Sunday, September 13, 2009


1. I'll try to blog more often this season. The past year was dedicated for working towards a professional designation. 12-13 hour work/study days on a regular basis has the capability to mentally exhaust you; but as a man once told me, 'It's not about how hard you can hit – it's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving FORWARD."

2. Jonathan Willis discusses Patrick LaForge using textbook EIG scare tactics with regards to the new arena movement. No bombshell here. Today the Oilers are losing a substantial amount of money, not much different from the publicized documented position that 'a lower salary cap would mean the world,' held back in 2007. Apparently contributing into the revenue sharing pool [Top 10 in league revenues] and receiving a massive public subsidy from taxpayers on the annual lease, still generates a loss. Hamilton Oilers has a nice ring to it, no?

3. On the topic of Willis, congrats with the new position at TheScore. Hard work usually gets noticed.

4. The lack of interest in Alex Tanguay was baffling at that cap hit. One of the biggest issues for the Oilers has been not acquiring enough value players who have the ability to outperform their contracts. These types of guys are available every off-season. Players like Ray Whitney (1.5M) and Curtin Glencross (1.2M) whom publicly have expressed interest in playing for the Oilers in prior years were largely ignored in order to divert powerful efforts to obtain a high profile player (Read: Hossa, Jagr). This off-season, Blair Betts, Robert Lang and Martin Biron (1.4M) are/were available players but the Oilers management has been more interested in exhausting efforts for the big fish (Khabibulin, Heatley). Once they strike out on an otherwise annual basis, little is done going forward to address team needs.

I question management's "all or nothing" approach. The results in the past three seasons seem to support this sentiment.

5. Lowetide appears confident the Oilers will make a trade during training camp. That should be the case; however, trading Kyle Brodziak, a type of player the Oilers needed more of, for late-round draft picks, doesn't inspire much confidence in management's ability to address team needs (namely, a third line centre). There has been talk for the past three years that the Oilers will address needs at the trade deadline, but by then the Oilers are typically on the wrong side of the Western Conference Standings.

6. Jason "YOU ARE WRONG" Gregor :) indicates the interest was generally coming out from Comrie's camp. I'm not surprised by this notion – in interviews over the past years, Comrie has hinted regret in the way the whole situation went down. The signing from a personal standpoint is generally positive, given the association with those late 90's, early 00's, Oiler hockey clubs. Playing in a hockey crazed market that is Edmonton may also allow Comrie to focus more on the on-ice efforts. The benefits of this contract may be limited (depth scoring, and proper local boy story closure), but the terms of the agreement present negligible risk to the Oilers.

It will be interesting whether or not the Oilers or Comrie will consider an extension if everything works out as hoped. Comrie and Duff are not married at this point, and 8 months is quite different from 8 years.

7. Jason Strudwick's perceived unexplainable raise could at least partially be explained by the fact his contract stipulates endorsing a new arena.

"I'm an Edmontonian and I think it's a great thing for the city," said Jason Strudwick, a day after Oilers owner Daryl Katz announced plans for a new downtown arena. "It will continue the revitalization of downtown that we have to keep pushing. We want to have a good, vibrant downtown."

The Blue Jackets have a brilliant downtown rink with an adjacent practice facility in the middle of an arena district that really comes to life on game night. Players enjoy playing there and on 41 home dates a     year, it's not just a game, but a game-night experience.

"Everyone who sees that from other teams loves it," said Strudwick, adding an adjacent practice facility is always popular with players, who hate having to pack up and move across town to a practice rink every time a concert comes to the arena. "This would be easier. I think it's great, I hope more teams do that, it just makes more sense.

One could argue Pisani's contract contains a similar stipulation. One also wonders whether Pisani's quote is indicative of early retirement plans or intent to assess the UFA market come July 2010.

"I think it's going to be awesome, it'll bring a lot of life to downtown Edmonton," said Pisani. "It'll be something to see. Obviously I probably won't be around to see it (as an Oiler) but it'll be something cool to see.

"People will be excited to come to the rink. Take the busses, hang around the restaurants, have a few drinks and enjoy it."

8. The HF crowd vociferously maintained a FIRE MACT mantra throughout last year. While I wasn't all that raucous, there were strong indicators suggesting a need for a change.

a. Employee [read: players] morale was at a low all season and tense lingered throughout the dressing room, with whispers of Souray and Hemsky [Journal Article 'turning me into checkers] requesting trades
b. Instead of utilizing the positive reinforcement approach, MacT relegated himself to questionable public outbursts [Penner, Nilsson, Schremp], which even if true, did little to improve the situation and most certainly caused him to lose the room. Quotes throughout the post-firing stage have indicated little support for the now ex-coach of the Edmonton Oilers.
c. Most importantly, Craig MacTavish cannot run a powerplay. This has not changed in the decade he was here. When players are not played to their strengths [Penner & Hemsky's PP TOI] and the strategy is predictable to an extent that it is detrimental to production [i.e. Deliver the puck to Souray for low percentage shots], retaining the status quo no longer remains an option.

It could be argued the hiring of the new coaching staff was the best single transaction this summer. Not overly sure that this is a good thing.

9. There are a number of prospects in the system to possibly be excited about [MPS, Eberle, Nash, Omark, Plante, Chorney, Petry, Hartkinen, Lander]. Of course a similar song was sung half a decade ago [Schremp, Pouliot, Tesluik, Woywitka, JDD, Dragon U., etc.]. Many from the former list will company the latter after prom day.

10. Shawn Horcoff. Patrick O'Sullivan. Ales Hemsky. Dustin Penner. Andrew Cogliano. Sam Gagner. Robert Nilsson. Mike Comrie. All of these players took steps back in gross offensive production [pts.] in 2008-2009. How many of these will were underachievers and how many were just not very good hockey players?

It could be reasonably argued only Nilsson and possibly Comrie would be apt illustrations of the latter. Improved production from the remaining players at no cost on the defensive side of the game could theoretically push the Oilers towards a playoff spot.

Like others in minion country, I have purchased tickets for a few games this year. One of them includes 'Boo Dany Healtey' night. GOILERS.


David S said...

Good stuff PJO. Hope to see more or your posts in the near future. Best of luck with school and stuff.

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