I don’t know about you, but for me nothing says, “I’m a dork” like the mindless tool who opens the comments section on an item thread by posting, “First!”
First, apparently, is best, even if the person has jack-poop to contribute in terms of insight or comment. It’s only right, then, that we scold, tsk tsk and otherwise demean those who insist on jumping the gun in the name of, well, jumping the gun.
I’ve got to admit, I find a rush to judgment on the Edmonton Oilers roster almost as grating when framed in the context of the “clean slate” coach Pat Quinn is supposed to be working with this pre-season. We’ve had a couple of examples of it already here at OilersNation.
Today, with three pre-season games left to play and almost two weeks to go before the Oilers open the season Oct. 3 against the Calgary Flames, we’ve got Jason Gregor and Ryan Rishaug offering their takes on what the roster will look like.
As premature as their clairvoyance is, they’re a week late compared to Jonathan Willis, who laid everything out for Quinn and his coaching staff Sept. 17 after the Oilers had played two pre-season games. Two.
Given how cut-and-dried the decisions apparently are, I’m surprised Quinn didn’t waive the end of camp to focus on whipping the 2009-10 edition into shape by putting his final line combinations through their paces instead of wasting time keeping extra bodies around. Then again, no.
What’s the big hurry?
Getting it right
I’m not necessarily taking issue with the guesstimates offered up by Willis, Rishaug and Gregor because most of the names they’ve tossed out for the 23-man roster are safe picks based on common sense, experience and, maybe most importantly, contracts.
That said, given that media types have been among the first to piss and moan in the past when it was perceived Craig MacTavish and his staff had their team pretty much picked regardless of what transpired at camp and in pre-season, I want to see this clean slate concept through. I want to see the process of picking the team play out.
I want to take all eight pre-season games, and maybe as many as nine games during the regular season, to see if Jordan Eberle deserves a roster spot — burning a year of his contract or making tough calls on veterans like Fernando Pisani and Robert Nilsson be damned.
I want to know where Mike Comrie fits. It’s obvious he’ll make the team. It’s not so obvious, at least to me, where he’ll fit, although alongside Patrick O’Sullivan seems a good guess right now. Let’s take three more games and the days we have at hand to find out, shall we?
I want to see if Rob Schremp can show enough to stick around before he hits the waiver wire and gets claimed. I want a full look, even if I suspect it’s the last look.
You, no doubt, have put together your own line-up already. At least you’ve got an idea of how it’s shaping up. If you’re like me, though, there’s still a handful of personnel decisions up in the air.
Gilbert Brule or Marc Pouliot? Dustin Penner with Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky? Can Quinn keep Zack Stortini, JF Jacques and Steve MacIntyre? That’s what the next three games are for. It’s the process.
Seeing it through
The only thing I want as much as seeing the process played out is for Quinn and his staff to pick the best team based, within reason, on what they’ve seen — not on contracts or waivers. The “within reason” caveat applies to Hemsky. Let’s face it, he hasn’t done much.
If Eberle shows he’s ready to play (against real NHLers), like Sam Gagner did a couple of camps ago, then he stays. Same with Schremp. Same with whoever is rattling around in Quinn’s head right now.
Even with eight more assignments today to bring the roster to 34, the tough calls, the decisions that will really shape the team, have yet to be made.
Those decisions, it says here, will take three more games and several more days to assess who has done what and where they fit — if Quinn is really serious about filling that clean slate of his and getting it right. I trust that’s the case, regardless of the me-first contingent.
The other way, as we’ve seen time and again, doesn’t work so well.
— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on Team 1260.