I went out on a limb (critics will say I sawed it off) by suggesting a shortened season would benefit the Edmonton Oilers two weeks ago and went as far as to say my gut-feeling was that they’d have enough gas in a sprint rather than a marathon to make the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.
While we’ll obviously have to see that play out (not even knowing as of writing this if the season will be 48 or 50 games) and there’ll be plenty written about that post-season possibility as writers bash off season previews and prepare for an abbreviated training camp, GM Steve Tambellini met with the media today and answered a couple questions connected to my bold (foolish?) prediction. The entire interview is here.
Here’s a quick hit from Tambellini’s availability:
Tambellini was asked how much of an advantage the Oilers might have because core players — Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, to name just three – have been playing at a high level in the AHL.
"Well, not only just the core players. The one thing I remember from the last work stoppage, I remember – I was managing Team Canada – and Ken Holland and I were sitting in the stands watching the first skate and the players who had been playing in Europe versus the players who hadn’t been playing.
"The first couple days, there was quite a difference, so . . . I think there is an advantage for any player that’s been playing whatever league for sure."
Tambellini was asked if a shorter season would be a benefit to the Oilers, given the aforementioned young core players, not to mention the likes of Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner and Nail Yakupov, have been playing.
"I think it can be, but I think that’s how most coaches and general managers are trying to position their team, hoping that most of them were playing. We’ve had a good amount of our young core playing for sure.
"I love the fact that they were playing in the American Hockey League, which is the same type of hockey as in the National Hockey League. It was tough for them, it was grinding for them and they had to work for everything they got. Their stats were outstanding.
"I was proud the way they brought themselves in the dressing room as a teammate. Now, it’s time for them to get back to Edmonton. I was very happy with the players who played for the Oilers last year, how they contributed on and off the ice in (Oklahoma City)."
More, much more, to come.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.