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.

      • OilFan

        I hope there is a tender in the system other than anyone of the guys we already have or the oilers will be drafting number one for years. Unless they could smooth talk a tender to play for a team that rebuilds every year. We are luck we have Bulin if you ask me. I imagine Hall, Eberle and MPS would love to play on a team the gets blown out every game due to poor tending ? Would hemsky,gagner and penner resign to that team ? ;

        • Look. 2 years in a row good goaltenders have hit the open market for dirt cheap. It’s a gamble, but one that I’d be willing to look at really hard.

          I’m not saying that another year of losing will be fun for the players. I’m sure Pittsburgh, Washington, and Chicago wasnt a fun place to play for a couple years either.

          Since I’m already set and primed for exciting last place hockey, I’m just looking at the idea as one that might help the Oilers more easily reach the goal of rebuilding through the draft.

  • Cervantes

    @rindogg We have the cap room and Katz has the pockets. I have to believe that the Oil would have absolutely zero problem taking on a big contract that only had a year or two left, even if the player wasn’t that great. In fact, I wouldn’t even be surprised to see us take a big contract back and then bury it in the minors if they didn’t fit in, just to unload those last two weights off our backs.

    That said, I don’t see the team moving an NHL body with the deal unless a useful body is coming back. Not that we need the useful body necessarily, but I don’t think the team wants to give up on anyone (even Cogs) unless there’s a return coming. Whether that return is a mid-20’s impact player, a late 20’s top-4 D, or a wily vet who can teach us winning ways and have a solid impact, I can’t say. But if it involves an able body moving, it won’t be for a minors prospect or a useless cokefridge. Tambi is not paying a tax just to get rid of Khabby.

    (Which is unfortunate, because JDDD are going to get the shaft, be completely unprepared when the Khabby contract is done, and we’ll be stuck looking for a goalie, during the years when we’re pushing for good playoff spots, when we’ve wasted the development of two perfectly good goalies for nothing. Oh well, at least we got out from under the dead weight and poor play of Roloson…. oh, wait…)

  • Hemmertime

    Brodziak, Reasoner, Stoll. Any one of them, preferably Reasoner or Stoll though. Loved the Visnovsky deal but I would love to see Stoll as 3rd (2nd?) line C

    • Cervantes

      I would pay a serious price to get Stoll back on this team now. Solid 2/3 C, can play point on the PP, kill penalties, win a draw, teach the kids how to win. I don’t think there’s much chance of getting him out of LA, but boy o boy, would I try. Exactly what this team needs for the next few years.

      Yeah, he’s getting up there a little bit in age and might not be a part of the Cup-Run teams, but he’s an invaluable and clearly missing piece of our team NOW, and for the next few years until Pitlick/Teemu H/VV are ready to play.

      Man, can you imagine Stollie teaching those 3 how to step into the NHL, instilling his work ethic in them, and showing them his faceoff tricks? I’m almost salivating.

      Unfortunately (for us), I think LA is too well built. They don’t have a desperate need (though I think they’d like some depth scoring), and I don’t expect they could afford to lose Stoll. But I would give them Gagner+ in a heartbeat.

    • Every time I see Kyle I smile because he helped me lift $200 off Stauffer.

      Back in the days of Total Sports, Stauffer insisted Brodziak would “never” play an NHL game. I don’t know how he came to that conclusion, but he was damn sure of himself.
      Having seen Kyle all season covering the Roadrunners during the lockout, I bet Stauffer he was wrong. Stauffer was so sure he said he would pay me $5 for every NHL game Brodziak played in his career.

      When it became obvious Brodziak would become a decent bottom-six guy, I took pity on Bob and let him off with a $200 buy-out on the bet. If I hadn’t, he’d have paid me $1,315 by now.

  • Dames and hockey work for me so does any deal involving our goalie…gawd whata great call Robin…he’s healthy by all accounts … looks sharper than anyone woulda thought and should be ready to go elsewhere…yes please!

    Gotta keep 13 ’til he stops mixing as well as he does with Hall and Brule… a very nice third line…4now

    Is the “Exciting Last Place Hockey”(tm) slogan really trademarked ? serious, really is it?

    by whom?

  • Jamie B.

    Well … we know this team’s going to give up a lot of chances so Khabi – assuming he stays healthy, yes, a big if – might be the only thing keeping them on the right side of the fine line between defeated or demoralized.

    Trading Khabi should be the back-up plan for if (I don’t think they will, but just in case) these kids start winning too much. Replace him with a Duby and JDD who have been sitting around for half the season and KA-BLOOIE = top 5 draft pick.

  • Cru Jones

    Thanks for the read Robin, I was curious after you write

    ‘- 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.’

    Have you heard any rumblings from the Oilers insiders that people are kicking tires on Khabibulin? I hadn’t dreamed of that scenario.

  • Cru Jones

    According to many Oilers fans, Brodziak was “too soft” to be an Oiler. ‘Cause we’re such tough team that he was radically out of place?

    I didn’t notice his “softness” too much last night. I was too busy watching him score goals and kill penalties.

    • I wouldn’t discount Ottawa, but then Tambellini shouldn’t discount anybody if he’s serious about unclogging the crease.

      He’s got to be praying that a team with a little cap space and no proven back-up has a starter go down with an injury. He should be the first guy on the telephone offering to “help out.”

      Like I mentioned, I had a talk with another writer (Mark Spector) at the rink the other day and it only makes sense — even to two guys like us who aren’t that smart — that Tambellini should be shopping Khabibulin (and Souray) every chance he gets while waiting for somebody to tear a knee ligament or dislocate a hip.