Sunday, December 09, 2007

Response to David Staples

Being a regular reader to his blog, I'm going to choose to respond to his thoughts in his most recent entry. The reason being, the lack of desire to register an account on the CanWest Website.


That said, I have no problem with critics looking at Joffrey Lupul and Ladislav Smid and stating that the Oilers didn't get much for Pronger. That is a fair enough opinion, though not one I hold myself.

Why not David? Lupul is now on his 3rd NHL team in his young career - even though he's improved offensively, he's still not outscoring. Kevin Lowe massively overrated Joffrey Lupul because:

a) He's from Edmonton
b) He had a strong playoffs. 16 GP, 9G, 2A, 11 points. What was forgotten was the fact he was a minus player on a strong Even-strength team in Anaheim in the regular season.

Smid while good and may turn out, has little offense to speak of. He could be an effective mid pairing defenceman in 3-4 years, but when you have the league's 2nd best defenceman (behind Lidstrom) who carried your team to the SCF, locked up for another 4 years at a bargain price ($6.25M), you simply have to get more proven players, or at the very least, high end prospects.

I've heard many, many people say the Oilers should have got more for Pronger, but do any of us really know how this might have been done? What were the other offers?

Simple, wait it out. After teams went on a spending spree in the UFA market (Ed Jovonovski obtained a 32.5M/5 year contract, Chara received 37.5/5 years), that would have left empty-handed desperate teams that lost out on the UFA signings, an opportunity to send offers for Pronger.

Instead, Lowe insisted to trade him quickly (July 3rd), just a mere few days after the UFA period began. On top of that, he insisted on getting quantity (5 assets) over quality.

You know, I wonder if Lowe really had so many options as his critics imagine he did. Is it possible, for instance, that Chris and Lauren Pronger gave the Oilers a very, very short list of teams he would play for, and thus greatly limited Lowe's trading options?

Lowe had the leverage and upper hand. What could he simply have told Prongers (an individual who the Oilers had given long term security in good faith) if they had given him a short list?

Fuck off.

From your article in February, Cal Nichols seems in favor of that strategy.

Nichols says he wouldn’t have traded Pronger so quickly. “To a hockey person, their first mindset is: ‘I’ve been dealt this blow, I’ve got to get the best possible assets in return, to try to keep being competitive and entertaining.’ The business side of me says, ‘Balderdash! As a matter of principle, we had a deal in good faith.’

“I would have said, ‘Ah, sorry, we got a contractual arrangement. Go sit in the corner.’ ”

Another criticism of Lowe is that he could have made Pronger sit, then hold out for a really sweet trade offer from another team. But was this really possible?

Yes David. Yes it was.

Even your colleague, Jim Matheson, was reported on the record saying the Oilers should have "waited it out a bit longer."

See Yashin, Alexei. Ottawa.

The return for a hockey player who sat out a full year?

2nd overall pick (Jason Spezza), Zdeno Chara, and Bill Muckalt.

But even if such a commitment was not made, does it really make sense for Edmonton to be seen as a place that screws around star players?

No, no no no no, No David.

Fuck No.

It was Pronger who "screwed" Edmonton. He had signed a deal in good faith - a long term deal (something he was seeking). The Oilers paid him the money and gave him the security. It was initially Pronger's desire to play in Canada, if you believe his agent. He mentioned that he had discussed it with his wife, and they then made a 5 year commitment in a span of 10 minutes. If he's an idiot to make such a decision that hastily, so be it - you simply don't reward stupidity.

Because making Pronger sit for weeks and months, waiting for the right deal to come up for the Oilers, would have got that unhappy message across to other players and their agents.

And again. See Yashin, Alexei. Ottawa.

Or a more local example. Comrie, Mike. Edmonton.

People move on - this is a "me" generation. I simply don't think a guy like Petr Sykora or Dustin Penner's personal signing decisions depend on what happened to a player who decided to break a 5 year signed, written contract.

In a league where players have increasing freedom to choose their team, did Edmonton want a reputation for treating star players in that manner?

So how is our reputation now? Or the past summer?

I'd argue that by not receiving adequate return, and by losing hockey games, our reputation took a larger hit than it would have had Kevin Lowe received proper return on the trade. In other words, players that would have helped this hockey club win games.

Nobody wants to play for a loser, all else equal.

Questions, questions, questions, and we on the Oilogosphere don't have the most of the answers, and we never will have many of them, because a good deal of confidentiality is crucial to Lowe's business dealings.

No, but we don't need them to measure his results. The mere fact is, the Oilers simply didn't get enough in return. Pronger was a difference maker - Lupul (the center piece of the deal) was not - in fact, such a disappointment that he got traded away within 1 calender year of the Pronger deal.

Kevin Lowe mentioned that he began scouting for opposition players since February of 2006.

What we do know is:

Roberto Luongo (who grew up as an Oilers fan) was on the market by Mike Keenan, who loves Pronger.

Alex Tanguay was on the market, and was also traded in the divison.

Martin Havlat, a disgruntled player, had also asked for a trade.

That's not even considering other players who WOULD have been made available on the market, as the summer progressed.

In the end, scouting since February, and you end up with only Joffrey Lupul and Ladislav Smid? Oh, and a few late round draft picks? Not enough David.

It just isn't.

David, you're a good guy. In the end we're both cheering for the Oilers. However, the mere fact of the matter is - the MSM in Edmonton simply doesn't challenge or question decisions, save a Dan Barnes here or there. Any fan knows Sheldon Souray was strictly a PR signing - and nothing more - but why isn't the MSM questioning that? Why didn't Lowe opt for the less sexy signing in Jan Hedja (who is leading the CBJ in +/-, logging up minutes) over Sheldon Souray? Why didn't Lowe leave 5.5M of cap space over the next 5 summers? Why the sudden urge to be in a win-now mode, with the league's youngest team? Why not sign a bunch of veteran hockey players on short term deals, while rebuilding, the way the NYI did (Guerin, Sillinger, Fedotenko, Comrie) enough to win hockey games while maintaining cap flexibility? Why are some smart bloggers able to uncover the Oilers profitability and revenue gate receipts, well before the Katz offer, which subsequently forced the EIG to spill some beans? Why does it take a National Post writer (Mark Spector) to uncover the fact that Dustin Penner is out of shape? Why does it take a Nashville newspaper to reveal a quote from Cal Nichols that the Oilers were 7th in league revenues the past year?

Is the MSM in Edmonton just lazy? Or do the Oilers simply control what is printed in the newspapers? Or are members of the MSM all homers like Bryan Hall, and operate under the label of, "If it's not good news, I don't wanna hear about it?"

There obviously is a problem with the MSM in this city.

There certainly is.

There is some hope in the 'Sphere that you can play a role in changing that. Now that doesn't mean being negative - that means being willing to challenge and ask questions.


Sean said...

Great post - this is quickly becoming one of my favorite Oilers blogs. Keep up the good work.

PunjabiOil said...

Thank you sir.

Simon said...

I salute you!

Andrew said...

I still can't figure out why the MSM Eastern Canada and 'net coverage of Eric Desjardins comments and stories of Pitkanen in Philly after last year haven't even been whispered about in the Oilogosphere.