The Oilers finally hit the ice for 2010 training camp, and while no one needed a puke bucket, some of them might have had a headache from all the chalkboard time. Tom Renney spent a lot of time teaching on the whiteboard this morning.

TEAM A hit the ice first at 8:15, and were greeted by at least 700 rabid fans who wanted to see Taylor, Jordan and Magnus first hand. Well they will have to wait, as none of the big three were on for the first session, instead they got to see a lighter Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner. I don’t think it is a coincidence that Hall and Eberle will be in the third session, because the fans that came will wait until Hall and Eberle hit the ice around noon.

Team A consisted of,

Dubnyk (40) and Pitton (50)
Whitney (6)/Petry (58)
Strudwick (43)/Blain (61)
Davidson (60)/Bendfeld (55)/Ehrhardt (75)
Penner (27)/Gagner (89)/Hemsky (83)
Schaber (74)/Pitlick (68)/ Ondrus (25)
Hartikainen (56)/Reddox (85)/Stortini (46)
Cornet (51)/Kytnar (64)/Abney (53)
Hemsky is ten pounds lighter –he didn’t lose it on purpose, it occured due to his lengthy off-season training– while Gagner purposely shed seven pounds.  Don’t fret about Hemsky’s weight loss, he says he didn’t lose any strength over the summer and says he feels better than he has in three years. Gagner is down to 194 pounds, and after three years of hearing how he needed to get bigger and stronger, he elected to go drop some weight with the belief he’ll be quicker on the ice.
"I don’t think my game will suffer from being lighter. I’m not a guy who does a lot of crashing and banging, and I think being quicker on the rush and hopefully faster through the neutral zone will benefit my game,"said Gagner when I spoke with him at Perry Pearn’s 3-on-3 camp.
It was hard to tell during line rushes, half-ice three-on-twos or in any of the other drills if Gagner is indeed quicker, but he did look a quicker first step. We won’t really know until we see him in some pre-season action, but if his VO2 test is any indication he should be faster. Gagner registered 56.8, his best result in four training camps, and is positive he’s never been stronger or in better shape. 
Fans who came to Rexall expecting to see if Gagner/Hemsky/Penner have some chemistry were grossly disappointed. Renney spent a lot time at the chalkboard, unfortunately we couldn’t hear what he was saying, but Renney lived up to his promise of ensuring his team will understand exactly what style he wants to play. He will be part coach and part teacher during camp and is determined that his players know exactly what is expected of them.
"I don’t like to leave people guessing, I know I don’t enjoy that too much myself, as much as a lot of coaches do that to motivate, inspire, scare or whatever it is to get the players to perform. I seem to work from the other point of view, where it is better to know what is expected of you than to guess what that might be. I want to help nurture the player through the process," said Renney.
After a two-hour session, that included a flood at the midway point, Team A left the ice and headed to the weight room for a quick lift in the gym. I can’t say anyone stood out in my eyes, since line rushes and two-on-ones aren’t the best situation to evaluate, although Penner did bury a goals on some line rushes. 
Penner looks like he slimmed down over the summer. Last year he played the most minutes of his career, and he hit the wall in January, before rebounding after the Olympic break. Penner spent this summer training like he would play 20 minutes a night, so he shouldn’t hit the "fatigue" wall midway through this season.
I’ll update more after Team B gets off the ice. I’m curious to see if I can tell who is faster between Paajarvi and Cogliano when they line up with Gilbert Brule. The crowd continues to grow and I won’t be surprised to see more than 1000 fans in the building by the time Hall the rest of Team C get on the ice.


When Team B stepped off the ice, you could tell it was a tough first day of camp. Two hours of skating, line rushes and lots of focus on neutral zone play had the players fatigued. The fans weren’t tired though, they gave Team B a loud round of applause as they left the ice. Team C, and Hall came on at 12:15 and the kid many have been waiting to see stepped on Rexall ice for the first time in an Oiler practice jersey. It was interesting to see the excitement on the faces of the fans; young, old, male or female. Hall has every fan in the Oilersnation excited about the potential that he can bring.

Every shot and stride he took was closely monitored by the crowd and it will only intensify as the regular season approaches. He will show glimpses of his great acceleration and quickness, but today wasn’t a day where fans could grasp the depth of his skill.

It is only one day, but Linus Omark looked pretty good. Everything he shot seemed to go in, and it was funny to see how often he was deking the goalies. That is a bit of a no-no in camp, but Shawn Horcoff thought it was quite comical. "I wish Rollie or Tommy Salo had been out there today. They would have been pretty frustrated. Omark has some great skill, and he his attitude was refreshing. He likes to have fun on the ice," said Horcoff. It is only drills of course, but the kid can finish. Looking forward to seeing him in a game. I’d love for him to shine and make it a real competition v. Eberle and Paajarvi for a roster spot.


It was clear from the minute he stepped on the ice this morning that Renney was committed to having his players understand his system. There wasn’t any scrimmaging on day one, instead there was a lot of focus on neutral zone play and forechecking.

"Tom likes to get right into fundamentals, which is good. I know last year we were kind of scrammbly a little on what we were doing. This (practice) is more structured and organized and will be good for us. He is a really detailed coach. He is going to drill us with neutral zone and forecheck assignments; that is what we talked about a lot today. He’ll do it everyday I think until every forward and every defenceman gets it, so we aren’t scrammbling like we were last year." 
Tom Gilbert on Renney’s approach today.

"I think it was great for us. I think everyone is so excited and wants to get into it (scrimmaging) right away, but I think you really need to just break it down and simplify things just like Tom did. He explained it in great detail for us, so we should be able to pick it up quickly." — Gilbert Brule on Renney.

I also asked Brule what Renney focused on specifically for the forwards.

"Definitely our neutral zone forecheck, especially on the D to D passes.  We want to have a change with our first guy, and an exchange with our second guy if the D to D keeps coming, and not just play man-on-man and staying in a wedge in the neutral zone."

Ryan Whitney liked Renney’s strategy on the ice this morning.

"The way we want to play this year is uptempo hockey. When you think about it, there is no need to be scrimmaging and trying to kill each other out there. Now we can be learning the new stuff and kind of learning the new coach’s tendancies."

Whitney on what the expectations will be from a D-man’s perspective in Renney’s uptempo system.

"I think just getting up in the play. You are looking to get the puck out of your zone as quick as you can, whether that is skating it or moving it, and once that happens just continue up. We aren’t going to sit behind. We are going to get a fourth guy involved and basically be a team that is hard to play against because of our speed. We definitely have a lot of that up front, and that’s what the new NHL is all about; Having speed to back off defenceman and create chances that way."


"It was a lot of fun, maybe a bit nervous to start it off for the first five minutes, but after that I got settled in and realized it was just another practice and you have to just work at becoming a better player."

Hall broke a pane of glass in his first practice and joked about it afterwards. "I didn’t know I had that kind of shot in me, maybe all those beach workouts I’ve been doing all summer (laughs)…but it was definitely a fun practice and a fun day."

The players are like sponges right now. They believe in the system and since they haven’t lost a game yet, they have lots of faith in Renney’s new approach. We will see what happens when the real bullets fly, but it is clear that the players like Renney’s dedication to detail. It sounds like tomorrow will be another teaching day, and there might not be any scrimmaging until Monday or possibly Tuesday.


An overview of the first day.

"They worked hard at it today. We tried hard to make sure it was simple, and it was something they could get their head around. Ultimately as a coach ,when it comes to drills, there is a point in time where you hand it over to the player and it is their responsibility to make sure the execution is there. I thought for a first look today, with all three groups and the technical components of the game they did a real good job."

His first impression of Omark?

"I’m not sure he shoots the puck, but he dekes the hell out of it. He has great hands and is very, very quick and has some explosiveness to his game. First time I’ve seen him live, and he is going to make it very interesting, and I like his battle level. He is a case in point to the interpretation of what I’m giving the players might be lost a little bit in translation, because he was the first forechecker on just about every drill and that wasn’t necessarily his need, but we like him."

When does he start thinking about his goaltending situation? Any chance he will carry three goalies?

"I’d be hardpressed to understand why we would carry three. It’s not a comfortable situation for anyone to be in, first and foremost them. I’ll allow the process to dictate what happens here, and make some decisions based on who emerges and it might be one of those cases where we have to do that for a bit, but my objective is to get to two as quickly as we can, but respecting the process too."

 Are you more of a teacher than coach right now?

"Probably more on a six or seven side in terms of teaching I guess, and as a coaching staff we should all be prepared to do that. We dont’ want any grey area when we are dropping the puck for two points and that’s really important to us. Any system of play will protect you if everyone plays it, even a bad system will work if everybody plays it. We are hoping, obviously, that we have nailed the right system for our team, and we’ll continue to drive it home. We will probably teach more than you would in years with a veteran team."

  • Quicksilver ballet

    What is in that kid’s mouth? I am so excited for this season. I don’t care if they win a game all I want to see is this team work hard. That was what was so terrible about last year. A group of guys being paid a ton of money to not compete.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I think he is puking…Might be photoshopped, but based on Gregor’s opening line of a puke bucket I’m guessing the kid is tossing his cookies.

    I love how Renney guarantees his player understand what he wants to do. I don’t want to bash Quinn, cause I loved his post game comments, but I sense Renney is a better fit to teach the young guys. Great stuff again Gregor.

  • BArmstrong

    The Brule/Cogliano/Paajarvi Line will flat out fly. Can’t wait to see it in game action next week.

    As far as Hemsky losing 10 pounds and not losing strength… I’ll believe it when I see it. It’s not like he had Brownlee weight to lose:)

    OilerPunch – I agree. Nothing worse than post-game interviews of guys with no pride and the same old excuses. I wanna see guys competing hard, and PO’d when coming up short.

    I’m so nervous for the beginning of the season, that I could puke – course I’m sure the kid in the picture just ate too much cotton candy or something.

    • Jason Gregor

      You did see him, just not very long and you saw a “rehabbing” Jacques. They wouldn’t give many details, but said they are taking it easy due to his back.

      It makes you wonder if he will ever be healthy. He has had consistent back problems for years, and considering the only way he can stay in the league is to play physical, I wonder if he’ll ever be able to stay healthy. You hope so for his sake but the odds seem against him.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        I just assumed with him missing most of last year and having the summer to rehab he would be 100% by now. 6’2″, 200lbs and full of piss n vinegar is tragic if he can no longer play the game he loves, he looked like there was something missing this morning, now we know why.

  • book¡e

    I think they are just happy to have a system of some sort. Last year they had nothing. And for the previous two years I think MacT’s systems were only clear to MacT. There were a lot of players who indicated that they didn’t know what they were supposed to be doing ‘out there’.

    If Renney gives them a system, teaches them it, and keeps it somewhat consistent and is consistant in rewarding/punishing risk taking then I think this team will benefit greatly.

  • Skidrow Gutterbum

    I was at RX1 for all 3 sessions and the players that were pleasant surprises from my perspective were Reddox in the first session(really put in a lot of extra effort), MacIntyre in the 2nd(for an enforcer his shot & playmaking seemed improved)and Linus Omark really stood out playing with Fraser and Jones in the 3rd.

    • Jason Gregor

      Roy looked okay. Not a great day to evaluate goalies, since they only took shots on line rushes. He was better than his counterpart in group C, Gerber. Gerber got lit up way more often than Roy.

  • Omark was really impressive, you couldn’t keep your eyes off him. I wanted to watch Hall and Eberle, but Omark was really into it. He was finishing checks, first into the play, and just had this way about him… you knew he wanted to compete for a spot on the team. His puck handling was great, but it was everything else he did that put it over the top for me. Only the first day of course, but I can’t wait to see him in a game. I hope his effort continues.

    • Jason Gregor

      Might not trim it right away, but the team plays Wed in Van and Thursday at home. Renney might play a few guys with no chance in Joey Moss Cup just to save some guys for preseason.

      You can bet Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi and Omark will all play in Joey Moss Cup.

    • fuck off

      For those of us who went to TC Day 1; if you picked up the pamphlet the door folks were handing out, inside of it indicates where the first cuts will be made. Which should be Thursday Sept 22nd. Reason being that Friday the 23rd the ice times are dropped from 3 groups down to 2. The JMC will not have all 3 groups playing as there is an earlier ice time for “Team D”. My guess is that “Team D” will be those who are band aid cases as well as “soon to be cut”. Sept 29th will be the second set of cuts seeing how on Sept 30th and beyound there is only 1 on ice session.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    If Omark is the real deal like he seems to be(hopefully i can see what he’s about tomorrow when i go see TC in the park), I wonder if he could uproot Ryan Jones for a spot on the team seein as how we already have the likes of Sortini and big Mac to play the role of bruiser/fighter

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    I like the way Renney answered the questions. I felt like he was passionate and clear, something I didn’t always get from Quinn. It seemed like Pat would run off on tangents instead of comming up with answers. Excited to see if his message takes with the kids and veterans alike.

  • Wow, this is all so exciting. There is NO WAY this season can be disappointing.

    As a side note, anyone else hear Partick LaForge say “ballsy” on the Nielson and Chase show yesterday… I did.

  • Jason Gregor

    Good assessment Gregor! I missed the first session but caught most of the last two.

    I was definitly impressed with the skating and stride of Magnus. Him and Cogs doing short bursts was interesting to watch them both wheel!!

    Also Omark! Wow he has hand for sure. Hard not to notice him even if i wasnt looking for him.

    I kinda chuckled when Hall broke the pain of glass. He quickly told buchy and he just waved it off. haha.

    Gotta say im definitly starting to see a place for Horcoff to step in an teach Hall and Jordan how to be proffessionals.

    Curious Gregor, any chance a couple of the rookies are billeting with any of the veterans.

    I think that would be key in keeping these boys out of trouble and have some positive guidance. (ie: Gags, Cogs and Gilbert leaving together couldnt have been too positive. Young, popular, rich hockey players (kids) to have no guidance off the ice is a recipe for alot of parties. No?)
    Mario did it with Crosby. Doug Weight recently talked about having Tavares stay with him and his family. Hope the management keeps this in mind.

    • Jason Gregor

      They want talk about billets until the final roster is set. It seems unlikely that Hall will go back to the OHL, but they can’t just hand him a spot without seeing him play.

      And the only viable options for billets would be Horcoff and Strudwick right now. None of the other vets have been here long enough, or are that much more experienced. We will see how it plays out, but it is something they could look at.

        • Hmmm im not sure he would be the guy. Ive heard alot of the younger players single or not tend to indulge in the fun times a little too much. Im not saying Hemsky’s that guy.

          I was thinking players that can provide a Eberle or Hall with a stable family setting. I think Struds and Horcoff are good examples for sure. Good character and organization guys that can also pump them full of Oiler pride.

          Id even suggest Lowe, Tambellini or Katz.

          • Jamie B.

            I can’t remember who it was now, but didn’t Hemsky live with a member of the EIG his first year or two here?

            The headline says “UPDATED..RENNEY REACTS AFTER DAY TWO.” I’m not seeing that … ?

  • fuck off

    Instead of breaking down everyone and everything, I will only mention things that stood out to me on a more positive note.

    My take on today was…….

    OMARK…amazing ability with the puck. 80% of all his shots on net go in. I don’t believe he is just a youtube sensation with his shot, this boy has got game. (I know in competition it can be different) His speed was great and was able to pick up passes from almost anywhere. Had really good chemistry with Hall on specific drill set on breakouts. Looking forward to seeing what he is able to do in the next days.

    PAAJARVI….amazing speed even out there with Cogs and Brule. Shows a keen sense of awareness on the ice from any position with his passing. Will be interesting to see how he does moving forward in the next couple days with these two.

    PETRY….nice to see him out there and not injured. Shows great puck movement and latteral skating with the puck is exceptional as well as breakout passing was usually dead on.

    PITLICK…showed well beside some of the vets in the drills and looked like he belonged. Picked up the drills quickly and seemed to execute them well.

    GERBER….looked exceptional early on. Quick reflexes, and good positioning most the time. Looks to be de3finately wanting to fight for a job with big club. (unlike JG I did not think he did that bad at the start, he faced the better forwards and Roy did not look great and faced guys who will not start here in edmonton)

    HALL…picked up well on drills quickly and executed them well on most occasions. His speed definately looks good out there. Chemistry with Omark on one set of drills was awesome. Mostly looks to be trying hard to learn the system and drills. Can tell he is thinking the game.

    PENNER…looked alot quicker out there then past training camp. Should know more in next couple days. Passing ability and awareness of places to pass around him looked good. definately looks like he has trimmed down some more again this year.

    thanks for the topic JG….you do a great job.

  • Jason Gregor

    I wonder if it would make sense for one of Omark or Alex Giroux to make the team as the extra forward spot that may have gone to JFJ.

    And on that note, to spell off Paajarvi every few games as he only played 50 games last year, he probably will get worn out by the number of games and the travel.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    Cory Schneider is now friends with Tanner Glass and 2 other people.

    2 hours ago

    Haha, aw. He’s making friends at training camp.

    Sucks that I have to stop cheering for him now that he’s a Canuck.