The Edmonton Oilers cut ties with a pretty talented hockey player this morning, I’d call it an unforced error. The sun will come up tomorrow, but I would suggest that it’s generally a poor idea to throw away 21-year old wingers who score at a point-per-game clip in the AHL–no matter their size.
DARCY REGIER, BUFFALO: "I think if you miss the playoffs three years in a row, and blow everything up, you’re more likely to miss the playoffs seven years in a row."
As an Oiler fan, I can tell you missing the playoffs seven or eight years in a row is far more painful than missing three years in succession. Today’s transaction–sending young Toni Rajala away, as he seeks his fortune–may well be a wise one. Despite an impressive AHL season (age 21) the organization is clearly focused on adding size to the pro ranks. Like Linus Omark before him, Rajala appears to be a pair of brown shoes in a world of tuxedo’s (to borrow a line from the Johnny Carson show) and his next stop (KHL?) will bring him money and fame.
I’m not so much interested in Toni Rajala the world traveler as I was Rajala the Oilers prospect. My interest in him, and all of the Oiler prospects, is how he and they fit into the Oilers success story. If flushing Rajala for nothing gets this team one more inch closer to Stanley, sign me up I’m in love.
In another portion of that old article, there’s a great quote from Regier, about team building, about success, about Stanley.
- Regier: "I once asked Al Arbour what’s the secret to building a team? He said no secret, it’s not complicated. Get good players."
That’s pretty much it. We talk about big players, small players, fast players, but really what we’re talking about is good players. Good NHL players. Todd Marchant was 5 foot nothing, good player. Give me some of that. Frank Mahovlich was a giant for his time, people used to rip him because he never looked like he was in a hurry–in fact, he looked for all the world as though the wind blew him into scoring position, he looked, wait for it–lucky!
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
- Stu MacGregor (about MacT): "Every GM sees things a little bit differently, and he works a little bit from a coaching standpoint in that guys have to be able to think, players have to be able to figure out what the coach is showing and teaching."
We don’t know the reason Toni Rajala was cut loose today, it could have been any number of things and honestly in the great scheme of things I hope he has a happy career and plays in the NHL if that’s his dream.
For the Oilers, my wish is this: get more good players. Al Arbour was right. Then and now.
(Barons photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved).