UPDATED: Monday morning musings

After a weekend of hibernating, what else is there to do when Edmonton is the second coldest place in the world (someplace in Siberia was two degrees colder Saturday night)? Let’s find out what exactly is going on in Oilerville and the league.

A five-game winning streak has the Oilers back in the playoff hunt, although they are still four points out. The Oilers will need to reel off at least four more wins this month just to stay in contention.

The first place — that’s right first freaking place — Los Angeles Kings come to town tomorrow. Normally the Oilers stink up the joint after a lengthy road trip, but they’d never won five road games on one trip before, so who knows how they will play tomorrow.

I know things are slow in Oilerville, when many of you are debating whether Devan Dubnyk is a legitimate goalie. Fact is we won’t find out anytime soon because Pat Quinn will keep going with Jeff Deslauriers until Nikolai Khabibulin returns. Don’t expect that to happen until 2010, and the likely hood of Khabibulin being traded at the deadline is as likely as me coming back from Costa Rica with flowing locks. Not going to happen!

Annual board of governor meetings

The meetings will be held in Florida this week and concussions, Coyotes’ ownership and future Canadian cities will be the hot topics.

I’d be curious what Wild GM, Chuck Fletcher, has to say on concussions. The Wild have had four players out with head injuries — Andrew Ebbett, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Brent Burns and Petr Sykora — so he’ll be listening closely.

The pace of the game is leading to more concussions, so they either get better helmets or have a severe crackdown on head shots. The problem with the latter is that many of the perceived head shots are legal hits under the current rule book.

Will they change the wording, or have it read that any contact that hits the head first is an automatic penalty?

Once again there is such a grey area that it would be hard for officials to call it correctly.

How often have we seen a hit in a slow-motion replay where it was questionable whether the initial contact was on the head of shoulder? If we can’t decide in slow motion how do they expect the officials to get it right in real time?

It’s a slippery slope, because if they take a hard stance it could lead to fewer hits overall and that won’t be good for the game.

Edge Holdings Inc is a research investment firm, and they submitted their letter of intent to purchase the Coyotes. Did they do any research that could prove that the Coyotes are a good investment? They must be purchasing them with the hope that they can relocate after a year.

This is a good strategy, and one that Mr. Balsillie should have looked at rather than trying to move the team out of Phoenix before he actually owned the team.

Your move!

The Christmas roster freeze starts on Sunday, so if a team is going to make a move it has to happen before then. The Canadiens are looking to move Jaroslav Halak, but with Philly signing John Grahame there isn’t a long list of teams looking for a goalie. In fact, there are more teams trying to get rid of goalies than bring one in.

The Flyers are a mess. They are tied with the Leafs for 14th in the East, but they aren’t out of it by any stretch. They are only four points behind Montreal for 8th spot and they have three games in hand. Every team in the East is in the playoff hunt excluding the Hurricanes.

On Saturday, 15th place in the West would have been 9th in the East. Only the Oilers, 3-5-1, the Blues, 2-4-2 and the Ducks, 4-5-1 have losing records against the East.

The Avalanche beat the Flames for the 3rd straight time last night, but they are only 2-7-2 against the rest of the NW. The Flames, meanwhile are 0-3 v. the Avs, but are 5-0-1 against the rest of the division. It’s strange that the Avs can dominate the Flames but struggle against the Oilers, Canucks and Wild. The Canucks are 8-4 in the division, while the Oilers are 4-5-1.

I will update you after Oiler practice on the health of Comrie and Khabibulin.

Practice Update: 1:36pm MST

Neither Sheldon Souray nor Gilbert Brule are practicing this morning. Here’s what the lines look like:

Penner — Gagner — O’Sullivan
Moreau — Potulny — Cogliano
Nilsson — Horcoff — Stone
Jacques — Pouliot — Stortini

Gilbert — Grebeshkov
Smid — Visnovsky

Brule didn’t skate because he wasn’t feeling well. He doesn’t have an injury and they expect him to play tomorrow night. Souray is resting his back, and back’s can be unpredictable. They might err on the cautious side and give him a few extra days.

Look for Horcoff to play with Stone and Nilsson tomorrow. Quinn said he liked what they did in St. Louis, which would mean that Patrick O’Sullivan would play with Jacques and Stortini. He won’t mess with the top line, unless Brule gets worse, and he likes the Moreau/Potulny/Cogliano trio.

Nikolai Khabibulin had a good day two days ago, but he isn’t ready to skate with the team just yet. Quinn said he was surprised it has taken this long, but they are being very cautious. Mike Comrie looks like he won’t return until after Christmas.

Pouliot looked okay, but I’d guess they’d want him to get some conditioning down in Springfield before he plays here. The only way he plays is if Brule can’t go, and that seems unlikely.

  • Can anyone give me a best guess on Khabibulin's return date?

    He's available in a fantasy draft i'm in, but i'm only allowed one guy on IR, and Ryan Smyth is using that spot right now.
    I need a replacement for Ray Emery, and i'm stuck with Brian Bouchard currently.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    Re: Practice Lines

    I wonder if Horcoff will be suited to playing with Nilsson. If he's used to accounting for Hemsky's defensive deficiencies, he could probably do the same for Bobby.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    That's a big promotion for 32 and I dare say the new 10 line will be the hard match versus Kopitar's unit come tomorrow night.

    Hard to say how the TOI will wind up for the 22-46-19 troika because Quinn doesn't mind messing around with the chemistry and we know that just by looking at who 22 has started with the last few nights – the 10 and 19 combo – and then look at his EVTOI at game's end compared to his two initial linemates.

    The 18-16-13 line really hasn't gotten anything done close to resembling offense since the 5-4 SO L versus the Sharks a couple of weeks ago – they were on the ice for 5's 2-2 goal at Dal but that's it – but I guess they are low-event so that counts for something. Though, they are getting outchanced while not playing against real tough competition so I wouldn't be loathe to break them up if the situation calls for it.

    • Why do you say big promotion for Stone? He played primarily with O'Sullivan & Comrie before getting injured if I'm not mistaken. He was always used in a top 9 role prior to injury, so how is putting him back into that mix after a few games getting his legs back a BIG promotion?

      And Jacques/Stortini/O'Sullivan are now a line? News to me.

        • Umm… ooops, sorry Gregor. Didn't see that part. Was that added in there after the lines you posted or at the same time because I don't recall seeing anything after 'Smid-Visnovsky' when I looked earlier. I assumed if Brule was in, then Stone or Nilsson would be taken off of Horc's line in favour of O'Sullivan.

          • Oh man. I guess they don't have TV where you live because if you did you'd be seeing POS playing like a POS. Nilsson's at least putting up some points and trying to be productive. The way POS is stinking up the joint, Comrie would be a pretty decent upgrade.

          • Personally, I know which player I'd take… and its not Bobby. We all know how you feel about Patty. I disagree with your sentiment (not that he's played spectacular by any means).

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    The problem with instant replay is it will slow the game down. If the NHL is to have instant replay they need to make sure that don't have teams making 10 calls a game.

    And what exactly are we looking for the refs to review?

    I don't think penalties will be a reviewable offense as that will get to facked.

    Off-sides/icing, what is the point?

    They already have reviews for goals. Maybe pucks hitting the netting?

    • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

      What about non-calls behind a ref? We've all seen plays off-camera like high sticking and whatnot that never get called. The only time the play's ever whistled down as a result is when someone's injured enough to stay down. Why not allow the refs to review footage to determine what happened?

      Plus you won't end up with dozens of challenges if you enforce an appropriate penalty (delay of game?) for challenging something and losing.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        Well that's the issue, do you go for the non-calls? I mean none of the other leagues can review penalties, is that something the league wants to get into? How many non-calls are there in a game and then what happens with the borderlin crap?

        I just don't see it working as penalties are mostly called on refs opinions.

        • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

          That's one thing I have a big problem with, and maybe I'm biased as a result…

          I think the criteria for penalties should be a lot more objective. It gives the refs fewer opportunities to directly influence the game one way or another.

          Jason Gregor wrote:

          When do you think this would work in hockey?

          I guess I'm really arguing two things at the moment, so I think I should lay things out so they don't get mixed up.

          (1) Non-calls could be reviewed on a team's challenge

          (2) Calls could be reviewed on a team's challenge

          (2) would be much easier, I think, because most calls that could be reviewed result in a stoppage in play. Goaltender interference where the opposing team's forward is pushed into the goaltender could be a prime example as the camera angle from above can be very useful in determining what happened. Same goes for something like tripping. If play gets whistled down as a result of a trip, and video review shows no contact between the players, what is the downside to reviewing the play and overturning the ruling?

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            The downside is you end up with a debacle like we had with the toe in the crease review crap. Everyone thought it would be easy to see if a puck went into the crease before the puck, but it wasn't. Then what we had was every goal be reviewed. Penalties would be worse as now you have four monkeys on the ice arguing about what they think should be called.

          • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

            Consider the goaltender interference scenario:

            Penner is standing in front of the opposing team's net, and Chara swoops in and ploughs him into Thomas. The ref sees Penner fall into Thomas but not the push, and calls the penalty. This results in a stoppage in play. Quinn sees what happened and decides to challenge now that the play is dead. Play is reviewed, clearly shows that Chara pushed Penner into Thomas, and no penalty is assessed.

            Is this a terrible thing for the league?

          • Nesquik

            Maybe instead of video replay. We let the refs discuss it for a sec. Ref #1 is in the corner only sees Penner (In your situation) but Ref #2 at the blue line saw the whole thing. Not so much an over rule but if we have a team of officials let them work as a team. It makes I think that keeps the flow in the game better then video replay for penalties. (Maybe the can do this already; I have not seen it done though.)

          • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

            I think this is another great solution. The point I'm really trying to make is that the information is there but people refuse to use it to help the decision making process. That doesn't seem right to me. It reminds me of the people that disagree with Willis' stats on a regular basis:

            Poster: "I think ______ is overrated."

            Willis: "Actually, his stats X, Y, and Z suggest otherwise."

            Poster: "I don't pay attention to stats. I've made up my mind and even if you present a logical argument backed by facts and sound logic, you're not going to sway me."

          • Hemmercules

            I wouldn't mind what you mentioned above. Maybe give the coach 1 challenge flag per game. Only to be used to challenge a penalty against your team. If the coach is wrong it's a double minor.

          • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

            This isn't really in response to anything in the article today, it's just something I've been kicking around in my head. I've come to the conclusion that it can be very valuable in some circumstances.

            I remember awhile back, I think it was a Flames game. Player on team A gets high sticked but doesn't go down, the player that high sticked him fell. The ref obviously didn't see what happened because the guy who got high sticked ended up taking the penalty. There might not be enough instances of one particular play that might warrant review, but when you consider all of the possible scenarios where it would be appropriate, it could could change the outcome of multiple games.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            How often are those plays happening though? Then what do you do turn the clock back? The problem is in your examples you are challenging something that the ref called and where there was a stoppage. Do you start going after the plays where no whistle was blown for multiple minutes? Then what do you do just throw a flag out while the play is on and while the other team is on a breakaway?

            As Gregor mentioned it isn't like football where there is stoppages every 20 seconds.

            I was for review at one time, but it will just slow things down.

            Also what is wrong with giving linesman more authority and making those missed calls?

          • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

            I guess it could get kind of hairy with delayed penalties, now that I think of it. In those circumstances the delay is intended to avoid disadvantaging the team that's not being penalized. It would really only be practical if the penalty was called immediately.

            If giving linesman the authority to call those penalties solves the problem of blatant missed plays, I'm all for it. That's really the intent of my proposed solution. Access to more information (whether it be camera angles or another person's perspective) should be embraced if it helps refs make the right calls.

      • Jason Gregor

        There is a stoppage after every play in football, thus they have time to throw the challenge flag.

        When do you think this would work in hockey?

        And in football if they miss a clipping or a holding or an illegal block away from the play that isn't reviewable.

        YOu don't need it in hockey except for goals, otherwise you have to review at a stoppage, then rewind the clock and start from there. Makes no sense.

  • Its simple, really…

    the players should drink beer all summer and quit working out in the off season, wear old school equipment with no helmets, anyone over 6-2 210lbs should be banned for life, obstruction should be put back in…

    ~Clearly!~

  • HansBaurMesserschmittWatson

    What is all this getting rid of Khabby talk? We're going to need the Bulin Wall for the playoffs. No one really thinks he will go far with JDD leading us, do they? Khabby will be back before seasons end, get in shape, and be ready, and fresh, for a long run to the Cup. I'll see you all on Whyte Ave come June.

    • Bucknuck

      What a great post! Oh how I wish I could believe like you do. What a breath of fresh air!

      But I guess if you are right I will just have to be happily surprised.

  • Bucknuck

    I wonder how much the NHL will lose in Phoenix this year. Article in the Sun Saturday that said that the turnstile attendance in Tampa was like 4000 less than stated attendance. This league is in big doo doo. The Avs are doing well but Denver attendance is crummy. I hate to the almighty loonie propping up loser cities like Alberta props up pertual welfare provine Quebec with billions in transfer monies annually. Sorry for the politico…

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    PS: When a superstar gets less of a punishment than a goon, is it possible that the punishments actually are equitable, but based on minutes rather than games? Take a 25 minute a night player away for 2 games has a lot more of an impact than taking a 6 minute a night player away for 5.

    Someone mentioned this to me the other day and it was pretty hard to disagree with.

    • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

      That depends who you think should be penalized for the player's decisions on the ice.

      If you consider the suspension as a punishment to the team, the reasoning stands.

      If you consider it as a punishment to the player, you're still letting them off easy.

      5 games is 5 games whether you're Zack Stortini or Alex Ovechkin, especially due to the fact that salary is based on GP and not TOI.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    1. Ice Edge agreed to keep the team in Phoenix for the remainder of the lease on the arena. That locks them in for 26 more years.

    2. One thing that I've been thinking about (especially after watching a lot of CFL football with my girlfriend this season)… Why doesn't the NHL allow teams to challenge calls (or non-calls) for penalties? Seems to me that if teams are given a challenge – or one in lieu of their time out – it might keep players a little bit more accountable. With all of the cameras on the ice, why rely on 3 or 4 refs to see everything?

    • I thought it was specifically left for Ice Edge to re-negotiate the lease with Glendale before any sale would be final?

      I might be wrong about that though. I heard it did call for some games to be played in Saskatoon though.

      Of course I'm an idiot so nobody should listen to me anyway.

      • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

        All of the reports I've seen indicate their commitment to stay in Glendale is central to the offer, and that's why the NHL is entertaining the offer. They'd take too much heat if they allowed Ice Edge to keep them for a year then relocate, seeing as how that's roughly equivalent to Balsillie's offer.

    • Bob Cobb

      Couple things:
      1: You cant challenge a call or non call for penalties in the CFL or NFL. You can only challenge player related actions like catch or no catch, two feet inbounds, ball placement and if the ball broke the goalline. The ref's need some control of the game, and to be able to overturn penalties would take that away from them.

      2: You want to make the players more accountable, lose the instigator rule.

        • Bob Cobb

          It would greatly help player accountability, guys like Jordin Tootoo and Matt Cooke, who like to run around and take advantage of people in bad positions would have to pay for dirty hits and if they got there ass kicked once or twice they may back off. Now, you cant touch a guy after a dirty check if the ref missed it, if you do and he doesn't want to fight the instigator gets the 2, your teammate is on the ice, and the idiot that hit him is sitting on his bench. It would make players police themselves, look at when Gretzky played with the Oilers in the early 80's, no one touched him because Dave Semenko would patrol the wings and fill you in if you did without fear of putting his team down an extra 2 minutes. It would result in less injuries, better hockey, and a cleaner, more honest game.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            Tootoo backs his sh!t up quite often. Peckham grabbed Cooke last year and gave him a good arse kicking, Cooke still does the same crap.

            I'd like to see the instigator taken out but at the sametime I'm not sure if it does much.

            The refs calling the penalties properly and the league suspending guess properly would be the first thing that needs to be done.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            So then why do we see instigator penalties called fairly regularly?

            Guys are getting jumped all the for clean hits.

            The instigator isn't near as big a deal as you are making it out to be.

      • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

        Refs shouldn't have control of the game if their calls contradict empirical evidence to the contrary.

        If a ref makes a call based on something they think they saw, and there's sufficient video evidence to disprove the player action in question, why should they have the power to enforce a penalty?

    • HansBaurMesserschmittWatson

      i dont understand, even with 4 referees on the ice alot of penalies are missed and unnoticed.
      nhl is a joke league, full of chiefs and not enough indians.

      in the nfl is a referee fcuks up a call, people notice and they pay by not being able to ref playoff games and are eventually fired if they suck.

      i blame don cherry and his followers for all that is wrong with the nhl.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        The NHL does the samething. Actually the only league I heard that does it different is the CFL, they go with the best group of guys instead of individual all-star refs. Their theory is an all-star group is better then have all-star individuals that never worked together.

        The problem is yes there is 4 guys out there, but only 2 really have the power to do anything.

        • HansBaurMesserschmittWatson

          i just find it funny how every year for the last decade the always taking about cheap shots and headshots and elbows and all the other nonsense and yet the havent figure nothing out. yet they are so concerned about jim moving a team into torontos market that they willgo to all expent to make sure that dont happen. so tehy can respect one teams?rich bastards wishes, yet they cant respect their players and eachother that earn them selves the money of the game of hockey.

  • Dan the Man

    Only 4 D-Men available for practice? Not good.

    The players are the ones that decide not to tighten their chin straps or to wear their mouth guards properly…if they aren't worried, should we be?

    If it was up to me I'd bubble wrap all of their heads.

      • Except for the fact that their respective organizations have invested significantly in the players as assets and have a right to protect their assets.

        Another thing to consider…Why do they make construction workers wear hard hats? If they don't care why should their bosses? Liability.

        All it would take is one instance where a court decides that the league or a team did not fulfill their duty in regards to player safety to cause major problems for NHL teams. Signed waivers are only useful to a point. Imagine if it was determined that the league investigated helmet enforcement and knew it would help but decided against it. That could go badly for the league.

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          I mean more towards the fan. Every time theirs a questionable hit, the message boards and call in shows light up regarding how "something must be done".

  • Hemmertime

    I always thought "If you injure someone with an illegal hit the length of your suspension can be no shorter than how long it takes that player to return." would be good. You'd be alot more careful on boarding or elbows. The legal hits to the head are hard to stop though, some players play with their head down and stuck out so its naturally going to get smacked around on clean hits…

    • Rob...

      Here's a scenario for you: Ovie gets pressed against the boards a little roughly by a checker, next shift the checker starts bringing the puck out of his end. Ovie lines him up for some payback but the checker moves at the last moment. Without thinking, the knee goes out, and the checker ends up with a torn MCL and is out for the remainder of the season.

      How many games does he get?

      How about the next guy who pulls the exact same move, but the 'victim' escapes with just a sore knee, returning to the game by the next period.

      Sadly, it's probably best to leave it up to the league officials to interpret intent, history, and everything else they use in handing down their decision.

      PS: When a superstar gets less of a punishment than a goon, is it possible that the punishments actually are equitable, but based on minutes rather than games? Take a 25 minute a night player away for 2 games has a lot more of an impact than taking a 6 minute a night player away for 5.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      You really think they would do something like that? I can't see the league risking the chance at losing one of their star players due to suspension because he ended a players career.

        • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

          there is no way the league risks getting a star player suspended for a season.

          ie) Game #8 of the season, ovechkin runs carcillo, carcillo misses the season with post-concussion syndrome.

          ovechkin sits for the year? the league can barely get the balls to suspend him for 2 games because they cant risk him not playing.

  • Have you guys heard anything like this on Khabibulin? Apparently he is going to have back surgery to fix a herniated disc? and if he chose to retire would it count against the cap since he signed over the age of 35?

    • Hemmertime

      Yes, no matter what happens to Khabby he counts against the cap.

      @ Jason Gregor

      I always wondered though, what if we sent Khabby down to the minors (clearing waivers) and then he retired in the minors… what would happen to his cap hit? Since it is essentially 0 when he retired since he was on the minor league team.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        except to the extent the Player is playing under his SPC in the minor leagues, in which case only the Player Salary and Bonuses in excess of $100,000 shall count towards the calculation of Averaged Club Salary;

        So from what I gather that would be 3.65mil

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      apparently the wording in the CBA might indicate it is only if he retires after the first year..

      All Player Salary and Bonuses earned in a League Year by a Player who is in the second or later year of a multi-year SPC which was signed when the Player was age 35 or older (as of June 30 of the League Year in which the SPC is to be effective), but which Player is not on the Club's Active Roster, Injured Reserve, Injured Non Roster or Non Roster, and regardless of whether, or where, the Player is playing, except to the extent the Player is playing under his SPC in the minor leagues, in which case only the Player Salary and Bonuses in excess of $100,000 shall count towards the calculation of Averaged Club Salary;

      i am by no means a CBA expert, but i "think" the oilers might be ok if he were to retire right away.

      now, if you are 'bulin, would you walk away from that much money so soon? doubtful

  • Oilitsinyoutogive

    Now what happened to Souray? I go away for a few days and come back to see he isn't practicing? Was this a "give an old guy the night off" thing or is he hurt?

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    It should be interesting to see what, if anything, is done in regards to head shots. However, isn't there a better and easier solution to concussions that should be addressed first?

    Mouthguards and chinstraps. It would be interesting to know how many of these concussions resulted from hitting the head on the ice as the helmet comes loose as most players prefer to keep thier chin straps ridiculously loose. Its it a comfort thing (like the old excuse about seatbelts)? Is it the cool factor? I dont pretend to have the answer to that, but going off of memory I can recall a lot of players bouncing their bare melons off of the ice as their helmets werent on properly in the first place.

    The mouthguards also offer significant protection against concussion, but it doesnt appear that all players wear them… or at least dont wear them properly. (Yes, Im talking to you Mr. Kane…)

    Instead of re-writing the rules on contact, should the board of governors be looking at enforcing chin straps and mouthguards first?

    Just a thought.

      • Travis Dakin

        I don't know if you've ever been surfing but learn from my mistake…. Wear a long sleeve shirt. One of those Underarmour type shirts or a wetsuit. The salt water and the rubbing of your wet skin on the board when you are doing all of your paddling is murder. Such a bad rash. Trust me on this. Other than that, surfing is AWESOME! And use a long board. at least a 10 footer if you've never been.

      • Jason Gregor

        Awesome. I went there too. Pretty druggy beachside town. I was walking down the beach and there's this guy with a table full of beads. I was wondering how he makes a go of it – the bead market can't be that strong. Turn's out he's an aggressive salesman with a diverse product line: "Hey mister – want to buy some beads?" "No." "Want to buy some cocaine?"

        It's that kind of place. Not much in terms of sights – I preferred Fortuna and Monteverde but lots of fun and you can basically spend the day sitting in the ocean. Enjoy yourself.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Just throwing it out there but when not make it mandatory that all players do their chin straps up and that all players must wear mouth guards? Wouldn't doing somethig simple be the first step?