Win and you’re in: or not

Calgary Flames v Edmonton Oilers

With 117 seasons of coaching experience on his resume, Edmonton Oilers bench boss Pat Quinn probably doesn’t need any advice from somebody like me, but he’s going to get it anyway.

By wavering on the win-and-you’re-in edict he issued to goaltenders Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk a few weeks ago, as he did after Sunday’s 5-1 win over the San Jose Sharks, Quinn is not only mixing his messages, he’s doing so at the worst possible time.

After watching Dubnyk grind his way through an 0-8-2 stretch in the first 13 appearances of his rookie season before beating Detroit 3-2 in a shootout Friday, then coming within three minutes of a shutout against the Sharks, Quinn is now re-thinking his approach after a conversation with goaltending coach Frederic Chabot.

Apparently, Chabot is concerned that win-and-you’re-in might leave either Deslauriers or Dubnyk on the outside looking in for too long if the team gets on a roll. Fat chance of that, but that’s his argument.

I get the thinking behind that, but the way I see it, the benefits of letting Dubnyk build confidence as a reward for outstanding efforts in back-to-back games should trump any concerns about Deslauriers having to sit too long at this point in the season.

JDD has had his chance to shine. Dubnyk deserves the same.


As much as I respect Quinn, I’ve had some difficulties with some of the decisions he’s made this season. You can add abandoning the win-and-you’re-in approach to the list if he listens to Chabot and gives Deslauriers the start against the Vancouver Canucks Tuesday.

We asked Quinn about that possibility again today after it came to light in his availability after the win over San Jose. Nothing in his answer made me think it’s a good idea.

"We’re going to talk about that a little bit," Quinn said. "There’s a decision time coming for this organization in the sense of one of these two young guys.

"While we thought the idea of win and you play is a good one, and could still be a good one, we also don’t want to get anybody isolated in case we run the table out, that sort of thing.

"Whatever our decision is as to how we’re going forward, when we tell our young goaltenders this is what we’re deciding on right now, it has to make some sense and has to have a sense of fairness to it."

Yes, it does. And after Deslauriers, who has made 42 appearances, was given the chance on more than one occasion to stake his claim to the crease with some fine performances, fairness dictates Dubnyk should get the same opportunity, no?

Of course, I suggested months ago that Deslauriers and Dubnyk rotate no matter what the result so that each could stake a claim as back-up to Nikolai Khabibulin going into next season. I liked the idea.

Then again, I can’t say I minded when Quinn suggested he’d stick with the hot hand, either. That was, frankly, because I didn’t see either one of Deslauriers or Dubnyk getting on enough of a roll to keep the other on the bench for any extended period of time.

To change it now, to flip-flop, after Dubnyk hung in and took his lumps behind a thinly disguised AHL defence to put together two outstanding efforts, would be a bad call. It’s one Quinn has to rethink.


— I’m told president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe and GM Steve Tambellini are in Portland taking a look at Nino Niedereiter of the Winterhawks.

I wouldn’t read too much into that because Lowe and Tambellini will look at every player ranked in the first round, and Neidereiter, a right winger ranked 14th among North American skaters, will certainly go in the top 30. The Winterhawks also have a centre, Ryan Johansen, ranked 16th and a defenceman, Troy Rutkowski, ranked 43rd.

— Ales Hemsky skated with the Oilers for the first time since having shoulder surgery today and, NO, he will not return this season.

That said, one good arm and all — he still isn’t healed enough to take any contact — Hemsky looked better shooting and handling the puck while taking a twirl than anybody else on the ice.

— Too bad Theo Peckham is out for the final 10 games with a separated shoulder after ending up on the hurting end of a hit by behemoth Doug Murray because he was coming along nicely.

Peckham will be a younger and cheaper version of Steve Staios for seasons to come, as long as he stays on top of his conditioning. He’s mean as hell, and that’s an element this defensive corps is lacking.

— There’s still no official word from the Oilers medical staff, but as I suggested March 5, expect Ryan Whitney to have off-season surgery on his right foot to correct a defect he’s already had repaired in his left foot.

Whitney had what’s called on osteotomy on his left foot in August 2008 to re-align bones in his foot. Whitney has extremely high arches that lead to chronic pain.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Pajamah

    The Oilers have to make a decision and they have had ample time to choose either JDD or Dubnyk. I think they should trade JDD along with Cogs for a mid first rounder.

  • Pajamah

    I fully believe that the Oilers are going to explore every avenue they can to rid themselves of Khabibulin. He is damaged goods. The DUI is not an issue.We won't know how his back is going to hold up do we? I see Tambo looking to dump his contract on a team that needs a goalie next season. Philly, LA, and yes even Chicago where he has a history. Chicago's goaltending is a huge concern. I will stunned if they get past the 2cd round. Waive Dubnyk and you lose him. Waive J.D and you lose him. Bury Bulin in the minors for 20 games and evaluate him down there in OKC. This team needs a 3-5 year rebuild. It doesn't need a 37 year old goalie with a wonky back in between the pipes leading the way. This wouldn't even be an issue if the OIlers hadn't wasted 2 years without thier own farm team.

  • Arby

    After my usual proof reading after I've already posted the message, I realize that should have said Khabibulin and Deslauriers will be the 1-2. Although with this team I may have been right the first time.

    • Travis Dakin

      You know, if you were logged in as a member of the Nation, (check me out… number 23 baby!!!) you would be able to go back and edit your posts. Just sayin'

  • Arby

    @ Robin

    Obviously on pure speculation, do you think there is a different motivation behind wavering from his plan to play the hot hand? Is this possibly a sign that they may figure that Dubnyk has a better chance of clearing waivers next year? So maybe they've already made up their minds that Deslauriers and Khabibulin will be their 1-2?

  • Arby

    You ever get the feeling a couple of chicks took their tops off and started making out in another thread, and you're going to be the only one out of all your freinds that doesn't have a picture of it on your phone?


    Et' tu Brownlee?

  • It makes sense that JDD would get the start, I mean it's not like he's gotten 75% of them since old man Bulin went down. They've done an excellent job at keeping the games even so they could get a better idea at who to keep next year.

  • Arby

    I actually was fooled into thinking every member of the third line still enjoyed the game of hockey last night. My wife even mentioned that it was the first time in a long time she saw her hockey boyfriend (moreau) smile.