I can’t say I take any joy whatsoever in the news the Edmonton Oilers waived farewell to Zack Stortini today, but we saw that coming after his embarrassing fight with Krys Barch of the Dallas Stars, didn’t we?

It’s never easy to see an honest player who has worked as diligently as Stortini has to make it to the NHL lose his job, but that’s a part of the business that comes with the bright lights and big money.

Like I said last week, Stortini looked to be on thin ice with coach Tom Renney even before the bout with Barch. Obviously, he was. He’s now available to any NHL team that wants him. If he goes unclaimed, he’ll be sent to Oklahoma City of the AHL.

With Ales Hemsky and Jordan Eberle both close to returning to the line-up, possibly against the Los Angeles Kings tomorrow, Renney had a roster decision to make. With Renney unwilling to demote Liam Reddox or Linus Omark, Stortini drew the short straw.

"When you see where you’re going as an organization, you’re not sure when your young guys are going to nail it," Renney said.

"Under these circumstances, our young guys have done well. They’ve earned themselves further opportunity. Now, we have some unhealthy guys getting healthy and they need to get back in the line-up. It falls into the category of a numbers thing and we needed to make a move."

That’s the business end of the game.


I don’t know if another team has a need for a player with the limited skill-set Stortini possesses, but even if he doesn’t get claimed on the way down to Oklahoma City, I wonder if we’ve seen his last game in Edmonton silks.

I’ve had my say on Stortini. I’ve been of the opinion he can be an effective fourth-line player with this team. That said, he didn’t convince Renney of that and I don’t think there’s room on the roster for Stortini, J.F. Jacques and super-heavyweight Steve MacIntyre.

At the same time, I applaud Renney and GM Steve Tambellini for not taking the path of least resistance and demoting Linus Omark or Liam Reddox. I’m not a big Reddox fan, but he brings tenacity and the ability to kill penalties and play a regular shift effectively. As important, his skills aren’t replicated by many Oilers forwards as Stortini’s are with Jacques and MacIntyre.

What Renney needs to do now is employ Jacques and MacIntyre more effectively, For me, that means seeing more of Macintyre — not on a per-minutes basis game in and game out, but spotted in on the fourth line when warranted by opposition rosters.

A quick look at the rest of the schedule tells me No. 33 should draw in 15-18 games the rest of the way, including Feb. 15 against Dallas.


I had some fun doing an hour-long segment of Oilers Lunch with Bob Stauffer at the TEAM 1260 studios today.

While I’m thrilled to have landed a twice-a-week spot as co-host on the Jason Gregor Show these last couple of a years, it’s been awhile since I did an in-studio stint with Stauffer, who gave me my first gig on the radio back during the days of Total Sports. I owe him for that.

Aquila Productions had a camera on Stauffer, Dan Barnes of The Journal and me in studio for 60 minutes for a segment of an upcoming episode of Oil Change. While I fully expect most of what we said today will find its way to the cutting room floor, I’m guessing we’ll end up with 30-60 seconds in the next episode once Don Metz and his crew have done their work.

Two old newspaper guys doing a radio show on TV? If anybody can make a couple of wags look good for posterity on DVD, it’s Metz.


— The Oilers will establish a franchise record when they miss the playoffs for a fifth straight year this season, but it looks to me like they’ve already got more to show for being lousy in terms of the draft under Stu MacGregor than they did when they missed four straight years in the early 1990s.

Off the top of my head, this four-year playoff drought has produced Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi, Jordan Eberle and Sam Gagner. The Oilers have also snagged Tyler Pitlick, Martin Marincin, Curtis Hamilton and Teemu Hartikainen.

During their other four-year miss, the Barry Fraser regime drafted Ryan Smyth, Jason Arnott and Miro Satan but not much else. They used first-round picks on Steve Kelley, Boyd Devereaux, Jason Bonsignore and Matthieu Descoteaux.

— What is really wrong with Gilbert Brule, exactly?

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

  • ~ Gilbert Sars Brule ~

    in all seriousness I can see the talent and the desire in this guy when he plays. I also like that he stepped up and made a quiet (although it did go public) but awesome gesture of laying out 10g’s for the Maddox boy.

    This guy has the spirit and the heart of a guy I’d be proud to wear our jersey, I just hope his body and his head can do it.

  • Mike from Canmore's illegitimate love child

    I think you’re putting Way too much stock in 46’s loss to Barch.

    The second or third time 46 sat down so that the useless 33 could play was the point when the dye was effectively cast that 46 would be waived.

  • Mike from Canmore's illegitimate love child

    Yeah, I believe that is because my dad. I like you early 90s jokes though… They still carry a great deal of merit.

    I’ll try and remember one of those next time I am crawling off your mom and sister

  • Mike from Canmore's illegitimate love child

    @ mike the pure class act

    Ah yes, a prime example of why Edmonton is the classy City it actually is. Keep fighting the good fight, sir. Keep making everyone proud.

    I like that you decided to rock the 90s with your well played jokes. I think if I was 13 again I would laugh. However, since my mom passed away 2 years ago I just think it”s absurd.

  • No I’m not. I suggested last week Stortini was already on thin ice with Renney and that the fight with Barch might be the last straw.

    If Barch wasn’t going to be the end of him, then another situation was going to be. Stortini fell out of Renney’s plans a while ago.

    • book¡e

      RB – was this a case of a guy who came into the league as a fighter (of mediocre NHL fighter caliber) but later thought he could transition to something else vs a coach who thought of him solely as a fighter, but didn’t see a good enough fighter?

      I am not sure that is clear, but I am wondering if Storts felt that he was a good 4th liners without fighting and Renney was more focused on the fighting?

  • neojanus

    Stortini played his way out of the line-up. It seemed inevitable to me. He just couldn’t be trusted to make the right decisions. There were times his failure to make an impact physically cost the Oilers momentum. You can’t keep an “energy” guy that embarrasses himself and also can’t particularly contribute. You also couldn’t trust him not to take bad penalties at terrible moments in the game. I’ve seen some brutally undisciplined chops and charges from 46 a little too many times.

    Jacques, despite the fact that he is not my favourite 4th liner in the league, has at least been scoring a little as of late. If you can get some goals out of your 4th line, you’re doing well. He’s managed to earn a stay of execution — though I suspect he is for the chair soon anyway. His injury problems have rendered him a shadow of what he could be physically and that will likely cost him his career in the NHL. Saying that, he has come on a little and has some time to produce offensively before the end of the season. Let’s see how he does — his confidence is growing.

    Macintyre does bring toughness and his approach to the game is improving. He is skating better, taking a few chances, and his attitude is right. If the Oilers need an enforcer on the team right now — Macintyre is a better option than Stortini with very limited ice time.

    I think Jones should be part of this rebuild. I think he’s worth more to the Oilers than a pick. He’s a hard worker, he can play on the PK, he drives to the net, and his confidence is also growing.

    Good luck in the future to Stortini, but he just wasn’t cutting it for this team right now.

  • Travis Dakin

    Bottom line is Stortini, Jacques and Mac don’t provide what the team needs – players who can man the 4th line and play well enough in the team system to be put on a higher line when an opponent needs an attitude adjustment (ie. fight well enough that they are avoided).

    Everyone thought Quinn was past it because he put these guys with skill players – but the fact is it worked until the injury bug hit – the team was winning because the skill had cover.

    Old Dog knew a thing or two about bullying in the NHL, and when the bullies had to answer the bell the space was there for the skill. Imagine if the team had 3 guys who were a bit better at hockey than S-J-M.

    This to me is why if one of Penner or Hemsky is on the table we keep Penner. With so many smaller guys that only seem to produce when on his line (because of the space) it’s a no brainer to me who goes – unless Stevo-O knows something about Penner we don’t know.

  • The Fish

    Oilers getting smaller and less physical in the process of putting Stortini back . Makes the usual bunch of Oiler sense we have endured since Tams took over as GM . I see Flames on a role with Feaster , maybe there is a message there for us to learn ? Renney and Oilers getting overly redundant with old excuses for futility . How many more years of constant same old reasons for losing do they expect Oiler fans to put up with ?

    I thought management and coaching were supposed to be a results driven business ? Is there no low low enough to make them accountable ? How frequently can you set goals and never achieve anything even close to them , and still have a job ? Since when did getting smaller become our saving grace ? Tanking the season early again ?

  • Whitney27

    Good to hear that the Oilers have finally done something with Stortini, I was hoping eventually they would move him on. Zach is a good person and does work hard and has alot of heart but unfortunatly he has no use to the team we have our tough guy who can actually intimdate the other team.
    Good Luck Stortini

  • The Fish

    I agree with you Robin. Macintyre should dress when the Oil next play Dallas and we’ll see who does the turtling. I can assure you that after Macintyre tunes Barch in, he will not be so classless as to mock him. That was a disgraceful lack of respect if you ask me.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        I’m pretty darn sure Barch will be on his best behavior next game. Barch and MacIntyre is a mismatch of biblical proportions. Steve will have to send Jamie Benn into the third row if he wants to whip that Dallas bench into a frenzy.

        There’ll probably be a race to fight Jacques first before MacIntyre is called into action. I do like the force fed option though.

  • Dan the Man

    I’d like to see Fistric take on Smac daddy. Matter of fact let’s see how tough Ott, Barch, and Fistric are when Smac daddy is on the bench. If I was Renny, I’d tell Smac that he’s got one “get out of jail card” free if Smac needs or wants to instigate. You get my drift….A message needs to be sent to the Stars and around this pussy league that the Oilers have had it.

  • Ender

    madjam wrote:

    I thought management and coaching were supposed to be a results driven business ? Is there no low low enough to make them accountable ? How frequently can you set goals and never achieve anything even close to them , and still have a job ? Since when did getting smaller become our saving grace ? Tanking the season early again ?

    I think the problem lies with different people’s versions of ‘sucess’. For example, let’s look at a similar situation; an F-14 in a flat spin. Most people would probably argue that ‘sucess’ in that situation involves not dying. Perhaps the people that are upset that the pilot didn’t shoot down a passing MIG are setting their expectations just a wee bit high.

  • Ender

    Say what you will, but Zach gave this city a lot of good years, and a lot of effort both on and off the ice. You will be missed. Good luck in OKC. Kick some ass!! Hope to see you here soon, when the next injury string hits the team. Here’s hoping we see the flying Stortini in the Rex again.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    There will be blood.

    If nobody has taken the 35-40 minute slot on that next Oilers/Stars game, could i reserve that spot in the pool please? Steve gets ejected leading to a suspension between the 35 and the 40 minute mark during that game.

    is Paypal okay?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I saw Colton Orr decline a fight from MacIntyre and then used a fight with Stortini to hide from him. I don’t know who I felt more embarrassed for, Orr or Stortini.