I remember the last time the Edmonton Oilers beat the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center, Jan. 16, 2007, for two reasons — some things just stick in your mind.

It’s been 16 games since the Oilers beat the Wild in the Land of 1,000 Lakes, winning 2-1 on goals by Joffrey Lupul and Marc-Andre Bergeron in front of a 28-save performance by Dwayne Roloson.

First, that win is the last road game I covered as the beat man for the newspaper I worked for here in town. Had I known I’d be notified shortly after I didn’t fit into the plans any more, I might have swiped a towel or two from the grand, old St. Paul Hotel as mementos.

Second, I’ll never forget how coach Craig MacTavish made the decision to make Brad Winchester a healthy scratch for the game, despite knowing Winchester’s parents had travelled from Wisconsin to see the game.

It was apparent then that Winchester, crushed as you’d expect by MacTavish’s decision, didn’t fit into the plans either. Winny outlasted me, hanging around until he was cut loose at the end of the 2006-07 season. Doubt he thought to pinch any towels, either.

Of course, neither event has any bearing on what’ll unfold when the Oilers face the Wild Thursday — there aren’t many guys left from either team — but the events of that day do serve as a personal reminder how much time, coming up on five years, has passed.

I’m not calling the shot for the Oilers to end the streak, but it stands to reason the breaks are bound to change at some point after all this time. At least, I’d like to think they will.


Jason Gregor was taking friendly over/under wagers on his radio show on TEAM 1260 today for a return by defensemen Ryan Whitney from surgery on his right ankle and was pitching Oct. 27 as the cut-off date. I’ll take the under.

My understanding — call it an educated guess if you’d like — is that, barring any setbacks, Whitney and the Oilers have targeted next Tuesday’s game against the Flames in Calgary as a return date.

If Whitney, who is skating in Edmonton, hits the date, he’ll have missed the first four games of the season — Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Vancouver (Saturday) and Nashville (Monday).

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

  • just out of curiousity, did smyth ever play a game again as an oiler after this point against the wild? maybe when they traded him, the wild is the withstanding curse. but now that they have him back…this curse is broken. the oil will win tom night.

  • Toro

    Little off topic but was thinking that everyone knows the Oilers weakness was defence going into the season so why didnt the Oilers make a pitch at Brent Burns from Minni at the time.. He would have been a top defenceman here and all it took was Setoguchi to get him I think we could have sent Omark and maybe a little extra and got Burns…Little dissapointed at that one

    • A lot extra.

      Setoguchi has 161 points in 270 NHL games. Omark has 27 points in 52 games. Omark might be a regular one day, but he hasn’t established himself as one yet.

      You don’t get Burns for that and “a little extra.”

    • Jerk Store

      Also less likely they would have traded within the division unless they got a premium. But
      I agree with your assertion that Burns would have been a very good “get”. Not necessarily a top tier guy in the league, but a big improvement over what is here and still some upside. I think that is the kind of D-man we are going to have to go for. Don’t get me wrong, would love to see a Weber sign as a UFA down the road, but I just don’t see it happening.

  • The Farmer

    That is crazy that we had to trade to get a guy so we could actually ice a line on this team that has had experience winning in a building that gets played in 3 times a year. (Say that ten times fast)

    • I love how everyone assumes that trades just happen because we ask. How do you know Tambi didn’t make the call?

      I remember the hate for Tambellini when Malholtra was available and we “missed out” …. until I watched the phone calls on Oil Change and Tambellini announced that Malholtra wasn’t interested in “a rebuild” with the Oilers.

      • Romanus

        I was just about to write the same thing. It amazes me that everyone thinks its easy to make these trades and that obviously Tambo didn’t try to make moves. I would guess hes trying and its likely tough to extract a top defenceman without giving something big up from our team that we don’t want to part with.

    • Rob...

      Agreed. I loved the player, and there’s no doubting his positive influence in the 2006 run, but MacT showed a dark side of his soul with that Winchester benching.

      • Lofty

        I don’t think it’s that bad. This isn’t minor league hockey. These are professional sports organizations that are supposed to playing the best teams they can. If the coach didn’t feel it was the right move to play him it shouldn’t matter if his parents, girlfriend or the pope was coming to watch.

        Regardless of where the Oilers finished in the standings that year, the coach should always play the best line-up that allows the team to exploit its potential. Playing the guy because his family was coming to watch is an example of the nepotism that contributed to the failures of the last 20 years.

      • Talbot17

        If a Brad Winchester is going to decide the outcome of winning or losing a hockey game…

        I would think the fact that MacT “lost” the dressing room would lend itself to how his decisions (Winchester scenerio included) didn’t sit well with a lot of players.

        Sometimes the smallest things make the biggest difference (even with professional athletes).

        The saying goes, “You are either with me, or against me!”

  • Chris.

    “Second, I’ll never forget how coach Craig MacTavish made the decision to make Brad Winchester a healthy scratch for the game, despite knowing Winchester’s parents had travelled from Wisconsin to see the game.”

    Are the Winchester’s gypsies?

  • John Chambers

    San Jose gave up Setoguchi and what amounted to two late 1st rounders for Burns.

    So before telling yourself that we shouldve made this deal, it amounts to us dealing Pitlick, Musil, and Omark (if you allow that Omark = Setoguchi) for a guy with one year left on his contract. Edmonton is also not San Jose in either appearance or competitiveness, so I also highly doubt Burns would’ve re-upped here.

    Although I agree that Tambellini needs to grow a pair and make a trade for a Dman, we can be glad he didn’t make that one.

    • Talbot17

      Really? Cause before San Jose came knockin’, he was in Minnesota…I bet he easily would have came to Edmonton.

      Should have given up hemsky for Burns. Clean Swap.

        • Talbot17

          hemmer would has drawn a pick too, point being is I’d rather get a formitable D then keep a regularly injured forward. But again, the season is young and I’d prefer to see hemsky here and performing top notch at his potential.

          • Hemsky is a high-end price for Burns. Omark is not enough. Gagner is the middle ground.

            Even with all of Hemsky’s injury problems, he has been more productive in the previous four seasons coming into 2011-12 — 201 points in 215 games compared to Sam’s 173 in 291 (and yes, I know that Sam was just a teenager in his first two seasons).

            A healthy Hemsky is a high-end talent. Gagner we’re not sure about — yet.

      • John Chambers

        Really? A city that doesn’t get any snow and is full of hot latina and asian chicks who are all extremely insecure about their bodies vs. E-town? Have you been to California? It is a great place to be young and rich.

        Also a team who routinely finishes top-5 in the league and who almost made the SCF’s vs a team who finished last two years in a row?

        Really? Really?

        And Minnesota wants an oft-injured Hemsky with one year left on his contract?

        • Talbot17

          See Havlat investment. Minnesota would take in part time damaged goods, halvat was having injury issues when they first got him

          and sure, Cali has a big draw. I am just saying the reality is getting a formitable D man is going to take trading something top end for us, and i dont see anyone really worthwhile of dealing than hemsky or an Omark. Gagner seems like a player you end up trading, then he takes off and has a great career. I personally would wait on him but thats just me

          • John Chambers

            Sure, fundamentally we’re in agreement. By the spring we’ll have the assets to deal a pkg like Omark, Pitlick, abd Klefbom to a team indecline like Phoenix for Keith Yandle. Hopefully by then we’ll also be perceived as a team on the up-tick where good NHL players actually want to play.

            But unfortunately our unprovens aren’t good enough to fetch that kind of return at this moment, and it would be dicey to give up on re-signing Hemsky only to encounter the challenge of re-signing Ryan Suter.

            Timing is everything. I’ll certainly be judging Tambellini on his ability to renovate the Blue between now and next season, but so far I give him top marks for nurturing rather than squandering our young assets.

  • book¡e

    does anyone know if terry jones has been consistently picking the oilers to win in minny, cause that can’t be good.

    sure hope whitney can come around and play soon. do not hope that it is too soon tho and he could re-aggrevate it prooir to proper healing. we need him long term not short.

    arch good pick on the goat…so far. also my goat, horcoff, not on 1/2 pp units and relegated to 3rd line, sweet.

  • Talbot17

    As per the Whiteney guesstimate, i am taking the over.

    Its no concussion, but even a small pain in his foot to me goes a long way. The oil staff know this guy changes the face of the team on the back end, i said we dont see him till November

  • Puritania

    oh yeah, and where are all the Souray haters hiding? I thought that guy couldn’t play anymore? Seems to be doing just fine with Dally.

    3 points in 3 games. Average of 21.21 mins of ice time over 3 games.

    From the NHL network…

    Against Chi “Benn made it 2-0 with 3:58 remaining in the second while both teams were skating with four men. Just six seconds after Chicago’s Marian Hossa entered the penalty box, Sheldon Souray unleashed one of his patented bombs from the top of the left face-off circle. Crawford made the save, but Benn pounced on the loose rebound, knocking the puck to his backhand and flipping it over Crawford’s outstretched glove hand.”

    Against Pho “With the extra attacker on late in the game, Steve Ott pushed the puck to Sheldon Souray at the left point, and Souray unloaded a blast that Eriksson was able to get a piece of in front to tie the game at 1-1.”

    ~ Yeah that’s right, you go to Hershey and hide cuz we don’t need you and we don’t need your big mouth. Plus, this way we are guaranteed to finish last so I can save my job by getting Stu to pick us a guaranteed number 1. ~

    • Puritania

      Souray is a grade A dink and I still wouldn’t want him on the team regardless if he is putting up points.

      He is a cancer to this team and should stay away from the kids.

    • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

      So… what are you saying? The Oilers shouldn’t have benched him last year? Even in hindsight it was a good move IMO.

      For the record I’m a Souray hater and I’m still here…Don’t recall saying he couldn’t play, only his attitude was horrible.

      • Souray backers might want to wait more than three games before declaring him a Norris Trophy candidate. Let’s see him over a full season and, most important, let’s see how many games he plays.

        Even if Souray had managed to replicate the season in Montreal that got him the big contract here during his time as an Oiler, which he didn’t, he was poisoning the room.

        Souray wasn’t happy here with a team that was headed the wrong way after making it to the Cup final — among other things, he didn’t see the team heading south as fast as it did — and he let it be known. An unhappy veteran, no matter who it is, is not condusive to a rebuild when you’ve got a whole bunch of kids trying to fit in. Souray AND management contributed to a bad situation.

        • I never declared that he was Norris, and I agree that he needs more than 3 games to prove his game, but he is definitely getting the ice time and is being relied upon in the big situations, and is answering the bell for Dallas.

          I watched one of Dallas’ game this year and Souray looked decent out there and his numbers prove it. Also, his contract is pretty small for what he is bringing. I still struggle to see how Cam Barker and his contract is an upgrade over what Souray brings.

          You have a point on the locker room thing, but I’m sure there are other guys who are no longer here that can share some of that blame.

          I never went into the Oilers locker room but I did know Souray on a personal level a few years back. He was a solid stand up guy who always chatted with and made everyone feel welcome, his generosity knew no bounds (and this was pre-monster contract when he was still with NJ). I remember when he would come to town and he would take friends shopping and buy them whatever they wanted. Then, when we were all out for dinner or whatever he would get mad if someone other than him picked up the tab.

          i’m probably biased because I knew the guy beyond the rink, but on a personal level he truly is a good guy. It’s too bad he never worked out here.

          • book¡e

            Souray’s performance this year could be because he got a pretty clear wake up call and ego bashing when no one picked him up at half price. He might not have been near as good in Edmonton.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    If Whitney is ready for Tuesday then that won’t be too bad. Hopefully we can at least be .500 by then and our lineup can start to take form. The key is having him stay healthy for the rest of the season after that.