Fore!: Mind if we play through?

The Edmonton Oilers had golf and a little rest and relaxation planned for four-day break between games on this upcoming homestand, but coach Pat Quinn has decided the time would be better spent on the ice at a two-day mini-camp than studying putts on lush greens in California.

Nine losses in the last 10 games and a glance at the standings that shows the Oilers sitting 29th overall prompted Quinn to cancel a team golf junket to Palm Springs, like the one hosted by owner Daryl Katz last season, in favour of two days of toil at Rexall Place this weekend.

"There was a plan, and a good one by our management and ownership, to pay attention to some important people in this business," Quinn said.

"That’s our fans and our sponsors. And, then, also give the players a little bit of a break, which seemed pretty smart in August, but doesn’t feel, as a coach, very smart right now."

Whether Quinn made the call or it actually came from higher up by way of president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, GM Steve Tambellini or even Katz, it doesn’t matter. A getaway now would’ve gone over about as well as diarrhea at a pool party.

It’s the right move.

Entitle this…

Optics being what they are, now isn’t exactly the best time for the Oilers to take a break from the grind and trade their skates and sticks for spikes and drivers at some swank resort. "What did you have on that hole, Ethan?" Or, "Where’s the cart girl, I could use a cold one." You get the drift.

Quinn didn’t get into specifics about the cancelled team function when he met with reporters. He instead framed the four-day break as a good time to go back to work and sort some things out.

Given recent events, notably all of the bad press the Oilers got for their run-in with publicity-hungry Maurizio Terrigno, the owner of the Osteria de Medici restaurant in Cowtown, and the ongoing on-ice struggles that have the team sitting 29th in NHL standings, that’s not a bad idea.

What fans want, and have every right to expect after 42 games that have the Oilers sitting 15 points out of a playoff spot without any hope of getting back into contention, is a couple days of honest sweat in practice.

If players want to squeal about that, and my guess is they have and will, and Quinn has to wear the black hat, so be it. What, pray tell, could be the possible argument against putting in two days work to try and get things straightened out? Golf season, after all, will be here April 12, which is soon enough.

Say what?

It’s mind-boggling to me that it’s 42 games into the season and the Oilers, it seems, still haven’t grasped the systems Quinn and his coaching staff have been trying to implement since pre-season. At least, that’s my take based on what I saw and what Quinn said today.

The Oilers were on the ice for about 90 minutes at Rexall Place, and they spent almost as much time gathered around Quinn and Tom Renney, who diagrammed drills on a white board, as they did practising.

"I’m not copping out here, but we had one practice day before we played an exhibition game," Quinn said. "Never have I not had time to instil the basics. I had more time going to the Olympics than I did with this team.

"We’ve been working at bringing the system of play in… you saw us 15 minutes at the board at one time, asking questions we’ve been talking about for three months. You think, holy smoke, we’ve been working on this for three months? What have we missed here? We’re going to do some work."

— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

  • Hemmertime

    Good on Oilers pulling the plug on this useless junket. Team bonding and all the other excuses they use for these trips are moot at this point in time. None of these players should feel comfortable and hopefully they don't. And yesterday why couldn't Tambo have been on the Oiler's lunch instead of Klowe. It looks as though Lowe is still GM and Tambo is a front for him. Kind of like Castro and his brother in Cuba

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      Not often, but depending on what happens with the cap there could be a couple borderline superstars available this off-season.

        • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

          That's one guy in the last how long? That is why I said not often and usually because of outside issues. Pronger was another.

          Heatley doesn't get traded because Ottawa doesn't need him it's because he wanted out. Pronger was dealt because Ana had no room with Nidermayer coming back. Richards was dealt because Tampa had money problems.

          Not often is there a trade of a superstar just for the sake of trading one.

      • See the following Heatley, Danny (to Ottawa and San Jose); Pronger, Chris (to ANH and Philly; Richards, Brad (OK not really a superstar); Hossa, Marion (From OTT and ATL); Luongo, Roberto; Bouwmeester, Jay (his rights anyway); Thornton, Joe; Kessel, Phil (again not quite a superstar)

        This is just off the top of my head. I'm sure there are more.

        We have short memories don't we?

        Edit: it isn't supposed to be formatted like that but I lack the tech savvy to fix it

        • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

          So in 4 years you named 5 guys, so that would be not often then wouldn't it?

          Edit, actually 6 years if you include the Hossa deal. I don't consider Bouwmeester either as he was a UFA.

          • I'm not saying it happens every day. The comment I was responding to was the following:

            Why would someone trade a superstar? Does that really happen anymore?

            Obviously you don't have a revolving door of superstars but to say that it never happens anymore is just plain wrong.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            Are we looking for a borderline star or a star? We already have borderline stars in Hemsky, Penner, Souray, Visnovsky and possibly Gagner in a year.

            You can add Kovalchuk and Hall to this team, but if you don't fix the other issues that this team has had for 4 years or so, then there is little chance of going anywhere once it makes it to the playoffs.

          • I agree. My whole point through this entire argument has been that the Oilers might want that 5.5 million in cap space back before the end of Horc's contract to spend on other people.

            Then someone suggested that trades were out of the question. To which I disagreed. Their response was "NO Superstar will come here", which has nothing to do with needing cap space to spend on working parts.

          • Bucknuck

            You ae absolutely right. This team has a lot of nice shiny parts that if they could put all the pieces together could work quite well. Phoenix has no stars and they are doing just fine…. as are a number of other teams.

            How about:

            1) less small forwards – trade a couple.

            2) another faceoff specialist besides Horcoff.

            3) another shutdown defenseman to replace one of the Dmen we are going to lose in a trade.

            All of these would help the Oilers PK and help with puck posession. Two areas that the Oil defiitely need help with.

            These are not earth shattering movements, which is why I am feeling more than a little pissed at Tambellini for not addressing them. These aren't new problems; they have existed since Stoll, Greene, and Cole left.

            Fill the holes and I bet this team does a lot better.

            Damn you Tambo!

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            I pretty much said the same elsewhere, trade a Grebs/Gilbert, 2 of Nilsson/O'Sullivan/Cogliano and try add a Stoll, Greene and Torres(when he was good) type players and we are probably a playoff team.

            Granted even with that, missing Bulin and Hemsky for the remainder of the year still hurt us.

          • Bucknuck

            I think you're pretty smart then, OBJ. 🙂

            Losing your best forward and your starting goaltender (and Souray for a month) is going to hurt, but not enough to account for last place in the west.

            Am i the only guy worried about the impending three person goalie beast next season?

          • Dan the Man

            We get zero cap relief due to the fact that Khabibulin was over 35 when the contract was signed. If he remains on the LTIR instead of retiring however we would be able to exceed the cap by the amount of his salary.

          • But would there be any real reason why he would opt for retirement instead of staying on LTIR? Financially it is the same. Does he have to be examined by some league doctor who could say "he could play if he wanted to"?

          • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

            You can leave a player on LTIR if you don't have any space on your roster, I think. I'm not sure if there's a limit on how long you can do it, or if it would affect your eligibility to apply for the extra cap space. Usually teams want players back once they're healthy, so I don't think the issue comes up too often.

          • Dan the Man

            I don't think the player gets paid if he retires, regardless of age. He does get paid on LTIR though.
            The league could have a Dr examine him if they suspected something fishy.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            No because even if Bulin retires like Archaeologuy says in the next post, Dubnyk won't be in the NHL next year. What has he shown that would make any team take him?

          • Bucknuck

            His performance in the "A" has been exemplary and he is still a prospect with a lot of potential.

            I don't think the Oil will risk it which will result in the 3 headed monster. I cannot see Tambo doing anything about it since he hasn't done much about anything since he started.

          • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

            I would say that once or twice per year for movement of a superstar is actually pretty often. It's definitely often enough for Edmonton to try for one via trades.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            They have tried to trade for them, we heard about it with Heatley. How do we know they never tried with others?

            Few issues I have, we have tried to sign superstars, we tried to trade for them and have always come up short. Now all of sudden we are to think that it will happen so easily? Fact is most of the guys that will be on the block this year, probably aren't good options.

            Kovalchuk-Impending UFA that wants 10 years at 11mil. Give your head a shake if you think he will sign an extension in Edmonton.

            Briere/Gagne- NTC/NMC, high unlikely they waive to come here. Plus are either the answer for us?

            Rangers- Might be looking to move Drury, Redden or Rosival. Not superstars and neither is the answer.

            Chicago- Now here is a team that we can work with, but then again we aren't getting anyone that is better then what we have. Maybe a guy like Sharp to help support Penner and Hemsky?

            Washington- Would've been a possible option, but they cleared up quite a bit of space and may no longer need to move a star/superstar.

          • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

            A lot of the time superstar trades happen very abruptly, and it's often due to unforseen circumstances. Heatley ended up in Ottawa largely due to his car crash, for example. Obviously nobody can predict this sort of thing. Why would you give up trying just because the last 5 you've tried for didn't want to live in Edmonton?

            You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. I think some hockey player said that once.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            And while I'm not disagreeing with that it is time for management to do something else instead of just waiting to make that big splash. There is no reason we can't fix the holes we have and then add the superstar when he becomes available.

            You don't stop trying, but at the sametime you can't stop fixing the other areas that the team needs fixed.

          • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

            There we go. 100% agreement here. The acquisition of a superstar has to remain a goal, but gift baskets for Heatley was excessive when you consider the things they could have been doing while he was sunbathing at his cabin.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            I just have to add didn't we almost get Redden a few years back from Ottawa but he rejected the trade? Someone used their NTC that time, so it's not like managament doesn't try do things.

            Heatley and the other ottawa ones are only two we have heard about, how many others have there been?

          • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

            I know they try, and I'm definitely with you that some other (easy to fill) holes need to be patched before a superstar becomes #1 priority. I also think that Edmonton becomes a more attractive prospect for superstars when they see themselves as the last piece of the puzzle on an already winning team.

            As much as people complain about not having someone to play with Hemsky, I think snipers would be more than happy to come over and give it a go if we had a solid bottom 6 and could win a faceoff. They want to be a jewel in a crown (a la Heatley in SJ), not a jewel in a pile of garbage (a la Kovalchuk in ATL).

  • There was a comment on Team today a guy thinks WJHC is getting a bit irrelevant, just like the women's tourneys. A few teams have success and everyone else there are just warm bodies. I think it was a good point, what do you guys think?

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Ok, People,.. get over the idea that a trade is going to help the oil out…

    Who are the oil going to swindle a difference maker from, why would a difference maker be traded?, for what?!?.. C'mon…

    If anything a 2nd tier starter should be brought in to share the load w JDD.. other than that it is off loading, with perhaps the chance of a mutual salary dump/exchange of expiring, next to worthless, garbage…

    They (Management) had all summer and f**k*d off..
    Filling out the roster with 'serviceable vets' will have to wait…

    • the convo didnt start off by talking about how a trade is about to come and will make the Oil better, it started by simply stating that the Oil have and probably will continue to use the trade route to acquire players of all sorts, and eventually there will be a need to unload certain players who arent performing to contract standards. That is all.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      I'm sure their will be a couple decent players that are young enough to help us now (meaning next year) and down the road that will be available this year.

      Hawks have to move someone, hopefully Sharp but Buff or Barker would be nice additions too.

      Flyers usually aren't that patient and theirs been lots of complaining about Carters play/work ethic, I could see Hartnell in play as well if the miss the PO.

        • Bucknuck

          I am not banking on any of them, in truth. Even Hall (if we got him) is still a prospect. But it's good to have a few pans in the fire.

          I can't remember the last time we had a good bank of up and comers in the system. We had a good one in Gagner, and it's been Schremp, Schremp, Schremp since he was drafted (man am I ever glad he is gone), and prior to that the last guy I remember getting excited about was Hemsky.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    As a born again, WT doesn't understand the media today. Why would anyone include a caption of "WTF". What is everyone to tell their little ones that read about their favorite team???