Deep thoughts XXI: Pretty girls and patience

I don’t get the point of running photos of pretty dames with Lowetide’s pieces on a hockey website, but even if it’s just a cheap hook (it is, isn’t it?) I can’t say I mind.

Likewise, I’m not sure how good a team the Edmonton Oilers will be two or three seasons from now, but, for the first time in a very long time, the possibilities are more intriguing than they are predictable.

As has been duly noted from A to Z — to the point of hyperbole in some corners — we got a glimpse of those possibilities in Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild. Nothing nearly conclusive, contrary to the opinions of some, but we got peek at what might be not so far down the road.

One game doesn’t mean Taylor Hall has arrived. Coming out parties for kids like him take more than 60 minutes. That said, it was fun watching Hall romp up and down his wing and take the rubber to the net with a performance that wasn’t accurately reflected on the score sheet.

Hall, still three weeks from his 19th birthday, teased us, like these pretty dame photos do, with a peek at what all the fuss has been about, with a sense of anticipation about what comes next.

Add Magnus Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle to the conversation and long-suffering Oiler fans, even we jaded wags sitting along press row, haven’t had so much potential to contemplate — or split hairs and bicker about — since bell-bottoms were in.

Sit back. Enjoy. Take it in.


— Hall back to the OHL? Is anybody actually still debating the merits of this? The answer, of course, is yes. Only in Oil Country, where opinions can swing 180 degrees in seven games, yet some people believe they can predict what this team will look like in seven years.

— Left wing or centre? Centre or left wing? It’s five games into Hall’s NHL career, so, really, who gives a squirt? Why does this debate kick up again when Hall has just played his best game as a pro . . . at left wing.

— I’ve long heard that one of Tom Renney’s strengths as a coach is his ability to assess what’s working and what’s not and then come up with a Plan B. Until this season, I hadn’t seen it first-hand. I came to Edmonton in 1989 after covering the Kamloops Blazers for four years, just before Renney’s arrival. I didn’t see him much when he was in the Eastern Conference with the New York Rangers. I’ve seen enough since training camp began to get what people were talking about. Renney’s not just a chalkboard guy, he’s got people skills.

— I like how Renney moved Hall alongside Andrew Cogliano and Gilbert Brule quietly and matter-of-factly without much fuss during the break between games. No Pat Quinn-like rants or quotes, just a move that, for one game, paid off.

— I also like how he stapled fourth-liners Ryan Jones, Zack Stortini and Colin Fraser to the pine after a brutal start to the game. To borrow from Quinn, Renney said they sucked the hind banana without actually saying it. While scribes like the juice Quinn used to deliver, actions are more easily understood within the dynamic of a dressing room.

AND . . .

— How good has Tom Gilbert looked without Ryan Whitney to lean on as his defence partner? I don’t recall a more underwhelming five-game stretch for Gilbert than what he’s delivered to start this season.

— What are the odds of the Oilers getting out from under their three goaltender situation by trading Nikolai Khabibulin as opposed to risking waivers on Devan Dubnyk or Jeff Deslauriers? The way another writer and I see it, better than you might think.

— Thursday’s one-off in the face-off circles by Oilers pivots aside, tell me again why Kyle Brodziak didn’t fit here as a checking centre who could kill penalties and win face-offs?

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

  • DoubleJ

    I have a question.

    Who gets first pick up on waivers? I know the Oilers did, because they finished last, last year. But when does this change during the season? Or does it?

    Do the Oilers get first dibs all season or does it change during the season?

    Is there an over lap of last season for a few weeks until the standings sorted themselves out?

    These are somethings I’m not clear on, does someone know the answers?

    • GSC

      You do understand that Dellow’s comments on Hall have very little (almost nothing) to do with his play. Right? I think the argument is to push his contract back a year so that we pay for 50-60 points in one years time at age 19 rather 40 points this year. Ditto UFA at age 26 not age 25.

      That argument has not and will not move.

      Hall is definitely showing some jump and looks more comfortable. But “jump” has nothing to do with Tyler’s argument.

      You could be a member of Oiler management though because they too ignore the salary cap consequences of having Hall, MPS and Eberle start the clock running this year together.

  • “Thursday’s one-off in the face-off circles by Oilers pivots aside, tell me again why Kyle Brodziak didn’t fit here as a checking centre who could kill penalties and win face-offs?”

    Because Steve Tambellini is a terrible GM. Why is that so difficult to understand?

    • Cowbell_Feva

      Tambellini is a terrible GM?!? It is difficult to understand, because one has to remember the horrendous mess that he inherited from Kevin Lowe.

      Because Brodziak scored his first two goals of the year due to Stortini being his usual self, doesn’t make Tambi a bad GM, does it?

      Also, at the risk of being dubbed a one-trick pony, raving lunatic (just for speaking the truth more than once) did anyone see how well the 5-on-3 during the 1st period against Minny went? Oh, yeah, our faceoff specialist lost the draw to a DEFENSEMAN and down the ice went the puck and the 5 on 3. Nevermind the beautiful one timer from Hall that went 4 feet wide with a wideopen cage waiting.

      • DoubleJ

        Well, it’s the small moves that differentiate between the better and the below average GM’s. I personally think he’s a below average GM, not terrible though. I’d point to an inability to fix problems (lack of faceoff man for 2 years now), being fixated on one issue (toughness, the sole reason why Brodziak was moved, in hindsight I bet Tambo thinks hmm maybe I should have considered his faceoffs and PK ability too), and indecision (we still have 3 goalies up here!) Brownlee is talking about keeping 3 guys up because they want to trade Khabby…I don’t see that, there hasn’t been any sort of slight, miniscule hint by management that they think the contract is bad or was a mistake. Tambo seems to be firmly behind it, and instead of admitting a mistake, he seems to want to see his mistake through to the end.

  • DAVID STAPLES STATS IN JOURNAL TODAY clearly point out what some of us have been saying . The rookies (all three ) are fairing much better than GAGS , COGS AND BRULE . They are also doing much better than bubble players . The defence is all bad except for Peckham believe it or not ! Those are some pretty telling stats D.Staples put together and show an alarming trend already . Gags only a plus four on a line with mates at a rate of +16 in comparison .

    Rebuild with youth looks fine , but digression with rest looks disasterous . Horcoff , Penner and Hemsky signs are great and they are obviously not the problem , nor the rookies ! Proper rebuild by whose standards ?

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I agree regarding the possibility of Khabibulin being traded as there will no doubt be teams that believe their window is open and all they need is a proven goaltender.

    I also believe the Oilers will soon have to make a choice regarding how they want to continue building this team. Do they mirror the Hurricanes of 06 and try to attain the stud centre to round out their forwards and hope that exceptional goaltending and a solid group of defenceman sans stud do the job or do they package up some forwards for the stud defenceman?

  • If the numbers worked for Ottawa would they take NK? I wonder if the Blue Jackets aren’t looking to upgrade at that position also? I know attendance early on in the season in Columbus isn’t a concern because of the football but it does beg the question. Where were all the fans the other night when there was no college football game?. Scott Howson’s team needs a shot of offence and a more reliable prescence between the pipes. Could Bulin be thier answer? I don’t think he is ours at this point in our teams development.This team is 3-4 years away from being a serious playoff contender. Is Bulin even in the mix at that time? I say send him on his way and hand him his hat and say thank you for coming.

  • @ Jon:

    If we ARE trying to trade Habbi why would management hint at a bad contract? Page one of being an NHL gm must mention showcasing a player and staying very positive about him in order to convince the rest of the league of his value.

    If you’re selling something, it’s doubtful that you advertise how disappointed you are in it.

    Having said all that, I’m not officially suggesting we are shopping him.