While I admire those churning out KHL reports, AHL updates and even season point projections (without any of us having the first clue if we’ll have an NHL season or how many games it’ll be), I don’t see a single issue I can hang a whole item on, so I won’t even try.

With the NHL’s October schedule already scrapped, and without even the slightest urge to regurgitate what’s already been written several times over here and elsewhere, it’s mostly tidbits for me – top-of-the-head thoughts that haven’t, and likely never will, grow into full-blown 1,000-word tomes (like a paragraph by that New Age System guy).

Instead, it’s dot-dot-dot stuff and random takes, sort of like squeezing the notebook at the end of a road trip to coax out bits and pieces that never made it into games stories and sidebars, an exercise hall-of-fame scribe Jim Matheson of The Journal turned into an art that became his must-read Hockey World pages on weekends.

Like the title of my favourite movie, that’s about As Good As It Gets until Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr, Daryl Katz and Stephen Mandel give me some new material to work with – or until somebody posts the cellphone video from Jason Gregor’s birthday bash Saturday night.


. . . So, the NHLPA and owners are sticking to their proposals of last week and aren’t even planning any face time together this week with a deadline looming to salvage an 82-game season, eh?

With each day that passes I’m sensing fans are making the transition from being pissed off to indifferent, and that’s death for any league. Yes, the vast majority of fans, particularly those here in Edmonton, will be back when the league finally gets back to business, but some won’t, and those numbers will be considerably bigger than the stoppage of 2004-05.

. . . "(I’m) not sure there is any reason to meet if there is nothing new to say," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Canadian Press in an email today. "Our position was communicated to the union pretty clearly last Tuesday and then again on Thursday.

"If they have a desire to meet with regard to the proposal we have on the table, they know how to reach us."

Am I the only one who sees an image of Daly, with Bettman smiling and nodding in the background, extending both his middle fingers as he says this? I think not. Besides, wouldn’t another proclamation by Bettman be akin to an NHL version of BOHICA?


. . . Bill Watters was on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer today and suggested the NHL will expand by two teams within a season or so of a new CBA being signed. Watters cited Markham as a likely landing place for one of the expansion teams in large part based on demand because of network plays by TSN, Sportsnet and CBC for exclusive rights on certain nights.

The scenario Watters painted is that Markham and Quebec City would be in line for expansion outfits and that Phoenix could end up moving to Seattle. It’s definitely worth a listen.

In the same segment, Watters suggested real estate developer Rudy Bratty (pictured atop this item), the money behind a push to land an NHL team in Markham, would rather partner up with somebody like Katz and put money into a team that included the likes of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins than an expansion team full of cast-offs. You think?

AND . . .

. . . Yes, it’s early and yes it’s the AHL, but Justin Schultz, just named player of the week, has grabbed everybody’s attention in his first weeks of pro hockey with the Oklahoma City Barons. Might, emphasis on might, Schultz be the lock as a top-four defenseman (and power-play specialist) the Oilers need, a hole we thought would have to be filled with the acquisition of a veteran through trade or free agency? Damn sure looks like it.

. . . Another insightful posting by Gregor based on the interview he did with Hall. So, Hall is rooming with Eberle in OKC (as he does in Edmonton) and Nugent-Hopkins is bunking with Schultz. I’d be willing to bet these kids will make up four-fifths of Ralph Krueger’s first power-play unit not long after Bettman and Fehr get around to cutting up the cash.

. . . Note to Wanye: Unlatch your thumbs from your Twitter account long enough to come through with those Oilersnation stickers you promised me.

Half of the people who come through the door of my new shop – that’s CRACKMASTERS SOUTHWEST at 17544 105th AVE. — on any given day looking for a new windshield want to talk about hockey and many of those are devout readers of The Nation. So, Wanye, please deliver the stickers to CRACKMASTERS SOUTHWEST at 17544 105th AVE, where members of Oilersnation receive big discounts. Thank-you.

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

  • “Yes, it’s early and yes it’s the AHL, but Justin Schultz, just named player of the week, has grabbed everybody’s attention in his first weeks of pro hockey with the Oklahoma City Barons.”


    Seriously though, this is one of my least favourite things about being an Oilers fan; everyone is so used to being let down all the time that the second you get excited about something everyone lines up to shout you down and remind you how crappy things will probably end up.
    I mean, I’m all for having reasonable expectations and trying not to get too caught up in hype and excitement, but the fact that we still have to preface talking up Schultz with “I KNOW it’s the AHL, and I KNOW it’s only been 4 games, etc” is so god damn lame.

    This is a kid who CHOSE TO SIGN IN EDMONTON over a bunch of other teams, who was a second round pick, back-to-back WCHA defensive player of the year winner, and by all accounts was the most hotly contested free agent going this summer, who is already having a great start to his pro career. HOW ARE WE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE EXCITED???????

    Then again this is the same fan base that features a large number of people who are hanging their hat on the fact that Jordan Eberle is supposed to have a crappy season this year, so I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised.


    • While I sometimes grow weary of the segment of fans who constantly caution about “small sample size” — mainly because I think many of them have latched onto the term just to sound smart — history suggests the reality is we’ll need to see more of Schultz (against real NHL fire) before we can draw concrete conclusions.

      I’ve seen a lot of youngsters tear it up in the minors (and in pre-season) only to fall back when the regular season begins. I think what we can say at this early juncture is it appears Schultz comes as billed — he moves very well, has offensive instincts and the ability to work a power play etc. There is reason for optimism until we get that longer look.

  • Reg Dunlop

    I have a hard time listening to Stauffer these days, albeit only during commercial breaks during Specs show… I don’t know if it’s just me, or if there’s some serious fear mongering going on there. I understand that Katz is his boss, but it seems like City Hall is taking a beating from the host, and he doesn’t discuss both sides equally. Like I said I don’t listen a lot, so maybe I’m way out to lunch. I would however enjoy seeing additional Canadian teams brought in to the league, either by expansion or relocation, not our boys in orange and blue of course 🙂

    • Wanyes bastard child

      Listen to Gregor. He doesn’t have an agenda. He’ll interview people from both sides and actually ask them questions. I can’t even listen to Stauffer anymore.

    • Reg Dunlop

      I can’t figure out how to give a prop on here or I would give you one. We all know Bob Stauffer (I prefer BS at the moment) is a very sharp hockey man and only Matty is more plugged into the Oiler organization, but first on the lockout and now on the Katz fiasco he is sounding way too much like a company man, on top of being on the wrong side of both issues.

      Credibility is very had to get Bob, but much, much easier to lose and yours is melting faster than those Greenland glaciers. If that is the price of hosting Oilers Now you would be better off doing something else.

      I love all the good things Katz has done since buying the club. He has not only fixed up the dressing rooms and given the team an AHL franchise, he has hired top drawer people to run it. There are questions about the team’s pro scouting and the brain trust is as mysterious as the ancient pyramids but give the man his due. He has really improved the franchise and his total support for the rebuild is as fantastic as the fan support for it.

      But Katz has behaved abominably on the arena file recently, and only Stauffer and local businessmen who would walk over their mom’s face for a few extra bucks are in his corner on that one. Obviously he is asking too much and whoever designs his PR strategy should be tarred and feather, or at least fired. If he has a case to make he must make it and he (or an articulate spokes fella) must make it in public. Case closed.

  • Calvin

    Seriously, what’s the deal with the New Age System guy? Is he a professor of something? A con man? A robot? An alien? Is he planning a takeover of the world?

    • I’ve come to appreciate Gregor’s interviewing ability because he leans heavily on a dusty, old concept we used to be taught in J-School: he is fair.

      If Gregor goes after somebody, he doesn’t do it for the wow factor or to be controversial, he does it because he thinks it needs to be done. If he compliments somebody, it isn’t to kiss backside and gain favour, it’s because that’s how he sees it.

      If you come at people that way, balanced, over time, if they know you call it as you see it — good or bad — they’ll talk to you and answer your questions.

  • Reg Dunlop

    With regard to expansion/relocation, clearly it is better to relocate within the USA and expand in Canada. That way the new US market has a decent line-up and a fighting chance at success while the new Canadian team will be supported regardless how bad they are in the beginning. Where to expand? I think natural spots are Montreal and Toronto. Like days past, the leafs and the Blueshirts in TO, the Habs and the Maroons in Montreal. For all the Habs haters what could be better than a Montreal team for english-speaking Quebec? It would be like that Rush song ‘The Trees’ come to life.

    The GM for the new Maroons could be James Cross.

  • Indifference, that’s what is slowly coming. It has been 8 years since I lived in Canada and the past four have been in Europe. Needless to say with almost no coverage and 8-12 hour time differences it is really difficult to follow the oilers, let alone he entire NHL. You have to work at it.

    When I see the pathetic greed of the owners and the NHLPA I realize the it just isn’t worth the effort and I will give up. Perhaps start again when I move back eventually. It really is a crap league, all things considered.

  • Stauffer is not an objective journalist and I can’t recall him ever making such a claim. He may well be an objectionable journalist though. If I want to watch an organ-grinder’s monkey perform I’ll be sure to tune in 630. I’m so fed up with this cycle of verbal vomit about the strike and the new downtown arena I rarely even listen anymore to 1260.

    The greed and stupidity on all sides has turned me off.

    IMO much of the print and electronic media in E-town has done nothing but throw gas on the arena issues and made this controvery worse than it needs to be.

  • Oil Rigz

    Perhaps the author or someone else in the know can enlighten me:

    Isn’t there an issue with a massive compensation payment for infringing on another NHL franchise’ territory? I know in the past one of the things keeping a franchise out of Hamilton(a sure fire success at the gates)was the compensation issues with Buffalo and Toronto.

    I would have to think if that were still the case, the fee required to satisfy the filthy rich money making juggernaut MLSE would be stratospheric.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    RB, I remember someone calling your articles out in a comment a few months ago. How your articles used to be must-reads and how now they’re simply spinning the obvious. I also remember the comment “disappearing”.

    I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m developing the same opinion. And speaking of my opinions; in my eyes, you’re still the best ON writer (sorry to the rest). But it’s starting to feels like you’re just going through the motions. And it’s not just because of the preface of this piece.

    I realize there isn’t much to write about, but to me, it feels (and reads) like you’re not trying. You have a knack for sniffing out the not-so obvious and you have the balls to make good assumptions and solid predictions. Makes me feel like this is a time where you could put out some good stuff.

    • Wanyes bastard child

      I do take it the “wrong” way.

      I find this recollection contrived as can be: “RB, I remember someone calling your articles out in a comment a few months ago. How your articles used to be must-reads and how now they’re simply spinning the obvious. I also remember the comment “disappearing.”

      You remember a specific comment from “months ago” being removed? OK.

      You don’t like the content of an item? Fine. Click through.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Robin, I like these kinds of articles, please keep churning these out. It reminds me of Matty’s Hockey World (as you’ve mentioned) and Elliott Freidman’s 30 Thoughts; both must reads.

    On Katz, he doesn’t strike me as a man that would take a partner. He seems like a “my way or highway” type guy that wants all of the control. Would he take on a partner to shell out $300M for a relocation fee? Maybe, but it would water down his share, and for some reason, I don’t see him being content with that (but what do I know, I’m no Kreskin). I guess we’ll have to keep listening to Bob to get clues on what Katz will do.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Good ay for the NHL to get the distaste of the lock out out of everyone’s mouth is to give them 2 expansion teams and a move to Seattle by Phoenix. The expansion money and the increase in revenue would more than make up for any loses the league incurs this year.

    here is Phoenix in terms of ownership? The NHL bought itself more time with the lock out but when its over the wags will be back chewing on that bone. What will Bettman answer? The guy who is supposed to buy the Yotes seems to not have the cash to make this deal work without the Goldwater institute getting involved somehow. Bizzare.At least the NHL is not writing another 25 million dollar check if the lock out goes a year.

    Does the lock out burn a year off the Rexall lease with Northlands also?

  • Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate

    keep up the good work Brownlee! lookng forward to getting my windshield replaced soon…question, do you provide the “diamond coat” for windshields?


    in Schultz We Trust

  • Deep Oil

    If the transfer fee for Markham is $250million, and the Oiler owner has requested in the past for the city of Edmonton to float his investment for 30 years at a fixed rate of interest, I have my doubts that this argument has merit. Leaving a top 6 hockey market for a top market leaves a vacuum, with many other NHL owners wanting to move to Edmonton immediately. I would wait and see how the competition hearings in Ottawa go, it has been rumored that Rexall Drugs is bleeding cash since Ontario changed it’s compensation for dispensing fees. So if Shoppers picks up Rexall for $1 dollar and debt, this will reveal the actual owners of Rexall Drugs, namely Barry Shurman of Apotex – allegedly.

    The concession revenue from a new building is rumored to be near $20 million dollars, to which the oilers can sub out and get a 40% commission. This is a bigger boondoggle than the free naming rights in the old deal. Maybe Katz moved the finish line on purpose, as his cash flow is possibly in the red now, and could be challenged on development investment money. At least he has a few million from the legal settlement Renee Gouin received from her brothers and late father’s estate.

    Bottom line, I am very glad that Katz imploded his free arena deal, notice how Kerry Diotte was one leading the charge with a NO vote, and then all the councillors followed suit.

    I would not be suprised one day to find out the oilers are receivership, and Katz had borrowed more against the team, pulling a Peter Pocklington divestment, leaving CIT group holding the primary mortgage.

  • Deep Oil

    I have tried to listen to Bob Stauffer, but the one sided infomercial and Oilers could leave. Katz promised council in person, that he would not have his team play at Northlands past 2014. Bruce Saville pointed the finger on council and stated shame on you…… bottom line is if any nhl wants to move, league approval and BOG 75% vote is required. This would be a non starter, where Columbus loses 30 million per year, Dallas went into receivership, Yotes are a disaster since they are glendale 60 minutes from NE scottsdale….. I am a season ticket holder for both PHX and Oilers. Oilers own the time on Ched, so if you want to listen to oiler kool aid, that’s fine….. I am just not sure it is fair broadcasting, scaring the uniformed that the Oilers are in trouble. The oilers are profitable, they just aren;t profitable enough at the moment. Move along Daryl, the wizard of oz gig is up.