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Photo Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

This, That and the Other Thing

Drew Remenda’s takes on the Edmonton Oilers as an analyst for Sportsnet often don’t sit well with fans of the team – “often” might be understating, as a matter of fact – but there’s no disputing that he calls things as he sees them, even if there’s plenty of room to disagree.

I respect Remenda for that, even if he rubs many Oiler fans the wrong way, because I’d rather have a commentator offer up an honest take with an edge to it instead of defaulting to the role of fart-catcher and yes-man because he’s associated with the team or works for a broadcast rights holder. You can find plenty of that around the NHL and pro sport in general.

Remenda got my attention, and maybe yours, again this week by sharing his opinions about Jordan Eberle on Oilers Now with host Bob Stauffer.  Eberle’s taken plenty of criticism after a poor post-season, something that’s been duly documented, and he got more of the same from Remenda in a discussion with Stauffer that was anything but canned company fluff. Some highlights:

  • On Eberle and what he brings for his $6 million salary: “The one I’d sell would be Jordan Eberle for a couple reasons…. Objectively you look at Jordan Eberle and he just doesn’t do enough for me. He stays on the outside too much.”
  • On money better spent: “To me, Jordan Eberle will have value in the market, Jordan Eberle will be a guy that can bring you some pretty good return, but I also think it’s $6 million you’ve got to free up to give two of the best young players (Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl), if not the two best young players in the National Hockey League, two of the young best.
  • Is Eberle out of chances?: “Again, it’s just being objective. People can say what they want about me, but I’ll be honest with you in what I think about hockey, and what I think is happening is on the ice. To me I don’t think Jordan Eberle gave you enough or showed you enough to deserve to get another chance.” For context on all three comments, the entire item is here.

THE WAY I SEE IT

Apr 9, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers right wing Jordan Eberle (14) celebrates his third goal of the night against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Place. The Oilers won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Whether you agree with every word that Remenda said or not – he also criticized Eberle’s practice habits during the interview – I’m guessing a lot of you are nodding in approval at the sentiment he expressed. Fans aren’t happy with Eberle right now, nor should they be. Neither was coach Todd McLellan during the playoffs, and he said so. McLellan did, however, take issue with how Remenda characterized Eberle’s practice habits, for public consumption at least, in a follow-up interview with Stauffer. You can read an account of that here.

Like I said, while we can debate the merits of every word said by Remenda, the crux of what he said rings true with a lot of people, me included. More than that, though, I’ve been around long enough to know there’s absolutely no way that Remenda criticizes Eberle the way he did unless he’s completely out of step with how GM Peter Chiarelli and McLellan feel about the player. I don’t think that’s the case, even allowing for McLellan’s rebuttal to the practice comments. What else is he going to say?

While it’s not a case of Chiarelli, McLellan or any other hockey-ops person rubber-stamping what Remenda or any other affiliated broadcaster gets to say, there is certainly blowback if you’re way off base in the estimation of those who run the hockey club. Glen Sather used to be a master of delivering messages through writers and broadcasters close to the team. I’m not saying Remenda is playing messenger here, but my guess is he won’t be called on the carpet by McLellan or Chiarelli for what he said, either.

The bottom line, the way I see it, is the writing is on the wall for Eberle, like it or not. Chiarelli will be doing everything in his power to move Eberle along this off-season and I doubt No. 14 will be here when next season begins. That’s not because Remenda sounded off this week, it’s because that’s what Chiarelli intends to do. Remenda is just telegraphing that shot. I think he knows what’s-what.

WHILE I’M AT IT

  • To use a cliché, Matt Hendricks is a pro’s pro and the kind of veteran every successful team needs in the dressing room, but circumstances dictate we’ve seen the last of him as a player here. It’s the end of the line. Hendricks knows it: “I’d love to be back in Edmonton, but with the direction they’re going, I don’t think I fit in,” he said.
  • Hendricks, 36, gives you everything he’s got, but the fact is he’s got some hard miles on him and there’s simply not much left in the tank. His spirit is willing, as was the case with Ryan Smyth, but time’s up, at least as a player with this outfit. Hendricks didn’t play a single game during the post-season. He’ll make a helluva coach, if that’s the route he wants to go, somewhere down the road.
  • Iiro Pakarinen, 25, who just signed a contract, is going to get a shot at the bottom-six minutes Hendricks used to play next season and he looks like a good fit to me. Pakarinen has got some sandpaper in his game and he can bang. He’s not going to provide much in the way of offense (he’s tallied 8-12-20 in 94 games) but that’s secondary in the role he’s pegged for.

RECENTLY BY ROBIN BROWNLEE  

  • Hemmercules

    Never enough Eberle articles apparently. Off season, no news, yada yada……

    While I’m not a huge Remenda fan I’m glad he’s not a total homer like Hrudey. Hrudey is almost nausiating when he tries to put a good spin everything the Flames do. Its too bad Debrusk or Simpson can’t do the Oiler games, or pay Ferraro whatever he wants to come back.

    The question remains, is there a market this summer for Eberle after that brutal playoff showing? Chia mentioned guys doing that before and later becoming quite good in the playoffs, that leads me to believe he’s considering possibly keeping him. With all the good things that have been saying about him it sounds like more of a sell job than anything though. Should remain one of the teams lead story lines throughout the summer.

    • Hemmercules

      Just to add, one thing I really agreed with that Remenda said about Eberle was how he always plays up the boards and loses the puck or just gets removed from the play with a hit. I noticed it far to often as well, no imagination. Watching Drai break into the zone he has a pretty good selection of moves, Eberle is up the boards every time and if he manages to not get hit he turns back and makes a little dish pass, again, no imagination. It reminds me of Gagner when he lost all his confidence playing here.

    • Anton CP

      >The question remains, is there a market this summer for Eberle after that brutal playoff showing?

      Part of reason that when Chiarelli talked about Eberle that he endlessly mentioning that “third best scorer” and “50 point player” during the presser. He is doing his sales pitch to other 30 teams.

  • Derian Hatcher

    One of the thing about Oiler fans, is that they know their hockey. They can tell when a player is mailing it in, and that player will be called out for it – often. Conversely, a player who brings it all the time will never have to buy a drink in this town.

    This subject has been beaten to death. All of the warts in 14’s have been brought up in the comment section hundreds of times over the season. The playoffs only magnified those shortcomings.

    While sincerely hope Eberle can find success somewhere in the league (maybe even here), I am skeptical that he will be able to add all the necessary elements to his game or whereever desire and compete comes from.

  • btrain

    I don’t agree with praising Remenda or many other media people who “tell it like it is”. Very few media people (Cherry) are genuine in this approach. For many others, this is a shtick and an intentional persona taken to stir up hockey talk and its almost always biased and emotionally driven. Rishaug has a similar approach to things and both bring up topics that only they have knowledge of and therefore impossible to really argue against, you either take their word for it or you don’t. Those who say they agree with Remenda, cannot possibly do so, unless they too are there watching Eberle practice. McLellan, being the best possible to comment to Eberle’s practice habits, doesn’t agree. And if you actually listen to the conversation on Oilers Now, McLellan brings up his disagreement with Remenda unprompted. So obviously he is not going to agree with Remenda but he didn’t have to go out of his way to bring this topic up and then to elaborate on what Eberle’s practice habits are actually like.

    Anyway, not sure why Remenda is getting credit for being so “in the know”. Remenda is nothing more than a trend follower and this is just further evidence of that. I mean how many times in a game does he mention something about an individual on either team that isn’t already well established or trending about them.

    • Derian Hatcher

      So who do we rely on to report what is going on? The coach is going to carefully control, some may even say spin, what is happening with his team and players. People like Bob Mackenzie, Elliotte Freidman, Pierre Lebrun and to a lesser extent, Rishaug and Stauffer, have a track record of being “in the know” as many of their obsevations and comments have proven to be true.

      To illustrate, I had never been to an Oiler practice but it was reported by Rishaug and Stauffer that Dallas Eakins spent a lot of time at the white board during practice and that practices were low-paced. This was later confirmed after he was let go.

      Nowadays, there are so many bloggers / rumour mongers, but I also think there are credible people who report or opine on information that is relevant as well as accurate.

      Finally, just by watching Eberle play the game, it came as no surprise at all that he may have inferior practice habits…as another commenter said, he has shown very little improvement in any part of his game.

      Just my .02

      • btrain

        The guys you bring up do not take an emotional stance they take a logical, well informed, evidence based, approach when reporting their findings and their thoughts. This is the approach of most ON folks as well, particularly Lowetide and Gregger. Its a respectful approach that can still include a fair share of criticism without acting like a player has personally offended them with their play. Your example of the whiteboard reporting is concrete information provided by those who reported it. Remenda provides subjective information with no reference to what influenced his position.

        The folks I have issues with are the Remenda’s, Healy’s, Button, to a lesser extent Rishaug, Spector, etc who often seem fueled by confirmation bias, narrowing their ability to be truly objective. In otherwords they have made up their minds about something and pay attention to the information, details, and rumors that support their already established opinion. So if Eberle has a soft fart on the bench they give more attention to that detail than they do a critical check or terrible turnover made by another player during the game.

  • chickenStew

    It’s too bad there isn’t blowback by management regarding Remenda’s comments. He may be right, but if the team is trying to move Eberle, then the last thing you need is a guy “in the know” flapping his gums about how crappy he is.
    In a perfect world Remenda would be sent packing, Michaels would bolt to LA, the refs, would call the game fairly, the team would keep progressing, and we could actually enjoy a broadcast for a change, whether it be TV or radio.

  • Rama Lama

    I firmly believe that Drew Remenda was floating a trial balloon for Todd Mclellan. This gave TM a chance to come a defend his player……and possibly avoid later blow-back. I had a strange feeling that TM had given up on Eberle long before his benching. It seems to me Eberle has never gotten over his best friend being traded………that I can understand although it does not explain everything.

    For me TM talking up Eberle is a good thing to help get a better return later on in the trade season. I hope that PC gets a good young defenceman or a top prospect for Eberle. The sting of seeing Schultz light it up in Pittsburgh is still fresh in my mind and one can only hope the return for Eberle is better!