Here and now, is Ryan Rishaug the best, the most experienced or most accomplished play-by-by man available to take over from Rod Phillips as radio voice of the Edmonton Oilers? Hell no, on all three counts.

So, why do I suspect — without having had anybody with the Oilers or Rishaug himself confirm he has even applied for the job — he might give the best guy, John Bartlett of the Toronto Marlies, a run for his money and the committee filling this plum job something to think about?

Well, considering Rishaug has less than a dozen games of play-calling experience on a resume stacked with sports anchoring work and clips as a make-up pad guy with TSN, he’s pretty good, that’s why.

After listening to some clips of Rishaug doing play-by-play of a game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers in Helsinki, I came away surprised how good he was, all things considered.

Is Rishaug as good as Bartlett, rumoured to be the other finalist from a stack of more than 50 candidates? No, not right now. Might he be as good in the not-too-distant future? I think he has a shot to be. That might be enough to get him the job.

It’s a rebuild, after all.


I know good play-by-play when I hear it and what I heard from Rishaug today isn’t bad, factoring in his inexperience. That said, I’ve listened to Bartlett, too, and he’s already very good.

In my estimation, when you take everything into consideration, Bartlett and Rishaug have to be favoured over Regan Bartel of the Kelowna Rockets and veteran Dennis Beyak of Toronto to take over from Phillips — assuming, ahem, they’ve applied.

I’ve already gone on the record more than once as saying the Oilers have to get this right. I’ve also said, here at Oilersnation and on TEAM 1260 with both Bob Stauffer and Jason Gregor, that Patrick LaForge, Allan Watt and everybody else in on this hire had better pick a guy with the chops to sell the brand on the radio.

He also has to be a fit for Stauffer, who is the radio analyst and would have been short-listed for the play-by-play job himself if he wasn’t seen as more valuable in the position he’s already in.

So, am I flip-flopping on any of that? I don’t think so.


For me, "having the chops" for the gig doesn’t necessarily mean having the most experience. It means having the most talent. I know several guys in different careers who’ve done the same job for 20 years or more. That doesn’t always mean they’re really good at it.

I’ve also said I don’t think a coveted job as an NHL play-by-play guy should be a learn-as-you-go experiment — not if you’re talking about somebody with limited upside.

But, if the candidate shows a real flair and aptitude for it, which to my ear Rishaug does, there’s room to at least contemplate letting somebody grow into the role.

Could Rishaug match and maybe surpass the likes of Bartlett and Bartel by the time Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle are sophomores with the Oilers? Would 82 games or so get him there? Based on what I’ve heard, I don’t believe it’s an unreasonable leap of faith to think so. He’s not the sure thing Bartlett is, but . . .

I wonder if LaForge and Watt and the rest are batting that around this weekend with an eye to an announcement next week. Are they looking at Rishaug, who knows the Oilers and is known by them, as favourably as I am now that I’ve listened? I don’t know.

But they should be.


I’ve just been told — at 6 :30 p.m. — Rishaug didn’t get the play-by-play job, but was told he made it right to the final cut. I still don’t know who will be hired, or if that’s been decided as of right now, but I can tell you I just got off the phone with Dennis Beyak in Kelowna and he has not heard from the Oilers.

The significance of that is this: it’s my understanding the Oilers have been phoning short-listed candidates to tell them if they didn’t get the job. If Beyak was indeed on the short list, then he hasn’t, as of 6:45,  been scratched from the list, so take that for what it might (or may not) be worth. My best guess, as I already said, is the other finalists are Bartlett and Bartel.

Stay tuned.


Either I’m getting bad information, which is entirely possible, or the short list for the job has become something of a moving target.

With Rishaug out, my understanding was that Bartlett, Bartel and Beyak, based on the fact he hadn’t heard from the Oilers (and my assumption he was in the final five), were the final three. Today just before noon, I got a text telling me Rod Pedersen, the voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and somebody mentioned months ago as a candidate, will be interviewing with the Oilers this week.







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

  • Jerk Store

    I caught Shauger doing the main desk on TSN a couple times one weekend a few years back. Seemed like a pure natural. Though possibly he may have appeared as a bit of a company man, that approach may lend credence to his future ability to tow the Oiler line.

    Seems that a critical component to success in any Oiler related industry is to be able to not agitate the overlords, I think RR seems more than able to do that. And if he was that smooth on his first rip at national television, I’m pretty confident he could do just fine for the radio, and probably on his first run.

    I met him once and really liked him. I’d totally invite him to a bbq.

      • Cosmo

        Robin: you tease more than the girls serving at the Pint. Out with it already! (just kidding).

        I’m just happy that there are some good names in the mix – and you’re right about the pick not necessarily being the most talented play by play guy. It will come down to more than that.

        All this being said – the numbers will dictate who stays in the gig. Seems to me a few years ago there was a guy on CTV (Al Nagy?) that called Oiler games…and he was TERRIBLE. Pretty sure I remember comments like “Ranford with a SPECTACULAR save” (the shot came from centre ice) I think he got replaced pretty quick when people stopped watching the games.

        My facts are pry off – but that does pose an interesting question Robin – what happens if the guy they select doesn’t get the buy in from the fans?

        • No tease. Rishaug confirmed to me via text message today (and later on Gregor’s show with Jamie Thomas) he’s in the running.

          As for your reference to Al Nagy, he was teamed with somebody named Brian Wilde back in those days. The station tried to label and sell them as “The Insiders.” The running joke in the pressbox was they were “The Outsiders.” They had no clue.

      • Pajamah

        Is it Tyler Seguin? Lol, jk

        after reading ON, an you Robin specifically, I’ve come to take articles like this as you’ve mentioned before. You haven’t said for sure, but given us good reason to believe Shaugger will be the next PBP guy.

        One thing the stats guys will never be able to do.

        “Rishaug averages 4.8 scoring chances called over 22 minutes of Sportscentre, more than Beyak (3.6) and Bartlett (3.2). Sweet merciful Corsi, he’s by far and away the best option out there”

  • Shauger dogger is the safe choice for the brand that is the Oilers. He is always well spoken on the radio and he never says anything negative about players or athletes in general. He also has good chemistry with Bob kinda like good guy bad guy.

    I haven’t heard Shauger’s PBP yet but I already enjoy listenin to him and Bob when they are on the Team so I think this may be a good move.

  • Jerk Store

    Sorry to pile on Trace but I have four syllables for you, dude: COMP RE HEN SION. I don’t agree with Brownlee all the time but I do read his blog fully before forming an opinion. A) because even if his conclusions are sometimes different than mine, he is an entertaining professional writer and B) I don’t want to look like a moron before posting a contrarian point of view.

    The irony is you chastise him for having bias against Rishaug, but then attempt to blast RB without giving him enough respect to read through more than 3 lines of his article. ‘Nuff said.

    Overall, I like Bartel, but it is personal preferance. I think Rishaug has a bright future in TV and specifically on TSN. Not sure you risk that trying something you “might” be good at. Plus, how often does one succeed trying to follow a legend? And everyone, even our dim-witted friend Trace, would have to agree, no other word describes Rod Phillips better.

    Edit – because my fat fingers were slow on my BB I look like I stole the “comprehension” thing from Brownlee and worse yet agreed with him. Curses.

  • Going to be interesting to see or hear as you will, who will be chosen. Here is a link to a Sun article that is similiar to Robin’s post.


    May be it will be Rishaug.

    (Robin, its the weekend are you wearing your panties??!) – Reference to the Jason Gregor show on Thursday. If you missed it bloggers, it was pretty funny! I think Spector is still laughing.

  • Rishaug at least has NHL experience. All the other so-called front runners are minor and junior league guys (or so it seems). I’m not impressed at all. Maybe I thought other NHL guys were applying for this gig. Anyway, if he’s that good after only calling a hand full of games, seems like he has natural talent and something you can really build from….he’ll only get better.

  • third string plumber

    Simply put,

    Brownlee is jealous of Rishaug and that’s why he hates him so much. He’s hated him for a long time. Everytime I mention him on the boards he gets so pissed off.

    Let’s face the facts, Brownlee’s entry is super biased.

    Let’s hear from someone who doesn’t have anything against the person being discussed.


      • Don’t hold your breath.

        “Ayala” from “the boards” (doesn’t that tell you everything you need to know?) is either looking for trouble or is simply slack-jaw stupid and big-time short on comprehension.

        My guess is the former because nobody could be this dim and still operate a keyboard without help, could they? Ayala? Could they . . ?

    • Dude. Did you even read Robin’s post?

      Looks to me like he thinks Rishaug might be a front runner.

      Seriously man. I’m not sure if there’s a “King of the Douchebags” contest going on right now, but if there was, you’d be in the lead.

      Let’s have a salute to the King, shall we?

      *Forms “L” with his hand. Raises it to forehead.*

  • The more I think about it, the more I think it makes perfect sense. The Oilers, much in the same way they took a very plugged in media member in Bob Stauffer, could once again take a very plugged in media member with a big profile and put the Oiler muzzle on him, all while offering him a dream job. Ryan & Bob have a good chemistry as it is, and one wonders if we could see Oilers Lunch benefit by having BOTH Bob & Ryan co-host the show together. You gotta think Ryan would have a bigger profile (as in workload) than what Rod did. Him on the radio 5 days a week with Bob would be awesome!

    I’d like to see Rishaug get the gig whether he applied or not.

  • Jamie B.

    Rishaug would be a good fit. Even if he is inexperienced so is the rest of the team. It would give both Rishaug and the team a chance to grow together into their respective roles.

  • Jamie B.

    I know this probably isn’t a very big part of their consideration, if at all, but it would be nice to have a guy who knows the Oilers, and Edmonton, Edmonton fans, etc. Rishaug would fit there too.

  • dimensha

    Mark Spector mentioned yesterday, on Gregors show, how he doesn’t think that the PBP role is going to be a strict radio gig anymore, like it has been in the past. With the changes in media that have taken place over the last few years, the PBP guy is going to fill a much larger role, doing TV and other media as well as calling the game. That’s where a guy like Rishaug could fit in very well, with his previous experience in these areas.

    I’ve never heard him do PBP myself, but if he is decent at it then I think he would be great for a job like this. Even if his calls aren’t up to the standard of Rods (how could they be?) he will have plenty of time to grow into that role while already being able to do a great job at the other roles he will likely have.

    If he can do it then he gets a big thumbs up from me

    • Wanyes bastard child

      RossCreek – thanks for posting. Bartlett’s pretty good. A little more flair on the “he scores!” but other than that, Bartlett’s got the voice.