Edmonton Oilers president Patrick LaForge and the people overseeing the hire of a replacement for Rod Phillips must have a helluva candidate in mind — perhaps one I don’t know about — because they’ve let Dennis Beyak slip out of the mix of people looking to step into some big shoes.
Beyak, the most experienced and accomplished NHL play-by-play man in contention for the job, wanted an answer from the team Wednesday. The Oilers weren’t ready to give it to him, so Beyak has pulled himself out of the running.
"I needed an answer and they weren’t prepared to give it to me," Beyak told me this morning. "Whether I would have got the job, I don’t know, but they weren’t prepared to give me an answer, so I made the decision."
Beyak is under contract to call Toronto Maple Leafs games with AM640 in Hogtown, a gig he’s had since 1998. The station gave him permission to explore employment with the Oilers.
With training camp fast approaching and Beyak having family matters and the possibility of a move from Toronto to Edmonton — he’s at his summer home in Kelowna right now — to take into consideration, he set Wednesday as his own deadline.
Apparently the Oilers have other options attractive enough to them — my best guess remains Regan Bartel and John Bartlett — that they couldn’t or wouldn’t commit to Beyak.
This had better be good . . .
NO JOB FOR OLD MEN
For my money, the 50-Something Beyak, who aside from his time in the radio booth understands the game as well as anybody (he was GM of the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds and Tri-City Americans), was the best combination of on-air presence and real hockey experience. The man can flat-out call a game.
I’m guessing Beyak’s age worked against him and caused LaForge and the rest of the people calling the shots on this one some concern with a fresh start, and presumably a fresh face, being a consideration in the effort to get it right after Phillips’ 37-year tenure. A guy in his late-50s like Beyak might not sell in that regard.
So, assuming my grasp of the process is better than tenuous, the Oilers are either putting their eggs in the Bartel-Bartlett basket or they’ve got somebody in mind I’m missing.
And, please, resist the urge to mention Steve Kouleas again because, frankly, he wouldn’t make my top-10 list despite the following he seems to have in some corners out there. How many games — at any level — has Kouleas called? Am I missing something here?
SO FAR . . .
— Bob Stauffer, who will be back as analyst for a third season, didn’t get the job because the Oilers apparently believe he is more valuable in his current position and staying put will allow him to better grow his Oilers Lunch show on TEAM 1260.
Stauffer is definitely an asset as the analyst, but I don’t buy the line of thinking the latter is true because if you know anything about the day-to-day routine of the radio guys, you’d know it takes more time to do game prep as the analyst. Doing play-by-play would actually free him up to work on the call-in show.
I’m also of the mind the Oilers had a very good tandem in-house. All they had to do was bump Stauffer to play-by-play and bring in Kevin Karius as the analyst. This is about the 10th time I’ve said that, and I’m not going to stop until the Oilers new hire proves to be a better fit with Stauffer.
— Ryan Rishaug of TSN took a better run at the job than most people, including me, thought we could or would. Lack of play-by-play experience was the difference. That said, Rishaug’s got some gas and, after listening to his limited work calling games, timing, not talent and potential, was the difference.
– Now, Beyak’s pulled the pin.
If I had to choose, and I don’t, between Bartel and Bartlett, I’d go with the latter. Bartel, who does the call of the Kelowna Rockets, is a talented guy, but he wears on me. He’s a bit too gimmicky in his calls — "Deeeeeeeeeeeeflection!!" — for my liking. Bartlett, who does the Toronto Marlies, amps it up at the right time without sounding like he’s shot full of Red Bull.
UPDATE: WILLS WANTS TO KNOW
I got a text message from Derek Wills this afternoon telling me he’s been following what I’ve been writing — presumably about the play-by-play situation. Wills, the play-by-play man for the Hamilton Bulldogs, asked me where I’m getting my information. You might recall Wills was mentioned by one of our readers in another item — the guy who posted under three different names — as somebody the Oilers should be looking at. I replied he wasn’t in the mix.
So, is Wills on the short list? Was his intention to set me straight? Does he know something I don’t? Is he the candidate I don’t know about? Or, is Wills just somebody interested in the process? I’m not sure. I suggested that if there’s something I’m missing or any information he wants to pass along, to have at it. That’s where it sits.
AND . . .
— I appreciated the breakdown of the Oilogosphere reporter David Staples did at The Cult of Hockey over at The Journal this week (even if he used that goofy picture of me mugging at the draft in Los Angeles). He had some kind words for Oilersnation.
One thing I’d like to see from Staples, who listed the top 30 or so Oiler blogs in no particular order, is a breakdown of the top 10 blogs based on traffic — page views, hits or whatever these things are measured in. I’d like to see how Oilersnation fares in terms of mass appeal. I’m guessing we’d be at or near the top.
— You can poke fun at Sportsnet’s Gene Principe all you want for being a fartcatcher as the host of Oilers broadcasts (it comes with the gig), but he’s one of the good guys in this business. The first time I hear Principe say something bad about another guy in this business, I’ll fall down dead.
I’m looking forward to sitting in with him again today as co-host on Jason Gregor’s show.
— In the self-promotion category, it looks like I’ll be doing more writing here at Oilersnation, starting in September, despite the misgivings, I’m sure, of some readers.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.