It’s been suggested by some people the Edmonton Oilers rebuilding plans would be best served by returning Taylor Hall to Windsor and Magnus Paajarvi to Sweden regardless of whether they earn a roster spot outright based on their play during pre-season.

The argument is playing Hall and Paajarvi now burns a year of their entry level contracts during a season in which the Oilers won’t contend. The team would be better off long-term, the logic goes, to wait and have the first year of their three-year entry level deals kick in for 2011-12.

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I asked GM Steve Tambellini about that this morning. His answer wasn’t exactly thorough and didn’t really address the crux of the question, but here’s what he said:

"I think every situation is different," he said. "If players like what you’ve seen are playing against NHL players and are comfortable and confident and you think that, maybe there are a few holes that need to be worked on but you can live with that, that’s a different situation.

"You never want to put a player in the NHL when he’s not physically, mentally or skill-set ready. That’s up to them to show that they’re ready to be counted on, on a nightly basis, for Tom Renney and his staff. You have to really treat each situation on its own. Right now, they’ve all looked pretty comfortable."

I get the long-term argument, but after four straight seasons out of the playoffs, telling Hall and Paajarvi to wait a year as part of the big picture might be a tough sell for the majority of fans. They just want something to cheer about, and who can blame them?

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The other issue for me, and I don’t think it’s insignificant, is the message a demotion sends to not only Hall and Paajarvi, but to the rest of the players in the organization. If performance doesn’t matter, what does?

If Hall and Paajarvi are ready, turn them loose


I’ve painted a fence or two. It doesn’t make me a painter. I put out a grease fire in my kitchen once. That doesn’t make me a fireman. I was a little amused, then, to see I’d joined the ranks of Oilers fartcatchers, at least according to a Monday Tweet from Milhouse The Radio Man, after pitching decidedly underhand in a cushy Q&A with Tambellini as part of a season preview for

Milhouse, taking time out from letting followers know what he had for dinner, where he chowed down and when he crapped out the grub (apparently, it didn’t stink), tweeted:

"This is bookmarked for the next time RB calls anyone a fartcatcher or anything of the sort. Not exactly high heat"

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I’ve taken swipes at people — as Jason Gregor, Rob Tychkowski, Ryan Rishaug, Jim Matheson and Bob Stauffer reminded me at the rink this morning — so I’ve got to expect to get a little back now and then. Sounds fair to me. High heat? No. Still, I don’t think my one-off, toothless little Q&A earns me membership in the Fraternity of Fartcatchers and Housemen with Milhouse.

Maybe a guest pass for the weekend, but not a full-ride.


If Milhouse wants "high heat," specifically where Tambellini is concerned, he might want to take a look through Oilersnation archives from this past off-season. Here’s one example of a little gas, from June 22, with my take on how Tambellini handled the sacking of coach Pat Quinn:

"If Steve Tambellini was a member of the bomb squad with the Edmonton Police Service instead of the GM of the Edmonton Oilers, he’d be nothing more than smoking shreds of DNA by now.

"While Boston GM Peter Chiarelli was busy convincing Florida boss Dale Tallon to drop his trousers in the Nathan Horton trade, Tambellini was no doubt preparing his dissertation to the media after deciding he’d seen enough of Pat Quinn as his coach.

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"That little ditty — Tambellini’s pitch that Quinn saw the bullet coming because handing Tom Renney the job was always in the plans and had been discussed — blew up in Tambellini’s face like a satchel of C4 once Quinn later had his say on a conference call with reporters.

"By afternoon, it became pretty obvious Tambellini and Quinn weren’t on the same page at all. That’s no surprise. Neither, given recent history, is that Tambellini fumbled handling the announcement, given he long ago blew off most of his fingers. All thumbs he is."

I’m thinking the above item alone likely scotches my chances at the gold-plated FOFAH card Milhouse is packing. I need not kneel at Tambellini’s feet, or behind him, for my livelihood.


I remember wondering back on Sept. 7 if Stauffer was on to something when he suggested the Oilers top three lines would see Paajarvi playing with Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky, Hall with Shawn Horcoff and Jordan Eberle and Dustin Penner with Andrew Cogliano and Gilbert Brule.

Stauffer strongly suggested back then we’d see these lines and it looks like he did take a peek at coach Renney’s white board. How many people since, especially lately, are tossing out the possibility of the same lines now like it’s an original thought?

There’s been plenty of debate about who’ll take the sixth and seventh spots on defence for the Oilers, and big, tough Theo Peckham is one of the names in the mix for those jobs with Shawn Belle and Richard Petiot. Peckham didn’t do himself any favours when he turned down an invitation to fight from Vancouver’s Darcy Hordichuk.

Saying "No thanks" the first time, on a face-off, is one thing. Doing nothing later after Hordichuk starting running around is another.

AND . . .

— Talk on press row around the rink is there might be a tug-of-war between Tambellini and Renney over Liam Reddox and Ryan Jones. The gab is Renney prefers Reddox, while Tambellini would like to keep Jones, plucked off waivers from Nashville last March. Reddox and Jones will be linemates against Phoenix Wednesday.

The way I see it, Jones had better get something done in his first action of pre-season because Reddox has the inside track for a roster spot and I don’t see room for both of them.

— Tambellini wouldn’t comment this morning on whether he’s talked to Minnesota about unloading one of his goaltenders now that Josh Harding it out for the Wild with a torn up knee, but that’s a phone call worth making, no?
Minnesota beat man Mike Russo, a connected guy, said today the Wild like Jeff Deslauriers, but that doesn’t mean there’s a deal in the works, yet.

— Coming into training camp, I dismissed Linus Omark as a YouTube sensation who had no chance of making this team. I still don’t see where Omark fits, given the numbers up front, but he’s got more to his game than I gave him credit for.

— Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

    • Rob...

      You can’t train the smug and sanctimonious.

      No ill will meant towards 1260, but I really hope that when Brian Hall retires that Gregor beats out Tencer to be 630’s #1 sports personality in an open competition.

      I could picture Dan realizing what went down as Jason walks through the door; and Dan’s momentary look of horror/anguish/confusion turn to that of resigned acceptance as he formulated the best way to begin kissing Gregor’s arse.

  • Or how about if TEAM 1260 gets the Oilers rights and Gregor doesn’t have to go anywhere?

    I’m not saying that’s in the works, but Ross MacLeod is a pretty astute radio man and I wouldn’t underestimate 1260 with him calling a lot of the shots.

    I suspect you’d see Stauffer and Michaels come over as a tandem. Gregor, if he wanted to add workload on top of his show, could host on game nights.

    Nelson88: Russo was on with Gregor.

    • Rob...

      I’m all for it, if that’s the way things play out. ~Though it would shatter my dream of that epic meeting between Tencer and Gregor in the hallway… I even had theme music picked out for the slow-mo doubletake~

    • Fair?
      I hadn’t written a word or even thought about Milhouse in I don’t know how long until somebody pointed out on this site yesterday that he’d decided to share his thoughts about me with his “followers.” Do that, and you get what you get.

  • Rob...


    Ahh. And here I thought I was getting a good scoop in Vancouver this morning. Damn. I hope that if they trade JD it is for something decent. I know the self proclaimed goalie geniuses on the internet have deemed him a career backup but he is one of those guys I could see haunting us if we trade him

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Always thought it was just a matter of time till Katz added 1260 to his interests. Perhaps Tencer guest hosting the Rutherford show isn’t too far away.

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    Gregor vs. Tencer?
    wow. ones whiny and tries to act too macho. ones a neo-con nerd. thats a battle ill skip out on. no offense to either, they do their jobs well for the market, but not what id call “charismatic” personalities

  • JohnQPublic

    Millhouse’s grandma must have bought the radio station because there wasn’t a Mickey D’s nearby for little Millie to work in. Props to her she had to do something to get him out of her basement!

    Is there room in OKCity for Jones so he could go down there for some ice time pending an opening in Edmonton? He really hasn’t had an opportunity to get into a game yet has he?
    Reddox has looked like he means business from what I’ve seen of him this year. He seems alot more focused in his pursuit of the puck and physical play.

  • JohnQPublic

    YNormally I wouldn’t say much but having the three rookies here has light this town up. If they still do not make the playoffs, I am really ok with that! It’s a learning curve for everyone, when the status quo around professional sports here in Edmonton lately that it is ok to lose

  • In regards to Millhouse I listened to his sports show after the rookie tournament.And he spent the first ten minutes talking in his one octave lower than real voice about how he spent the whole time in his room.Why Wont you media guys play with Millhouse?

  • smiliegirl15

    Robin you have been more than fair to Tencer I think. You’ve even defended the little twit a few blogs ago.

    He has little to no respect for people who don’t think he’s wonderful. His thinly veiled contempt of his callers is grating at best.

    Robin you have more hockey, and Oilers, knowledge in your pinky than he will ever dream of having. His air of entitlement is just crying out for an RB smackdown.

    As fans, we make drink the koolaid but I think Tencer lives on his own special kind.

  • Mitch


    Terrible tweet Tencer put out, when has he EVER asked a tough question to anyone? Robin when I want my oilers fix I listen/read to you, Stauffer, Matty, Barnes, Spector, Rishaug. When Tencer throws that out there he deserves to lose his job, if it wasn’t for stauffer I wouldn’t even turn to that channel. Love your articles Robin.

  • Buke

    I have been watching the young Oilers very close this year and I have been impressed with Omark. His offensive insticts are first rate and he is not afraid to stand his ground in traffic considering his severe lack of size. The only knock I have on him at the moment is an apparent unwillingness to play the defensive end of the game. A year in the AHL should be good for him. I hope the coaching staff sits him down and fills him in on the importance of 2-way play.

    On a side note, does anyone know how the Oil were able to pick Paajarvi with the 10th pick? I think some GM’s should be fired over this one (Glennie 8th to Dallas and Cowen 9th to Ottawa). I almost fell off my chair when he slipped to the Oilers.

  • Buke

    Nice work putting Milhouse in his place, Robin.

    When I worked in the media, one of the old adages we always followed was “never pee in the pool.”

    In other words, don’t criticize the work of other media in your market. Just stick to your own work. Always strive to be one of the “Gentlemen (or Ladies) of the Press.”

    That’s one thing the folks in the blogosphere and Twittersphere and Other-pretend-media-sphere need to realize. Don’t urinate in the pool.

    • I’m guilty of what you’re talking about to some degree, so I’m not going to pull on the victim hat here and cry too loudly about a “tweet.”

      Everybody in the media, as I’ve said before, has a job to do and not everybody’s gig falls into the hard-hitting category. I think fans sometimes take shots at some guys in the media because they don’t understand that.

      It makes no sense to slam Gene Principe or Kevin Quinn for not being hard-hitting with the Oilers. That’s not their job. That’s not what feeds their families and pays their bills. They are helping sell a product — the Oilers brand. Both of them, by the way, are damn good men. Honest guys. They just are.

      Still, I give them the “fartcatcher” routine as a bit of razzing and they give me the ink-stained wretch bit in return. It’s back-and-forth. It’s meant in fun, at least from my end, and something that comes after years of travelling and working together on the road.

      Anyway, enough of this. Take a read of what Gregor wrote about his dad today. That’s worth talking about.

  • Buke

    Hey Dawgbone…I get the reference…you take a unpopular stance on a question (I think we should take all our top talent and make them play in the minors,OHL or wherever..) you continue to espouse this crap even though the overwhelming majority replys that your thinking is idiotic,skewed,dumb,misguided..(pick one) but you continue to rebut all arguments because you are the only sane person in the Universe and only you know what’s best for the Oilers.. remeber 1979? or maybe you are only 16 years old now?…with your thinking we would have our first year in the NHL with Kevin Lowe in Hull, Messier in Dogpatch Oklahoma, Gretzky playing for a team in the East Coast league…. I understand you like pretending your special and people are forced to read your useless thoughts because this is a free forum and even nuts like you can express themselves but please give it a rest now and find some other subject that you can gnaw on like a dog bone.

    • Yeah, that’s it druds. You figured me out.

      I’m impressed that the only retort you have is that everyone elses opinion must be right therefore I’m an idiot. Way to contribute, I’m sure those responsible for your education are patting themselves on the back.

      Yes I remember 1979 (well not exactly, I remember the years following quite well).

      Some of the things I’ve forgotten about 1979 are:

      The cap that was in place then. I can’t recall there being one. I also can’t recall the restrictions on free agency back then, things like the 7 years serice / 27 year old rule. Can you remember those things? Do you not think managing a team in 2010 is slightly more difficult than in 1979?

      If all you have is what happened 30 years ago, ignoring the changes on the business and management side of hockey, it’s a piss poor argument. Cripes man, why don’t you just reference how teams now should build their teams like Montreal in the 60’s? It serves just as much purpose.

      If you are going to come and insult me, at least show some intelligence when you do it. Attack my arguments, don’t go “Well in 1979 do you think we should have put Gretzky in the ECHL???”.

      If you are going to point out why my line of thinking is idiotic,skewed,dumb,misguided..(pick one), come up with why it is.

      Explain why the Oilers would be better off with Hall in the NHL this year, both short term and long term. If you can’t then don’t come at me with this garbage.

  • @Dawgbone

    Fair enough but how many #1 picks have been sent back to junior (in the last 20 years). I have a hard time believing that Hall and his agent would accept the fact that he was not good enough to make this team and he would benefit from another year of junior. Especially if this was done strictly to prolong his ELC. No reasonable agent is going to have his client run the risk of an injury (and payday) just so the team can hold onto them for another year.

    If you want to criticize Tambellini for not making a more competitive team so Hall would have difficulty making it, I can see that, but if Hall is obviously good enough to make the team he has to be on it.

    • Just because they haven’t been sent back doesn’t mean they were ready for the NHL.

      And when we say Hall is “obviously good enough” to make the team, what does that mean? He’s good enough to contribute in a top 6 role? Or that he’s good enough to beat out he JFJ’s, Reddox’s, etc… in the bottom 6?

      If it’s the latter, there shouldn’t be an issue. Bobby Ryan was good enough to play on Anaheim’s 4th line but instead went back to junior for 2 years in order for the Ducks to manage their cap situation better.

      Agents have been doing this for years. And if we want to talk injury, I think there’s a greater chance he gets hurt in the NHL than in the OHL. Not only that, but he gets the same benefits because he’s under an NHL contract. So whether he ends his career in the OHL on an injury or the NHL on an injury, he’s in the same situation.

  • @DB

    I think the Oilers are moving more towards a top 9 than top 6 as are many teams in the league. Depending on how the rest of the preseason and first 9 games goes I would be extremely surprised if Hall does not show that he deserves to be in that group. The major problem is that he is not eligible to go to the AHL.

    Hey, if he or any of the other rookies stink and show that they do not deserve to be in the show, so be it. I still think that Hall’s game stagnates by playing junior.

    My point on injury was that if he goes to the OHL and gets concussed a couple of times and never recovers he has lost a boatload of cash, whereas if he does it in the NHL at least he has 3 years of big money. Sorry if this is not the case I wasn’t aware that getting injured in junior while property of an NHL team would allow you to get paid out as if you played in the NHL.

    Was Bobby Ryan really returned to Owen Sound strictly because of cap purposes? Because looking at his stats it appears that he went back to junior because he wasn’t good enough to make the team. If anything this supports the argument of starting guys earlier because it appears that Ryan’s development was a bit stunted.

    • PabstBR55

      I don’t think it benefits the Oilers at all to be thinking top 9 now. Maybe in a couple more years that makes more sense, but in the short term I think their best bet is to sit back and determine what their best course of action is.

      I know what your point was regarding him getting hurt in the OHL, but he’s signed to an NHL contract and has insurance on that contract. If he gets hurt in the OHL he gets the same benefits as he would if he gets hurt in the NHL.

      I have no idea why Bobby Ryan was returned to Owen Sound. I think you could have made an argument that there was a few guys he could have beat out those first 2 years.

      And I’m not sure how you think Ryan’s development was stunted. He’s put up two 30 goal seasons his first 2 years in the NHL, and he’s also a pretty good player in his own end.