Friday, February 29, 2008

Red Line on Riley Nash - June 20, 2007

Not exactly thrilled when selected by the Oilers. Then he later followed this up with perhaps a forced smile. Nash later acknowledged that "I'm a BC boy who grew up as a Canucks fan, but Edmonton is good too"

Regardless, he's Edmonton property until 27.

Red Line apparently loved him


Vancouver, BC: What are your thoughts on some of the "other" BCHL forwards, like Riley Nash and Casey Pierro-Zabotel?

Kyle Woodlief: At Red Line, our staff loves Riley Nash, and I think he could go off the board possibly as high as #15 overall. A really well schooled, all-around player who can play it any way you want. Pierro-Zabotel is big and has a real good touch around the net and fine instincts at the offensive end of the rink. He has some other areas to work on, but with those tools I'd see him going in the 2nd round.

The Oilers weren't the only ones who had him ranked that high.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Nothing but Respect for Mats Sundin

Mats Sundin. 37 years young.

Recently exercising his right - No-Trade-Clause - he's been unfairly "bashed" and "criticized" by Leafs fans and the media (CREDIT: Stoll2Hemsky for the inspiration).

When did it become his job to fix up the Leafs mess? He paid for the NTC build in his contract in the form of a lower salary - why shouldn't he be able to exercise that very right without public scrutiny?

I recall when CUJO left to Detroit to try and win a Cup. Toronto fans argued that he was a mercenary and had no commitment to the team. Now a guy is doing everything he can to stay and the fans are calling him selfish - unbelievable, but expected.

"I don't believe in the concept of rental players"

I'm surprised there aren't more players in the league who think being a rental cheapens winning a cup. To me, this shows what a dedicated, loyal teammate he is. He wants to win the cup the correct way, by grinding it out from September to June with his fellow troops. If not, so be it.

Good for him.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Updated pending UFA's - Summer 2008

Continuation of the blog entry back in January

FORWARDS THAT WILL GARNER THE MOST INTEREST: Daymond Langkow, Kristian Huselius, Jason Williams, Andrew Brunette, Pavol Demitra, Cory Stillman, Brian Rolston, Miroslav Satan, Sean Avery, Brendan Shanahan, Martin Straka, Radim Vrbata, Vaclav Prospal, Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison, Joe Sakic, Marian Hossa, Mats Sundin, Jaromir Jagr, David Vyborny, Daniel Cleary


Aaron Ward, Brian Campbell, Bret Hedican, Mike Commodore, Adam Foote, John-Michael Liles, Mattias Norstrom, Brad Stuart, Rob Blake, Paul Mara, Marek Malik, Michal Rozsival, Jason Smith, Mark Eaton, Dick Tarnstrom, Jan Hedja , Wade Redden


Jose Theodore, Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Dan Ellis, Wade Dubielewicz, Ty Conklin, Stephen Valiquette, Johan Holmqvist, Olaf Kolzig

EDIT - Removed Boyle (6 years/40M) and Jackman (4 years - 14.4M)

Who do you like?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Trent Hunter signs 5 years - 10M - Why is Torres earning 2.25M?

-26 years old
-1 year from UFA
-NHL Salary cap: 50.3M
-Signs 3 year contract.
CAP HIT: 2.25M
ANNUAL SALARIES: 1.600 2.400 2.750

-27 years old
-Pending UFA in summer of 2008
-NHL Salary cap expected to rise to ~54-55M
-Signs 5 year contract
-ANNUAL SALARIES across the board: 2.000M

Comparable players, both strong EV players, same point total range.

Lowe paid Torres more, whom gave up less UFA years (2) than Hunter did (5). At least I could live with 2.25M over 5 years - you have an asset who is being paid relatively less each year with respect to a rising salary cap - making the asset easier to trade. Instead, you lose his rights in just 3 years - exactly the same mistake Lowe made in the Horcoff extension. The worst part of it is Torres earning 2.750M in the final year of the contract. That figure will be the starting point in the next round of negotiations.

Bad, bad, BAD!

So - is it poor negotiation skills on Kevin Lowe's part?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Jaroslav Spacek - The One that got Away

Traded to Edmonton in January of 2006, he finished the year strong with 19 points in 31 regular season games, followed with 14 in 24 playoff games. He was dropping hints he liked the city.

And then it happened.

Spacek signed in Buffalo - 3 years, 10M.

Scott Howson, who negotiated this contract commented on the situation:

"We were willing to meet the price he was asking for, the money was similar on both sides, but he wanted to go to the other team for one reason or the other," said Howson. "It wasn't a case of he didn't like it here, but when you get to unrestricted and you get to choose your team, a lot of things can come into play. I didn't get the reason why he chose and, to be honest, I'm not very interested in it at this point."

It was clear, at least on surface, that Spacek left primarily because he didn't want to face the pressure of being heavily leaned upon, after the Pronger saga opened to the public. This was later implied by Spacek himself in an interview ["They had a few guys leaving and..."]

Perhaps the Oilers should have outbid the Sabres to keep him around. He's having a hell of a season [50 GP, 9 goals, 19 assists, 28 points, 23:20 TOI, 2:35 SH TOI, 4:04 PP TOI] at a reasonable salary.

We could use a veteran Spacek these days.

And it sure as hell would make me more comfortable moving Steve Staios.

Jeff Tambellini may very well be on the market

Sent back down to the AHL today, I wonder if the Islanders have seen the last of Jeff Tambellini.

Islanders blog writes this about Tambellini, including quotes from Ted Nolan:

After scoring only one goal in his latest eight-game stint with the Islanders, forward Jeff Tambellini was sent down to Bridgeport today to make room for the return of enforcer Chris Simon against Tampa Bay tonight at the Coliseum. Simon is coming off an NHL-record 30-game suspension for stepping on the ankle of Pittsburgh’s Jarkko Ruutu on Dec. 15.

Although the Islanders are on a five-game winning streak, coach Ted Nolan said he has no qualms about shaking up the lineup. “I’m not one of those superstitious guys that says, ‘Hey, we’ve got to keep the same lineup,’” Nolan said. “We want to make sure we have the best lineup on the ice on a given night.” Explaining his decision-making process, Nolan said, “. There would be a factor of someone not playing as well as we think and putting Chris back into that position to upgrade it.”

Tambellini received 13:46 of ice time in the first game of his eight-game stretch but saw that dwindle to a low of only 6:44 on Monday against San Jose. His demotion means the end of the “Bridgeport Connection” line with Frans Nielsen and Blake Comeau for the time being. That combination helped jump start the Islanders when they were fighting their way out of a seven-game losing streak, but they were reduced to fourth-line minutes after failing to generate much offense.

Jeff Tambellini is 23, turning 24 in April. He's put up strong numbers throughout his career, and has shown the ability to score goals. He first played in the AHL at 21, and posted a 1 PPG. Those numbers have improved to 1.18 PPG, and 1.30 PPG over the last two years. He's shown enough at the AHL level, but has had limited success in the NHL (14 points in 64 games).

He's never established himself as a full-time NHL player, as shown on TSN's player profile page

04-Feb-08: Recalled from Bridgeport (AHL).
16-Jan-08: Assigned to Bridgeport (AHL).
13-Jan-08: Recalled from Bridgeport (AHL).
13-Dec-07: Assigned to Bridgeport (AHL).
02-Dec-07: Recalled from Bridgeport (AHL).
12-Oct-07: Assigned to Bridgeport (AHL).
08-Oct-07: Recalled from Bridgeport (AHL).
03-Oct-07: Assigned to Bridgeport (AHL).
24-Mar-07: Recalled from Bridgeport (AHL).
13-Mar-07: Assigned to Bridgeport (AHL).
10-Mar-07: Recalled from Bridgeport (AHL).
27-Feb-07: Assigned to Bridgeport (AHL).
01-Feb-07: Recalled from Bridgeport (AHL).
12-Oct-06: Assigned to Bridgeport (AHL).
19-Apr-06: Assigned to Bridgeport (AHL).
08-Mar-06: Recalled from Manchester (AHL).
08-Mar-06: Acquired from the Los Angeles Kings.
09-Dec-05: Assigned to Manchester (AHL).
30-Nov-05: Recalled from Manchester (AHL).
21-Sep-05: Assigned to Manchester (AHL).
15-Aug-05: Signed by the Los Angeles Kings to a multiyear contract.

Have the Islanders had enough? Does he have a career in the NHL in a top 6 role? Should the Oilers inquire about his services?

Your opinion is valued.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Paul Holmgren - a terrific GM

Today, the Philadelphia Flyers exchanged a 3rd round pick in 2008 for Jaroslav Modry.

YK Oil has long been a fan of Modry. Today, he had this to say on the deal:

Absolutely the single best trade deadline deal that will be made.

Despite the low point totals Modry was having a fantastic year in LA. Top-notch defender for a bargain basement price.

+0.90 EV +/- ..... +0.04 QCOMP ..... -0.06 QTEAM
Average TOI /game = 18+ minutes

Essentially the guy was playing very well against some of the best competition their team played and doing so while playing with some of the lesser lights LA had to offer. And he was doing for 18+ minutes a night.

I think this deal goes beyond what's shown on the surface. Let me explain:

Like some may remember, Paul Holmgren acquired Alexei Zhitnik on December 16, 2006 in exchange for Freddy Meyer and a conditional third-round draft pick. He speculated that Zhitnik's value would increase at the trade deadline.

He was right.

He then flipped the asset (Zhitnik) at the trade deadline on February 25, 2007, for top defence prospect Braydon Coburn.

Astute management.

Which brings me to today's transaction. I believe it is setting up for "tommorow's" deal in captain Jason Smith. With Philadelphia hard pressed at the cap, and Smith, slowing down, it seems a deal will come to fruition by the deadline.


Holmgren acknowledged there has been some interest in captain Jason Smith, who is in the final year of his contract and does not appear to be close to an agreement with the Flyers.

Holmgren basically replaced Smith for cheap by acquiring Modry, and will presumably sell him for more (than the acquisition cost of the replacement).

Asset management. Which is, why Paul Holmgren is one of the top GM's in the NHL.

Re-evaluating the Dustin Penner Deal

After 60 games, Dustin Penner is sitting with 35 points in 60 games (0.5833 PPG), a slight improvement over last year's 45 in 82 (0.5487 PPG). Goal totals are down (29 last year - 17 thus far this season), while assists are up (16 vs 18).

Penner began the season out of shape, and only scored 5 points in the first 13 games. That's water under the bridge - however, playing on the top line logging up minutes, it's a fair opinion to argue that he's underperformed the expectations.

It's not so much that that he's going to cost the Oilers 4.25M for five years - nobody was expecting him to be a value contract, as going to RFA route prevents you - but the fact the compensation for him appears to be steep.

The Oilers would be picking 4th overall if the season ended today.

I was initially in a ''wait and see'' mode for the Penner deal - and in the end, it's about results.

A top 5 pick in a talented draft class (comparable to 2003) is something. Gagner/Voracek were 6/7 last year - so effectively we're giving up that (possibly more?) for Penner. An early 2nd round pick (i.e. 34th overall) is also a valuable asset (that can be traded) in a deep draft. Ditto for early 3rd (i.e. to move up in draft position).

And honestly, Anaheim didn't take a step back in the results category - Todd Bertuzzi is still a better hockey player than Dustin Penner. The impact Anaheim felt is negligible to improve our position from the first round pick in the FCP deal.

The whole situation is depressing when you really think about it. This team would be in Stamkos territory with plentiful of cap space, had Lowe not tried for the quick fix in Souray and Penner. I actually wish Nylander would have signed here. That is the bottom line.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lives of The Hockey Wives

Curtis Stock, of the Edmonton Journal, writes an interesting article on hockey wives.

The last line is gold.


Some interesting excerpts:

"Their marriages revolve around the husband. It's his work that always comes first," said Ortiz, a professor of sociology at Oregon State University who studied athlete's wives for four years as part of his doctorate dissertation.

"The wives see to it that their husbands are not encumbered. They are the caretakers of the marriage leaving the husband free to take care of his career.

"It's always a weird situation," said Kristin Peca, mother of Emily, 2, and Trevor, 5. "You never know who is going to go. The week before this year's trade deadline we had the Reasoners over for dinner. As soon as you feel you are starting to get close to people, they're gone."

Other things they don't even want to think about.

The threat of adultery with groupies hanging outside of arenas, in hotel lobbies or at bars and night clubs known to be frequented by athletes is a stress all on its own. Some wives said their husbands get propositioned in their presence, even at dinner with the kids a woman can bat her eyes and leave her phone number behind.

"Groupies are something that obviously makes our lives a little more worrisome," said Smyth. "It's always on your mind.

"I guess it's easy for any guy to find things he's not supposed to. But it's a lot easier when it is just handed to you."

For her part, Smith considers groupies "pathetic" creatures.

"I've never understood it," she said. "How can you be so ga-ga over somebody you don't know, somebody you've never even met?"

Both say it all comes down to trust.

"My husband has choices to make," said Smyth. "If he goes that route then he is an idiot. It's trust in a marriage and a strong faith in God. If I didn't have the latter I would probably be in a looney bin."

"A lot closer than a lot of places," said Smith. "Edmonton was a breath of fresh air from the moment we arrived."

The Oiler wives say they have to learn to tune out the negatives. But try teaching that to your kids.

"Are we greedy? Is daddy overpaid?"

Jordan Smith asked his mother that often during last year's lockout. Who gave him that idea? Bart's dad. Lisa's dad ..

"Nobody understands my life like another hockey wife," said Smyth. "I'm not complaining. At all. There are a lot of great parts to the lifestyle. And that's what a lot of people get caught up in and think being married to a hockey player is like.

"Everybody says 'Oh, you're so lucky.' And yes, we are lucky. I get to stay at home with the kids. We've been able to do some amazing travelling. Olympics. World championships.

"But it's not always so great to be on an outing with your kids and they haven't seen their father, and I haven't seen my husband, in two weeks and have everyone following every move.

"Don't get me wrong, I totally understand that it happens and why it happens. But your time is never your own.

"It can be hard. You can't help but think of the guys on the road, eating out, staying in great hotels, eating nice meals. And you're home wiping up baby poop and eating Kraft Dinner again."

Kevin Lowe - July 05, 2007 - "We're in the win-now mode ... we really are"

After shooting blanks in the UFA market, a frustrated Kevin Lowe reveals his competitiveness, that eventually lead him to landing Sheldon Souray and Dustin Penner. He also implies the EIG's budget lead to Smyth being traded.

Lowe said on Wednesday that he also went after Paul Kariya, pitching the Nashville winger on playing on a Canadian team for the first time in his career, but he signed for three years and $18 million US in St. Louis. Also on Lowe's list was Atlanta's Slava Kozlov, but the Russian forward is apparently building a big house in Georgia and one of his children is a rising tennis star.

A frustrated Lowe says the Oilers are thinking of hiring a "concierge" to look after player needs in the future, but he can't understand why free agents won't sign here.

"I wasn't trying to spend the money for a bunch of over-the-hill guys, guys looking to grab one more paycheque," said Lowe, who had a game plan. "It wasn't like we didn't want to spend the money. It's the first time we've ever been in the high-end market. We're in the win-now mode ... we really are, but it didn't work (free agency)."

Whoa whoa whoa, Kevin. You just described Michael Nylander!

And On Nov 19, 2007, Kevin admits the team was not trying to win hockey games for the present, but rather for the future. What a difference 4 months make!


Lowe did want Ryan Smyth after trading him to Long Island Feb. 27 because they couldn't agree on a five-year deal. He says he made a call to agent Don Meehan early in the free-agent proceedings Sunday, but Smyth opted for Colorado.

"Now we've got a different budget and a different salary cap (up from $44 million last year to $50.3 million this season)," said Lowe, admitting he hadn't read the tea leaves well enough to know how high it would jump. If he'd known in February what he knows now, he said Smyth probably wouldn't have gotten away.

Lowe has not said if he would go after a Group 2 free agent, but he's probably not going to leave any stone unturned.

"As the general manager of a team, I have to utilize all the possible tools I have," said Lowe.

Jim Matheson defends Kevin Lowe - March 01, 2007

Jim Matheson gives Kevin Lowe all the benefit of doubt in a Q and A with fans. Here's to another 8 years of mediocrity!

Fans want to know why Edmonton GM didn't buck up or move others like Petr Sykora at trade deadline
Jim Matheson, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Thursday, March 01, 2007

Journal Hall of Fame hockey writer Jim Matheson answers your questions on the NHL ...

- - -

Q Why weren't the Oilers willing or able to pay Ryan Smyth the $5 million US to $5.5 million he was asking for? Was their best player not deemed worth it? It seems puzzling that a team in Calgary can afford $7 million for Jarome Iginla, the face of their franchise, plus $5 million-plus for Alex Tanguay and to pay a premium for players like Miikka Kiprusoff. Also the trade for Smyth seems to leave us with a lot of prospects at forward and not much else. Given that the Oilers started the year with a lot of forward depth and haven't scored enough goals because of lack of offence from the defence, is this wise?

(Sam Hillier, Irvine, Calif.)

A GM Kevin Lowe is taking major heat for not bucking up for Smyth, but I think he went very hard to sign their most popular player. If it was $5.5 million a year over five years, when Smyth would be 36 years old at the end of it, that's a fair chunk of change, folks. That's more than Simon Gagne's getting in Philadelphia, and he, like Smyth, is their best player, also four years younger. They were willing to give Smyth a fifth year when they really only wanted to give him four. It's true Calgary signed Iginla for $7 million, but Iggy was coming off a runner-up finish for the Hart trophy and a 50-goal season and had all the leverage. Ask yourself this question: If the

Oilers had still kept working on trying to sign Smyth past Tuesday's deadline and they missed the playoffs and he still walked on July 1 to, say, the New York Rangers, where Glen Sather runs the store, or to the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he can play on Mats Sundin's line, and the Oilers got ZERO for Smyth, how would you feel? It's true they're deep at forward now with prospects (Ryan O'Marra, Robert Nilsson, Andrew Cogliano and Rob Schremp), but they still need an experienced puck-moving defenceman, although Tom Gilbert and U.S. junior team captain Taylor Chorney, who may leave school, have big promise. Can they sign a veteran D-man over the summer? I suspect, they'll be in the running for Kimmo Timonen, bearing in mind the Philadelphia Flyers will make a big push for him, too.

Q Why didn't the Oilers trade Petr Sykora at the deadline? He's unrestricted, he's won a Stanley Cup (in New Jersey) and, while he doesn't bring the physical presence that Bill Guerin or Keith Tkachuk do, he has better numbers this season than both of them. And they fetched a nice price from the San Jose Sharks and Atlanta Thrashers.

(Davin Day, Mannville)

A They probably did pitch Sykora to teams, but he doesn't have the profile Guerin and Tkachuk have, plus he's more one-dimensional (a big shooter). The Thrashers were also looking more at Tkachuk as a centre where he'd been playing in St. Louis. In Guerin's case, the Sharks knew he'd played some with Joe Thornton in his Boston days, so there was a fit there. Detroit was looking for a top-six forward, but an aggressive one. Sykora doesn't fit that bill. While Sykora leads the Oilers in scoring, his play has tailed off considerably, too, the last while. He had 28 points in his first 28 games, but just 21 in the last 36 games.

Smyth Wanted a Long Term Deal in the Summer of 2005

Following up on my previous post, I digged out a gem:

While the link to the article isn't available any longer, a Jim Matheson article was found copied and pasted here

This is where, Kevin Lowe originally blew it, Smyth (29) in his prime at that point. At that point, you could offer him a 5 year deal and not worry about whether he'd be ineffective in years 4 and 5 of the contract. In other words, it would be akin to signing him to a 3 year contract in the Summer of 2007.

Veteran prefers long-term contract with locals to taking more cash on open market in 2006

Jim Matheson
The Edmonton Journal

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

EDMONTON - Oilers winger Ryan Smyth wants to have the security of a long-term contract, but he doesn't know whether he'd take a pay cut to stay in River City.

"Everybody knows I've bled Oiler blue and I'm happy playing in front of my family. I was was born and raised in Alberta," said Smyth, a native of Jasper.

"But I don't want to sell myself short. I just want fair market value."

Smyth, who turns 30 next February, has only played for one NHL team since the Oilers drafted him sixth overall in the 1994 entry draft. He has played 642 games -- No. 11 on the Oilers' most games played list. He's sixth in goals (198 ), eighth in points (430), and fifth in game-winners (32).

After seeing Bobby Holik depart the New Jersey Devils and get $4.25 million US to play with the Atlanta Thrashers and Paul Kariya leave the Colorado Avalanche for the Nashville Predators for $4.5 million this summer, Smyth could command $4 million on the open market next summer. He can become an unrestricted free-agent if he decides to sign the Oilers' one-year, $2.7-million US qualifying offer.

But, deep down, Smyth would rather have at least a three-year Oiler contract in his pocket.

"You're seeing a lot of different addresses with players this summer,' said Smyth, "but I'm pushing for a long-term contract here. They've talked about signing a one-year contract and negotiating on a longer deal during the season, but I'd rather not do that. It's a distraction.

"It's a team game when the season starts."

NHL clubs can't negotiate until Jan. 1 after players sign qualifying offers.

Smyth could eventually be history if he only signs the qualifying offer, however, but in his heart he doesn't want to leave.

"I've always been an Oiler and I can see our team being more than just a team that hopefully can make the playoffs.

"But I can see us going to a whole new level here," said Smyth. "I guess there's pressure on both sides. I can be unrestricted and that's a unique situation for a player. But I've enjoyed every moment as an Oiler. I'd like a long-term contract, I'd like the security for myself and my family.

"I think security is good for a player."

Smyth knows the clock's ticking, with training camp opening in two weeks.

"Last time I didn't have a contract going into camp, I took the physical, then (Oilers GM) Kevin Lowe said he wasn't going to let me skate without a contract," said Smyth.

"I'm hopeful something will get done before then."

Oiler assistant GM Scott Howson said Smyth "will be at camp. We have no indication from him that he won't sign the one-year deal before camp if we can't get a long-term contract done."

Smyth is one of the few high-profile Group 2 free agents who are unsigned with training camps just around the corner. Most players have taken the one-year qualifying offers rather than drag things out.

But few will be unrestricted next July.

Smyth, who led the Oilers with 59 points in 2003-2004 and is their first-line left-winger, has a feeling what he's worth.

In the eyes of the Oilers, however, that could be in the low.It wouldn't look good if the Oilers hosed Smyth, the player who has been their heart and soul for years, and then he takes the one year deal and signs with another team next season.

The Smyth Saga

Nobody would be discussing Ryan Smyth if the Edmonton Oilers were winning hockey games.

But, they aren't.

Here's my version of events that transpired over the course of the year


- Smyth is the last Oiler RFA to be signed. Smyth reportedly wants a long term deal, but finally settles for a 2 year, 7M deal, making him a free agent on July 1, 2007.

SUMMER 2006:
- Pisani, Roloson, Hemsky, Horcoff, Stoll, Lupul - all free agents (UFA and RFA) sign lucrative deals at premium money.
- Lowe mentions he wants to work on extentions Smyth, Moreau, and Staios
- Lowe calls Smyth the "Steve Yzerman" of the Oilers, publicly stating his desire to keep him around.

FALL 2006

- Moreau extended for 4 years
- Smyth negotiations not working out at training camp. The Oilers play hardball. Dan Barnes reports that Smyth was offered a 3 year, 12.0M deal (4.0M/year). Smyth reportedly wants longer terms.

Don Meehan was quoted

Meehan said when negotiations broke off during the summer, the Oilers told him there would be no further negotiations until after July 1, when Smyth became an unrestricted free agent.

"We had the understanding then, when they made an offer, that if we didn't take it, they wouldn't talk to us until the end of the year.

"In the last two months they asked to restart talks and we were happy to engage."

- Staios extended for 4 years. Smyth cleary frustrated in an interview with CHED, mentions that he "won't be a pushover this time" One can assert he wanted his fair share of pie, watching all the other guys down the list get long term contracts at premium money.


- Smyth is having a fantastic season which forces Lowe to re-open negotiations.
- Dan Barnes weighs in with his opinion
- Lowe negotiates through the press by stating, "We've offered him a deal longer than 3 years and less than 7 years in length." LINK
- Other quotes indicate putting some pressure on Smyth's camp:
“We’ve indicated a preference to keep Ryan here long-term. And publicly, Ryan said he’d like to be here long term.”

- Smyth shoots back in the media, visibly frustrated, mentioning it's a distraction with the team in the playoff hunt, which is why he wanted a deal done back in the summer.
- Reportedly $100,000/year apart on a contract (27.5M vs 27.0M), which Smyth denied later. Reportedly, Smyth offered to purchase a luxury suite at $100,000/year to make up the difference. Kevin Lowe doesn't budge. Smyth is traded for 1st round draft pick in 2007, Robert Nilsson, and Ryan O'Marra. An emotional speech at Edmonton International Airport surfaces.
- Lowe defends the trade. Mentions it was not for financial purposes. On HNIC, argues that "Smyth is a very good player, but not elite. There will be room in Edmonton for a 7-8M player"
- Patrick LaForge and Cal Nichols defend Kevin Lowe. Cal remarks that a "100,000 isn't that big of a difference when you consider the Alberta tax advantages."

- Lowe finds it difficult to find a trade partner and an Unrestricted Free Agent willing to play for the Oilers, who won only 1 game in the final 20.
- Lowe calls Smyth agent; doesn't receive a return call
- Lowe exclaims, "If I had only known the cap was going to go up, I may have done things differently RE: Smyth." The edjumacated hockey fan knows that's, as Wayne Gretzky once uttered, "a crock of crap" considering every club received updated league documents throughout the year and was aware the cap was going to go up.
- Lowe desperately seeks a LW replacement. Shooting blanks in the UFA market, and frustrated, he resorts to sending RFA offersheets to Vanek and Penner
- Lowe signs Souray at the same money reportedly offered to Smyth at the trade deadline (5.4M AVG for 5 years), possibly for PR purposes and direct orders from the EIG who are involved in a saga of their own with Daryl Katz.

- Katz takes over ownership of the Edmonton Oilers. Lowe is quoted [From]:
The question was, basically, how could a single ownership, in this case Darryl Katz, possibly…what possibly could be different from the existing structure of the ownership. I think, I said, just quicker decisions on perhaps something like cap or maybe on deals, being able to pull the trigger a little bit quicker. I gave Ryan as an example because we didn’t know that we were going to be a cap team until into the summer. I said, if I had to to think of anything, maybe that would have made a difference, maybe we would have been able to get that deal done sooner and not been trying to get it done in the last couple weeks leading into the trade deadline. That might have made some of the difference. I’m not suggesting that I’m disappointed one way or the other in whether we did the deal or not. That’s going to prove itself one way or another over time, whether it was a good deal or not. I don’t want people to think that I’m going to start poking holes in the previous structure. I’m just saying, they asked for an example and there’s an example.

- This of course, contradicts Lowe's comments from trade deadline 2007. Edmonton's mainstream media caught napping
"Today we turned a page for sure – but this is not as much about the Oilers today, but what we continue to do as part of an overall plan," said general manager Kevin Lowe. "I want to be very clear that making this trade today is a hockey decision. It was not financial."

- More from Lowe

"I certainly wasn't out there shopping him," Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe said. "But we had to be prepared, in the sense that something like this could happen."
"I always thought we would get a deal done," Lowe said. "And really, until recently when, in our minds, we really stepped up, thought that maybe it's not so obvious, maybe it's not so easy."

"I'm surprised actually, given what Ryan is to the community and what he has been to the franchise," said Don Meehan, Smyth's agent. "But I understand that, with all due respect, they have the ability to make these decisions and that's what management has to do in these circumstances."

Meehan said both he and the Oilers tried to find some common financial ground, but could not.

"Both sides compromised throughout this process," Meehan said. "But not to the degree where we both felt comfortable that we could come to a deal."

"It was really down to the 11th hour where we realized, financially, it wasn't going to get done," Lowe said.

Mindful of how fans reacted to Edmonton trading Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Chris Pronger, Lowe acknowledged that Smyth's departure will likely incite a similar backlash.

"I'm very concerned," Lowe said. "I've thought about it for months.

"I've been on the job for 6-7 years. But this has been the most difficult one."

"Ryan has meant so much to this organization — as did some of the players in the past," Lowe continued. "So we have to factor those things in.

"We know that's a big part of it. He was a big fan favourite and it made the decision that much more difficult.

"We're not insensitive to our fans, by any stretch. But in the same breath, we have to make decisions we think can bolster the team and help it eventually win.

"We're not a better team with Ryan gone, no question. But in the very near future, we'll be a better team."

"We've acquired some very good young assets," Lowe said. "Combined with the ones we already have that are gaining experience, we really like our overall depth.

"The unfortunate part is Ryan Smyth's not a part of it."

- Patrick LaForge weighs in
Oilers President and CEO, Patrick LaForge asked that fans remain objective when considering the deal, "while on the one hand some Oilers fans might be distressed that this trade was made today, I want those same fans to be assured that the Oilers will use these excellent young players and our own deep pool of young talent in a new plan for this team."

"This was about the Oilers staying true to a plan. I know our hockey strategy is sound," said LaForge.

- PunjabiOil meets Don Meehan, Smyth's agent, at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects game and straight up, asks him what happened with Smyth. The response was, "Oh, it's a very long, long story." He's also fed a bone "Oh, players love to play in Edmonton!"

I believe until the Edmonton Oilers start winning hockey games, Ryan Smyth will be continuously a hot topic.

For good reason.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

FREE 60 days of National Post newspaper delivery


No credit card required. No hassle. I got my first issue today - I got it for the Financial Post section. The Sports section is pretty bland - save a Mark Spector article every now and then.


Monday, February 04, 2008

Sail on, Christy Chorley

William Houston of the Globe and Mail discusses The Score's woes.

Rumblings at The Score

Is the for sale sign back on Score Media?

Rumoured to be on the block for years, recent developments have TV watchers wondering if ownership of the all-sports cable channel is slashing costs in preparation for a sale.

Last week, anchor Greg Sansone, promoted to management before Christmas after several senior producers left the company, called reporters at the Score's Canadian bureaus country from Phoenix, where he was covering the Super Bowl.

The message, which seemed to be urgent, was: Be prepared to lose your jobs. Toronto-based Score is eliminating bureau reporters.

In Vancouver, Sara Orlesky is already gone. She joined TSN several weeks ago, and has not been replaced.

Additional cost-cutting measures have included the replacement of programming with simulcasts of content on the Score's Hardcore channel on Sirius Satellite Radio.

The Score will continue to use video from contracted camera technicians in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Montreal, but there isn't likely to be any reporting.

CanWest Global has a 26.5-per-cent stake in Score Media. Yesterday, the Score began filing sports reports to Global News Ontario, which no longer has a sports department. Rogers Sportsnet had been providing sports content to Global.