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.

  • Craig1981

    I really feel for Sam. There are few injuries more frustrating or uncomfortable than a broken jaw. Not only will he miss considerable time, but he’ll likely lose a ton of weight over the next 4-6 weeks. I get the sense that there aren’t many guys that work harder than Gagner in the off season and this is yet another TC/early season set back.

    I remember in 2011 when he looked incredible coming into training camp, he was 20% faster and looked ready to take the next step. But he sprained his ankle and his great offseason was squandered. This time he must be really frustrated because it looked like he was ready to improve on an outstanding 2013 season.

    Hopefully this forces MacT to finally make a deal for that 2nd/3rd line centre we never got this summer. I suppose 2 of Arcobello/Acton/Lander might be up for the job, but if we want to make the playoffs the Oilers will have to have a good Oct/Nov. That’s a pretty serious gamble.

    Plus, let’s face it, the Oilers need another quality centreman anyway.

  • Craig1981

    Mr Common Sense Wrote:

    I was waiting for someone to say this.

    And no, because fans are now concerned with the C position, does not mean, we love sam gagner. Truth is, as juicy as the line sounds with Perron, gagner and yak, they are much much much too weak to face our Pacific division opponents. Perron looks relaxed out there and yak is def looking sharp but this line would get physically crushed by LA, SJ, VAn and Ana.

    I wish Sam well but this will be a good and early slap in the face reminder that we need as much brawn as we have skill to compete. I laugh when I am told that the oil are following the Det and Chi model. Oh ya? Lol no problem……have you heard of 6’2 225lbs C Franzen? Or top C John Toews and monster Brian Bickell?

    Yeah, it would nice to be able to pluck 6′ 3″ Centers that can play top 6 mins, but they dont grow on trees. I was just pointing out that maybe this will be a chance for guys like Hamilton to get a shot to showcase their skills. He made a sweet pass to Yak on that PPG.

  • My guess is the Oilers will now move Eberle to centre.

    Best time is now to see if he can do it, when games matter less.

    That’s the Oilers best short term solution IMO, if Eberle is not the answer come opening day then you can make a trade.

    IIRC Eberle was drafted as a centre by the Oilers…

      • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

        Not to worry Spyder….if Hall had been lost for the season……The League would have suspended Weise for at least 50 games….after all what matters is that things are fair……….BLUE RIBBONS FOR EVERYONE!!!

    • John Chambers

      5 games is pittance and will do nothing to stop this sort of action in the future . Minimum 20 and that will get everyones attention .If all he gets is 5 then it’s open season on all star players -worth the penalty . I’d like to see it double or more if injury is to star players – relly get the message across and spare the fans their star players . Preferrential treatment for good of al fans .

    • If you can name one nose-bender who is capable of playing a regular shift and is available, I’m with you.

      Guys who sit on the bench 57 minutes a night twitching and blowing snot bubbles are a luxury most teams can’t afford.

      • Big Cap

        It seems that Eakins will be playing his best players the most amount of time throughout the game. That includes PP and PK and ES. If that’s the case if your not in the Top 9, just how much ice time will anyone on the 4th line see? Personally I would rather have a Heavyweight sitting on the pine rather than another skilled smallish forward.

        There is also a lot more a Heavyweight brings to a game than the 3 minutes a night he does play. He adds a major boost to his team and also serves the opponent notice he’ll be watching and ready.

        Lastly how is it other teams “afford” to have a tough guy on their roster and yet no one is talented enough to crack ours?

      • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

        Does he have to be forward? I am more in favor of a Marty McSorley type/Jeff Beukeboom kind of player. Insert into lineup as needed. When needed.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    Is Fedun on your opening day roster? He is on mine. 4 points and he seems to read the play well. Larsen? Meh.

    Brown. Locked and loaded for the roster. Eager. Outside looking in. Hamilton brings more offense and is better suited to Eakins system. Lander OKC bound.

    Gagner out. Omark in. “Runt in,runt out”.

    Is Nick Shultz and Oiler on opening day? I’d bet against it. Trade bait to bolster center for sure.

    Is it ever going to get easy for this team. The injury bug is already afflicting this team and the season hasn’t even started.

    This final week is going to fun to watch. Loved the Fedun and Hamilton interviews on HNIC.

    • YFC Prez

      Props for the haiku Yoda Style!

      I’m also really interested in seeing how they hand out the suspensions.

      Stupid and reckless stick work by Kassian putting Gagner out ….3 to 4 games, I have no idea what Shanahan will do here though, nothing will surprise me. He Hasn’t been exactly consistent with his dealings on these dangerous plays.

      The head shot by Weiss I imagine will get more games off and seems the more suspendable play according to what the league has done recently.
      That elbow should get him 5 games IMO.

      Was it just me or was there some serious head hunting going on in that game by the Nucks? I really hope that was a one off and not the new norm under Torts…could be a long season.

    • Can see Weise getting dinged at least a game or two. Textbook headshot on Hall.

      Not sure how they’ll view the stick swing by Kassian, but if he doesn’t get three games or more, NHL head office is paying lip service to player safety. Both players due for a talk with Shanahan Monday. UPDATE: NHL wants an in-person hearing with Kassian, so expect five games or more.

  • DSF

    With all the great stories coming out of preseason (as is usually the case… Omark, I’m looking in your direction), the one I’m not hearing is that our defense has been really good and it’s not yet been a complete vet line up out there.

    I mean, 5 to 1, 5 to 2 v Vancouver. Again I know it’s preseason so they also haven’t dressed a big gun line up, but that’s really encouraging.

    Hall’s Faceoff win percentage might end up being a team best by the time he moves back to wing.

    In the short term, correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t believe Malhotra has had try outs with any team as of yet. See if he’ll bite on a two way contract for one year. Bring him in and if he turns out to be player then you have some help in the interm, and you have also solved your fourth line center situation when Gags and Nuge are healthy again. If he stinks, well not much risk in a two way one year contract.

    Also, I know it’s not ideal, but this situation might be what Hall needed to get the push to center. If he shows well this could give Eakins all kinds of line combinations through the season. And it would give Mac T a few more options to build the team going forward.

  • StHenriOilBomb

    Dangerous play leading to direct stick contact to the head. Any chance of a suspension? I know it was unintentional, but so were a handful of the suspended hits from last year.

    I also know that this does little to help the Oilers, but it would go some distance to helping feel like the NHL actually cares more about safety than the optics of Shanny and his office.

    Also, screw Kassian. He missed the check by 3 feet and then flailed. I do the same thing when I miss a check so that the opposing player doesn’t skate away scott free… I make sure to keep my stick at waste height though. This wasn’t entirely innocent, even if the head=shot part of it was.

    • Hair bag

      I agree. The rules say you are responsible for your stick at all times and this was a totally reckless play – I hope that he gets suspended but I doubt it will happen. It wasn’t even like he was falling or something, he just blatantly swung his stick around head high, probably like you said to try and slow Gagne down.

    • Hair bag

      I agree. The rules say you are responsible for your stick at all times and this was a totally reckless play – I hope that he gets suspended but I doubt it will happen. It wasn’t even like he was falling or something, he just blatantly swung his stick around head high, probably like you said to try and slow Gagne down.

  • extroy

    Fist injury of the year…. 🙁 hopefully not a sign

    Anybody going to see the Oilers against the Canucks at Rexall Place tonight? I got a sweeeeeeeeeeet pair of seats in the lower bowl from a friend. Picked ’em up for just $250 for the pair. Woooohooooo! Goilers!

  • Puck Dynasty

    Seen alot of doom and gloom with Sammy’s injury, and its finally a sign that some of his naysayers are acknowledging that he is an important player on this team. yes, the Oilers will struggle a bit, but I liked Hall’s reaction… referenced how well the Senators came together last year when they lost Karlsson and Spezza. I think Eakins will use this to motivate these kids. And we may be surprised who steps up and shows they belong in the NHL. I look forward to seeing how this group reacts to this injury.

    • Craig1981

      I was waiting for someone to say this.

      And no, because fans are now concerned with the C position, does not mean, we love sam gagner. Truth is, as juicy as the line sounds with Perron, gagner and yak, they are much much much too weak to face our Pacific division opponents. Perron looks relaxed out there and yak is def looking sharp but this line would get physically crushed by LA, SJ, VAn and Ana.

      I wish Sam well but this will be a good and early slap in the face reminder that we need as much brawn as we have skill to compete. I laugh when I am told that the oil are following the Det and Chi model. Oh ya? Lol no problem……have you heard of 6’2 225lbs C Franzen? Or top C John Toews and monster Brian Bickell?

      • Time Travelling Sean

        You must not watch a lot of Detroit games, if you talk about Franzen like that. That’s like saying have you heard of 6’4 230 Dustin Penner? John Toews? That’s your example of brawn? Ha. I’ll give you Bickell.