MR. DITHERS RETURNS: WHAT ABOUT MIKE?

"What’s happening with Mike Comrie?" A fan asked me that Friday as the Edmonton Oilers were winding down their development camp at Clareview Arena. I didn’t have an answer.

Here we are 10 days into the free agency season and we haven’t heard one definitive word from GM Steve Tambellini about his intention, or lack of same, when it comes to re-signing Comrie.

I get it Tambellini was busy with the Entry Draft leading into free agency. I get it his plate has been full while shipping out Patrick O’Sullivan, Riley Nash, Ethan Moreau and Robert Nilsson. He’s also been busy adding Colin Fraser, Kurtis Foster, Steve MacIntyre and Jim Vandermeer.

Likewise, Tambellini has been watching the prospects skate the past four days, which is fine and good. Still, I’m thinking that Tambellini should be spending some time on Comrie.

While it’s nice watching the kids take a twirl, it’s not like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle or Magnus Paajarvi are going anywhere. At some point, if Tambellini and agent Ritch Winter don’t get down to business, Comrie might.

This is where, you’d think, multi-tasking kicks in.

NO HURRY?

My understanding is Winter and Comrie have expressed an interest in returning for a second season in this second go-round in Edmonton. I’m led to believe some members of the front office would like to Comrie return. I’m starting to wonder, given the foot-dragging, if Tambellini shares the sentiment.

Does Tambellini want Comrie back? If yes, when do the sides get down to negotiating? I’m thinking it should be sooner rather than later, especially if there’s any legs to talk I’m hearing that San Jose, Chicago and Vancouver, to name just three teams, are interested in Comrie.

While Comrie, 30, struggled with a bout of mononucleosis and played just 43 games with the Oilers last season, scoring 13-8-21, I see him as a fit with the next edition of the Oilers. With a rebuild in full swing, optimism abounds with fans and there seems good reason for it with Hall, Paajarvi and Eberle looking like they’ll make runs at roster spots.

Fair enough.

But, given the potential for this infusion of youth and the experience that has been sent packing since the season ended, the Oilers are going to need some players on the roster who know their way around the rink. I’m thinking a two-time 30-goal scorer with 568 games in parts of nine NHL seasons on his resume like Mike Duff fits the bill. We’ll find out, at some point, if Tambellini agrees.

NATION RISING

I’m happy to say Oilersnation is a going and growing concern with Oilers fans. That’s not news, seeing as our numbers have steadily increased over the past two years or so, but I got a first-hand taste of the popularity of the website during this development camp.

I don’t spend a lot of time elbow-to-elbow with fans, so it was something new to me to hear so much feedback from people in person as we stood around and watched the players skate.

No fewer than a dozen people took the time to mention Oilersnation is the place they go for their Oilers fix during the time I spent in the rink. Two or three of them made a point of mentioning they thought snagging Lowetide was a great addition.

I’m sure there were critics in the crowd as well, but they never took the opportunity to give me their two cents worth in person like they do here on the website. Nobody razzed me about articles I’ve written about Jeff Deslauriers or about being wrong about Tyler Seguin.

Nobody walked up and suggested I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about in general, as is sometimes the case here. No surprise whatsoever in that, but I digress . . . Anyway, people are reading.

Love us or hate us, that’s a good thing.

OILERS INK ONDRUS

In case anybody missed it, the Oilers have inked free agent forward Ben Ondrus. Here’s the news release:

"General Manager Steve Tambellini announced today the Edmonton Oilers have agreed to terms with right-winger Ben Ondrus on a one-year contract.

Ondrus, 6’0”, 187lbs, split the last four seasons between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies.

Last year the 28-year-old scored 17 points (10G, 7A) in 57 games with the Marlies. In 11 games with the Leafs, Ondrus was held pointless and had 34 penalty minutes.

The Sherwood Park, Alberta native has played 336 career AHL games collecting 119 points (57G, 72A). In 52 career NHL games he has two assists and 77 penalty minutes. Ondrus, who was captain of the Marlies, played his junior hockey with the Western Hockey League’s Swift Current Broncos from 1998-2003."

As was the case with the signing of Brad Moran, there’s nothing here to suggest this is more than a depth signing, but Ondrus fits the bill as far as being the kind of veteran minor-leaguer the Oilers can use to help bring the kids along down on the AHL farm in Oklahoma City.

INSIDE ODDS AND ENDS

— Tambellini suggested Friday Tom Renney would be naming his coaching staff "within the week." My best information is we can expect at least one new assistant coach, maybe two. My understanding is Kelly Buchberger has a new contract, but it’s still unclear if he will stay here as an assistant or be the head man down in Oklahoma City. Hmm.

If Buchberger does have a new deal, was that deal done at Renney’s urging? Or, is it possible somebody else has their fingerprints all over the contract and it’s causing Renney pause in putting together his staff? In any case, while I haven’t been told as much, what does seem obvious is Wayne Fleming will be joining Pat Quinn on the thanks-for-coming list.

— I’m told the Oilers have yet to get down to a short list of candidates to take over from retired Rod Phillips as play-by-play man on 630 CHED. On that front, who is doing the hiring? Is it president Patrick LaForge? Is it VP of broadcast Allan Watt? Both of them? If it’s a committee-type set-up, that might explain why it’s taking some time.

— Finally, Ryan Rishaug of TSN said Friday  the Oilers are "kicking the tires" on UFA forward Aaron Asham. Makes sense. He’ll come relatively cheap, he’s tough and he’s got enough game that he could play as a third-liner. In any case, he’d fit in the bottom-six mix.

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

  • Tha Legion

    Alright I’ll take the job, I have a nerdy voice and can’t pronounce Hjalmersson or spell it correctly but my good looks and charm make me an ideal candidate.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Horcoff is NOT the proper person…he may be the first name to come up, when talking about the captaincy (which goes to show what state the team is/was in) but like I said before, don’t just name him captain for the sake of naming one- We don’t need to name a captain- Montreal & Toronto didn’t, so why do we have to? He’s already be tagged a #1 Center via the same route.

    I had a good laugh at this- “He took one for the team last year”? Are you F*cking serious man! The fans took one for him, having to watch him play “injured”. He played 77 games. If he was so decimated, hit the IR. I would much rather have watched Brule or Gagner take his icetime any day of the week, and would have learned alot in the process. HE was the one who stunk out the joint! If anything Brule/Gagner would have done a better job, because it would be hard to play worse than Horcoff did!!

    Having him out there against the other teams best players wasn’t fair to him. He’s a 3rd line center at best. I can only imagine what the Sedin sisters, or Thornton,Heatley,Marleau would think when lining up against Horc’s, Moreau and Pisani. “OK, I’m gunna win the faceoff because Horcoff is terrible on the dot- you guys get open!”

    I’m not sure what this whole- face the music crap is about either! If there was one player who was being paid out the wazoo and under-performing-nobody can deny, he SHOULD have been the poster boy. But no, O’Sullivan got tagged by the media and Horcoff flew under the radar. What would Horcoff have to whine about? His icetime?

    We don’t have anyone ready for captaincy so don’t name one!

  • Crackenbury

    Horcoff is the proper person. He’s being picked apart by Oiler Nation fans for taking one for the team last year. It’s well known he was injured and could have spent some time on the IR. Instead he stayed in the lineup and took all the heat off the young centers on the team. Playing hurt he took most of the teams important face-offs, played against the opps best players, killed penalties, played the PP and took a regular shift. He did it because it was in the teams best interest not to subject Gagner, Brule and Cogs to the same situation and have them stink out the joint because they weren’t ready.

    Horcoff isn’t the whining type. He comes out and faces the music after every game. Young players could do worse than look to him for leadership. He’s also got some grey matter between the ears that some of the other so-called candidates for captain are lacking.

    EDIT: Sorry, reply was meant for Cowbell_Feva