Monday Mailbag – July 21st


As far as I’m concerned, you’ve done enough work today – you deserve a break. If your boss asks, you can tell them that reading the mailbag is important research that will positively impact the company you work for in the future.  If you want to submit a question, you can email it to me at or hit me up on Twitter @jsbmbaggedmilk.



1) Kevin M asks – With the Western Conference seeming so much better than the East, is there any chance that the NHL goes back to the 1979-80 format of 1-16 league wide? At least some kind of crossover for the final 4 teams? In my opinion, the Hawks vs Kings would have been a better final.


No. The NHL is set up very well from a marketing point of view. The Eastern Conference has an excellent chance of producing a finalist from a massive media market, and the Western Conference houses Chicago and Los Angeles as two powerhouses. It’s perfect from that pov.

Robin Brownlee:

I don’t know how much of a chance there is of going back to the 1-16 format, but I certainly didn’t mind it in the past. Not sure NHL governors are up for a re-shuffle of the deck. I like the idea of rewarding the best teams with weaker seeds in the opening rounds, however that’s done.

Jonathan Willis: 

I tend to agree that the Western Conference Final was the best series in the playoffs, but I doubt the NHL goes  to a 1-16 format or anything like it any time soon. For one, the current format boosts divisional rivalries (which are good for business) and for two hockey’s cyclical so it’s a situation that could resolve itself soon enough.

Jason Strudwick: 

No I don’t think so. It is important for the NHL to have equal representation from both conferences to keep up fan interest across north america.

Jason Gregor: 

League will never do top 16, but crossover might be talked about. I doubt it though. They want east vs. west final now that no EST teams are in the west.

Brian Sutherby: 

I think for travel and scheduling that would be a nightmare, but it would be very interesting. I don’t see it happening anytime soon however


I like the idea of a crossover! Not sure it would ever happen, but I like it.  If the West keeps getting better, I think we’ll see more one sided Cup finals like we did this year.  I like it.


2) Kevin F asks – When a young player says that he is going to stay in Edmonton or “City X” to train over the summer with the team, does the team pay for accommodations etc?


No idea. I would think they are in close contact, though, especially in regard to training routine et cetera. 

Robin Brownlee: 

I don’t know if there’s CBA language covering expenses on that, especially if those expenses are incurred before a contract is signed. Without specific contract language, I’d imagine a team like the Oilers would be willing to help a kid like Draisaitl with expenses to stay here, get used to the city and work out.

Jonathan Willis: 

I’m actually not sure, but I doubt it. The CBA is fairly specific in terms of what can/should be paid for and with the exception of a summer conditioning camp (for prospects, not established players, and for which all expenses are covered by the team) I don’t believe there is any provision for that kind of payment.

Jason Strudwick: 

No. It would be against the CBA. Would be considered a bonus outside of the contract and thus a violation.

Jason Gregor:

Draisaitl is a rarity. I can’t recall the last player who stayed the entire summer. He is 18, so they don’t want him living in a hotel. He is staying at Bruce Saville’s (former member of EIG) place.

Brian Sutherby:

Only if they are a young kid and the team has asked them too. A kid like Draisaitl yes, he’s probably in a hotel or team apartment for now and gets some food allowance.

I could be wrong, but I’ve never heard of an established NHL veteran that spends the summer in the same city getting any financial assistance. You make enough money and can train wherever you want. If you want to live there year round it’s your call.


I’m not sure if the team would help pay or not, but I hope they do. And I hope they put Draisaitl up in a theme room at the Fantasyland Hotel.  How sweet would it be to finish training and go back to live like Tarzan when you’re done?


3) Michael Ellis asks – If MacT cannot acquire a #2 centre, does that almost negate all the good work he did by bringing in UFAs? 


It’ll be a bitter pill, but there has been progress. If you add the two goalies to Nikitin/Fayne and then wingers Pouliot/Purcell, that’s a nice group. NEED A CENTER though.

Robin Brownlee: 

No. More than one writer here suggested going into the off-season there’s no way MacTavish would be able to address every single need. Not a realistic expectation. He’s done some good work. There is more to do.

Jonathan Willis: 

I wouldn’t go so far as to say it negates MacTavish’s work – he’s done a lot and I believe the Oilers are better for it – but it would mark a return to the Lowe days, where the team habitually left one or two massive issues unresolved over the summer. Lowe’s best team, the 2005-06 Oilers, is a good example of this – iffy goaltending imploded in spectacular fashion early on and by the time it was patched at the trade deadline it was almost too late.

Jason Strudwick: 

Not at all. There were many areas to address. There is still time. Lets see what happens before the first game of the season.

Jason Gregor: 

Nope. No doubt it hinders the team, but he still upgraded his defence and wingers which was needed.

Brian Sutherby:

Depends on Arcobello and Draisaitl, and until we see them I just don’t know. I have to think after watching Gagner in his own end this year, that if they can come even remotely close to him offensively and be better two-way, the Oilers are still ahead of the game with their additions. Until they fix that hole, I don’t think they are way better, but I don’t think they are worse and it’s wasted. This team is most likely not making the playoffs regardless. The year will still be a process and I’m sure Mac T is doing what he can to fill it before opening night.


It would definitely be a weird move if MacT wasn’t able to improve the depth at centre, but I don’t think it negates everything else he’s done  Regardless or what you think of the other moves he’s made, the Oilers are a better team now than they were at the beginning of the summer. Let’s wait and see what happens…


4) Chris Curtola asks – What are your Top 5 reasons that the Oilers have missed the playoffs for 8 straight years?


Only 5? I’ll list bad management, lack of talent on the ice, coaching carousel, pushing kids into roles too quickly and lack of an established minor league team 2003-09.

Jonathan Willis: 

That’s both too many reasons to list and to few to capture the full grandeur of eight seasons of objective failure. I put Steve Tambellini at the top of the list of reasons; he was terribly incompetent and the team suffered as a result. Kevin Lowe deserves blame too, both for bungling the Pronger trade and then for hiring Tambellini and sustaining him in the position. Ditto for owner Daryl Katz, who had far too much patience for a G.M. clearly in well over his head. I’d toss in Kevin Prendergast, whose track record running Edmonton’s draft and AHL affiliate leaves much to be desired. Finally – though I’m leaving out a lot of contributors here – I think the EIG deserves special mention for abdicating control of the Oilers’ prospects in AAA hockey by scrapping the farm team.

Jason Strudwick: 

1 – Global Warming

2 – The lack of Diet Cherry Coke in Canada

3 – Pitt/Anniston Break up

4 – The Mitchell Report

5 – London Underground grinding to a halt because of striking maintenance workers

Jason Gregor: 

1. Bad drafting and developing prior to 2008. It has improved since.

2. Horrendous pro scouting.

3. First four years didn’t seem to have a plan.

4. Last four years coaching carousel.

5. Chris Pronger asking for trade.

Brian Sutherby: 

I’ve really only followed them for a year so I’ll speak to what I saw last season. Everyone already knows these:

1. Goaltending
2. No top pairing D-men – Every good team has at least one.
3. Youth – Lack of veteran leadership and little care for own end or two way play. Things it takes to win
4. Size – Not heavy enough to hang with the best teams in this conference. Watching them against teams like the Blues and Sharks and Kings was men versus boys last year.
5. Grit/Character – You don’t need a team full of sledgehammers but you need one or two guys in your top 6 that play with a fire and passion that can impact the game. Guys with the tenacity to go to the hardest areas, to push back when confronted or play a power game in the corners and make it hard on defenseman. Far too easy to play against night after night.


1. The suck knob has been broken clean off

2. Not nearly enough head coaches.

3. Rexall DJ

4. Players weren’t fans of the light colour they shine on Rexall

5. Steve Tambellini’s team assessments can be measured by ice ages


5) Marc Benoit asks – What is your vice? (cigarettes, beers, ice cream, etc)


Demon liquor. And the Oilers.

Jonathan Willis: 

Aside from the Oilers, you mean? I live pretty clean but I’ve got a wicked sweet tooth.

Jason Strudwick: 

Salted organic Kale chips

Jason Gregor: 

Sweets. I love dessert and candy.

Brian Sutherby: 

Red Wine or Pizza


Give me all the cheese, Gushers, and candy coke bottles. 

  • D

    If the NHL could line up a NYR – LA Kings Final every year, they would do it. It was ratings gold. So the East-West playoffs format will likely stay (from a pure business perspective).

  • Craig1981

    I wouldn’t say Lowe was “bungling the Pronger trade”. He got Lupul, Smid, Eberle (the pick), a 2nd round pick that was used for Travis Hamonic (just by the islanders), and a 1st that was traded twice and is now Marincin.

    He messed up by what he did after the trade. Trading Lupul that went from Lupal-Pitkänen-Cole-O’Sullivan-Vandermeer

    Then trading down from Hamonic’s pick for Allan Rourke.

    But in the end we still have Eberle, Marincin, Brossoit, and Horak from that trade while Pronger is all but retired.

    • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

      Thank you for pointing this out, every time I hear oh we screwed up the Pronger trade it make me laugh because they think they could have got the moon for him. How about you look at HISTORY and tell me how many times has someone trading such an asset has got anything remotely fair for him – Heatly for Hossa but out side of that it barely happens. What did the ducks get for Pronger in return ? how about the Blues ? what did Boston get for Thornton ? Seguin ? how about Florida and Vancouver for Luongo ? Calgary and Iginla ? Bouwmeester ? but yes Lowe screwed that trade up, despite history showing he was not getting anything near top value.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Geez Struds, your biggest vice is “salted organic kale chips”?

    That is pretty hardcore.

    Just a hunch ….. you never hung with Lindsay or Britney a lot when you were in New York, did you?

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Like pulling teeth here sometimes.

    Brownlee didn’t even bother with a couple of questions…..

    At least Struds managed to type something in for question 4. Although BM’s response was the clear winner there.

    I enjoy reading the mailbag. So thanks to those who put an effort in and actually take a playful swing at the (sometimes ridiculous) softies.

    • Right you are.

      I actually answered that question and the other one that’s missing, but somewhere between send and receive they disappeared.

      I emailed baggedmilk about the missing answers this morning when the item was posted, but we left it as is.

      I answered:

      – Abysmal pro scouting
      – Carousel of coaches, including the dismissal of a couple of pretty good ones in Ralph Krueger and Tom Renney.
      – Force-feeding prospects into the line-up without giving them time to develop in the minors/junior.
      – The Tambellini era.
      – Failure to address the many holes in the roster, most notably a top-pairing defensemen, a centre to complement RNH and the black hole in goal before the arrival of Fasth and Scrivens.

      5. Fast cars.

    • Craig1981

      That’s a great point. Everyone thinks of Gordon as the 4th line guy, but you are right. Maybe if Arco falters and Lander is in, Gordon moves up??

      I’m really cheering for Arco to come up as a 55-60 point 2nd line center this year. He is a question mark for sure, but the forward lines look line an NHL lineup if he was to prove to be a middle class 2nd line guy

      • Craig1981

        The way I see it. two of Lander, Arcobello, and Drasaitl will be on the opening night roster. Out of all of them Drasaitl should get the least amount of defensive zone starts to help ease him in more. In that case, he should probably be playing with Perron and Purcell (neither should be playing the tougher minutes but could also provide the kid with protection)

        From there you have the third and fourth lines, which will get more defensive zone starts. Do you hope Lander or Arco provides some offense on a line with Pouliot and Yak, or give them even less minutes on a fourth line.

        As for Arco being 55-60 points this season… if he scores 15-25-40 on the season we should consider that a success.

      • Craig1981

        I think the idea of numbered “lines’ is becoming a bit irrelevant. If you measure it in average ice time, then the Gordon line would technically be like our second line.

        I think these days it’s more about functionality, and Mac T has stated that’s the team he’s trying to build.

        A power v Power line: Hall Nuge Ebs

        A tough minutes defensive zone starts shut down line: Hendricks Gordon ?

        A second scoring line: Perron ? Yak

        A soft minutes 3rd line: Pouliot Draisaitl Purcell

        I would say Purcell and Yak have a good shot at switching spots for opening night, except if Gagner and Yak were such a terrible defensive pair last year, I have little hope a rookie centre and Yak would be an improvement, though it would be a soft minutes line. And having Purcell paired with Perron and Arco if they can’t find a second line C, might be a stronger 2nd scoring line.

      • BobbyCanuck

        I don’t think we will make the play-offs either, I would be happy with .500 hockey, and no Nation talk about next years draft until at least March, hopefully until April.

        Meaning we will have more meaningful things to talk about, things that do not include who will be the lotto winner