WTF?: THE CURIOUS CASE OF JFJ

There’s got to be a good reason J.F. Jacques is still taking up space on the Edmonton Oilers roster and will be in the line-up against the Calgary Flames at Rexall Place tonight. Must be.

We dim bulbs in the media just couldn’t figure out what it might be as we contemplated Jacques playing while Magnus Paajarvi gets a seat in the press box and Steve MacIntyre, who’d just have to yell "Boo" to make the entire Calgary bench shat itself with Raitis Ivanans still goofy from that big right hand, continues to sit with the fat guys up on the catwalk.

Are the Oilers showcasing Jacques for a trade? Has coach Tom Renney fallen down the stairs recently? Does Jacques have photos from the team Christmas party stashed in a lock box somewhere? What?

Be it a misguided plan, blackmail or an aneurysm, Jacques will play left wing on a line with Colin Fraser and Zack Stortini in the latest instalment of the Battle of Alberta while Paajarvi sits elbow-to-elbow with Big Mac up top and Linus Omark spins like a top in Oklahoma City.

This is because…

I DON’T SEE IT

Renney doesn’t have to answer to me or any wag wondering aloud this morning why Jacques continues to see the ice for reasons unclear after his first 16 games this season. Still, it’s a head-scratcher.

"I don’t want to sound like a smart-ass," said Journal columnist Dan Barnes, prefacing his question about Jacques. "What is it that Jacques does? I don’t quite get it . . . when I look at his game, it doesn’t look like he contributes to your . . ."

Renney responded before Barnes even finished the question. "That’s not being smart at all," Renney said. "That’s being observant. I don’t disagree with that.

"The bottom line is you have to put a person in a position to show me what they are really and truly capable of doing. Against a team where we need some heavy lifting, uh, lift."

Perhaps — I’m guessing — this is one last audition for Jacques before he gets sent to the minors. One last chance to show something before the Oilers move on from the big, strong, damaged winger, who has a knack of looking impressive in flashes, while accomplishing nothing.

STEP RIGHT UP

Jacques, closing in on 26, still hasn’t come remotely close to proving himself as an NHL player. Of course, he’s a hulk of a man and he skates well, and the Oilers have invested a lot of time in him since drafting him 68th overall in 2003, so he’s been given every chance to succeed.

I get that. But, with one goal this season, Jacques doesn’t score. With six penalty minutes, he doesn’t agitate or physically intimidate. Jacques has not dropped the gloves once this season, so he’s not a fighter. He doesn’t kill penalties. They used to call Jacques The Crazy Train. That came off the rails a long time ago.

A showcase? What, the Oilers have one team on the hook for a bag of pucks and another willing to part with a box of tape? They’re playing him to up the ante? A trip down the staircase? I see no bumps or welts on Renney’s cranium. Photos? No evidence.

The time has come and is, in fact, overdue, it says here, for the Oilers to move on, just like they eventually did with Marc Pouliot. That roster spot is better used on somebody else.

PAAJARVI SITS

Paajarvi has four points in his first three games against the Flames, but Renney is sitting him.

Said Renney: "I don’t want to hide behind this, ‘It’s good to always look from up top occasionally.’ But, for a young player, it is. For a rookie it is, to see this game from up above.

"Especially with some of the things . . . I’m not going to get into the details of some of the little things we think he needs to kind of do to apply himself with more success at this level.

"I think it this gives him a chance to look at that and see how it functions through other people and then invite that from him moving forward. He’s had to try to overcome a couple of these little things from the get-go, really, and now we’re going to deal with it."

I can’t say I have an issue with Renney’s thinking when it comes to sitting Paajarvi. He seems to have been coming on in recent weeks, but there are still shifts when he seems lost. It’s part of the learning curve and he’s taking it that way.

WHILE I’M AT IT

— Macintyre will sit for the 19th time in the last 21 games, and he can’t be happy about his lot in life right now, save for the pay stub every couple of weeks.

He hasn’t complained about it, though. Of course, nobody asked him about sitting out again tonight. Funny how that happens when a guy that big looks like he wants to punch somebody in the mouth.

— Zingmeister Rob Tychkowski of The Sun had another gem this morning when we scrummed Paajarvi. "Do you think this is because Sweden beat Canada in the shootout?"

— Shawn Belle will take the warm-up tonight and might play. I’m guessing Tom Gilbert is still banged up and he’ll be a game-time decision.

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

  • I tried it at home

    Why sit Big Mac? Aren’t these the games that he was signed for? If you want evidence of Renney’s hurt head this would be it. Sitting Big Mac is nonsense in these games unless Renney actually thought he was going to get more then less for the big guy.

  • Thanks to you and Barnes for asking Renney the question about JFJ.

    The short answer is JFJ is here because Lowe is here and in his heart of hearts desperately wants JFJ to become Lucic.

    This quote from Lowe in Staple’s aricle on the Oiler video scouting system says it best:

    “You could take, for example, all of Milan Lucic’s shifts and give them J.F. Jacques and say, this is sort of what we envision for you. See how he attacks the net.”

    I wonder if Kevin can envision some hockey sense into JFJ too?

    You have to think he’s on his last legs here. If they can’t move him over the summer they shouldn’t qualify him.

  • Muji 狗

    I’m so sick of reading about JFJ. The Oilers blogosphere has ranted on and on about this kid for the last few years. I’d bet there are a 100 times more articles about him than the number of points he scored in the NHL, easily.

    What a waste of time for the writers and the readers. I hope he scores a hattrick tonight, gets dropped to the minors, and never puts on an Oilers jersey ever again.

    PS: I have nothing against him as a person.

  • That’s a great question by OilCruzer.

    What does happen if JFJ plays the game of his life tonight?

    Hell, thus far, “game of his life” could be the Gordie Howe hat trick. Or it could be less than that – a goal and three board crunching hits.

    I’m of the mind that he should have been cut loose last summer.

    And no, I’m sure Kevin Lowe has nothing to do with it.

    Not unless he’s in the photos, too.

    • And no, I’m sure Kevin Lowe has nothing to do with it.

      Did you watch any of the Oil Change stuff, especially episode 1?

      Have you heard Kevin Lowe being interviewed?

      He still has a very heavy hand on the roster and has said as much.

  • I tried it at home

    Robin;
    ref Rob T’s comment about the WJC shootout, Excellent! If he actually asked MPS that, what with English being a second language to the kid, I would of paid good coin to see the look on his face for the first second or so. Thanks for the chuckle, it helps with the hangover

  • magisterrex

    I wish the people who think KLowe is the secret puppetmaster for everything wrong about the Oilers would fall into a big Internet hole and disappear. I’m so tired of reading that garbage.

    Renney doesn’t like Storts or Big Mac. Yet he plays JFJ. Proof that every coach has a downside, no matter how much upside they have.

  • Slapshot

    Playing JFJ and sitting Big Mac makes no sense,especially against Calgary,I would play Big Mac and have him go out and hit anyone in a Calgary jersey,I bet chicken sh*t Regehr will run Hemsky,Hall and Eberle every chance he gets and few players on the Oilers will step up and give him a taste of his own medicine.

  • magisterrex

    @ Robin Brownlee – Have you heard anything from the team re: Penner having a bit of a leg injury? I was sitting closer to the ice at the Avs game and he seemed to be favoring one leg a bit (lifting his foot off the ice to bend/flex his knee/thigh) during TV timeouts and breaks before taking the shot off his foot. His facial expression gave off a sense of something not being right while he did it as well.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Not much of a decision to be made between sending Stortini, MacIntyre or Jacques over the boards every night, JFJ’s foot speed is much better than the other two options. There’s 40-60 pt potential in Jacques, if he could stay healthy he’d be one guy i’d let have a go at playing center, maybe that would open up some opportunities to stick here in Edmonton.

    I thought Pat Quinn starting him on the top line last year was the break he needed, Oilers went 4-2 out of the gate and Jacques got injured and never received the same opportunity when he got back. Someone’s going to get the best out of him when the Oilers send him packing.

    • Wax Man Riley

      Wait, … What?

      I’m sure you mean he has the potential for 40-60 pts over his career right? I have been watching him since they drafted him and have been dumbfounded at the amount of time and opportunity he is given.

      If you have watched him, you see that he just doesn’t make good decisions with the puck when he has it (assuming he can keep it on his stick, he gets knocked off or loses it so quick for someone his size), and makes even worse decisions when he doesn’t have the puck.

      Career minor leaguer.

      ~Or maybe he just needs more time to develop, Tambo needs more that 7 years of history on a player to evaluate~

  • Mitch

    @Brownlee

    Robin JFJ and Brule need to get way more greaser. They don’t understand or embrace their roles it seems. I might be crazy but is Daniel Carcillo from philly the answer? This team lacks energy and doesn’t understand the importance of a good start. Could Carcillo help adress these areas.

  • Mitch

    I have been asking why jfj is here for two years….
    he is a bandaid.
    He is a second round pick 7 years ago…
    we gave up on a first rounder after 3 years and last year he had 44 pts… Does jfj have 44 carrer pts???
    Bottom line is that he provides no impact short of getting in the way of the opposing team once in a while…
    Last time I checked you have to provide some sort of spark to play in the show…
    Maybe I’m wrong and Kevin Predergast was right… Team canada’s are turning out well Right??? Time will tell
    And I have a question too?
    Are the oilers paying omark and pajaarvi to turn into 4th liners???
    It seems every youg offensive forward we draft short of Hall, Eberle Has to work on their defensive game??? tired of hearing that limerick… just say that your right up against the cap, can’t move any contracts and are unwilling to send anyone who’s name isnt sheldon souray to die in the minors…
    Wow I feel a whole lot better now!!

    • I laughed pretty hard at that too, but he didn’t say what league he would get those points in. Maybe darts?

      While other power forward wannabees like Winchester,Isbister, etc., were tossed to the curb without a second thought, JFJ clings to the Oilers like dog crap in the treads of your hiking boots

  • Okay so who is responsible for the Oil special teams? Fire them. When does Renney stop being Mr. Mom, the self-medicated cheerleader and start teaching someone something…any-thing.

    Again I ask where the heck is Tambellini? Does the fanbase’s tacit approval of the ‘rebuild’ mean he does nothing to help this situation or does he hide like he has for the better part of the last two years? Watching guys like Fraser, JFJ, Stortini, Brule and Strudwick. just to name a few I have to believe there are two or three of those guys who never need to worry about damaging their male parts blocking shot… mostly because they have none.

    How the hell does any team put up with Strudwick’s constant turnovers. He’s done it all season so WTF??

    • I think it needs to be clarified that “rebuild” is the politically correct term for “tank and draft in the top 5”. If you make that assumption, then everything you see Tambellini NOT doing makes sense. So far this season is going pretty much to plan.

      Guys like JFJ, Brule, Fraser, Struds and SMac are all important pieces of this plan. Horcoff and replacing those 5 guys with actual NHL’ers would have us in the hunt for playoffs – which won’t be allowed to happen this year, no matter how much Renney says to the contrary.

  • PhillipSmithson

    Well, we don’t have to worry about JFJ playing the game of his life. He didn’t. He may as well book a room in OKC or a make sure the buffet in the press box has his favorite meal.

    With the injury to Eberle, watch for Magnus to be in his position for the next game. Also pick him to get some points.

    Fans don’t mind a ‘re-build’ but if the team on the ice isn’t even appearing to be putting in an effort things will turn ugly real quick.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    What does Stortini do that JFJ cannot? At least JFJ has enough foot speed to actually lay a hit, which he can has proven he can do at this level. He will fight as well, and he will actually throw a punch unlike Stortini. And although he hasn’t shown it in the NHL he has decent hands for an “enforcer”.

    So while I agree with Brownlee that Pajaarvi should be on the ice instead on JFJ, I in turn think JFJ should be taking Stortini’s spot on the ice.

    • So, exactly how many fights has JFJ had this year compared to Zack? And how often is JFJ woefully out of position after he’s laid that “grade A” hit? And how many sweet passes has he received/made? And how many scoring chances has JFJ been involved with?

      Yeah.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Since we seem to be thriving on throwing people under the bus here the last week or so (JFJ MacIntyre, Stortini and Strudwick) lets throw Paajarvi under as well, what the frigg has he done over the last 4 weeks, send his arse to the AHL for a month or so. No shortage of stuff to biotch about here on ON now is there…..plenty for us sheep to bellyache about.

    • It might be best for relatives of players to avoid public forums.

      JFJ has been in the Oiler system for over half a decade and still hasn’t earned a regular place in the line-up, despite having size and decent skating ability. Certainly injuries have hurt his development, but he has been given more than a fair chance by now.

      MPS has scored more points this season than JFJ has in parts of five NHL seasons, so that attempt at exaggeration to prove your point does the opposite.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Not really a valid claim, me thinks, the Oiler developement system has been drastically flawed for most of the last decade, how bout we lump JFJ in there with JDD and give him the benifit of the doubt. Oilers should be able to find a taker for a guy with JFJ’s curb appeal. Renney must just feel he’s the better of a bad bunch throwing him out there before Stortini and MacIntyre.

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    What in the world is going on with MPS these days? I actually thought he was playing very well before being benched the other night…and now this.

    Meanwhile in a completely unrelated story Anton Lander and the rest of the junior-aged players for Sweden are having the time of their lives gaining valuable experience against the best players from around the world.

      • Mike Modano's Dog

        I don’t think so; he is a lot more talented than that! He has the disadvantage of being new to the continent as well as adjusting to the best league in the planet – all at once. Just wait ’til he has been in the league a little longer, and gets it. He has only been in North America for half of one season.
        I know he is struggling in the N.H.L. for now though, especially since being benched.

  • Mitch

    @Brownlee

    Robin I just read Dan Barnes article in the Journal, it’s a great read. As we look into the future how important are Hemsky and Penner? As I see the future and the importance of drafting and the lack of trading/value for the player if I’m Tambellini I move both guys at the deadline or in the summer. I would push for a first round pick for both Hemsky and Penner. Both of these key players are here to give you the offensive edge to win games and leadership, but yet they can’t start the game or they get lost in the middle of it. I’am concerned with Hemsky, his fist game back it was reported in the Journal that he declined media requests and yet he is part of the leadership group. This team needs proper leadership 100% of the time, if a player can’t start the game properly whats the chances of finishing it properly?