DEEP THOUGHTS XIX UPDATED: PONDERING THE WIRELESS

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 . . .

Let’s review:

— 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.

Stay tuned.

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.

  • I was just thinking the other day that this decision needs to come pretty quick. Most of the guys already have jobs I would assume, so they would need replacements. I don’t know how hard it is to replace a WHL PBP guy, but I would imagine it is just as competitive a position to apply for. Who would replace Bartlett for the Marlie’s? It is putting a couple of organizations in a tough spot until the decision is made.

    While Brownlee commented that Bartel might be a a bit “gimmicky” I think that all of the candidates have their own schitck. Their own signature on their style. The toughest thing for whoever gets the job is the fact they are replacing a hall of famer.

    I haven’t listened to Bartlett or Bartel much, but I just like the way Bartel’s voice sounds over Bartlett’s.

  • oilerdiehard

    I know they are trying to get it right. But it seems like the decision on the new PBP guy is really dragging on.

    I mean liked Beyak (he and Bartlett are my top personal choices) so it was a little disappointing he had to pull out. But who can blame him if he has kids (I am just guessing when you mention his family matters above). Hey Dad where are we going to school in a week or two, eastern or western Canada? All you can is I do not know yet guys. I am sure some of the other candidates are in the same boat. It is not long until the pre-season starts too and they have to start calling games and traveling with the team.

    It keeps sounding like a decision is close to coming down and then nothing has happened a couple of times. I was hoping it might finally happen today. I guess we will see if that happens or not.

  • Ender

    @ blue31

    While I don’t necessarily share your viewpoint, you have argued your point and defended it well. Perhaps everyone else who doesn’t agree should leave you with your opinion as entitled and just let it lie now.

  • Crackenbury

    Fun discussion. I see from re-reading all the posts, my original one did not make it clear that I was (sort of) responding to this post by Gregor yesterday:

    “I make the decisions on who hosts my show. Why do you ask?” – Jason Gregor

    And also, my comments comparing Gregor to a 12-year-old girl were uncalled for. The rest I stand by.

    For the record, I did send an e-mail to Gregor (before posting here) yesterday with my thoughts. I welcome a response from him, even if it’s just to tell me to F.O.

    Cheers, folks.

  • Ender

    First off, I like Gregor’s show. I was one of the people who wasn’t too happy about Bob leaving the 3:00 slot and I said so on here and Gregor replied to me by saying give him a week of listening and make my mind up by then. Well I did, and I am now a convert.

    Heck, I didn’t like Will and Corey’s show late at night but happened to be listening one night driving home from somewhere and I had my wife in the truck and we were both thoroughly entertained and had a few good laughs. The conversation wasn’t even about sports is was around Christmas gift giving to the in-laws. Ever since then I have steadily been impressed with Will and Corey and it looks like these guys are moving up the chain like they deserve.

    Basically like others have said, including Gregor to me, you need to give a listen more than 5 minutes to have a true opinion.

    And to the 49 year old who thinks Gregor is a teeny bopper, give me a break. Gregor is around the same age as me I think (I’m 36) and he definitely uses some younger lingo here and there but if you listen to him interview anybody he has some of the most in depth, well thought out questions that I have ever heard. In fact, most interviewees usually end teh call by giving kudos to Gregor for his great questions.

    Lastly, in regards to fill in’s I have no complaints other than the guy (i’m sorry I forgot his name) that filled in for a day or two before Principe. My major issue with him was that he seemed nervous or not confident enough (he’s a TV guy so he should have the balls) but I could hardly hear him on my radio and it was kinda painful listening to him.

    Other than that, and as mentioned before, I quite like the Team and am looking forward to them continuing to get better and better.

    Have a good weekend everyone. It’s my B-day this Sunday so I’m gonna get royally crunked up tonight and will be dieing on my couch for the rest of the weekend nursing my hangover. Ouch in advance! haha

  • Ender

    Would Bob Stauffer give up his “Oilers Lunch” show if he was offered the Play by Play position with the Oilers? Would that satisfy 630 ched radio, “the Oilers rights holder”. Or have the people at 630 ched eliminated him totally from the mix based on his longtime association with 1260 The Team? To me a tandem of Bob Stauffer and Keven Karius would make the most logical sense in terms of onair personality and experience. My opinion is that the Oilers are putting on blinders.I think that they need to revisit the Stauffer/ Karius scenario right now. There is a tendancy in Edmonton to undervalue people who live and work here. And overvalue people who come from Toronto or other big markets. Bob Stauffer is a proven talent. So is Karius. The Oilers are making this too complicated. They need to revert to the “KISS” method. Keep It Simple Stupid”. The quicker they realize thier mistake regarding Bob Stauffer and Kevin Karius the better off we all will be this season.Just my opinion.

      • Could you clarify for me why 630 ched has no say in who is hired for thier station. How does that work? They paid for the rights to broadcast the games. Do they not then have a say in who the onair personalities are? I would think that there is a clause somewhere in thier contract witht he Oilers that states that they would have the right to say who who does the play by play. Perhaps Brownlee could clarify this us. Do they? Or do they not have the right to have a say in who will be next radio play by play man or woman?