• Relentless Incompetence

    by  • July 3, 2009 • Uncategorized • 44 Comments

    Nikolai Khabibulin introduces himself to the media. The clip on the Oilers site includes this:

    Edmonton Oilers made such a big commitment. There weren’t too many opportunities with such a long term out there. It happened that the Oilers, when they made a commitment, we looked at it.

    For some reason, the clip of the phone conference that the Oilers have posted doesn’t include this gem of a quote, which I assume was made in the course of the same phone call:

    We had some one-year offers. But when I had such a long commitment from the Oilers, it was a pretty easy decision to make.

    Just a coincidence, I’m sure. The usual Oiler apologists are commenting that Edmonton had to offer him a four year deal to get him signed. It didn’t make any sense to me, having done nothing more exotic than counting the goalies, counting the jobs and concluding that [goalies] > [jobs]. The deal’s a terrible risk and, if you infer that Khabibulin wasn’t getting offers of more than one year from his comments, a pretty needless one.

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    44 Responses to Relentless Incompetence

    1. Will
      July 3, 2009 at

      Would that the Oilers mgmt. would read these blogs sometimes. The unfortunate thing is I bet the younger players do get on here and read stuff, which probably only serves to dishearten them more…

    2. July 3, 2009 at

      Shades of Souray. He hadn’t a sniff and then the Oilers offered him the moon. His comments were so much like Khabi’s its frightening, iirc.

    3. Will
      July 3, 2009 at

      Agreed. Hopefully Khabi at least comes reasonably close to fulfilling value like Souray has.

    4. Doug
      July 3, 2009 at

      Seattle Mariners have new management this year and when their starting left fielder went down for the season, one of the top bloggers posted on Ryan Langerhans, a AAA fielder with good numbers playing behind a strong outfield group in Washington. The Mariners went and traded for the guy. Not to say that the management learned anything new from the blog, but at least the weren’t afraid to make the deal after it was pointed out on a blog. Seattle is not out from under past management mistakes yet, but is it ever nice to have management making intelligent decisions. There’s hope.

    5. RiversQ
      July 3, 2009 at

      And someone over at Lowetide was trying to say that Souray came to Edmonton “out of the goodness of his heart” or some nonsense.

      This Khabibulin thing just blows me away. How could this negotiation have gone I wonder? Did the Oilers start with a four year offer? Good grief.

    6. mc79hockey
      July 3, 2009 at

      I assume that they started higher and that Khabibulin bargained them down so that he doesn’t feel like he’s leaving them in the lurch if he wants to retire before 45 or something.

      @Doug – I guessed that you were referring to U.S.S. Mariner, which has also helped out Felix Hernandez in the past. Whether the blog post had any impact, who knows, but it’s worth pointing out that Tom Tango who consults for the M’s is certainly aware of the site as well.

      As for this…man, I don’t know. At the moment I’d kill to get to go to Tambellini’s press conference and ask him if he started with four years and (assuming that’s the case), why in the name of God he approached the negotiations that way. The media needs to hold these guys to task when this stuff happens.

    7. July 3, 2009 at

      I think ‘terrible risk’ might be a bit overdramatic.

      There’s no doubt that the Oilers misread the buyer’s market, and offered Khabibulin what was clearly the best offer he received. And there’s no doubt, imo, that this contract is at least 1 year longer than it should be, which begs the question why we wouldn’t just sign Roli to the 1-year-longer-than-it-should-be contract he wanted.

      But his stats in CHI have been moving in the right direction since he got there(886, 902, 909, and 919), and how many of the 15 goalies above Khabibulin from that list of top SV% since the lockout you posted on Wednesday were available?

      I get that there were clearly better deals to be had out there (probably even with Khabibulin, although I think it’s a bit of a stretch to extrapolate from his comments that all he got was 1 year contract offers), but I don’t think this as terrible/crippling a move as you’ve been suggesting.

    8. mc79hockey
      July 3, 2009 at

      2/3 of the goalies who played 35+ games at 36 weren’t doing so two years later. I don’t know what else there is to say. His save percentages in Chicago are misleading because the league save percentage was rising dramatically.

      As for how many goalies above him were available, Biron is and was. When there’s only one job available, it only takes one more guy to create a market where you can play guys against one another. The risk is so stupid because the circumstances were so favourable.

    9. July 3, 2009 at

      MC79:

      Those are fair points about his age and about the goalie market, and I wasn’t aware that league SV% has been dramatically rising since the lockout. Again, there’s no question there was better value out there this week.

      But I don’t think the 2/3 of goalies gone by 38 y/o is really a fair stat without more context. Before completely condemning this move, I’d like to know more about the 1/3 that are still earning their pay in the league at 38. Does Khabibulin’s longevity (1 sub .900 SV% NHL season in the last 14 years) mean he’s less likely to decline in the next 3 – 4 years? Does it mean he’s more?

      I might eventually get to the ‘relentless incompetence’ stage with this signing, but I’ve got more questions before I get there. Either way, keep up the good work. You do make a persuasive case.

    10. mc79hockey
      July 3, 2009 at

      I think that there are so few guys who make it this far that it’s a bit tough to draw generalities. Your bit about one sub-900 save percentage season is misguided I think – save percentages rose steadly throughout his career until the lockout, when they fell to about .900 and then rose again. What goalies at this age seem to have a tendency to do is fall off of a cliff and disappear. He may fall off a cliff but, thanks to this contract, he won’t disppear.

    11. Darren
      July 3, 2009 at

      ‘As for this…man, I don’t know. At the moment I’d kill to get to go to Tambellini’s press conference and ask him if he started with four years and (assuming that’s the case), why in the name of God he approached the negotiations that way. The media needs to hold these guys to task when this stuff happens’

      You mean, the same media personal that is currently calling it an upgrade and a solid signing?

    12. Peeeete.
      July 3, 2009 at

      I don’t really agree, although I’m not exactly ecstatic about this signing, but you’re slowly convincing me. More importantly, “[goalies] > [jobs]” made me laugh pretty hard. And yeah, it’s true.

    13. July 3, 2009 at

      MC79:

      Agreed about the small sample size of 39-40 y/o starting goalies (which in and of its self lends to your arguments, I’ll admit). Off the top of my head, Hasek, Roloson, Joseph and Belfour come to mind. And of those, I think only Joseph was performing significantly worse at 40 then he was at 36 (although I could be way off on that. I haven’t really dug into their stats).

      Maybe not the most fair comparison, as 3/4 of those guys will be in the hall no problem, I suspect. Are there any recent goalies that are better fits for a Khabibulin comp that tanked at age 37 or 38?

      And who knows, maybe Khabibulin will defy logic and give Moe Roberts a run for his money :)

      • Jack
        May 31, 2013 at

        Jan13 MikeP/FACLC,I’m not saying that the gods above are trikacng the sv pct results and manipulating the universe to ensure the mean results. I think the Gambler’s Fallacy only works if you don’t know the typical outcome!This is like me having a number generator that spews out 0-10. At first I don’t know the frequency it spits out which numbers at, so I run the machine a million times, and get an average of 5 (say it spits a normal distribution). Now I run the machine ten times, and I get all 0 s. If I was to get one more number from the machine, it is just as likely to spew out another 0 as a 10, but since I already know what the average is, I can predict that sometime in the future it is likely I will get some large values. If it was NOT likely, then the average would not have been 5 after a very large number of runs.In other words if the 4v5 SvPct did NOT tend to oscillate over .870, then assuming normal distribution, .870 would not be the average. In another way, the lower bounds of normal distribution help you determine the upper bounds.I’m not statistician so I’m certainly willing to be corrected if that is wrong.I’ll also say that I’ve seen the typical 4v5 numbers, as I researched them for that article above. At a glance they look to be fairly normally distributed, and if you accept some variance on the upper values (~910 to 933), then you expect the values will reach the 930 points for stretches.

    14. July 3, 2009 at

      **than he was at 36

    15. Peeeete.
      July 3, 2009 at

      Jesse R: nice typo fixing. Most people would have left that. I approve of such attention to detail.

      MC: I just reread all your irritable Khabibulin posts, and I’m pretty well convinced. Dammit.

      I think over the last couple years, you personally overestimated LaBarbera, and the Oilogosphere in general underestimated Souray. I don’t point these out to be a dick (dozens of things were correctly predicted over the same span of time); I just hope, as a perennially disappointed but masochistic Oilers fan, that the Khabibulin signing will be stat analysis error #3. If not, vell, ve got troubles. Ve do anyway. Shit.

    16. mc79hockey
      July 3, 2009 at

      I think over the last couple years, you personally overestimated LaBarbera

      For what it’s worth, LaBarbera is 30th in save percentage since the lockout amongst guys with 2000+ SA. 31st? Nikolai Khabibulin.

      I just hope, as a perennially disappointed but masochistic Oilers fan, that the Khabibulin signing will be stat analysis error #3.

      Yeah, me too, although I don’t know that it’s a stats analysis error so much as a bad decision that works out, if it does work out. They do sometimes.

    17. mc79hockey
      July 3, 2009 at

      Off the top of my head, Hasek, Roloson, Joseph and Belfour come to mind. And of those, I think only Joseph was performing significantly worse at 40 then he was at 36 (although I could be way off on that. I haven’t really dug into their stats).

      Well I think that you have to count the guys who are no longer in the league (and I think Khabby is more comparable to them than the group above, all of whom are HOF goalies in my mind) as performing worse.

    18. July 3, 2009 at

      And there’s no doubt, imo, that this contract is at least 1 year longer than it should be, which begs the question why we wouldn’t just sign Roli to the 1-year-longer-than-it-should-be contract he wanted

      No it doesn’t. It raises the question.

    19. July 3, 2009 at

      And someone over at Lowetide was trying to say that Souray came to Edmonton “out of the goodness of his heart” or some nonsense.

      That someone was me, and the exact wording was that Souray “followed his heart” and signed in Edmonton. That is a lot different than “out of the goodness of his heart”, and yes of course there were twenty-seven million reasons yada yada. My point was, and remains, that for all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over Comrie, Pronger, Peca et al getting the hell out of Dodge, or Nylander, Hossa and reportedly Heatley snubbing Edmonton to one degree or another, and even the beloved Smytty drawing a line in the sand and taking a trade over a home-town “discount” (which included the same twenty-seven million good reasons to accept it), that Souray bucked that trend.

      Whereas many/most of the other guys get a lot of hate around here, Souray doesn’t get much love, in fact he leads the Oilogosphere in virtual trades by a wide margin. Everybody and his black dog it seems is willing to ship his ass out of town for magic beans. I find that both ironic and a tad hypocritical, is all.

    20. Peeeete.
      July 3, 2009 at

      For what it’s worth, LaBarbera is 30th in save percentage since the lockout amongst guys with 2000+ SA. 31st? Nikolai Khabibulin.

      Gah. Upwards/downwards trends over the seasons? I’ll go look it up. Need something to cling to.

      Oddly, I picked LaBarbera in a pool a few years ago, convinced (for utterly no reason; maybe his surname?) that he’d be the next big thing. Needless to say, I was disappointed, albeit only moderately. He’s not memorable enough to disappoint you horribly.

      I hope this poor decision looks brilliant this time next year.

    21. M.I. Lard
      July 3, 2009 at

      Shades of Souray. He hadn’t a sniff and then the Oilers offered him the moon. His comments were so much like Khabi’s its frightening, iirc.

      Pretty sure that Gainey offered Souray 4 years @ 5.5 (same deal he ended up giving Hammer).

      Not sure you Oiler fans would agree but to my eyes you are the Western-version of the Habs (or the Habs are the Eastern-version of the Oilers – whatever).

      I actually find the parallels quite striking…

      Regards,

      M.I. Lard

    22. July 3, 2009 at

      Followed his heart, bruce, seriously? He got an offer that nobody came close to matching.

      And Smyth, otoh, saw an offer from the Avs that was almost a cool million more then what the Oilers offered.

      As for all of the wailing and gnashing of teeth so much of that is a) the media and b) the organization itself. Personally I think the Oilers might start by putting together a franchise that looks less like it is being run by Walt Disney and more like its a professional hockey club instead of crying about how nobody wants to sign with them. When you have Pendergrast cutting up Nash and guys like Vande Velde staying in school rather than turning pro I think that speaks to something.

      Players who have signed longterm deals in Edmonton since 2006 – Horcoff (twice), Hemsky, Pisani, Moreau, Staios, Roloson, Souray, Gilbert, Khabibulin

      Players who have shown interest in signing in Edmonton but have not for various reasons, most often the fact that the club did not want them or offered them less then what they got elsewhere – Smyth, Sykora, Dvorak, Laraque, Glencross, Roloson probably Kotalik

      Have I missed anyone else? Probably.

      That doesn’t strike me as a club that has a hard time keeping or obtaining players. And they haven’t played a single playoff game in three years.

      As for Souray I didn’t like the signing at all but he definitely has turned me around.

      And yeah I think they may have to trade him because they are in a world of cap hurt. If they were not then I would be all for keeping him but they need to shed salary in a big way. trading a young guy like Gilbert or Grebs is a loser move, although this franchise seems to be cornering the market on these.

      So its one of the vets and Visnovsky is the better player. Souray may be ornery, as you say, but you can get ornery players to replace him. The goals will have to be replaced too and you know what? Someone’s going to score a lot of goals with that icetime.

      Or we can keep him and then watch Tambellini have to ship out guys like Gilbert or Grebeshkov next summer to cover the salaries of the kid forwards. Or let those kids go to a club like Toronto that will actually have cap space to spare.

      And then in three years when Souray is retired this team will be even further behind.

      I want to keep him but its probably best to move him. Calling me a hypocrite because that’s what I believe? Not sure where you get off saying that.

    23. July 3, 2009 at

      Coach PB: Thanks for the correction. Maybe one day I’ll learn not to use phrases I don’t actually fully understand. Maybe one day.

      MC: Agreed that there are probably better, worse goalies to use as comps for Khabibulin. I just can’t think off the top of my head who in the past few years has been a league average goalie at 36 who lost his job by 38. Not saying those guys don’t exist, they just don’t come to mind for me. Are there any names you had in mind?

    24. Oilman
      July 3, 2009 at

      I find that both ironic and a tad hypocritical, is all.

      +1

    25. mc79hockey
      July 3, 2009 at

      Maybe I missed the point at Lowetide’s but I don’t quite see the issue here. The Oilers threw way more money/term at Souray than anyone else and were closer to his kids to boot. I don’t assume bad motives on people’s part but I don’t think money’s a bad motive and I don’t assume altruistic motives either.

      As for Souray not getting enough respect/love – Pat’s got it pretty well covered as to why he’s a logical guy to go. Wrong point in the success cycle for an aging guy with injury problems. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t played well in Edmonton.

      Just curious Bruce – which Oilers do you think have failed to cover the ticket the past few years? I mean, it seems to me that everyone who gets criticized, you’re all for them, you just adjust the expectation bar.

    26. Oilman
      July 3, 2009 at

      Pat – I think there is a difference in saying trade Souray while his value is high and save cap space, and the “trade Souray for Kyle McLaren” BS that was spouted by some other popular contributors.

      Just hope Souray can replicate last season and move him next year for the best package when his no trade clause expires and the team needs to re-up Gagner and Cogs (if either is still around)

      BTW – I think on your list of players the Oilers retained, only Hemsky’s contract can not be considered an overpay. And the players that you can list who did not want to stay after the Oilers came within a game of the Cup speaks volumes as well – winning is supposed to bring players in. Off the top of my head I can remember Spacek, Samsonov, and Chara as players who were offered at least what they took in other cities to come to Edmonton and they refused. There is definitely an issue here – and it predates both Pronger and Lowe – just look into players like Bernie Nicholls or Jimmy Carson….I’m sure there’s more – I was just too young to know the behind the scenes stuff back then.

    27. July 3, 2009 at

      Followed his heart, bruce, seriously?

      “It’s a dream come true to be able to go home and put on that jersey. This was a pretty easy decision in the end. It’s one I get more excited about every time I think about putting on the uniform.”

      “I’m heading home to Alberta and I can’t wait to step onto the ice at Rexall Place. It’s always been a terrific building to play in. I couldn’t be happier with my decision and I can tell you it was an easy one to make.”

      “I’m looking forward to playing in Edmonton for a great organization and believe me, I know how good the fans in Edmonton are.”

      “This is the only time in my life that I’ll be in this position and in a situation to play at home in front of the support of my family.”

      – Sheldon Souray, July 12, 2007

      Seriously.

    28. July 3, 2009 at

      I want to keep him but its probably best to move him. Calling me a hypocrite because that’s what I believe? Not sure where you get off saying that.

      BDHS: Sorry, the “hypocritical” remark was not meant at you specifically. The addition of the colour of the dog in “everyone and his dog” was an off-the-cuff comment that I didn’t really think through, and I can see how you would take it that way. A poor choice of word, but no offence intended.

    29. July 4, 2009 at

      BDHS: Now that I’m not at work :), I’ve got a few minutes to address your post which admittedly I only skimmed earlier. Before I answer your questions, let’s start with one of mine: how is the big fella, anyway? I feel bad about taking his “name” in vain, even in smart-ass jest.

      Smyth, otoh, saw an offer from the Avs that was almost a cool million more then what the Oilers offered.

      Yeah, he followed his wallet, not his heart. Not gonna roast him for that, but I see no reason to toast him either. The one guy Oilers weren’t prepared to overpay, at least not to the degree Colorado did.

      As for all of the wailing and gnashing of teeth so much of that is a) the media and b) the organization itself.

      Well I sure have been reading a lot of it, and feeling it too. You’re right that the media is the primary culprit, but I spend much more time reading the blogs than the press and it’s out there.

      Players who have signed longterm deals in Edmonton since 2006 – Horcoff (twice), Hemsky, Pisani, Moreau, Staios, Roloson, Souray, Gilbert, Khabibulin

      Other than Khabibulin 10 minutes ago, the only one to come in from outside the organization on your list is Souray.

      Have I missed anyone else? Probably.

      Penner. Arguably, Vanek and (Mr.) Nylander.

      That doesn’t strike me as a club that has a hard time keeping or obtaining players. And they haven’t played a single playoff game in three years.

      Harder time obtaining than keeping, although both seem to require an overpay.

      As for Souray I didn’t like the signing at all but he definitely has turned me around.

      Good. Back in 2007-08 the guy was being buried for being injury-prone and lots of people wanted to unload his millstone contract as if it had no value whatsoever, trade it WITH a draft pick and shit like that; and I was saying things like let him get healthy and he’ll be worth maybe $4 million of that $5.4 million, which is a long way from valueless. And he pleasantly surprised me by having an outstanding season, even better than I hoped.

      And yeah I think they may have to trade him because they are in a world of cap hurt. If they were not then I would be all for keeping him but they need to shed salary in a big way. trading a young guy like Gilbert or Grebs is a loser move, although this franchise seems to be cornering the market on these.

      This sentiment I agree with somewhat. I’m not anxious to send Gilbert packing and ferfuxsakes Tambo would you sign Grebs already. So you deal one of the vets if you have to deal. I frankly don’t mind keeping the four of them, the one stength of the team last year was on the back end. Right up until February 3 when Visnovsky went down.

      So its one of the vets and Visnovsky is the better player.

      I love Vis but I’m not sure I agree. He’s a different player, and a wonderfully skilled player, but he duplicates skills that the afore-mentioned Gilbert and Grebeshkov have, and already had before the Oil made the trade for yet a third puck-moving defender. He was of course an over-30 defender with a ticket both big and long, and we already had one of those too. So to some extent he was redundant, whereas the tough stay-at-home defender and the 3C we traded for him never really got replaced. So I didn’t and still don’t like the trade in the sense that it opened more organizational needs than it filled.

      Souray may be ornery, as you say, but you can get ornery players to replace him.

      You need ornery players who are apt to be on the ice in times of need. It’s great having a guy half the league is scared shitless of, on the ice 40% of the time.

      The goals will have to be replaced too and you know what? Someone’s going to score a lot of goals with that icetime.

      Now that’s the first thing you’ve said that I entirely disagree with. Somebody’s going to score a lot of goals with his ice time on the blue? Not hardly. Souray scored more goals than our three puck-moving blueliners combined did, in fact he scored more goals than any defenceman in the league except Mike Green. In the process he became the first Oiler defenceman ever, and the first NHL defenceman in something like 17 years, to lead his team in goals. So somebody’s going to take his ice time and replace those goals??? Dream on.

      Or we can keep him and then watch Tambellini have to ship out guys like Gilbert or Grebeshkov next summer to cover the salaries of the kid forwards. Or let those kids go to a club like Toronto that will actually have cap space to spare.

      Or keep the big 4 as the core of your team and clear up some salary space up front to sign the kid(s)*. (*Cogs pending) I agree the cap is a huge concern, it’s been mismanaged even without a killer contract like Heatley’s threatens to be. For now nothing over $5.6 cap hit, but a lot of $4-MM-plus deals extending far into the future. The Khabibulin pact adds even more stress to the system.

      I want to keep him but its probably best to move him.

      Well, we may well have to move somebody, and it’s probably going to hurt. Just don’t trade him for Kyle McLaren. :)

    30. RiversQ
      July 4, 2009 at

      I think the argument against signing Souray to a big money contract was pretty solid. He was already on the wrong side of 30, had a checkered injury history (that’s charitable), had a horrible year at ES the year before with only middling success prior to that, and was just coming off a massive SH% season.

      Sirens and flashing red lights everywhere.

      Looking at his performance so far, he’s put up the results when healthy so the questions about his true talent level have been quashed I think. However, his age and his injury history persist to the extent that they have already lost a season from him, so I think arguments in favour of trading him are pretty strong.

      As for why he signed in Edmonton, I think it’s pretty clear the Oilers overpaid and he followed the money. The rest is mostly convenience and I guess it depends on your naivete. None of that is on Souray though – this is all the Oilers’ doing.

      I think it’s a perfect example of what Ykoil has been saying on his blog – the Oilers keep making moves in which the team takes on all the risk. They sign deals that require their acquisitions to perform ABOVE previous performance history in order to justify them and that’s just crazy when the contracts are big. Penner, Souray, and now Khabibulin are excellent examples of the Oilers making big bets and starting behind the 8-ball all the time. It’s even worse that they tend to have leverage in each of these situations and they just piss it away.

    31. July 4, 2009 at

      RQ: Naïvete and sentimentality are two of the reasons I continue to follow this stupid game. :)

      I think the argument against signing Souray to a big money contract was pretty solid.

      The arguments against trading for Visnovsky and his big money contract were not dissimilar. He was on the wrong side of 30, had a checkered injury history, had a horrible year at ES the year before, and was coming off a poor season period. Plus he cost the Oilers two serviceable NHLers.

      Looking at his performance so far, he’s put up the results when healthy, however his age and injury history persist to the extent they have already lost half a season from him, so arguments in favour of trading him are pretty strong.

      Visnovsky is yet another example of Oilers making a big bet and taking on a lot of risk, which is the case with the vast majority of these ~half-decade, ~$20 MM deals. Horcoff was coming off major surgery and on the wrong side of 30 when he signed his huge pact. Roli and now Khabibulin were on the wrong side of 35 when they signed their deals, which in the cap era is a gargantuan risk as Tyler points out. Gilbert, like Penner, was coming off a rookie season which showed promise but also significant warts in his game when he got locked up long-term for big dollars. Even Hemsky is half way into his 6-year “bargain” contract without having taken the next step and improved on his career high that he posted the year before he signed it. And don’t get me started on the smaller but significant commitments to Moreau and Pisani, both of whom have a significant injury history of their own.

      But when the Oilers drew a $27 MM line in the sand on Smytty, who was also on the wrong side of 30 with a significant injury history, well the wailing and gnashing of teeth reached a crescendo. Naïvete and sentimentality ruled the day.

      Oiler management is in a tough spot in that they get it in the ear either way. But the bottom line is a record of failure, in that the squad has missed the playoffs three years running despite a substantial payroll. Some of it has been bad luck with injuries and illness to key players, but they’re hardly unique in this respect. A bigger problem is the lack of guys who have outperformed their contracts, and unfortunately I don’t see that changing anytime soon given the current commitments.

    32. gogliano
      July 4, 2009 at

      I’m not sure why believing Souray considered the fact that the Oilers were an organization close to his family is naive; people make such decisions all the time (e.g. passing up money for family), and there is no reason to doubt his public claims unless one is holding to simplistic theory of human behavior. In this case Edmonton offered more money–only Montreal came close–but I’m sure the family thing was part of the equation. For instance, Hossa didn’t come in spite of a larger difference in dollars than the Souray-Montreal difference.

      It is mistake to believe that because money played a part that other “sentimental” factors that cannot be reduced to a dollar value did not play a part. Human beings are not instrumental cost-benefit weighing machines. Things like honor, pride, and family matter to people in ways that are not easily quantified. It is naive to think otherwise.

    33. Janet
      July 4, 2009 at

      The gem of a quote is included in the version of the conference call archived on Gregor’s site – around the 2:35 mark.

    34. July 4, 2009 at

      Sorry for the multiple comments, but I did kinda throw down the gauntlet and there have been several replies that deserve a follow-up response. This last comes from our host.

      Just curious Bruce – which Oilers do you think have failed to cover the ticket the past few years? I mean, it seems to me that everyone who gets criticized, you’re all for them, you just adjust the expectation bar.

      MC: My tendencies are admittedly towards defending the downtrodden — if I were in your profession I’d be in the public defender’s office working for peanuts. :) In the court of public opinion I like to play devil’s advocate, frequently advocating the minority opinion in order to advance the discussion. So when I see a guy like Matt Greene or Zack Stortini or Robert Nilsson getting it from all angles I wonder to myself there must be something the team likes about these guys, what could it be? and when I watch them over a period of time I see what it is. Or not.

      Generally, I set the expectation bar based on several things: age of the player, salary, opportunity, and position in the team’s hierarchy. I expect more out of a 32-year-old than a 22-year old. I expect more of a guy making $5 million than $500,000. I expect more out of a first round draft choice than a late rounder. I expect more out of a second-liner than a fourth-liner. I expect more out of guys in formal leadership roles.

      Who hasn’t covered the bet? Well, the squad has failed to make the playoffs since 2006, so the list has to start with Kevin Lowe, who iced unbalanced teams with signicant holes each year since the run to the Finals. Craig MacTavish had a horrible 2008-09, and paid the price. As mentioned above there have been significant injuries to the likes of Moreau, Pisani, Horcoff, Souray, Visnovsky, and to a lesser extent Hemsky, so you could argue all of those guys didn’t cover the bet in that season(s), whether you want to “blame” them or not. No matter how you slice it, losing your highest-paid player to season-ending shoulder surgery two seasons running is a tough row to hoe.

      On the ice, here’s partial list of guys who have failed to cover the ticket:

      2006-07: Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, Joffrey Lupul

      2007-08: Dwayne Roloson, Jarret Stoll, Raffi Torres, Marc Pouliot, Ladislav Smid

      2008-09: Mathieu Garon, Robert Nilsson, Erik Cole, Patrick O’Sullivan, Steve Staios

      I’m giving a pass to Dustin Penner who despite pedestrian boxcars in ’08-09 posted some excellent team results. Moreover, I do adjust the expectation bar on long-term contracts signed by young players (Penner, Gilbert, Hemsky), in that I expect them to outperform the back end of those contracts. The older guys (Souray, Visnovsky, now Khabibulin) better be outperforming right up front cuz their play is likely to decline over the life of the pact.

      Whereas in ’07-08 the team had a number of out performers (Gilbert and Nilsson at entry-level prices, Garon, Glencross, Stortini etc.) who nearly filled the injury holes, the ’08-09 squad was notable for its nearly complete lack of outperformers: Denis Grebeshkov, Kyle Brodziak, arguably Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano. Young guys like Pouliot and Smid had a chance to outperform but didn’t, while expensive guys like Souray, Hemsky, Horcoff and Roloson covered the bet but not really a whole lot more than that given their pay scale. It was not a season to make me optimistic looking forward, especially given the giveaway of Brodziak and the uncertain status of Cogliano and Grebeshkov to name two. The guys with the bum shoulders are all locked up though. :(

      Finally, in my view Ethan Moreau has been a failure as a captain, a significant factor on a team that has been less than the sum of its parts. That aspect of the team’s hierarchy needs to change.

    35. July 4, 2009 at

      A little tired and cranky last night apparently Bruce. Me I mean. Thanks for that in any case.

      As for the rest of it, well what’s that old saying that everyone here hates – agree to disagree?

      We’ll just have to do that. I’m not going to convince you and you’re not going to convince me. I like Souray – he’s proven me wrong – and in a perfect world where the cap was still going up and they could afford to keep everyone I would say keep him for sure.

      Problem is out of all of those big contracts guys are either too young and good bets to at least perform equal to it (Gilbert, Hemsky), indispensable (Horcoff), just signed (Khabibulin) or unmovable without bringing back an equal anchor (Penner).

      So that leaves Visnovsky and Souray and I just think that the former is less of an injury concern and drives results more.

      Either would certainly bring back some value though – trading him for dregs is not something I have in mind. I’d expect quality. Not Pronger return like but some good value.

      As to the other points well you added to the list of guys who were willing to come to a non playoff team – Penner and Vanek at least. So that’s four in three summers and that’s not to mention guys like Tarnstrom, Garon, Tjarnqvist plus I did not mention Hejda who would have been happy to sign here as well. I would bet that plenty of teams would not have that many big name FAs (4) sign in the last few summers, especially non playoff clubs.

      And the fact that all of the Oilers reupped doesn’t take away from the fact that they did just that – if Edmonton is so terrible why would they stay?

      I think the hysteria on the blogs, the woe is me is quite often a reflection of the media and organization’s posture. Is Edmonton the choice of most big free agents? Probably not the leading one but I remember similar stories about Montreal last summer.

      Have a couple of good seasons and I think we’d forget that angle.

    36. Bruce
      July 4, 2009 at

      The gem of a quote is included in the version of the conference call archived on Gregor’s site – around the 2:35 mark.

      Janet: Not sure which confernce call or whose quote you’re referring. Link?

    37. gogliano
      July 4, 2009 at

      “We had some one-year offers. But when I had such a long commitment from the Oilers, it was a pretty easy decision to make.”

      The “gem of a quote” mentioned in the original post, I think.

      • Melek
        May 31, 2013 at

        Jan07 Over a short period of time it ctelainry is possible that the Oilers have been one of the better PK’s. I’m saying this with full knowledge of the SA rates staying high. It is possible that same shot rate with a lower quality due to defensive adjustments would produce just what we are seeing. In the long term the goaltender sv pct would still likely go down indicating that it should regress. Regress back to dead last, I’m not sure its possible to argue that logically. It seems more likely a mixture between the 33% #1 and 66% #30 PK I’m ctelainry not arguing the sustainability of that sv number. That staying at .930 clearly more unlikely than the Oilers winning Lord Stanley this year, I’d think. I just think that the recent numbers match well what I have seen with my own eyes: shot quality on the PK is better, goaltending is better, players are over committing less (leading to worse looks for opponents).I would never say top of the league until we got a more regular svpct or some combination of shot quality down/SA down. I guess it would be a more complete dialogue with not just shot quality but also more precise logic that strongly correlates shot quality with scoring goals (I’ve never seen that).

    38. July 4, 2009 at

      Whereas many/most of the other guys get a lot of hate around here, Souray doesn’t get much love, in fact he leads the Oilogosphere in virtual trades by a wide margin. Everybody and his black dog it seems is willing to ship his ass out of town for magic beans. I find that both ironic and a tad hypocritical, is all.

      It’s a question of value and asset management – not hate for the guy, Bruce.

    39. July 4, 2009 at

      Coach PB: Thanks for the correction. Maybe one day I’ll learn not to use phrases I don’t actually fully understand. Maybe one day

      Jesse – didn’t mean to be rough on you there – that particular phrase is a pet peeve of mine – ask Bruce.

      My other english-language pet peeve is incorrect use of “penultimate”.

      • Oleg
        May 31, 2013 at

        Sep21spOILer I think your assessment of Commodore is a bit harsh and thus your conilusconIf there’s any truth to this rumoured offer, the Oilers appear to be in a situation where they’d be better off with an actual monkey who lacks the legal capacity to do anything in the GM’s chair until next year’s draft.a tad extravagant.Commodore can play second pairing. Last year, his worst year statistically coincided with his most injured year. He’s historically a very healthy player for the position and especially the style. In the longer context, last season looks like an outlier.Yeah he’s an overpay for what he brings, but it’s not that bad, what a million in market value? The contract was built with inflation in mind and so far the NHLPA Cantral Bank has given us no reason to doubt the continued growth of the money supply.He fills a present need, and going the other direction presumes a certain willingness to suck more.He has added value of a Stanley Cup, known to be a good leader, university-educated. There’s some time before the Oil are going to have quality D prospects and the physical guys are going to need an example.The future contract issues, down the road, are speculative. We can’t say for sure which contracts will still be on the books then nor how well the guys who’ll be due play between now and then. And it seems a pretty fair bet at least right now that one of Penner or Hemsky will get traded by then.And they presume Commodore will be undealable when necessary.I’d take something over nothing except more cap space that’s not needed now and perhaps not in 2012.The proposed trade sure seems more debatable than it is derideable.

    40. July 4, 2009 at

      Just hope Souray can replicate last season and move him next year for the best package when his no trade clause expires and the team needs to re-up Gagner and Cogs (if either is still around)

      Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.

    41. Oilman
      July 4, 2009 at

      Are you saying the Oilers need to get busy living or get busy dying Coach?

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