• Glen Sather Should Avoid Tomato Gardens

    by  • February 28, 2007 • Uncategorized • 53 Comments

    LoweThis may be the day that’s most emblematic of the Oilers as a franchise in history.  They celebrate the past, point the fans to the future and screw the present – there’s an awful lot to be cynical about here, I think.  Last year, when Kevin Lowe fixed the goalies, I compared the whole thing to the scene in the Godfather Part I where Michael Corleone settles the family accounts. This year, the appropriate comparison is to the end of that movie, with Kay Adams symbolizing Oilers fans:

    Kay: Kevin, is it true?

    Kevin: Don’t ask me about my business, Kay.

    Kay: Is it true?

    Kevin: Don’t ask me about my business…

    Kay: No.

    Kevin: Enough! Alright. This one time – this one time – I’ll let you ask me about my affairs.

    Kay: Is it true? – Is it? Did you guys trade Ryan Smyth because you’re too cheap to pay him after handing out ill-advised thank you contracts to Steve Staios, Fernando Pisani and Dwayne Roloson?

    Kevin: No.

    People who’ve seen the movie will know that the end of the scene involves Kay going out to get him a drink. She looks back and all the old Don’s cronies enter and kiss his ring. Al Neri then closes the door, blocking her view. The implication is clear (especially because they had previously shown all the killings): Michael did it all and is now what his father used to be.  Kevin Lowe is now Glen Sather, trading away local icons for future promises.  For what it’s worth, this example probably works just as well, if not better, with the Edmonton Investors Group and Peter Pocklington.

    The EIG and Lowe would probably be well advised to watch The Godfather Part II sometime before the off-season and see what happens to the Michael/Kay relationship. She ends up having an abortion rather than giving birth to another one of his children and then leaves him. I’m not sure that I know of the situation in which I’d want to make that analogy and I’m pretty sure that the EIG wouldn’t want to be on the Michael end of a situation in which that analogy is appropriate. I won’t even get into the Godfather Part III, which was terrible – if I ever have to make an analogy to that movie, it will probably involve a situation where the Oilers finish last in the NHL after having traded their first round draft pick for a latter day Billy Hicke.

    I’m not at all surprised that Robert Nilsson is part of the return: when you consider what the Oilers look for in a player, it’s like hitting the trifecta. He’s the son of a guy who used to play for the team (and his godfather is Wayne Gretzky), so you’ve got nepotism, the cornerstone of the foundation on which the Oilers perpetual chase for the eighth playoff spot is built.  He was selected two spots before the pick that the Oilers dealt to the Devils that the Devils used to draft Zach Parise, so Jim Matheson will have his story about how this was a guy that the Oilers really wanted and were eager to get back in the 2003 draft. Finally, he’s already been signed to a contract, so there’s not going to be an awkward moment where he looks to Kevin Lowe for a signing bonus and Kevin Lowe says “You have to really want to be a part of this team.”  He fits nicely with Oilers history and today’s theme as well – there’s a famous story about Mark Messier picking up Kent Nilsson by the neck and threatening to send him back to Sweden in a box if he didn’t play with some guts.  He’s apparently got back problems as well, which if nothing else, is something that Craig Simpson knows something about, unlike, say, running an NHL power play.

    I fully admit to a large degree of schadenfreude at seeing a situation like this finally come home to the EIG.  At their core, they’re an organization that doesn’t want to pay top players unless there’s an excessive ROI on it.  For reasons that simply defy understanding, they’ve got no problem paying the going rate or more for mid-level talent.  They’re fine burning dollars on low level talent that’s related to Tom Mayson.  They’re fine pissing money away on people whose main skill is having been an Oiler.  They just don’t want to pay top dollar for top players though.  For all the years before the lockout, they never had to acknowledge that.  They painted it all as being due to economic pressures, the league’s salary structure being out of control…none of it to do with the fact that they didn’t want to pay market value.  I’ve long since come around to thinking that every hockey decision in a professional league is a business decision because it’s impossible to separate the dollars from the hockey.  Ryan Smyth at $650K annually would never be traded by the Oilers in today’s NHL, even if he he ended up being a popular fourth line/press box guy, assuming he was as popular as he was.  I had to laugh at the quote from Kevin Lowe in today’s press release from the team:

    I want to be very clear that making this trade today is a hockey decision. It was not financial.

    This is, of course, bullshit.  There’s no such thing as a hockey decision in the NHL, unless you’re trading guys with identical contractual situations.  It’s clear that the Oilers would have singed Smyth at some figure – they weren’t comfortable with the higher figure.  I don’t know how you can characterize that as anything other than a business decision.  This is identical to so many other Oilers trades – they might have been closer to actually paying the player this time but in the end, the value that the player perceived the market as placing him exceeded that which the Oilers were willing to play.  Of course, if you’re the Edmonton Oilers, it’s a little awkward to say that, given the somewhat humiliating public display leading up to the CBA, culiminating in Cal Nichols making all of his public appearances while wearing a barrel and carrying a tin cup for change.  It’s much better to say that this departure because of an unwillingness to pay on the part of the Oilers was a hockey decision while those departures because of an unwillingness to pay on the part of the Oilers were because of the outrageous degree to which players were overpaid.  It’s a distinction without a difference, as far as I can tell – the Oilers just don’t want to pay.  Unless, of course, you’re Joffrey Lupul.

    Pat LaForge was quoted in that same press release as saying:

    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. We can afford to spend the money necessary to have the kind of elite players expected. This was about the Oilers staying true to a plan. I know our hockey strategy is sound.

    You’ll notice that he says that they can afford to spend money.  He doesn’t say that they will. 

    That’s just the way that it works with EIG – it’s a cheap organization, compared to other teams in the NHL.  They’re not willing to spend what other teams are willing to spend.  I no longer have any faith in their complaints about money – they’re running a relatively cheap payroll this year, they’re eighth in the league in gate revenue according to Mark Spector…this has to be a middle of the road team, financially, at worst.  They’re just incredibly cheap and you get the feeling that so much of the time, they’re just asking themselves, in a calculating fashion “Can we get away with this?”  In the summer, with Pronger walking out the door and the dollar values a little lower, they threw what a lot of people thought was too much money at Roloson and Pisani.  You’d think now that they just figured they could get away with dealing Smytty – maybe the calculations are a little different when the dollars are little lower.

    For an organization that thrives on cheap symbolism - see their hokey 25th anniversary logo - they lost a great opportunity for some real symbolism here in failing to sign Smyth.  This is a team that, for better or worse, is irrevocably connected to the fact that they had some of the greatest players of all time and sold them.  During the build up to the lockout, they kept getting rid of people who may have otherwise wanted to stay.  All the while, the Oilers cried poor and let themselves be used by the NHL as a symbol of what was wrong with the old CBA.  Here was a guy from Alberta who loved the team, loved being in Edmonton – as some others obviously haven’t – and they were too cheap to get it done.  According to Bob McKenzie, they were willing to go as high as $5.2MM or so and Smyth wanted $5.5MM.  Leaving aside the question of whether the Oilers should have even gone that high, that’s an awfully small gap to bridge.  For me, at this point, it starts to stop being a question of whether or not this was the right deal to make – I’m just so tired of seeing this team willing to spend lots of money on the mid tier play while at the same time sticking it to their top talent in terms of contracts.

    Once the decision not to pay Ryan Smyth what he was asking for was made, I don’t really have huge problems with the deal.  Once the decision not to pay him was made, with the playoffs virtually out of reach, that was what had to be done.  I’m mildly bullish on Robert Nilsson, given his AHL production and I don’t know anything about Ryan O’Marra.  I know some of the prospect junkies wanted Kyle Okposo but hey – O’Marra and Nilsson already have signing bonuses, which is great from EIG’s perspective.  A pick is what a pick is.  Once you’ve made that decision not to pay his price, there’s just nothing left to do other than get what you can for him.  It’s the right thing to do, in the same way that if you own a million dollar home that you don’t  insure, it burns down and then you get a good price for the land, it makes sense to take it.



    The trade pretty much cast a pall over the proceedings tonight.  Lowe didn’t participate, presumably because he would have been booed like there was no tomorrow.  The game itself seemed to feature a dead crowd, although they did get up a couple nice Smytty chants.  I’m actually mildly sympathetic to Lowe – your friend’s number doesn’t get retired every day and I’m sure he wanted to be part of that but then none of the other guys on the ice had ripped the heart out of the current model of the team today.  “You can participate in the ceremony, so long as you don’t fuck over the fans with the previous four hours” is a harsh standard but a pretty lenient one in terms of prohibited conduct.

    It’s probably time for Sportsnet to axe that “Loyalty Matters” ad that Dwayne Roloson does or add a caveat like (…provided you’re cheap).  Another alternative would be to do one where Cal Nichols is counting his money and then he spits on a small boy wearing a Ryan Smyth jersey, followed by “Profit Matters.”  Hell, some clever editing of today’s footage and you could probably get that together quite easily.

    Kudos to Ray Ferraro for not shying away from this story.  If this had been on PPV, presuambly Ryan Smyth wouldn’t have been mentioned a single time in the course of the game.



    An entertaining quote from Lowe during his press conference: “They’re both great prospects.  Actually, I’ll forget that – we won’t call them prospects anymore we’ll call them players because people get fearful of prospects.”  I’m not sure whether he was correcting what he says or giving the media their marching orders.  “He’s in his second full year in the NHL.  People get fearful of guys in their third full year who look like peewees scared to take a hit.”

    Congrats to Dan Barnes, one of the few Oilers media members who asks the difficult questions of Lowe, for yesterday’s column, the headline of which made reference to Smyth returning.  The subhead was “DEWEY BEATS TRUMAN.”


    53 Responses to Glen Sather Should Avoid Tomato Gardens

    1. Julian
      February 28, 2007 at

      On the bright side, we’ve got about five years before we go through this with Hemsky.

    2. February 28, 2007 at

      I don’t think Roloson, Horcoff, Moreau, nor Staios are overpaid. Pisani and Lupul are the only two players that I think an argument of overpayment can be made; and clearly there are other circumstances involved in their ‘overpayment’. Pisani’s playoff production, UFA status, the length of his deal, and the fact that he plays tough minutes all contribute to the dollar amount he was rewarded. In Lupul’s case, his 28 goal season and a realistic increase in production certainly justifies his salary this year (1.5m).

      However, the point certainly stands that these guys were paid market value; inasmuch as the dollars they were rewarded is likely what they would have gotten elsewhere. In Smyth’s case, I don’t doubt that another GM will offer him an amount in excess of 25m over 5 years. So, a critique of Lowe based on the fact that he was not willing to pay Smyth market value, unlike Moreau, Staios, and Roloson, is perfectly valid.

      I guess it comes down to whether or not Smyth’s market value is consistent with his value to the Oilers. With this in mind, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that a strong argument can be made to support Lowe’s decision. In Smyth’s case, his market value is at an all time high. Moreover, it appears that he wants to be paid in light of his performance this year rather than his performances of the past.

      As far as the dollars go, letting Smyth go seems to be the right choice.

      Using the argument that Lupul’s overpayment justifies overpaying Smyth has some pretty obvious flaws.

    3. McNulty
      February 28, 2007 at

      I have been a fan of the oilers since the beginning and am starting to lose faith. During the post scott stevens signing and the big money league that followed I could soemewhat understand that edmonton could not compete. But this is the new NHL and the we deserve better. Why is Kevin Lowe so respected? Why do MacT and Simpson have contracts? Why didn’t we sign Ken Hitchcock? Under Lowe/MacT we always struggle to make the playoffs. Why do teams in small markets like Raleigh, Tampa, Calgary, Ottawa and Buffalo kick ass. Is it too much to ask to finish above 7th place for once. And Lowe got fleeced on this deal. Our draft picks always suck. Why can we never draft a crosby, stall or Overchkin? Why are we alway developing talent. Love overpaid Pisani and Roloson. He is fucking up the team and instead of getting on with the business of developing a contender the oilers are perpetual bottom feeders. Why can they do it in Nashville and not here? I think I will cheer for the preds. Fuck the Oil.

    4. macndub
      February 28, 2007 at

      Here’s a question: What was Ryan Smyth’s icetime and difficulty of minutes compared to last year? Was this a pump-and-dump by Lowe right from the beginning of the year? Apologies if it’s already been asked and answered.

    5. mc79hockey
      February 28, 2007 at

      Tough minutes by my eye and tough minutes according to Desjardins.

    6. riversq
      February 28, 2007 at

      Yeah certainly tough minutes and fantastic production. Far and away the best goal differential at 5V5 on the entire club and he was driving the 5V5 offense at the same time.

      It can’t really be called a pump and dump when the player is doing the same job he always has and then you trade him for a poor return.

    7. February 28, 2007 at

      The best example of a ‘pump and dump’ trade was the Lupul deal. He was a player whose contribution to winning was and is insignificant, probably even negative, but whose counting numbers demanded a multi-million dollar salary.

      And Smyth was playing very tough minutes, only Horcoff saw better opposition. There are a handful of games when this wasn’t the case, like in about the last Oiler game I really watched, vs Anaheim. Carlyle was only playing Selanne immediately after Horcoff/Smyth left the ice. MacTavish countered by getting that tandem right back out after Selanne left the ice. An odd move by MacT there, and it worked, dramatically curbed Selanne’s icetime (until the third period when, trailing by a couple, Carlyle had to roll the dice). Though it probably wouldn’t have worked if not for the fact that the Ducks were playing the next night. Still, interesting stuff.

      The point is that on the rare occasions when Smyth/Horcoff aren’t playing the lion’s share of icetime and taking the ice for defensive zone draws against Sundin, Zetterberg, Alfredsson and the like … then they’re being avoided and giving the Oilers bench coaches the upper hand in the way the benches roll otherwise.

      There will be a ripple effect down the forward lineup because of this Smyth trade. And the struggles of the rookie D directed attention away from this fact, but the Oilers forward depth is poor, lupulish in fact, no matter how often Oiler fans tell each other the opposite.

    8. Slipper
      February 28, 2007 at

      The history of sport is littered with sagas of teams that played out of their gourd one post season then failed miserably the following year, battling in vain against the vaulted expectations. For the Oilers this fact was compounded by Pronger’s departure, and to a lesser extent the departures of Spacek and Peca.

      Lowe’s failures began last summer, where instead of being realistic, he seemed to buy into that irrational dream. Atleast that’s what I infer from the maneuvers he made. The Pronger situation was tough, and I could forgive the guy for getting hosed on that front as long as he had responded rationally elsewhere. In retrospect the team was nowhere close to being ready for primetime, but Lowe spread the payola around as if they were, in what now looks like a vain attempt to stop the bleeding caused by the ugly beginning to the off season. Except he forgot to sew up his best remaining player, and instead rewarded the would be’s, and attacked the new season with glaring holes in the roster.

      When did most people get hit with the reality that the Oilers weren’t even close to being a contender this season? Early January? You’d think a pro sport executive’s senses would precipitate those of a loyal, wanting fan base. Lowe’s transaction record appears hurried and reactionary. This Ryan Smyth debacle isn’t the be all and end all of it either, it’s simply the cherry on top of the cake.

      Striking proof that he’s a bad hockey executive. And I know that there is good and bad executives in pro sports, just look at the dude for Toronto Rap who replaced detective Harry Temple from Speed. When that guy says he’s making a “sport decision”, it really means that.

    9. Pat
      February 28, 2007 at

      Well, LW is now Sykora,Torres, Moreau, Jacques.

      With Stoll in the lineup they’re decent up the middle I’d say. Without him they’re pretty thin.

      Hemsky, Pisani, Lupul, Thoresen on the right.

      A lot of underachievers.

      94 is really the only guy who has had a good year from start to finish. That is a lot of production and a lot of intangibles to replace.

    10. macndub
      February 28, 2007 at

      Hmm. http://stupidevilbastard.com/Images2/sciencevsfaith.png

      I would think that it’s still possible to make a player look worse than he is by giving him tougher minutes, because people are idiots and that includes some GMs. So if Smyth was playing the tough minutes, and soaring, then he might well be worth fair market value, which might even be north of $6mm this summer.

      Really, it all hangs on his UFA price. Vic, I will follow you into fandom purgatory if he re-signs for less than $6 or less than 4 years.

      Good column by Brunt in the Globe this morning about life under a cap. Agree in theory, jury is still out on the execution in Smyth’s case, in my opinion.

      Sorry if the link in this comment is bad. I can’t code, and I can’t preview the comment.

    11. mc79hockey
      February 28, 2007 at

      There will be a ripple effect down the forward lineup because of this Smyth trade. And the struggles of the rookie D directed attention away from this fact, but the Oilers forward depth is poor, lupulish in fact, no matter how often Oiler fans tell each other the opposite.

      This is an interesting point. For all the heat that Horc takes for his season, I’m surprised, looking at Desjardins numbers how few other “number one” centres are actually playing the tough minutes at ES. I’d like to see this for last year because I have a suspicion that Peca played more of them then – I looked over the summer and he had something like 50% of his WC events against the other team’s big line.

      As an aside, Desjardins’ numbers make rough sense to me, at least as far as the ordinals – the Oiler F ranks are Pisani: 16th in quality of opp, Smyth 56th, Horcoff 59th, Stoll 65th, Torres 77th, Lupul 197th, Petersen 228th, Reasoner 238th, Thoresen 241st, Hemsky 242nd, Sykora 295th, Pouliot 392nd and Winchester 420th. Looking at the guys who run big scoring rates at ES, a lot of them seem to play softer ice than the top end Oilers. If you compare the rates achieved by our soft minutes guys to other teams soft minute guys, the Oil probably get slaughtered.

    12. February 28, 2007 at

      Black Dog:

      Like I said in September in the comments to a post titled “Ripple Effect” or similar (I convinced nobody btw):

      Most of those forwards are fine if they can get icetime with quality linemates against poor opposition. But unless they are playing poor teams or the other coach agrees to play his 4th line for 30 minutes … they’re are going to be a lot of ugly nights.

      On the upside most of them should improve.

      Throw in two rookie D with limited talent (Greene and Smid) and it was/is a rebuild.

      The only time that Stoll looked good was when he played soft minutes with Pisani on his flank. Petersen moved up with Sykora and essentially played as a third defensemen to stem the bleeding there, and that line played a hard trap.

      You can say “now that we’ve got Stoll going all we need is to get Hemsky/Sykora rolling again!” all you want. But it doesn’t make a shred of sense.

      I remember a S.J game where Ferraro imagined Stoll being matched up against Thornton. Actually Wilson was jumping through hoops to avoid Horcoff/Smyth, so the Stoll line saw 7 minutes of Thornton H2H to Horcoff’s line’s 5. Relatively speaking a night off for Horcoff and Smyth. And Thornton’s line completely and utterly dominated Stoll’s unit in terms of possession, scoring chances, shots and missed shots, S.J drew a penalty or two with that matchup IIRC (turns out Ron Wilson isn’t stupid, though cruelly picking on halfwit reporters like Strachan throughout your career probably isn’t wise).

      They have some good forwards (Horcoff, Pisani, Sykora) and some fun guys to watch, but far too many weak links. They have some good defensemen too, but the same problem back there.

      In a weaker division they just might have squeaked into the playoffs, and they still might yet with a bunch of help from the hockey gods, and while they might have a 1 in 6 chance of beating whoever they face, they’re chances of outplaying and outchancing any first round opponent are probably around 100 to 1. You only catch lightning in a bottle once in a while.

      As an aside: In four games Bergeron is EV+6 EV-1 as a NYI. I haven’t checked but I’d bet he played less than two minutes against Gagne last night. He is what he is, and he wasn’t the problem. Playing with better forwards with NYI and a better D partner is going to mean he’ll likely post gaudy EV+/- results.

      Granted a ridiculously small sample size. But Greene and Smid will have hundreds of four game sets to look at by the time they leave the league. And I doubt that either will have many, if any, four game stretches with results like that. The reason: they aren’t very good.

      Mathieu Roy might at some point, best of the rookie D bunch IMO, but he’s likely years away from really helping anyone win. And while I admire the way he takes a hit to buy that extra bit of time to make a play … I wouldn’t sell him career insurance. :)

    13. February 28, 2007 at

      Awesome stuff Ty.

    14. Pat
      February 28, 2007 at

      Vic – actually I remember the game – that was an early one, right? An Oilers’ victory – some luck, Roli and a lot of goals did the trick, iirc.

      I think its going to be a long couple of years – lots of kids next year up front and on the back end and I think Smith will be gone next season.

      It appears Dennis was right after all. Its a rebuild and in a big way.

      So, when Stoll ahd that nice run against some tougher opposition when he played between Torres and Pisani – mirage or sign of things to come? And what about Pouliot? Can he do the job at both ends?

      In my eyes they have Torres/Stoll/Pisani as a unit and Moreau and Horcoff as individuals to handle the tough minutes. Where the offence comes from? Who knows? maybe Sykora/Pouliot/Hemsky?

    15. February 28, 2007 at

      I was harder on Peca than anyone, just because he was such a prick. Guys who don’t score and earn $4M should really just keep their mouths shut. But there were stretches when he did play against the other team’s best. And while he was a resounding minus doing it, but it wasn’t a nightmare either.

      Horcoff was clearly the first choice to take the defensive zone draws against good players, about 3 times as many EV zone draws in his own end than Peca, usually with Hemsky waiting on the bench until the puck came out of the Oiler end. And on most nights Horcoff was the first choice for that gig, and certainly all the way through the playoffs right up until the finals, when inexplicably MacTavish reunited Hemsky with 10/94 and continued his fixation with Doug Weight. A mistake for which MacTavish should have been fired. Then rehired and fired again just for effect. Sure, they had lucked their way through the first three rounds but they had legitimate reasons to expect to outplay Carolina over a seven game series. Unforgivable.

      On Desjardin’s numbers, I think he uses EV icetime and the EV+/- relative to teammates … you’d think that would end up in a meaningless mishmash. But the general trend seems to work in a lot of cases.

      Last time I checked Sundin was shown at soft minutes, but I defy you to find any home game (hell, even road games) where he didn’t play more against the other teams best forward than the other three leafs centres combined. Same goes for D zone draws against said players. In effect he hurts Zetterberg’s numbers and Z hurts his, and so on through the league. And the effect is enormous.

      For the Oilers Horcoff is in a class by himself when it comes to the Oiler forwards. Sakic-like in this regard. Smyth and Pisani would be in the same neighbourhood but nobody else is close.

      With the D whoever is on the right side of Smith gets that honour most every night. Not because they are better than Smith (they aren’t IMO) but because the gap between Smith and Staios is pretty small, and the gap between #1 right D and Smid is a freaking chasm. And Huddy won’t say that with words but he says it, nay screams it, with his actions running the bench pretty much every night.

      On the subject of behindthenet.ca, on the offchance you don’t check it out regularly or aren’t on his email list … check out the penalties +/-, pretty cool. Essentially PPs created and conceded while a player was on the ice. So, by way of example, when Ryan Smyth is on the ice his shifts end with Oiler powerplays more often than they end in opposition powerplays. One of the best in the league in this regard along with mostly high scoring, quality players in the the NHL. Contrast this with Matt “AHL” Greene :)

    16. Pat
      February 28, 2007 at

      Vic – Riversq quoted that site in a thread over at BofA – more food for thought although I actually think the trade makes sense. It sucks huge bag but I think it may have been the right move. I know I’m in the minority there.

      And Smyth is the reason I became an Oiler fan besides.

      Its a damn shame in any case.

      Amish – I don’t see how that adds to the discussion.

    17. February 28, 2007 at

      Black dog:

      He was NOT playing against tougher opposition when that line had success. That’s the point. Though in fairness they did do a good job of keeping the puck in the offensive end.

      When they played against Nagy in PHX around Xmas they got owned. He just has too much skill and speed and you have to respect that and keep the 3F a little higher. And he just dominated that line.

      No Oiler fan in their right mind wants to see Stoll out against Modano unless it’s just for an own zone faceoff with Horcoff and Smyth on the flanks. Now the Stars have Nagy, where do you hide him now? Well just play that line against DAL’s bottom six. The Stars have a lot of vets who don’t make mistakes and are hard on the puck … and those are the guys that Greene and/or Smid play against, so it’s not going to go very well. And you still need someone to play against Nagy. Sykora if he plays a passive game, I suppose Petersen is the next best choice. It’s hard to imagine it going well in any case. I don’t even want to think about the shifts of Lupul, Pouliot, Stortini, etc. he only way Hemsky won’t get murdered at 5on5 most nights is if he plays with 10/94. And you probably have to play him there because we’ve run out of places to hide guys a couple of sentences ago.

      Hey, maybe the Oilers have a chance if they dominate special teams … uh, oh.

      Let’s call the hockey gods, they’ve bailed us out before. For Chrissakes everyone take off your hats and nobody look them directly in the eye!

      BTW: Before someone freaks on me that should read “LEFT side of Smith” above.

      And I was the rebuild guy, Pat. Dennis was oddly bullish on the Oiler forwards this spring. Which was nice to see.

    18. Slipper
      February 28, 2007 at

      I think what might be fueling the false faith in 16 is that stretch when both Smyth and Hemsky were out with injury. The Jarret-Raffi-Fernando line had a good run but the team’s they were playing were either crap or decimated by injury (Dallas didn’t have Morrow, Modano, or Lindros for atleast one game).

    19. Pat
      February 28, 2007 at

      Vic – gotcha on Stoll – I had read a lot of good things about what he was doing and a lot of the talk was about him facing tougher opposition.

      I do remember the game against Carolina where he was head to head against Staal and held his own though.

      Anyhow, I take your point and I do remember you saying what you are saying now back then. We knew with Peca and Dvorak gone that this would be an issue and then with Moreau going down the problem becoming worse.

      As you said options are limited – Horcoff and Torres to protect Hemsky, Moreau and Pisani to babysit Stoll and try and get by that way? And next year’s D will likely be younger still.

      Roloson is going to be Denis Lemieux – Trade Me Right Fucking Now!

    20. February 28, 2007 at

      macndub said:

      I would think that it’s still possible to make a player look worse than he is by giving him tougher minutes, because people are idiots and that includes some GMs.

      Absolutely. Though I think that the opposite is the way to pump a players value, play him against weak opposition. Smyth is a high end player who drives results while playing against good opposition, and every coach in this league knows it, surely the GMs do too. Everyone with money to spend will be interested. The only question mark is future health with Smyth.

      Ever closely watch Selanne? The whole game plan is built around him. And there are times when even if Carlyle has the matchup he wants and it’s an offensive zone draw … If the Ducks lose the draw cleanly and the other team gets possession Teemu will dash back to the Ducks bench like he has a fucking bus to catch. He rests back up for the next time there is a good matchup and the puck is going the right way (Carlyle loves the Stoll-Selanne matchup BTW, he isn’t bothered by the D matchups much [except in Hughson's mind], Smith is a good bet to play a tonne against him home or away. But mostly he’s interested in keeping him away from Horcoff and Smyth … even if they have Lupul or Hemsky on the flank.

      So even though Selanne is defensively suspect, unless he’s really unlucky with the bounces this year he’ll put up some of the best 5v5 defensive numbers in the NHL this year (just as a reasoned guess, I haven’t checked). Same probably goes for Jagr unless Renney has decided to fight the guy.

      I’d like to think that most GMs are smart enough to consult with their coaches though. Which is why Anson Carter only garnered a 5th round pick in trade return this week in spite of having some pretty good goal scoring numbers over his career.

      Joffrey Lupul wouldn’t garner much more. Though there are probably a couple of big ego coaches out there that still think they can make a useful player out of the guy. If Lowe can get a 2nd round draft pick or better he should jump all over it IMO. He’s from the Selivanov/Carter tree, is Joffer. Arguably a slightly higher branch, but the same tree.

    21. February 28, 2007 at


      I don’t remember the game well, for some reason I remember writing a pregame post looking at the previous CAR game vs CGY though. Iggy had played 15 of 16 available shifts against Brind’Amour, or some such. He had Tanguay and Langkow on his line iirc, no recollection on the wingers or the health of players on either CAR’s or EDM’s rosters. But CAR was struggling I think, so probably some health issues there.

      So in the next game vs the Oilers it’s safe to say that MacTavish, with first dibs, takes Horcoff’s line against Brind’Amour. And Smith’s D pairing. That leaves Laviolette with the call on the shift after, so he’ll run Staal’s line out there after Horc/Smyth if he wants to be sure he never ends up against them, MacT’s short on options there so I suppose the Stoll line and Staios/Smid is probably the way he rolled.

      Alternatively he could run Petersen/Sykora/other against Staal. Much of a muchness really.

      MacTavish has done reasonably well with a pretty poor hand of cards. Granted the goalpost gods were really smiling on the Oilers at that point, I think they’d hit about the fewest in the league, down there with FLA and PHX. Good teams usually hit a lot of iron for obvious reasons. DET and OTT were way up there near the top at this at the time, about 35 or 40 posts, as you would expect … inexplicably PHI had hit about 50 posts/crossbars at the time, go figure. In any case the Oilers weren’t outchancing the opposition very often, especilly 10 cent chances, indicative of the lack of offensive zone possession we all witnessed. And the bubble was due to burst.

    22. February 28, 2007 at


      One more thing while I still have the venom going. I say this because I know you were a long suffering Hawks fan.

      Next time there is a board of governors meeting keep an eye on the broadcasts. Who is the one fucker that will hang out with Cal Nichols? Who is the one fucker that will hang out with Bill Wirtz?


      You should change your blog name to “Black Dog Hates Irony”.

    23. gary b
      February 28, 2007 at

      i wonder how much of the Smyth side of it was Ryan, and how much of it was Don Meehanistopheles whispering in his ear.

      “I dunno, Don, i love it here, my family loves it here…”

      “Ryan! I know what’s best – that’s my job! They obviously don’t see what you bring to the team, the city… You’re worth more, buddy!”

    24. macndub
      February 28, 2007 at

      Gary b, this is the other side of the coin. Only two can make a deal. We can read all we want about Smyth being willing to sign for $5m over 4 this summer–the only ones who know are Smyth, his agent, his wife, and Lowe. Oh, and the EIG, and staffers in the office, and hangers on. So we’ll know eventually, I guess. I believe that they were never close.

      Smyth talked about “doing right by my family” or some rot like that in December, and you know what that means. Fact is, and economics and psychology proves this, it burns a guy to make less than the guy beside him. If Smyth was always going to free agency, then Lowe was in a tough box and did the best he could, even treating the Pisani/Roloson contracts as variables.

      I don’t understand why a player of Smyth’s caliber would not test the market, regardless of the number Lowe puts front of him. I haven’t seen anybody rebut this argument satisfactorily.

    25. zellowyebra
      February 28, 2007 at

      Perhaps the blame is not on Kevin Lowe and teh EIG, it is on Ryan Smyth. If he wasn’t so greedy he would have gave up the extra 1.5 million when he was making 27 already over 5 years. If he really wanted to stay he could have. It is not that we can’t afford him, we don’t want to. And rightly so. If Kevin Lowe signed him for 5 years at 5.5 million, two years from now everyone would be talking about how Kevin Lowe should be fired for that contract. I would have given Doug Weight that $5.5 a year when he left, but not Ryan Smyth. He is a Tomas Holsmtrom, carbon copy. Look what holmstrom is making.

    26. mc79hockey
      February 28, 2007 at

      Cal Nichols, ladies and gentlemen!

    27. Slipper
      February 28, 2007 at

      Hey mudcrutch. Do you remember that post you did last year after Van acquired Luongo, the Flames traded for Tanguay and Minnesota got themselves Demitra? Man was that prophetic. In an already tight division, as the other teams added strength, the Oilers’ were the only one subtracting it. Why was it, although the writing was clearly on the wall, so many of us had so much faith in this team at one point? (and none deny it, it’s all permanently interblogged).

      With the budget and the butter they added to try to patch the holes in the walls, this team was going to be competetive this season, or next. Does anyone have faith that Lowe could actually have pulled of value deals in order to assemble a half decent team around Smyth? It seems paying him all that money to stick around and gain the Oilers 10-16 extra points in losing campaigns is kind of useless for both parties.

      Man, those cup runs are stronger and more deluding than crystal meth.

    28. jimmy
      February 28, 2007 at

      Check out this new oilers blog.

    29. macndub
      March 1, 2007 at

      Cal Nichols, ladies and gentlemen!

      hee hee hee

    30. mc79hockey
      March 1, 2007 at

      In an already tight division, as the other teams added strength, the Oilers’ were the only one subtracting it. Why was it, although the writing was clearly on the wall, so many of us had so much faith in this team at one point? (and none deny it, it’s all permanently interblogged).

      I wouldn’t deny it. This ties into Vic’s points about the ripple effect too. For me (and I’m pretty sure Dennis, amongst others was on the same page), I kind of figured that the Oilers could hang around evens at ES, slightly above league average on the PK and have a really strong PP. I thought that they could adequately replace Pronger with Stoll and Sykora and I’m not sure that they haven’t – for a team with as bad a PP as this one does, their top 5 in terms of ice time all have acceptable scoring rates: Skyora @ 4.3 PPP/60, Smyth @ 4.3, Hemsky @ 5.6, Stoll at 4.2, Horc at 5.2. That’s solid production – not as good as I’d like perhaps, but not that bad. It’s respectable.

      After that though, it’s a nightmare. Tom Mayson’s grandson has 6 points in 214 minutes. 2.3 PPP/60. Three year deal. Tjaggy is at 3.0. Staios, Torres, Petersen and Smid are all under 1 point per hour. It’s a complete fiasco. That’s what has really sunk things this year.

    31. The Rage
      March 1, 2007 at

      Great article. I thought of Animal Farm as I read this, and I think that might be an even better comparison given EIG propaganda and the Comrie communist quote.

    32. March 1, 2007 at

      I think that Lowe is gunning for Tavares, mudcrutch. Seriously.

      In previous years Lowe’s moves were unpopular but sensible. Now he’s ringing the other bell. I listened to some of Gregor’s show tonight and the overwhelming concensus seems to be “that’s too much money for a plugger”. The fans are pretty clearly on board with Lowe’s decision to let Smyth go, much moreso even than with Carter or Comrie. I doubt that any of these callers realize how much icetime Smyth logs against the Sundin types in this league and what he delivers with it.

      Smid and Lupul are exactly what they appear to be. The Oilers are going in exactly the direction that they appear to be going. And fans aren’t going to criticize a guy as harshly when they agreed with the moves he made (damn! must be a chemistry problem!).

      Lowe should probably acquire Souray and Gionta in the summer for the sake of appearances, or similar ‘fan approved’ guys.

      We’ll see if Tavares really is all that. Ballsy move if that’s what he is doing, and frankly the alternative is stunning incompetence.

      Good for Smyth though, I’ll always have respect for the Islanders. My cousin played for them briefly, he scored a playoff goal for them, just a little moment of glory there. He was a gifted junior but at the pro level he had a tough time making his mark. I remember his wife said that they ran a clean room from a supplement point of view though, no small thing then or now. I think that says something about the organization, and for Smyth’s sake I hope that general culture has perservered.

    33. mc79hockey
      March 1, 2007 at

      I can’t believe that they’re taking a run at him – it’s just such a poor risk play. Remember when they dragged Burke and Craig Patrick up for that Crosby draft? Patrick wins the lottery and Burke just had to stand there, like a whore at a christening.

      I’m amazed at the fan reaction to this as well – I listened to Gregor tonight and (shamefully) called in. Apparently they don’t teach the concept of the time value of money in radio school because it was clearly fucking news to him. “Ryan Smyth at 36 for $5.5MM…” etc.

      I still don’t know if Lowe is the guy to criticize here. I think that EIG is subtly starting to bury him here though, which is a) digusting and b) entirely expected.

    34. Showerhead
      March 1, 2007 at

      Speaking of Edmonton’s forwards being pathetic, I looked up this tidbit today:

      Goals for per game: 22nd in the NHL
      Goals against per game: 13th.

      Granted the defense are largely responsible for Edmonton’s complete lack of transition game, but damn.

    35. March 1, 2007 at


      I think I heard you, nicely done. You and Dan Barnes should have a show, just don’t expect Lowe to let you do shows from his restaurant and eat and drink there for free. That’s Stauffer country, baby!

      Now I fully expect an email from a ‘source close to the Oilers’ stating that their understanding is that Lowe no longer has an interest in said restaurant.

      Then I will shower.

      Pocklington never had anything on these cunts. I don’t know Nichols at all, but this is a pretty shifty crowd on the whole. Ah fuck, at least slippery Barry Weaver is out of the picture, we should be thankful for small blessings.

      But since I’m exactly one cunt hair away from being provoked enough to start tracking down the especially idiotic fuck commenters at Lowetide’s site (before he thanks them for their contribution) … I think I’ll sign off from Oiler fandom now.

      Thanks for humouring me today mudcrutch. Peace.

      • May 7, 2014 at

        Loose chin strap is 2min penalty in Europe where they also have maadntory shields for players born 1970 or later.And neck protection is also maadntory, so that all you Zednik fans know. Before anybody starts ranting about euros and their softness I have to explain that above mentioned rules were put in place because of insurance companies’ demands.

    36. Asiaoil
      March 1, 2007 at

      Vic baby you know I love your stuff – but put down the whiskey and those wicked old school Kreskin glasses – how the hell do you know that Smid and Greene are going to be nothing? That smacks of a rather large does of hubris for a guy who confesses to knowi or care little about prospects and their development :)

      As for Smyth’s existing contribution – I freely admit he’s a killer ES player now and decent complementary scorer – but geez Louise look at his shooting % this year which is 7.5% above his career average. Could another puck go in off his ass this season? I forget the game he got a hat-trick and 2 or 3 goals real fast – they were simply banked in off his mullet and he was wearing a well deserved shit-eating grin the whole post-game scrum. The hockey gods will eventually take their pound of flesh for such good luck in a contract year and I’m glad the Oilers won’t be paying him then.

      I think there is a good chance that Smyth goes Peca sooner rather than later after he gets his big payday. Damn hard to play the game he does night in and night out – and sooner or later a guy just says fuck it and punches his card. Either that or the body begins to go south and you know that starts to happen about Smyth’s age and with his injury history. All it takes is for Smyth to throttle back his play just a bit to save the body – but that will just kill his game. You’ve got to admit that Lowe is a pretty shrewd judge of how long a guy can keep it together (his call on Janni was dead on) and I’ve got a feeling that Smyth will not be Smyth 3 years from now. He’ll still do his job – but in a Peca kind a way if you get my drift – and especially on another team. See – I can handle those bitchin Kreskin glasses too :) Anyway – paying Smyth $5 million over the next 2 years would have been fine with me – but the risk to the team after that is too great – especially in a year 4 or 5.

      In one bizarre way I’m OK with Smyth going as he was the poster-boy for 1990′s mediocrity that was only broken by the arrival of Pronger, Peca and Roloson. At $3 or $4 million you love a Smyth on your team – but almost $6 is too much for a winger which is a position that has the least impact on the game. Big money for the best goalie – hell yeah look what VAN has done with that crap lineup. Big money for a dman – obviously Pronger earned every dime. Even the centers can drive results nicely and influence the game beyond their individual numbers very nicely. But wingers are the last thing any team that has illusions of winning regularly should be commiting large chunks of cap room on – and clearly not on aging wingers with injury issues.

      I’ve said it multiple times in various places – we either make a serious run at some serious players with this dough, picks and prospects or that signals blackhawk down to me and I aint talkin no hollywood movie. If that happen my school has a senior quarterback who will go into the season as a Heisman favorite and I’ll be happy to ignore the Oilers and their mini-Wirtz behavior. I did it just fine ignoring the team through most of the 90s when it was clear Pocklington was running the Oilers into the ground to try save his sorry ass – and I’ll happily amuse myself elsewhere again if EIG doesnt try to compete.

      Seeya Brah!

    37. speeds
      March 1, 2007 at

      Also, Tavares isn’t available until the 2009 draft, so if they plan on sinking the ship, they plan on staying on the ocean’s floor for the long haul – including at least the 07/8 and the 08/9 seasons.

    38. March 1, 2007 at

      …and I’m pretty sure that the EIG wouldn’t want to be on the Michael end of a situation in which that analogy is appropriate.

      How about Tessio? This is Bruce Dowbiggin today, incredibly, in the course of lauding K-Lo:

      “As Tessio said in The Godfather, ‘Tell Ryan it was only business. I always liked him.’”

      Someone might want to tell the Dow-Boy that that scene runs on for another minute…

    39. mc79hockey
      March 1, 2007 at

      The only way that analogy works is if Smyth returns on July 1, the same day that Lowe gets fired for this whole fiasco. I mean honestly – that’s beyond stupid.

    40. Asiaoil
      March 1, 2007 at

      You guys who hate the trade have still not dealt with the cap issues and the fact that our best players are wingers. Paying Hemsky is a given – then the choice is Smyth who is an elite ES player who plays tough minutes with nice PP goalscoring skills at almost $6 million or Pisani who is an elite ES who plays even tougher minutes and is a proven playoff sniper for $2.5 million.

      You simply cannot have all of Hemsky, Pisani and Smyth – that’s almost 1/3 of the total team salary on wingers and that is INSANE since they simply don’t drive results like golaies and dmen. The Hemsky and Pisani contracts sealed Smyth’s fate IMHO – and signing Smyth would have meant years of mediocrity as we would be unable to fill other big holes (like defense) properly.

    41. riversq
      March 1, 2007 at

      Asia – Can you explain Niedermayer’s results with and without Selanne on the ice?

      Your theory regarding wingers is fatally flawed. But try if you must.

    42. Boondock
      March 1, 2007 at

      Pisani who is an elite ES who plays even tougher minutes and is a proven playoff sniper for $2.5 million.

      We should add other proven playoff snipers like Chris Kontos and John Druce and try to go on another long run next year.

    43. Bruce
      March 1, 2007 at

      There were 25 deals on Tuesday on top of close to that many in the previous couple of weeks, and TSN’s website today has three columns — “Did the Oilers get enough?” (McKenzie); “Smyth deal came down to money” (Dreger); and “A Minus for the Edmonton Oilers” (Reda). This is more than a local ripple, the whole hockey world — or at least, same thing, all of Canada — is in shock over this one unthinkable trade. In Edmonton, yet again. Sigh.

      The points made above about overpaying for wingers is well taken, and the Oilers have certainly done that. Check out the right side, where Ales Hemsky signed for $24 MM over 6 years and Joffrey Lupul for $7 MM over 3. In the recent “make-or-break” seven game road trip, the pair combined for ZERO goals. In fact, Hemsky has gone 11 games without a goal, while Lupul has 2 in the last 18, both bank shots and both meaningless goals. Hemsky has 9 goals all year, Lupul 9 assists. And Oilers sure aren’t paying those guys for grit or character or defence.

      And here I was thinking there was no way this disastrous season could possibly get any worse. Instead, K-Lowe goes from systematically blowing off his toes one by one to taking aim right at the heart of his team, and his fans. Oilers new motto: The Heartless of Hockey.

    44. A
      March 1, 2007 at

      Here’s a thought. The first guy who is gonna become a start to finish Oiler for his entire career is probably going to be Fernando Pisani. Think about it.

    45. macndub
      March 2, 2007 at

      If Bill Belichick wins the Superbowl, all is forgiven, regardless of who was traded or run out of town to get there.

      If Smyth comes back July 1, say even for $6m, with the 3 prospects/draft picks, this will look like a screaming good deal. If he signs elsewhere, say with the Isles, for $6m because Charles Wang doesn’t want to look like a retard, it will still look like a good deal.

      Smyth is heart and soul an Oiler. We all leave good situations because something random turned out bad. Hockey players ain’t exempt.

      There’s no way to say at this point that this was the worst possible outcome. Sometimes, you just have to give Kim Jong Il the fuel oil and cross your fingers, because every other option is worse.

      And, yeah, I’m in shock, even knowing in my bones this is the only place we could end up. It’s unthinkable. But it might be for the best.

    46. June 4, 2007 at

      Hi Jim. Photos i received. Thanks

    47. September 19, 2007 at


    48. September 22, 2007 at


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    51. August 31, 2008 at

      Good day!,

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