I can only guess that the young groom on the right was a very happy man when this photograph was taken, even if it’s not necessarily a pretty picture to those with no emotional skin in the game.
In that regard, fans of the Edmonton Oilers might be a little bit like lover boy here after a stretch in which the Oilers plucked young Ryan Nugent-Hopkins at the Entry Draft and then followed that up by stealing the show on the first day of the NHL’s free agency season.
After back-to-back 30th-place finishes, fans of the Oilers could use a little bit of a honeymoon when it comes to the love of their lives, and GM Steve Tambellini has certainly provided some anticipation of that by drafting RNH, David Musil and all and then rounding up Ryan Smyth, Ben Eager, Cam Barker, Eric Belanger, Darcy Hordichuk, Andy Sutton and Josh Green via trade and free agency.
I’m thinking the Oilers still resemble the blushing bride on the left a little bit too much to be considered a playoff contender in 2011-12, but long-suffering fans are in for a good time — starting tomorrow, when the Oilers kick-off their prospect camp at Millennium Place.
Like the old BTO lyric from You Ain’t Seen Nuthin’ Yet goes: "They say that any love is good, so I took what I could get, yes I took what I could get . . ."
Tambellini, indeed, did at least that.
BREATHLESS . . .
Writers and fans here have waded in plenty already on Tambellini’s spasm of signings and acquisitions Friday, with a range of opinions from breathless gushing to ho-hum scepticism. Whatever your take might be, Tambellini certainly put his Mr. Dithers persona to rest.
Many people — Bob Stauffer comes to mind as one of the first — have talked at length for some time about the importance of bolstering work done at the draft table with acquiring the right mix of transitional players to help bring the kids along and fill obvious needs, even if those veterans won’t be here when the team is any good.
By any measure, I’m thinking Tambellini has done a pretty good job of that, managing to unload Colin Fraser and malcontent Sheldon Souray in the process, which strikes me as a bonus.
He’s acquired functional toughness in Eager, Hordichuk and Sutton. He got a face-off man in Belanger. In Barker, Tambellini got a reclamation project who is young enough that, if he regains his form, could be a part of things down the road. He got glue guys in Smyth and Green.
WHEN THE HONEYMOON’S OVER
After these back-to-back seasons in the basement, all of it must look pretty good to fans who have had precious little to cheer about these last five seasons. I’m sure the lady on the left looks pretty hot to lover boy, too, especially if he’d been sitting home alone on Friday nights for as long as the Oilers have missed the post-season fun.
For now, with the prospects on the ice tomorrow, enjoy the honeymoon. You’ve earned it. Scratch out some line combinations. Contemplate who will have to be traded — the best bets are apparently Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano — now that this team is so laden with depth Tom Renney won’t have a place for everybody.
We’ll re-visit how this team stacks up, and why, soon enough, like when training camp and pre-season begins. We’ll ask some questions about what still looks to me like a glaring deficiency in goal. We’ll see how all the new pieces fit together, and if they do. Want to talk about being back in the playoffs next season? Get after it.
Any love is good love . . .
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.