If GM Craig MacTavish makes good on the suggestion he’s looking to move Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky, Ryan Smyth, assuming he’s still around when next season begins, will be the lone player remaining from the playoff run that took the Edmonton Oilers to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup final.
Seven seasons – without a single playoff game to show for them — after the MacTavish-coached Oilers snuck into eighth place in the Western Conference and knocked off Detroit, San Jose and Anaheim on the way to a showdown with Carolina, every player from that team is gone, except Smyth, Hemsky and Horcoff, with the latter two officially having one foot out the door.
If that doesn’t drive home the transitory nature of today’s NHL, at least for a team that has struggled mightily as the Oilers have to rebuild and return to contention, then nothing does. And, as we already know, Smyth also headed for city limits during that span before returning for a second tour of duty.
Flying home from Raleigh in June of 2006 after Game 7 seems like the blink of an eye for an old scribe like me. Looking ahead, it makes me wonder, as I pondered a while back, how many players who were on the roster last season will even be around by the time the new downtown arena complex opens.
I’LL SAY THIS ABOUT THAT
. . . There’s not a chance, none, MacTavish opened up about moving Hemsky and Horcoff on the Mark Spector Show today without having already run the scenario past the players and their agents and I’d be willing to bet he’s had, at the very least, preliminary talks with other teams about both of them.
MacTavish would be a fool to paint himself into a corner by saying anything on a radio show he hadn’t already expressed to the parties involved and other GMs around the league, and MacT is no fool. I’m not saying he’s got a deal in his hip pocket for either of them right now – I’m certainly not inside enough anymore to know of one – but I can’t see this dragging on into training camp.
. . . As for what the destinations for Hemsky and Horcoff might be, and what the Oilers can reasonably expect in return, I’ll leave the crystal ball stuff and the deals that see MacTavish hose another gullible GM – the rights to Omark and Horcoff for insert-name-of-second-line-centre — to those so inclined. I’d resist the urge, however, to expect a windfall return for either of them.
. . . Maybe I missed it if somebody else mentioned it, but I hadn’t heard anything about Horcoff selling his house until Jason Gregor told me about it today. Given the dough Horcoff put into that joint, a For Sale sign should have been a big tip-off MacTavish’s revelation has been in the works awhile.
AND . . .
. . . So, with Horcoff on the way out, who will Oiler fans anoint as the next whipping boy on the team? History shows you must have one, so who will it be? Sam Gagner seems like the favorite to me because he’ll get a fat raise and a long-term deal from MacTavish.
Way too many people whine about what Gagner isn’t, instead of appreciating what he brings to the table as it is. Wait until Sam gets that big stack.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.