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.

  • brucechris

    If Cogliano is still trade bait, his departure could see a hole on the potential third line… would it be useful for the Oilers/Omark to put him on the wing of line three with Penner and move Brule to the middle?

    Other than that, there really isn’t a place for Omark now. But the kid is talented, no doubt about that.

  • Just thinking out loud and I’m going to guess that Omark, the seeming underdog vs Cogliano, would be a fait accompli to make the roster excepting for the fact he doesn’t play center. (Hmmm, for that matter, Cogliano doesn’t either, at least not very well.) Gonna guess that either one of three things happen: i) Cogliano is traded, his roster spot filled by Omark, Chris Vande Velde being the replacement center, or; ii) Renney just flat out decides, after the exhibition season ends, that Omark can contribute more than Cogliano and he’ll figure out the centermen afterwards, or; iii) Omark winds up in OK, recalled after less than 15 games.

    I think the lad has game, and when he says that he can “…get better, a lot better.” I’m inclined to believe him. Guess we’ll see where he is after pre-season. Were I a gambling man, and the decision left entirely up to the coaching staff, I’d bet on ii.

  • RSready

    One question about the contracts being ‘burned’… If Paajarvi was sent to the AHL for the 2010-11 season and spends the season there, does that knock the first year of his contract off? I know that if Hall was sent back to junior, his doesn’t ‘burn’ a year, but what about Paajarvi or Eberle in the minors? Sorry if this has been covered already…

  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    what I would like to see is fans get off the trade Cogs to make room for Omark thing. I understand fans have always tried to run players out of town , remember Paul Coff-up that worked well, how about Jason Arnott that worked well also. If the guy doesn’t play 100% or becomes a prima dona fine but when a kid has a bad year and is what 24 years old? right now I would argue that Cogliano is more valuable to the Oilers than Omark. He plays on the P/K, center/wing, gives 100% every night. while Omark has talent comming out his earsthere is a point he will get hurt trying those u-tube moves. If for example he tried to show up Pronger with that move from last game my guess is we would still be picking up his teeth.

  • Why not alternate Paajarvi & Eberle 9 games each to start the season?

    Make the decision to burn their 1st season Nov19 instead of Oct29th.

    More assessment & clarity can be provided in 2 months vs 1.

    Fans will have their “fix” and management can make the right choice instead of blowing the option right out of the gate.

    • RCN

      Eberle, because he’s 20, will burn his first year this season regardless of where he plays (NHL or AHL). Which is why he was left out of Dellow’s “proposal”. Paajarvi, because he’s only 19, could theoretically play in the A and have the first year of his contract “slide” into next year. That’s the crux.

      Silly idea, imo. How pissed would Hall/Paajarvi be at the organization for holding them back? Enough to leave town at the first possible chance? Maybe.

      • Buke

        Maybe as pissed as Bobby Ryan was in Anaheim?

        I can’t recall a single player who was made to stay in junior in their 18 year old season who then effectively walked out on their team the first chance they had.

      • PabstBR55

        The Oil could always play both Hall and Paajarvi for 9 games … on lines with Jacques, Jones, Stortni, and Reddox.

        The team could then send them down to the minors citing, “they weren’t quite ready for the big leagues … weren’t yet comfortable enough on the ice to use their skill to create offense, etc.”

        But it’s not a bad idea.

  • I think as a reporter you need to be balanced. You can’t be jerk all the time, neither should you lob softballs 24-7 like Tencer. To maintain a good relationship with the GM you need to give him some softballs, but when warranted, we need the hard-hitting journalism too. Experience has given Brownlee a nice balance of both. Tencer has a lot to learn about life.

  • The other thing that could keep Omark off the NHL roster, is he’s more valuable to the Oilers playing every night and getting more used to North American style hockey in Oklahoma City than sitting in the pressbox like Reddox and the designated goon with the day off.

  • positivebrontefan

    IMO if we send Hall down we tell him he’s not as good as any of the other first pick since Lindros (although he didn’t play for entirely different reasons). If he’s good enough to make the team don’t slap him in the face and don’t BS him he’ll see right through it.
    Paajarvi is from what I’ve seen even more ready and comfortable out there than Hall… nuff said.
    Eberle has looked really good as well and if they keep the other two kids I don’t see them sending him down either.
    As far as Omark, I agree with you RB, I thought he would just be another flashy kid with all kinds of “mad skillz” not unlike Robert Nielsen who always looked like the best player on the ice in warmup. He has looked really composed and not unlike MPS has played against bigger men in the KHL and the Swedish Elite League (where he was 42-63-105 in 177 GP,and MPS was 20-29-49 in 134 GP). They keep making this about MPS but not Omark. Not sure what his +/- is however, I just hope he gets a chance. Thats why I’m an armchair GM and Tambo gets a real team I guess.

    • That’s a damn fine (fake) name you’ve got there, PBF.
      To be fair to Omark, from what little I’ve seen of him and the way he comes off in the dressing room, he appears to be more driven than Nilsson. He’s got a bit of “I’ll show you” in his personality. Lots of little guys do.

      • positivebrontefan

        Sorry RB dont mean to come across as a Fartcatcher but I listen to you and Gregor every chance I get and love Positive Fridays and the Brass Bonanza.
        PS. you gotta get Meg hammered more often that was hilarious aside from the fact the two of them did it for a good cause.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Id rather burn the 1st year of contracts on the “GOLDEN THREE” than send them packing. IMO letting them play this year win or lose, come next year their ALL going to be better for it and so will the oilers, THATS what matters the most.

    • positivebrontefan

      I think sending them down will put a lot of tarnish on their current golden attitudes and golden confidence, not to mention how about you sign up to be a big shot CEO somewhere with a nice big salary and your boss tells you “how about you work in the mail room for a year for 5 bucks an hour so we can afford to build this company up a little and get more profit out of you. Don’t for get the average hockey career is only 15 or so years long so in your “corporate job” that would equal about 4 years in the mail room.
      I think your “golden” attitude might just lose a little shine.

      • I’d suggest the average NHL career is closer to 5-6 seasons than even 10, let alone 15.

        If 15 seasons was the norm, you’d have a lot more guys with 1,000 games in the books than the 250 or so there are now.

        Hall is going to make all the money he can ever spend before he’s 30, but I can’t imagine he’d be thrilled to pass on almost $4 million this season — especially if he shows he’s ready — because of a greater good for the franchise down the road.

        • positivebrontefan

          Fair enough, I guess that 15 years would be more accurate for a top ten pick which the three of them are.
          BTW; watching the Flames-Coyotes game zzzzzz…

          I hope the kids light it up again tomorrow night, it’ll be my first live look at them.

  • IHeartHemsky

    Milhouse has a weird little obession with gloating over anything bad that happens to the Canucks. He always and I mean always mentions their 0 for 40, plus their little party after a round 1 win last year. You swear we won the cup after the 8-2 win over the Canucks.

    I would rather listen to Hallsy then him. Bring back John Short!

    It makes all Oiler fans look like a bunch of haters who are stuck in the 80s. I hate the Canucks but he makes US sound like a bunch of childish morons.

    Its pretty sad that he is what the other NHL cities see as our NHL fanbase.

    • 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?

  • 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

    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.