Sunday, September 30, 2007

Media takes a shot at the Oilogosphere


"If Edmonton Oilers hockey is a fishbowl, it's never had more fighting fish in it, with far more sports coverage than ever on radio, TV and in print, not to mention the blogosphere, where every wannabe Oilers general manager can have his or her say."

How many of these wannabe Oilers GM's could do a better job handling the Smyth and Pronger situations?

Vito Corleone steps down; Younger, fresher blood in Michael takes over

Ryan Smyth?


Jason Smith?


Petr Sykora?


3 Veteran hockey players were cut loose or traded this past summer. Perhaps the dollars and cents didn't match. Or perhaps, the organization was set on going in a different direction and the above names didn't align properly.

Kevin Lowe long has been discussing the young blood - public comments of ''Not mortgaging the future'' and the alike.

Now the time has come.

Call it the youth movement - With names like Gagner (18), Cogliano (20), Nilsson (22), Stortini (22), Pouliot (22), Thorosen (24), and Brodziak (24) upfront, all expected to crack the opening roster, there is no shortage of reliance on the young members of the Edmonton Oilers.

Penner (25), Hemsky (25), Stoll (25), and Torres (26) have yet to peak either.

The veterans up front is a short list: Horcoff (29), Reasoner (30), Moreau (32), and Sanderson (35)

Defence is sailing in the same boat.

Smid (21), Greene (24), Pitkanen (24), Gilbert (24), Grebeshkov (24), and Roy (24) round up the old-boys-network-junior.

Souray (31), Tarnstrom (32), and Staios (34) are the veterans on the blue line that will be heavily counted on.

Goaltending is an exception to the rule

Garon (29), and Roloson (38) are expected to share the load.

*I'd like to say so. I'd like to believe Gagner and Cogliano will carry their point production to the games that count. Mikhnov, Lupul's and Schremp's pre-season performances last year though, have kept me honest. A wait-and-see approach if you may.

*Young defenceman will make mistakes. Matt Greene's development has stagnated. MacT doesn't think Grebeshkov has a lot to offer defensively, but they'll work on it. Pitkanen came off a year with hot and cold games. Gilbert needs another 100AB in the NHL before he can find his comfort zone. Smid is still a boy amoung men.

*The veteran's don't provide that much of stability either. Souray is 31, and Huddy will STILL have to work to improve his game. Tarnstrom is a bottom pairing, PP Specialist, who wasn't in the NHL last year. Staios is the only calming presence surrounded by chaos.

* Souray was strictly a PR transaction, inconsistent with the organization's youth movement philosophy. Souray, who reported in AUG 21's Edmonton Journal, "The Oilers came out of nowhere, and I told my agent to get it quickly done." However, that's history, and I'm looking forward to see him put the POW in the POWERPLAY.

*The defence can certainly use a veteran to calm things down. YK Oil is a big fan of Tanabe. I was a fan of Hedja, or even Tjarnqvist at lesser money. Hey, Danny Markov is still looking for a dance partner. What say you, Kevin?

*Upfront, Mike Johnson replaces Pisani. Pisani ridiculously had only a -1 on a poor ES 2006-2007 Oilers team. Mike Johnson, meanwhile was +6 (31 pts) on a similar poor ES team. He's a guy who went 16G, 38A, 54 points in 2005-2006 and Montreal only paid the price of a 4th rounder (which is effectively ~nothing) to acquire him. Latest rumblings suggest that he was at the Blues camp on a try-out basis. Poor guy, just can't get a break. If Billy Beane shared his philosophy to the ''Naked-eye observation NHL GMs," he'd be courted by 30 NHL teams. Perhaps things will change in the future. Perhaps not.

I don't believe we're a playoff team, based on the roster thus far. At the same time, we're going on an embarking journey to watch the youth grow and mature. For the first time in organization's history, I can confidently say and truly mean it: "Just watch. Just watch us next year."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

He shoots....He SCORES!


Hilary Duff's expectations were low when her hockey player boyfriend, Mike Comrie, called recently to say he'd picked out an early 20th birthday present for her and that "I hope you like them."

"Okay, it's shoes or something," Duff recalled thinking as she went to her sister's house, where Comrie had said he left the present in the garage. "I opened the garage, and I was just like shocked, just standing there."

Before her, with a big red bow on top, was a Mercedes-Benz G-class SUV (retail price: more than $100,000).

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Wise Man Speaks

Another more informing, less opinionated blog entry.

On Grebeshkov

"The balancing act is what you're going to have to pay for the offence, in terms of what you're going to give up defensively," MacTavish said. "And it's not only just with the forwards, but with the defencemen, as well.
"It's a situation where, yeah, we're going to move the puck better, but can we defend as well?"

On Cogliano

"Well, speed is obviously a huge element in the game of hockey," MacTavish said. "It's something that (Cogliano) possesses.

"But I really caution guys like him in particular. Your days of getting the puck and completely outskating everybody are gone. It does happen, at times. It happened (Tuesday night) where he beat a Toronto defenceman wide. But you've got to play the game with your head here.

"It's the combination of the speed and the hockey sense and the head that will really determine how much success he has at this level."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sabres still not happy with the Oilers


Sabres managing partner Larry Quinn was asked if the Sabres will elicit advice from the Oilers, who staged the NHL's first regular-season outdoor game.

"We're not real happy with Edmonton right now," Quinn said, referring to the Oilers' attempt to hijack Sabres winger Thomas Vanek through restricted free agency with a seven-year, $50 million contract offer. "We won't be talking to Edmonton."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

EIG pumps in 3.5M in dressing room upgrades

Have to give credit to these guys.

It's only fair


...but it is another event supporting the suspicions that the EIG were making money hands over fist. Would the EIG be engaging in these renovations if they were ''close to breaking even'' territory?

Not likely.

On an semi-unrelated note...

Another tidbit in the article worth mentioning (see bold).

Edmonton's reputation as a place to play is stellar among players who've actually played here, but not so much among those who haven't. This is another step in trying to change the misconception.

"It's impressive to see the way guys are treated here," said Marty Reasoner. "It's an extension of the organization. It's a pretty big message saying the team is committed to the guys and treats them first class."

Besides, said Moreau, the Nobody Wants to Play in Edmonton angle is dead.

"There are too many good examples (of players who do)," he said. "Sheldon (Souray) came here. I signed an extension, Stevie (Staios) signed an extension. Hemmer (Ales Hemsky) signed a long term deal. Horcoff signed a long term deal. Raffi (Torres) signed a long term deal. Jarret Stoll probably will. Dwayne Roloson could have gone somewhere else. Dick Tarnstrom is back.

"All those guys could have gone somewhere else."

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Buffalo Suspends Teppo Numminen - Are the Oilers next?


Teppo Numminen wasn’t prepared for what his doctors told him this week at his annual, routine heart checkup. The Buffalo Sabres defensemen, already having endured two cardiac procedures, needs to have another right away.

He claimed he could play again by late October, but his career could be in the balance.

To make matters worse, Numminen learned Thursday night the Sabres had suspended him for failing to report to camp in good physical condition, a move the team declined to announce publicly.

“The NHLPA was notified today that the Buffalo Sabres have elected to suspend Teppo Numminen without pay,” NHL Players Association spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon told The Buffalo News. “We are currently reviewing this matter.”

Numminen this summer signed a one-year contract worth $2.6 million. Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier said the guaranteed contract was not insured, meaning the club would be on the hook for the whole amount had it not suspended him


s it right? Is it just a business? Should non-hockey related medical issues be responsibility of the club? Or should Buffalo handled it with more class? Where do the Oilers stand with regards to Pisani?

Your opinion is encouraged

Friday, September 14, 2007

EIG Must be smiling


US $ 0.97077 / 1 CDN $ as of 1:43 PM MST

In good shape boys.

In good shape.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Ryan O'Marra

Born in Toyko, Japan - raised in Canada - 20 year old, 6.02, 200 lbs, Ryan O'Marra is hoping to crack the Edmonton Oilers 2007 lineup.

A character
center perceived to have strong hockey intelligence and two-way play. In other words, a guy that can help your hockey club win games.

But he is a center.

And the Edmonton Oilers have plenty of them.

So where does O'Marra fit in with a group that includes Horcoff, Stoll, Pouliot, Reasoner, Gagner, Cogliano, Schremp, Nash, Brodziak, Almtrop?

Or does he? Should he be moved to wing, based on GUY FLAMING's synopsis :
O'Marra is a natural center but has shown the ability and the comfort to play on the right wing as well

The ease of transition is critical on a team that is deep at center. But hold that thought for a second...

George Bachul writes:
He was also recognized in the annual OHL Coaches poll as the best faceoff man in his conference

Conveniently, Andrew Cogliano isn't as strong on faceoffs, and perhaps his burning speed may be better utilized on the wing.

Craig MacTavish has a difficult task and decision lying ahead of him.


So what kind of a game does O'Marra bring?

Guy Flaming writes:
He is a very skilled center with a good set of wheels. He handles the puck well and has a very good shot. He can score from many areas of the ice and doesn’t shy away from playing in traffic.

O'Marra is at his best when he is playing with a physical edge to his game. Banging bodies, creating turnovers and playing toughin the corners or in fornt of the net.

The Islanders were also a fan of him.

"I watched (O'Marra) in the World Junior tournament this year and he's just a steady two-way guy who shows up to play every shift," said Ken Morrow, the Islanders' Director of Pro Scouting.

"As you saw, he can score you some goals, he can kill penalties, he can check, and he can hit...he does a little bit of everything," explained Morrow, adding that O'Marra "doesn't look out of place (at the AHL-level)."

"He looks like a ten-year pro the way he handled himself...he's 18-years-old but he plays like a 25 or 26-year-old," said Morrow.

Robert Tychkowski gets a quote out of Ryan at the Oilers development camp

"I'm itching to skate," said O'Marra, who tore up his knee about five weeks after the trade. "Just to see the boys out there in the Oilers jerseys... it's tough to watch."

Reading the descriptions, it can be all summed up in two words:

Complete player

Lets take a peek at his numbers

16 year old - 63 GP, 16G, 16A, 32 PTS - 0.51 PPG - 0.25 GPG
16 year old (playoffs) - 9 GP, 5G, 5A, 10 PTS, 1.11PPG, 0.555 GPG
17 year old - 64 GP, 25G, 38A, 63 PTS - 0.98 PPG - 0.39 GPG
17 year old (plaoyffs) - 6GP, 4G, 1A, 5 PTS - 0. 833 PPG, 0.667 GPG
18 year old - 61 GP, 27G, 50A, 77 PTS - 1.26 PPG - 0.44 GPG
18 year old (AHL) - 8 GP, 4G, 1A, 5 PTS, 0.625 PPG - 0.5 GPG
18 year old (AHL Playoffs) - 3 GP, 0G, 1A, 1 PT, 0.33 PPG, 0 GPG
19 year old (injury season on two different OHL teams) - 46 GP, 26G, 25A, 51 PTS, 1.10 PPG, 0.57 GPG
19 year old (playoffs) 3 GP, 2G, 1A, 3 PTS, 1 PPG, 0.67 GPG

PPG (playoffs excluded) chronologically - 0.51, 0.98, 1.26, 1.10
(playoffs excluded) chronologically - 0.25, 0.39, 0.44, 0.67

What can we derive from these numbers?
- He is a strong playoff performer
- He can put the puck in the net
- His numbers improved with age
- He may certainly have 2nd line upside. He claimed on Guy's pipeline show that people are falsely projecting him as a 3rd liner, and he's going to prove them wrong. Character.
- There is some concern regarding injuries (GP). You'd hope the knee injury suffered last year does not impact him in the long run
- Those are some very nice numbers as an
18 year old in the AHL.

Will he make the team this year?
There has been little talk on O'Marra making the team. Rather, MacTavish seems to be counting on one of Gagner, Schremp, or Cogliano to make the 23 man roster on opening day. Perhaps O'Marra needs another year of development to fine-tune his game. Or it may just be that these interviews mean dick in the grand scheme of things.

Be it in 2007 , 2008 or 2009, all indications thus far point out that Ryan O'Marra will help the Edmonton Oilers hockey club win games. Kevin Lowe most certainly fumbled the ball during the Ryan Smyth negotiations, but he
most certainly made sure the organization didn't come away empty handed.

"I think we have a good one," pronounced Baseggio.

You did.

Now he is ours.

The Ice Breaks

Official name 10406 98 Avenue
Emporis Building Number 307090

Address *
City Edmonton
State Alberta
Country Canada

Technical Data
Floors (OG) 25

Building in General
Type of construction high-rise building
Main usages
Status proposed

101st / Jasper ave
Dundee's Office Tower Proposal

Official name The Edmontonian
Emporis Building Number 307088

Address *
City Edmonton
State Alberta
Country Canada

Technical Data
Height (struct.) 136 m 447 ft
Floors (OG) 44

Building in General
Type of construction high-rise building
Main usages
Status proposed

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Craig MacTavish Sheds some light RE: Training Camp

Article 1

Article 2

YELLOWKNIFE -- With five goals and six assists through the first six games of the Canada-Russia Super Series

Considering the article was published today, an update including game 7 totals would be present in any *real* newspaper. But who is quibbling?


13 points, 7 of them coming on the PP. The next highest is Giroux at 8, followed by Perron (a guy the Oilers liked) at 7. Turris has put up 6.

Sam Gagner is making the Edmonton Oilers scouts look awfully good.

Lets be honest here. When you're picking in the top 6, it's difficult to screw up. The true test will be to measure how Plante and Nash turn out (15th and 21st overall) compared to the picks in surrounding territory.

It was a pretty heavy price in terms of what we had to pay and what we had to endure (to get that high a pick), but it looks like money well spent," said head coach Craig MacTavish, who can't wait to see Gagner at the Oilers main camp next week.

Am I looking too much into it? What money spent?

"Mactavish who can't wait" - a nice rosy, cheerleading, writer's interpretation.

"We need (Andrew) Cogliano, we need Gagner or (Rob) Schremp, one of those three guys for sure to step up and fill a spot. It would be a disappointment if one of them didn't stay."

Center is getting awfully crowded.


Who do you move to wing if one of them makes the team?

Robert Nilsson, acquired in the Ryan Smyth trade with the Islanders, is being counted on to make the team.

"We have him pencilled in right now," said MacTavish. "It's up to him what he does with it, but we do have a spot for him. We saw him play last year in the playoffs in Wilkes-Barre. We need some power play help and he has the ability to do that.

"He needs a chance at the NHL level. He has to be deserving of that chance ... We feel like it's his spot to lose, for sure."

Combining all these quotes together, along with Lowe stating he'd like to fill in the loss of Pisani internally, it appears to be a rebuild year. Is MacTavish buying into the youth-movement plan? Was the talk of a "win-now" mode just nonsense? Were Souray and Penner just moves to keep the tickets selling and the Oilers from a bottom 5 finish?

What about the PP? Can Nilsson, primarily a passer, play on the 1st line PP? I could see a Hemsky-Nilsson-Penner-Souray-Stoll group. Horcoff-Sanderson-Pouliot-Pitkanen-Tarnstrom as the secondary.

"It's a good beginning to their professional careers," said Lowe. "That they know if they play for the Edmonton Oilers there is a community responsibility.

Chris Pronger obviously missed the memo.

"You always hear it's going to be a competitive camp and all jobs are open, but we're telling the truth this year. There really is great opportunity and we're hopeful the guys are confident enough against NHL players to compete with them.

I found that part amusing

"Plus, Bucky (Springfield Falcons coach Kelly Buchberger) was coaching, so they wanted to impress him, as well.

Nothing like an old-boys network.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Edmonton Oil Kings - Ticket Prices illogical Greed or Smart Business?

The above mascot illustrates a family-friendly atmosphere sports organization.

Which may be.

What isn't family-friendly is the ticket prices.

The Oil Kings announced their single game ticket prices in recent weeks. $29 and $25, the highest in the CHL. Add in ticketmaster fees ($5-$6/ticket), Parking ($8), and the likely NHL-Priced concessions, and families are left wondering whether to just stick with the U of A Golden Bears ($10 adult tickets).

Yes, higher than Vancouver and Calgary, both solid comparables with established WHL franchises. Only the 100 level will be open to limit capacity/supply (~6750), improve a hockey atmosphere, avoid employee payroll in the 200 level, and most importantly prevent leakage from higher ticket prices to lower ticket prices.

Too much you say?

Oil Kings VP Nick Wilson disagrees. He claims that those prices are in line with the cost of other entertainment in Edmonton.

What are the comparables? Movie Theaters? Eskimos games? Rush? Gateway Bowling? U of A Golden Bears? A quote left up to the reader's interpretion - but finding a decent comparable is difficult.

The WHL has the potential to be a profitable venture for the EIG. Market size is one of the largest in the league, with small towns such as Swift Current (population: 16,000) competitors. Players also don't receive salary either, just a modest diem (~$200/week). Bus rides are more common than airfares, and these guys aren't staying in world class hotels like the NHL guys. At the same time, the EIG cannot afford price themselves out of the Edmonton Junior Hockey market leaving only 2,000 fans in a 17,000 Rexall Place.

The major questions arises among Edmontonians - are the current ticket prices too much to build up a fan base? Or are they reasonable enough to attract the targeted 5000-6750 needed in order to generate extremely high annual returns? Is the current pricing sustainable over the long run (i.e. Will the novelty wear off after the 1st year)?

You'd think the EIG researched their market well. The success of the Oil Kings founder Club (3 year season tickets) likely aided them in finding the price point. These guys aren't a charity. They didn't donate tickets to the Troops themselves (rather, the season ticket holders were asked), and they aren't interested in subsidizing lower income or single parent families either. This isn't about Edmonton or the community, no matter how many times Patrick LaForge leads us to believe so. The "Family" demographic talk is nonsense. The intent is to find the price point in order to fill the lower bowl with higher income families or commerce related workers that are willing to pay $8.00 for a Molson. If it keeps the ''Family'' demographic away from the games - so be it. Opening the 200's and 300's could definitely help out the "Family" demographic - but it comes at a major cost. The cost being leakage. The upper levels would require lower ticket prices, and this would remove the certainty of the higher ticket prices. This is the same reason Ken King, president of the Calgary Shames, indicated a short while back, an ideal capacity for an NHL rink is in the 16,000's. This is a business gentlemen. These are smart business guys folks, as much as it pains me to admit it. They already know how to fuck a city over and still come out as public heroes with the taxpayers of Edmonton subsidizing the Rexall lease.

Will the strategy work?

For those in the "Family" demographic that vocally raised objections - take your money to a better quality of hockey in the U of A - you were a never the targeted market. For those a little more wealthier, the eyebrows that were raised when the ticket prices were announced, will seamlessly fall back down without further objections. After all, aren't the Oil Kings ticket prices comparable to other entertainment options in Edmonton? With the Oilers tickets becoming more scarce every year, the EIG know they will be able to get away with charging the highest ticket prices in the CHL.

And they will.

EDIT: After blog entry release, the Edmonton Oil Kings introduced more family-friendly pricing. $10 single tickets, $17 ATB tickets, and $88/4 tickets + 4 Sodas/Hot Dogs packs.