Of course it Stinks: Suck it up

Of course it stinks that the Edmonton Oilers will start the 2013-14 season without Sam Gagner, who has a broken jaw after a stupid and dangerous play by Zack Kassian of the Vancouver Canucks Saturday. This we know.

Gagner lost several teeth and had his jaw broken in two places after Kassian missed him with an attempted hit along the boards and then whipped his stick around at head-level, catching the Oiler centre in the mouth.

Gagner could be out for a month – possibly longer if he needs surgery to have his jaw wired shut. We don’t know for sure yet because there’s been no definitive word from the Oilers, who skated at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park today.

With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also expected to miss the start of the season while he recovers from shoulder surgery, first-year coach Dallas Eakins has next-to-no depth down the middle as the Oilers prepare to face the Winnipeg Jets in their season opener Oct. 1.

After Taylor Hall, making the switch to pivot with RNH out, the men in the middle as of now are Boyd Gordon and two more from the mix of Mark Arcobello, Anton Lander and Will Acton – unless GM Craig MacTavish picks up the phone and makes a deal.

WHAT NOW?

While it’s understandable if fans lament the timing of the injury or bicker about the need for more toughness in the line-up – there is merit in the argument but dressing a hammer against the Canucks wouldn’t have prevented the knucklehead play by Kassian – that isn’t going to heal Gagner’s busted jaw. The Oilers can moan or suck it up. Hall, for one, will go with the latter.

"I feel bad for him, but we’re going to have make up for it," Hall said. "It looks like I’m going to be playing a bit more centre than I had originally planned. That’s just the way it goes sometimes. I mean, not everything is going to go according to plan and this is one of those things."

"Whatever you have to do to help this team win," said Gordon, who will be pressed into duty as the second-line centre. "If I’ve got to move up, or whatever the case, sometimes when you lose one of your better players, I think it brings everybody together and makes everybody bear down a little bit more and focus on what they have to do to help the team win."

Until we have a more definitive time frame on Gagner, there’s no way of knowing if MacTavish will come into play, as in looking outside the organization for help. Most likely, the cavalry will have to ride to the rescue from within, for better or worse – more Hall, Gordon and the rest.

Yes, it stinks. Carry on.

ROSTER CUTS

The Oilers trimmed their roster to 33 today (20 forwards, 11 defensemen and two goaltenders).

Assigned to Oklahoma City of the AHL were: Richard Bachman, Brad Hunt, Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin, Ryan Martindale, Andrew Miller and Ty Rimmer. Jujhar Khaira was returned to Everett of the WHL.

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

  • Oilers4ever

    Having all the depth at D is good.. but we have an abundance where we don’t at center. Good GM’s make good SMART trades that improve their team. I would be in favor of trading one of the young D prospects and package him with something if it gets us a #2 center (Hallsy has the character to carry the first line role for now). Aside from faceoff winning percentage I think the preseason has shown he has the stones to play center if need be.

    So long as the trade doesn’t wreck the team chemistry and such then do it. But it has to be smart, not a desperate move. If the smart trade is not there then hold your cards. Personally I think Acton could do the job. He’s played well in the preseason and deserves a chance in my mind.

  • Reg Dunlop

    There seems to be a fundamental division among fans on this issue of protecting the young oiler guns. Truth is, they have to learn how to protect themselves. A designated fighter will do nothing. Hall kneeing some clown at warp speed works but the oil can’t afford to lose him to suspension. Everyone in the league will have seen the highlights, especially the complete lack of response by the oilers on the ice when Weise tried the chicken-wing and Kassian did his Glenn Anderson impersonation. If these type of things go unanswered not only does it encourage other teams to play like the canucks, it shows clearly that the assemblage of talent on Rexall ice is not a team. That is a bigger problem than lack of center depth and it also shows that the offer to Clarkson in the offseason would have been worth it.

    I don’t have a solution particularly but I think it is time to consider changing the mix of the core guys. Tough to win with 6 Lucics and tough to win with 6 Kanes. If our top 6 are getting injured or intimidated regularly they are of limited use. The mix must change. This reminds me of Huxley’s Brave New World which needed Alphas and Epsilons to work.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    I want blood! Let’s grab their 2C. Mr. Kesler, welcome to Jesse Joensuu’s elbow.

    Kassian won’t be suspended for 4-8 weeks, the amount of time the Oil have to be without Gags.

  • BillHK

    Not impressed with Eakins talkig in the game next to Katz, then telling the press how he liked the fact that Vancouver dressed a heavy team so that he could see how the Oilers played against bigger teams.

    Stupid rookie coach mistake of dressing an almost full NHL team in a meaningless exhibition game when the other team dresses a team of minor league goons.

    The Oil played guys that feature in HNIC and ESPN highlight reels, the Nucks played guys that feature in hockeyfights.com.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    what the kids need isn’t an enforcer but a video of what happens when you try to run messier,anderson or even smyth. a strong stick presence…Anderson.a strong physical presence…smyth elbow on a flames player charging in or a strong nasty presence…anything messier ever did to macoun.these will deter other aggressive twits from being so reckless in trying to intimidate the kids. if the guy charging at you might be the one getting injured then maybe he’ll think twice about being so aggressive.on a side note we’d have less concussions but more shoulder separations if we’d go back to tha 70’s style shoulder and elbow pads. >chance of self injury=less reckless actions. I haven’t seen anyone run smytty since he learned how to keep his stick up.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    All summer long [ and fall ],. fans were lamenting about two things: 1. need of centerman 2. adding toughness.

    Guess what, both are a bigtime issue and the season hasn’t even started.

    MacT takes the team to the Cap, and comes up with Acton and a retooled Eager to fill those needs.?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Whether we like it or not, what happened to Gagner was an accident (sort of). The Oilers are just going to have to make due with a tough situation during what we all know was going to be a difficult first month of the season anyways. Continued failure are the fruits of cutting corners and hoping for the best for Craig MacTavish. Get ready for another short term bandaid solution type move.

    That being said, I’d be on the phone to Paul Holmgren looking to do something just a little bit bigger. Klefbom and Marincin/or Musil in exchange for Couturier and Mezsaros. Over 5 mill out for Paul, and zero in if both these Oiler prospects spend the season with the Phantoms. Flyers are loaded down the middle.

  • Craig1981

    Right you are Rubin. If they cannot win with this adversity they shouldn’t win. Ottawa did it without their leading scorer Norris trophy winner and all-star goalie. Meatheads and or new contracts in exchange for draft picks or young defence prospects does not add up. What happens when RNH and Gagner return? Clearly Oiler fans are looking for an excuse to jump off the bandwagon.

  • Do people really believe that Clarkson has now stopped the Scotts of the world from messing with Kessel?

    Scott got everything he wanted out of that and then some. If anything the message sent was “mess with Kessel and this team will lose their minds entirely.”

    Every pest in the league now knows exactly what to do against Toronto.

    • Wax Man Riley

      OMG Quicks…… Where as all the talk about Hall changing his game a bit so he could actually have a career.

      Samwise can’t fly head first into defenders. That would be just stupid.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Taylor Hall does do this regularly. Does it real well too.

        How many times have you seen Hallsy squeeze by someone looking to stand him up. Taylor’s one of the best at it. Taylor should give Gags some lessons. Ebs is doing a good job as well.