THIS JUST IN: BURNS AND THE OILERS NOT DEAD YET

MONTREAL- NOVEMBER 22:   Former Canadiens head coach Pat Burns spekas during the Patrick Roy retirement ceremony before the game against the Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre on November 22, 2008 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Bruins defeated the Canadiens 3-2 in a shootout.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

I was set to make my season predictions for the Edmonton Oilers today (not really), but in the spirit of not burying Pat Burns until he’s stopped breathing, I’ll hold off and ask a question: What’s the hurry?

It’s amazing to me that, at a time when information is at our fingertips almost immediately because of technology and social media, we can get the story wrong so often because the rush to get it first sometimes trumps getting it right — or is first seen as the same thing, these days?

Whatever. All I know is the Oilers have yet to take the ice for the first day of their 2010 training camp and we’ve already got predictions out there about where they’re going to finish in NHL standings this season. Same for other teams.

Not a single drill has been done, not a scrimmage, let alone pre-season game, has been played, but publications and websites, both major and insignificant, would have fans believe they have the Oilers pegged.

It’s Sept. 17, for crying out loud. Do predictions now even constitute an educated guess?

LATER…

It doesn’t matter to me if somebody wants to pick the Oilers first or 15th in the Western Conference, but something about prognosticating how they — or any other team — will do and where they’ll finish before the first on-ice day of camp strikes me as premature speculation.

I get it that it’s possible to look at the camp rosters of teams and figure out, at least roughly, who is likely to make the team based on past performance and contracts. Even for rebuilding teams in transition, like the Oilers. Many are fairly set. Some, not so much.

Cross off the guys who haven’t been re-signed or have been traded and add in rookies Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle along with acquisitions through free agency and trades. Duh.

But how do the new pieces fit together? How much will the departed players be missed? Where on the development curve are key players? Are they ascending or on the decline? Who will they play with? I haven’t seen a set forward line from Tom Renney yet, have you?

I’ve got a lot of hunches about the Oilers, but just as many questions. Same thing for the other 29 teams in the NHL. Those questions start to get answered tomorrow at Rexall Place.

STILL BREATHING

If it’s all the same, I think I’ll wait until Renney throws some lines and defence pairings out against hostile NHL competition, not wannabes, in pre-season before I draw many conclusions.

I want to see if Paajarvi’s stride and speed stands out in pre-season like it did during rookie camp in Penticton. I want to see Hall play against men. I want to get a read on who Sam Gagner, Gilbert Brule and Shawn Horcoff are likely to play with.

I’d like to get a peek at Ryan Whitney’s surgically repaired foot and see if a trimmed down Dustin Penner has picked up a step. I want to see what systems Renney puts in place now that he’s taken over from Pat Quinn. I want to get a feel, albeit preliminary, for team chemistry.

I know this is going to put me way behind the pack, but until I get some of all the above figured out in pre-season, I’m going to hold off on picking them 9th or 21st or 29th.

There’s 21 days and a full pre-season schedule before the puck drops for points against the Calgary Flames. Burns today is having a good laugh about being dead.

What’s the hurry?

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.