TAYLOR HALL: IT SUCKS

Taylor Hall was talking about the ankle injury that ended his rookie season, but he just as easily could have been talking about the sad-sack fortunes and the crap-for-luck injuries the already woefully undermanned Edmonton Oilers have endured during the 2010-11 campaign.

"It still sucks," said Hall, facing reporters in the Oilers dressing room at Rexall Place today. "I’ve never been hurt before. I’ve never had to deal with this kind of stuff.

"It gets pretty boring. All I do is workout and watch the boys play. It’s definitely not something you want to go through, for sure."

No. No, it isn’t. But on the day the Oilers made it official that Ales Hemsky is done for the season, joining Ryan Whitney, Sam Gagner and Hall in a growing see-you-next-year contingent as the team engages in a pitched battle with Colorado for 30th place, it’s worth noting fans have been dealing "with this kind of stuff" for five years now.

There is distinction between short-term sucking for a teenager like Hall and the variety that is never-ending, the kind that has stained the fabric of this organization since the Oilers robbed the Anaheim Ducks blind in the Chris Pronger trade.

But I digress . . .

NO TROPHY FOR THE KID

One by one the walking wounded limped by the ink-stained newspaper people and TV types, like Dave Mitchell in his cheap shoes, today in a pitiful procession that lacked only a Monty Python soundtrack (yes, I’m a fossil) or a telethon as a back-drop.

Hall hobbled out in a walking cast. So did captain Shawn Horcoff, letting us know the slapper Magnus Paajarvi rattled off his ankle in Pittsburgh cracked a bone and will keep him out about 10 days. J.F. Jacques also left with his foot in a walking cast.

Like I said last weekend, you have to feel for the Oilers as they stagger into the final 12 games of the season with who is left and whatever three players they call up from Oklahoma City. If fans don’t somehow find a way to laugh at the atrocious luck, they might cry.

I feel particularly bad for Hall, who could have slapped some lipstick on this pig of a season if he’d stayed healthy and taken a run at the Calder Trophy.

"I think me, Ebs (Jordan Eberle) and Horc were playing well," said Hall, who buckled his ankle in a scrap with Derek Dorsett of Columbus. "I was just starting to feel good.

"I was going to try and make a push for the Calder and try and really finish out the season strong. It just kind of put a damper on that."

HARSKI: BLESS YOU

What is Harski?

That’s the question that popped into my mind the first time I saw the term "Harski" on one of the Oiler blogs (I don’t remember which one) months ago. Harski sounds like the noise my uncle Arthur used to make when he’d sneeze and spray gumbo all over the sleeve of his shirt.

I’ve since learned through the wonder of the interweb Harski is a nickname for Teemu Hartikainen — although I should mention to those who already have a Harski name bar stitched to their pajama tops that teammates were calling him "Harti" this morning.

Be that as it may, the big Finn arrives from Oklahoma City with qualities this team is woefully short on — a willingness to grind, bang, charge to the net like his hair is on fire and, generally speaking, mix it up.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Hartikainen has progressed since the prospects camp here. If he can pick up a step — footspeed is his biggest shortcoming, based on what little I’ve seen — the Oilers might have a steal with a player they selected 163rd overall in 2008.

Hartikainen, 20, skated today on a line with Colin Fraser and Steve MacIntyre, but I wouldn’t put too much stock in that. The Oilers had just nine forwards on the ice, so their combinations will change when the call-ups arrive before Phoenix comes calling.

What is Harski? We’ll start to get an idea Thursday.

WHILE I’M AT IT

— So, we’re told Gilbert Brule has a concussion. He is either a medical marvel in terms of the number of different injuries and ailments that have kept him out of the line-up the last two seasons, particularly this year, or there is something else going on here.

— Eberle is a lock to lead the Oilers in scoring (unless he’s been injured since leaving the rink this afternoon). Eberle has 36 points and will set a franchise low in points for a team scoring leader (full season). That distinction is held by Petr Klima, who had 32-16-48 in 1992-93.

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

  • Back on form, Robin.

    The nation is in hibernation, but we still need you to help focus the chaos.

    The Finn is in! Praying this is a fine time to bring a good luck charm to the team for leprechaun Day – not to help us win, but to play that ELPH, not join the zombies in walking casts/boots brigade and keep the fans involved. Poor OKC, hitched to poorest-run team in the show.

    The future of the Oilers really depends on them signing some quality players this summer. The new arena, the season ticket base, and any shot at fixing this mess of a team.

    This isn’t a rebuild. That term implies keeping some foundation or even a corner stone. Ditching Penner, a good move in my mind, goes to “scorched and salted earth”.

    4-6 years is not plausible, unless you are Pocklington-promising a Stanley, and cannot be justified in any sense. We need new management now.

    The Souray/Khabibulin/Foster/Fraser signings are all sour. Letting Glencross go to Calgary without a phonecall was truly incompetent. The humiliating chase for Heatley. The carousel of P’Killers and faceoff maestros Stoll/Reasoner/Brodziak gone without being replaced. It has all the signs of directionless leadership, such that they now claim we should look to the future.

    Well, our future is on the shelf for fighting a smallish goon who leg-hooked him on the throwdown. Hall would’ve been better off fighting a giant, getting a few busted teeth and a shiner but none the worse for wear, instead of authenticating another one of these scrappy shames to the game, dirty buggers like Dorsett and Cooke who play to injure.

    Again, thanks for the good read Robin. I’m curious to read Lowetide’s assessment of “the Nuge”. Perhaps the Penner trade helps us get some back end help, freeing up Stu to draft the BPA and addressing our needs for an offensive centre to match with the baby Oil on the wing.

    Go Oil! crazy fans we be

  • The Farmer

    There were rampant rumors amongst the fan base that Mike Comrie’s battle with “mono” was a bunch of BS. It wouldnt surprise me if Brule’s bout with “the flu” was BS as well.

    But this latest injury is pretty obvious.

  • 9 Inches Uncut

    This team was relatively injury free compared to many teams until the last few weeks and let’s face it. This team was a 30th place team at that point as well.

    It makes these last few games even more pointless to watch but don’t let the media and Lowe blame another failed season on injuries.

    They built a crap roster and got a crap season.

  • The Farmer

    I really hope we dont get too concerned with making our lottery pick fit with our current roster. Even if it’s a weaker draft, we are talking about a lottery pick, adjust whatever area we need to to make the newbie fit, if the best player is small, who cares, pick the best player. If we have to trade Gagner or Omark or Cogliano, who cares. I like the players but they are much easier to swap with a hundred other players in the NHL. Lottery picks have the potential to change your franchise for 15 years. Complimentary players are easy to find with a core of superstars.(Hall Eberle RNH )

  • Mitch

    @Brownlee

    Listening to Oilers lunch today, Stauffer was really high on RNH from the rebels. This kid is really lighting it up, I do feel the same as Stauffer, draft the best player available. If the Oilers draft RNH we must move out some smaller guys but don’t need to rush, I have seen RNH play live but not recently, it was at the start of the year. I felt he was a very effective pass first player, generating off the rush, who needed to work on his finishing, there would be no reason to rush this player into the NHL. What I also found interesting was how he mentioned next years draft for 2012 also had some high end players in it as well. All things considered, I really don’t feel that there is any player in this years draft that would have any impact on a roster to warrant keeping him around more than the 10 game mark. The year 2012-2013 should be huge for the oilers many important players on board and ready to dominate. The biggest question of all is can the team stay healthy?

    • Lowetide just did something on Nugent-Hopkins and he probably knows more about him than I do. I don’t spend as much time studying the kids as a lot of guys who specialize in that.

      If I want to know details about prospects, I go with Stu MacGregor and various scouts. Otherwise I try to read what people like Guy Flaming, Lowetide etc write.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Great article, Robin.

    If you get a chance to talk to Tambellini, could you ask him if he’s considered replacing Renney with John Maclean next season and making a run for the playoffs?

  • stevezie

    @ RB:

    The Oilers robbed the Ducks blind????

    I assume you either got that reversed, or meant to write “Blues,” depending on when you think the string of bad luck began…

        • I doubt this will register in the slack-jawed dimension in which you exist, but when it comes to the health and well-being of a player, I’d rather provide information based on facts rather than speculation and then say, “I told you so.” If there is a story to be told regarding Brule and I get it, I trust you will be the first to congratulate me.

          • Seriously....Gord?

            “Team whoever is best”
            PWNED

            RB
            No need to speculate….Brule is made of glass. Hope he can pull it together next year and get some games in, b/c its seriously going to affect his career if he can’t put in a showing next year. Can’t trade him, can’t resign him…it’s like Pisani 2.0.

            The guy, and the team, have no luck at all.

  • fuck off

    Here’s the truth about Brule:

    GB plays balls out hockey!! He is the most prone to injury because he’s risking the most with his style of play. The cause of his most recent injury was himself! Knocking noggin’s with Letang while he steam rolled the All Star D-man is just a by product of playing hard hitting hockey. Of course everyone will go on about his illnesses and flu bugs but when your body’s immune system is busy trying to recover from last night’s dozen bruises it’s going to be weak to attacks of other kinds.

    Pure and simple, he’s a wrecking ball made of flesh; not iron.

  • What really kills me it Horcoff just stood there like a moron while Mags is winding up, WHY THE HELL DIDNT HE JUMP!! I’ve watched that reply 3 times now I just dont get it!! Its like he was checking out some hot chick in the audience.

    • I would hope that there is a code of ethics thing going on here. It’s obvious that Brule is not well, and the press is good enough not to speculate on what is happening. They are passing on what comes out of the Oilers communications dept. and that is the myriad of injuries & illnesses – if there is indeed something deeper and darker wrong with the chap, they are respecting his privacy and not sharing it or speculating on it.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Gagner,Hemsky and the Kings first round to Florida for Steven Weiss (2 more yrs@3.1 per) and the Panthers first selection in this summers draft.

    Gagner,Cogliano and the Kings first in exchange for Weiss and Gudbranson.

    Weiss,Horcoff,Couturier/RNH,Brule and Fraser down the middle going into next year, still have a good shot at Larsson with the Oilers selection as well.

    Fairly aggressive offer but we could end up with the best players in the deal.

    • stevezie

      I don’t think either team does that deal. Tallon has a huge boner for draft picks and with the state that Florida’s in I can’t see him shipping a top fiver out for one year of Hemsky. From the Oilers- Weiss is not a size or talent upgrade over Gagner, he’s just older and more developed. That’s nice and all, but I’d rather stick with our guy who should start peaking right when we need him. I’m also not sure this year’s top 5 is worth Hemsky. I’m not saying it’s a terrible deal, I just don’t see it working.

      Looking at it again, maybe Florida does it if they have some reason to believe they can extend Hemsky; maybe the Oilers do it if their scouts are much higher on some kid than everyone else’s scouts are, though I agree with Willis on the wisdom of betting that you’re much smarter than everyone else.