-Wee's, I have yet to see the youngsters go through their hitting clinics with an emphasis on destroying their opponent.

        • I just watched the replay of the hit. Ben Fenelli was badly hit by Michael Liambas just after he passed the puck away.

          To me, and from what I saw, yes, Liambas had way too many strides to make that check and it definitely should have negated a charging penalty and a small suspension. But calling it a predatory hit is unjustified. From what I saw, Liambas's attempt was to create momentum by finishing his check. He didn't look like he was trying to injure Fenelli.

          • Petr's Jofa

            Just to be clear, I am not commenting on the Liambas hit specifically. In reading through the comments I got a sense that there was a discussion on hitting in general and that is what I was commenting on.

            I will ask though, going back to what the original intent for hitting was, which is seperating the player from the puck, how is it not predatory to deliver a check that is not necessary when looked at in that context?

            I agree that based on what we see as allowable in the game today, that check specifially probably isn't all that far out of line.

            But that is the underlying point, it wasn't necessary and probably shouldn't be considered allowable.

  • Librarian Mike

    So, it turns out that Calgary's farm team got their H1N1 shots as well.

    Granted, they went to the 'grubby peasant' clinic but in BC the shot is supposed to be ONLY for pregnant women, etc.

    It seems the team doctor upgraded their conditions to 'serious' and authorized it. *imagines hockey team with pillows under their shirts to simulate pregnancy*.

    The chief medical officer for BC said he has no recourse against the doctor, but that it was not OK for them to get the shot. Oh, and by the way, this happened on Tuesday.

  • Chris.

    I've been reading the thread… and unless I'm mistaken a critical component of the debate is missing:

    What is the track record/suspension history of Liambas?

    If Liambas has multiple boarding penalties on his resume, previous suspensions, and a track record of making questionable/dirty hits… Then the term of the suspension is justified.

    • Eddie Shore

      From what I heard on TSN Liambas has been suspended before. Also, I think because of his age and status in the OHL it wasn't that tough of a decision to suspend him for the remainder of the year. However, I am in complete disagreement with that decision. I don't buy the notion that he could have or should have let up. As a player, you are taught to get on the forecheck and put pressure on the D as quickly as possible. THAT is the reason he was skating as hard as he was. The reason for this is not to destroy the D man or "kill him". Its to apply pressure and cause turnovers. That is also why you are taught to finish your checks. So the D will be looking over their shoulders and will be more prone to turn the puck over. This is simple forechecking. It's unfortunate that the player involved got hurt as bad as he did, trust me I feel for him and his family. But it was a simple hockey play that happens 50 times a game.

    • BarryS

      Last I heard, I didn't mean to kill him was no defence in a murder trial. Guess what, just because hockey is governed by a bunch of small light guys who played in the sixties and seventies doesn't mean the game has to be played as if it was played by small guys in poor equipment, who no matter what their skill level was couldn't make the NHL today.

      Guess what, the only similarities between a hockey colliseum and the Roman Colliseum is the last name. The purpose of the game is to entertain the fans and inrich the players. Sorry, I'm not entertained by the sight of players being pulled off the ice on stretchers. You want blood, go watch MMA or wrestling.

      Since the game is now played by players who average something like 6'2" and weigh 240l and wear better armour than soldiers, it is time to change some of the rules, either it will be done by the game or the civil authorities.

      No touch icing is on the way. Hitting rules are one the way. Tougher stick rules are on the way. Civil authority involvement ia the rougher parts of the game is on the way. The idea that voluntary participation in "blood" sports somehow protects you from the legal penalties for your action is at best a dubious concept and it is only a matter of time until some player is in jail for a long time for an action that was once considered a part of the game.

      I doubt civil medling will be come from Canada but I can see some DA up for re-election in the states usinf a prosecution to get re-elected. And since Canadian Teams play in the states, it will affect us to.

      • Eddie Shore

        You need to relax. Nobody here said they want blood and want to see guys taken off the ice on stretchers. BUT, with guys getting bigger/stronger/faster than ever, and add in the lack of obstruction, are the outcomes of these types of devastating hits that surprising?

    • Pajamah

      The problem with that is that I'm not at all convinced Liambas boarded the kid. So it doesnt matter how many boarding majors and suspensions he had, because I dont think he even did anything illegal. Charging, maybe, but even then he didnt raise his feet from the ice after the faceoff circle.

      If this was a clear penalty, I might not have even said anything.

      • Chris.

        It looked like boarding to me. Even in a demolition derby, where the only stated goal is to destroy all other opposing vehicles, driver doors are painted red. Competitors never, ever crash into those doors. Period. Derby drivers will actually use their brakes, and expose their equipment to unfair damage from another source even if an opposing driver intentionally manouvers his red door into their path on a strike run… It's about respect.

        But I digress… If Phaneuf had made that exact hit on Gagner, and nearly killed him… would you still consider it clean, and be against the league handing down a long suspension? (Track record matters)

      • Chris.

        It looked like boarding to me. Even in a demolition derby, where the only stated goal is to destroy all other opposing vehicles, driver doors are painted red. Competitors never, ever crash into those doors. Period. Derby drivers will actually use their brakes, and expose their equipment to unfair damage from another source even if an opposing driver intentionally manouvers his red door into their path on a strike run… It's about respect.

        But I digress… If Phaneuf had made that exact hit on Gagner, and nearly killed him… would you still consider it clean, and be against the league handing down a long suspension? (Track record matters)

        • I looked at the play over and over and the kid was hit shoulder to shoulder and he was facing Liambas. He only spun around after the hit.

          If Gagner got hurt in that play I might say it was a devastating hit. But, Honestly, I wouldnt call it illegal.

  • Hitting is to hockey like pancake syrup is to pancakes.

    SO TO ALL THOSE AGAINST THE "BRUTAL" BODY CHECKING (i.e.: Brownlee, Rick, Enter the Dragon): Are all of you suggesting that referees should call penalties based on how hard a player gets hit, and that includes every level in hockey?

    • Ender

      Actually, I'm not against hitting in the NHL at all. If you read my comment again, you'll see I'm against minors doing it. Pro athletes should be smart enough to know the risks they're taking and if they're OK with it, then I'm OK watching them.

      Keep your head up, players; if you don't, I'll be looking for the You-Tube clip tomorrow, right about the same time you should be talking to your NHLPA rep.

      In addition, my comment specifically ranted against calling penalties based on the damage done, instead calling for fair and logical consequences to every rule violation, not just the ones that result in something serious. As it stands right now, clean hits are not against the rules so rock on.

      • I guess I am of the opinion where body checking should be introduced at an early age, like Pee-Wees or Atom, so coaches and hockey clinics can properly teach players the simple fundamentals of hitting. And those fundamentals include what to do when you hit someone, when to hit, and when not to hit.

        I still have a hard time understanding this talk about pulling body checking from the game, especially the Pee-Wee hockey debate. Finishing your checks is and always will be an important fundamental in hockey.

        That is unless you guys think that shouldn't be something that's taught in minor and junior hockey.

        • Ender

          I've been involved in karate for a long time. As students, we learn a lot of things in the dojo that are potentially dangerous; joint-locks, how to strike an opponent's unprotected head, and even the use of various tradtional Japanese weapons. We have many children in our dojo, but the curriculum is not the same for them as it is for the adults. When the kids spar, head shots are off-limits and do not score; in fact, they are penalized. Weapons-training for the children is limited to familiarity with handling, and it is always a single-person exercise, while adults will practice light sparring techniques with the same equipment. Joint-manpulation is not taught to children as it requires precise control and a fraction of an inch can be the difference between simple immobilization or severe injury.

          The point is that not only is a definite level of control required for many techniques to be executed properly, but also that a solid understanding of the training risk must be established and accepted by the student. It is not enough that you can perform adequately; you have to be able to accept the consequences if your training partner cannot. Minors are not given that level of responsibility for a reason.

          You can try to make the argument that training these techniques to individuals when they are young means that they will master them more fully and allow them to avoid serious injury when they are older. I, however, do not buy that argument. I believe that the same number of injuries are likely to occur in the adult ranks regardless of haw many years they learn to hit 'properly' and that the only resultant difference will be in the number of injuries to the minor players.

          Hitting is fine, but it should be done by adults who understand and accept the risk. I freely endorse their right to hit, but I'll go on record as saying I think they're crazy. I train with swords so maybe you question my opinion of crazy; keep in mind, though, that my training partner is my friend and has every incentive to keep me safe.

  • Pajamah

    The punishing the act over the result arguement is seriously flawed

    Tell that to a mother who lost their child to a drunk driver, who only loses their license, or gets community service. Comparatively, someone who drives drunk gets 15 year sentence for DUI. The act is driving drunk, in both cases potential for serious injury is present, and the decision for both cases is to drive while impaired. You cannot say that both cases deserve the same penalty.

    If you're using a unregistered gun, should the penalty be equal to that of someone who's gun discharges and kills someone?

    Intent needs to be considered, as does outcome.

    That said, I am just playing devils advocate. Even in the rules of the game, I don't believe Liambis should have been suspended, because the game dictates that kind of play. In a large scale, players do as there told, to 20 year olds running down a player on a forecheck, to a certain homosexual hockey team jumping qeue to get H1N1 vaccinations. He wouldn't be in the game if he let up on the kid. If we want a message sent, you need to start from grassroots levels and start mandating hitting to the concept of "puck seperation"


  • After listing to Robin and Gregor on the Team before the game, both brought up a very good point: The rules around charging is so grey.

    There is no clear definition of what a charging penalty is in the rule book. It doesn't say how many strides you are allowed to skate before hitting a guy, or the distance travelled.

    Now I am thinking Liambas shouldn't have been suspended at all because he was following the rules.

    I am done talking about this, guys. This is an entire mess in hockey.

  • Petr's Jofa

    Well if you say it's a "A VERY HIGH RISK SPORT!" then I guess there is nothing we can do. Since it's a very high risk sport, let's end this debate and stop thinking of ways to protect the players.