• “Lupul has to be in the deal”

    by  • February 10, 2011 • Uncategorized • 28 Comments

    One of the things that I find vaguely irritating about writing about the Oilers is the manner in which the fans dream up excuses for the mistakes of management. One prominent fan, for a time, would make excuses for the crappy return that Kevin Lowe got for Chris Pronger by theorizing that, when Pronger made his mid-season trade demand, Lowe gave Pronger a promise to deal him at the end of season if he’d be a good soldier until then. There was no evidence of this but it allowed him to excuse Lowe. There’s a commenter at this site and Lowetide’s who is tying himself into knots trying to dream up excuses for the Oilers’ policy that Souray won’t be placed on re-entry waivers until someone calls and promises to take him. No evidence, but it excuses Tambellini.

    One of the other excuses for the lousy return for Chris Pronger has always been some variant of “Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry weren’t available.” Local media guys who claim not to nod in agreement and believe everything they’re told say it. It’s always seemed insane to me; Pronger was the best defenceman in the world, signed for four more years at a good price. One elite prospect is not too much to ask in those circumstances.

    Now, Brian Burke’s in the midst of justifying his own questionable trade but this quote made my eyes bulge out of my head:

    The first demand that Edmonton made was ‘Lupul has to be in the deal,’ ” Burke said. “I had a choice [between Lupul and Pronger] … so we made the decision to get rid of him. I tried to get him back when he was still in Philly. I believe in this player; I believe in this person.

    I’d believe an explicit denial of this from Kevin Lowe before I’d believe Brian Burke swearing it’s true. Whatever Lowe’s failures might be, he’s a terrible liar and usually just ducks questions that would require an uncomfortably honest answer or locks himself into a fortress of solitude so as to let his rage at the performances of Comrie and Salo recede before talking to the media. I’ve never heard Lowe talk about it though.

    Considering the extent to which this trade represented the wrong path taken, and the disastrous results that flowed from it, it would be interesting to hear Lowe’s side of things.

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    28 Responses to “Lupul has to be in the deal”

    1. David Staples
      February 10, 2011 at

      No doubt it’s a provable fact that those who defend Lowe and Tambellini from time to time are far less fair and accurate in their assessments than those who savage them.

    2. RiversQ
      February 10, 2011 at

      There is one absolute fact – the anti-Tamblowe crowd has the results on their side. Five years out of the playoffs, capped out and 30th last year, 30th this year and spending millions on players off the roster to make the cap look lower while assuaging egos.

    3. Tom Benjamin
      February 10, 2011 at

      Do you really think this is a questionable trade, Tyler? I think he traded Beauchemin for a 4th round pick, and bought a prospect for $5 MM. Considering where Toronto is, I think that is a good deal.

      Lupul sucks. Toronto is prepared to pretend he might not suck and they are prepared to give him a whack of money to suck while they pretend. Burke is bullshitting. He’s blowing smoke about Lupul to disguise the fact that this was not a hockey trade. It was a money transfer. A poor team sold a prospect and a rich one bought a prospect. I don’t see the Toronto downside in this trade.

    4. Tyler Dellow
      February 10, 2011 at

      Those who savage Lowe and Tambellini tend to confine themselves to relying on the evidence that’s available. Those who defend them tend to imagine a bunch of things for which there’s no evidence rather than deal with the uncomfortable reality that maybe they just aren’t very good at what they do.

      Tom: Yeah, I think even if Lupul’s a bust, it’s probably a sensible deal for Toronto. At the very least, it’s understandable. If Lupul suddenly turns into a useful player (I’m deeply skeptical) it’s a great trade. Burke, somewhat understandably, is presenting this as him wanting Lupul for his hockey game and, less understandably, offering a justification that Kevin Lowe liked him in defence of Lupul.

    5. Tom Benjamin
      February 10, 2011 at

      Burke and Lowe have a history. He’s sticking it to Kevin here because Lowe can’t really deny Burke’s claim without answering the uncomfortable followup, “Well, how did the Pronger deal come down?”

      I’m trying to think of other Toronto moves that might meet this structure. How about Gigere and Kaberle to Edmonton for Khabi, Souray and Omark? I guess that’s too transparent.

    6. Tyler Dellow
      February 10, 2011 at

      Well if the truth is different than what Burke says, Lowe (and I really do think he’s an exceptionally honest guy by hockey standards: he answers truthfully or dodges the question) Lowe can say that. If it’s not well, Lowe looks not so good.

      I don’t see how that deal would make sense for Edmonton or TO. Edmonton’s got money and isn’t spending it. Khabby can’t be hidden in the minors – he stays on the cap due to his age.

    7. February 10, 2011 at

      lol David, whats not to savage about management? They turned a pretty damn good club that could have won the Cup with a break or two, literally, into the worst team in the league.

      Five years out of the playoffs all while spending boatloads of cash. I’d call that awfully poor. Katz is a patient man.

    8. Mike W
      February 10, 2011 at

      “Lupul has to be in the deal”

      Ha! I just read the article at lunch and nearly swallowed my fork at the same quote.

      Of all players on that roster, they wanted a defensive blackhole with only one year under his belt as a 25+ goal scorer. Getzlaf? Perry? At the time, everyone knew who the better players were and Lowe had all the leverage. Hell, he could of traded Pronger for both.

    9. February 10, 2011 at

      I love Burke breaking out the needle here knowing what it means if Lowe has to re-open that can of worms.

      As for the deal, I wonder if Beauchemin was really that bad that picking up Lupul’s contract for a prospect who even his own NCAA isn’t Totally sold on – at least according to Bob McKenzie – is a good deal.

      For as much as you can pimp any deal’s worth by saying “well this guy can be put in the minors and off the books” that isn’t in play until it actually Happens.

      and it doesn’t happen nearly as much as fans suggest it might.

    10. Greg Saint
      February 10, 2011 at

      “Katz is a patient man.”

      For all we know, this is all in the Katz plan. He wants a long rebuild so his kids will be old enough to appreciate it when the Oilers go on another dynasty run. So, he instructs management to suck as hard as possible for 6 or 7 years, but to never let on that its intentional. Lowe sucks at lying, so they bring in Tambo for that job.

      Its not entirely crazy, right?

    11. Greg Saint
      February 10, 2011 at

      Hmm, does Katz even have kids? :P

    12. rubbertrout
      February 10, 2011 at

      Wasn’t Lupul related to one of the then EIG owners? I’ve always hear the story that Lupul was preferred to the other guys because they were looking for a “local boy comes home” angle to spin.

    13. The Other John
      February 10, 2011 at

      Well Lowe and Tambo definitely having the sucking part down pat

    14. February 10, 2011 at

      Yeah Lupul’s grampy was an EIG guy.

      Greg – yeah he has at least one, hte kid is in the Oil Change deal and was at the draft the last two year. Pudgy little guy with the Horshack fro.

      Its kind of a weird deal. I think a bit of a change of scenery deal. Beauchemin looked a little old at times but the Ducks are better than the Leafs and he might fit in there. He was playing huge minutes here, not sure if he was up to it.

      Lupul is Lupul, the best they can hope is that he scores but he’s still shit. He’s playing with MacArthur – maybe they’re trying to depress Clarke’s value for the upcoming negotiations. He was playing with the good Belarussian and Kulemin before – sweet deal.

      And this Gardiner kid is a minus 20 or something in the NCAA which leads me to believe he isn’t that good unless he’s playing the toughs with me as his partner.

      And he’s not. ;)

      On the other hand this deal they made with Calgary might end up being terrific for the Leafs. Aulie is up tonight and he looks awfully good for a guy who a lot of folks looked at as a throwin.

    15. Woodguy
      February 10, 2011 at

      I agree with rubbertrout.

      After Pronger left there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth about players not wanting to play in Edmonton (2006 version)

      They played up the local angle hard on Lupul.

      That being said, Lupul was only 23 when his only season with the Oilers started and he was coming off a 28 goal season, 3rd on the Ducks only behind Teemu (40g) and Andy McDonald (34g).

      He wasn’t second prize at the time, here is where he stood next to Getzlaf and Perry in 05/06

      Lupul 28g 25a 53pts (3rd on team)
      Getzlaf 14g 25a 39pts (6th on team)
      Perry 13g 12a 25pts (9th on team)

      So you had the much vaunted local boy, just turning 23 and was the 3rd leading scorer on the Ducks.

      Its entirely logical that Burke and Lowe are telling the truth.

      One interesting note is that the 2011 version of “players don’t want to play in Edmonton” that plays in the local media now contains a healthy riff of “its because the Oilers are terrible”

      Its got a good beat and you can dance to it.

    16. Adam D
      February 10, 2011 at

      I doubt Lowe had all the leverage. There’s a lot of communication between GMs and it’s likely everyone knew Pronger had requested a trade.

      Alternately, Burke could have just been not an idiot and realized that if Lowe was offering to trade arguably the best defender in the world after a huge postseason in which he was arguably the best player, something was up and he didn’t need to offer half his kingdom.

    17. slipper
      February 10, 2011 at

      I don’t believe that a player demanding a trade affects the team’s leverage when seeking the best return. I think the opposite would be true. If it’s public knowledge that a player is available, itcould essentially create a bidding war for that player. Ecspecially if that player was the best available defenseman in the league, was coming off an outstanding playoffs and was signed long term at a song.

    18. Adam D
      February 10, 2011 at

      Except that the GM doesn’t have the option of saying “actually, we’ll keep him, thanks for your interest in our Pronger.”

      I can’t possibly imagine a single way that a player requesting a trade would give a GM more leverage than the GM just sending out feelers that a specific player was available.

    19. February 11, 2011 at

      One interesting note is that the 2011 version of “players don’t want to play in Edmonton” that plays in the local media now contains a healthy riff of “its because the Oilers are terrible”

      Its got a good beat and you can dance to it.

      Until they get to the “but a new arena will fix it” rhythm groove. Arhythmic pounding of that same old drum…

    20. Bank Shot
      February 11, 2011 at

      Of all players on that roster, they wanted a defensive blackhole with only one year under his belt as a 25+ goal scorer. Getzlaf? Perry? At the time, everyone knew who the better players were and Lowe had all the leverage. Hell, he could of traded Pronger for both.

      At the time I wouldn’t say the Oilblogosphere was all that high on Getzlaf and Perry either. There was a lot of talk about how they were the most sheltered players in the league, and some were thinking Marc Pouliot could be a more valuable player then them down the road because he could play the hard minutes.

      That said, Lowe had millions of dollars of resources at his disposal. He should have been able to get it right.

    21. February 11, 2011 at

      One other team that was supposed to be in the mix was San Jose. iirc Wilson didn’t want to give up Michalek. I think MacT confirmed that the Oilers wanted him but SJ would not budge.

      Man I wonder if that one keeps him up at night. Have to think that with four years of Pronger that SJ might have gotten to the promised land at some point.

    22. Mr DeBakey
      February 11, 2011 at

      “and some were thinking Marc Pouliot could be a more valuable player then them down the road because he could play the hard minutes”

      Pouliot, Pouliot, wherefore art thou Mark Anthony?

      Lending the Romans his ears, methinks.

    23. February 11, 2011 at

      @ Bank Shot:

      Given that Pouliot had just put up 45 points in 65 AHL games at the time of the Pronger trade, while Perry had put up 34 in 19 and Getzlaf 33 in 17, I’d love to see that comment.

      I don’t think it was ever made.

    24. Hambone
      February 11, 2011 at

      Dredging up the (second) Pronger trade is pretty fruitless at this point, though it’s worth mentioning I never really understood the urgency of the trade made with Anaheim. I know that Pronger wanted out, but why couldn’t they just let him stew until they found the right deal? As Tyler pointed out, he was (is) one of the world’s best defencemen. What was the upside of making a trade quickly?

    25. Bank Shot
      February 13, 2011 at

      @ Bank Shot:

      Given that Pouliot had just put up 45 points in 65 AHL games at the time of the Pronger trade, while Perry had put up 34 in 19 and Getzlaf 33 in 17, I’d love to see that comment.

      I don’t think it was ever made.

      Well comments of that sort were made some time after the trade, when Pouliot had seen his first long stretch of NHL hockey.

      I guess you weren’t around in 2007. There were a lot of posters that were high on Pouliot and he got his fair share of credit for not getting totally clobbered at ES after Stoll went down to injury.

      Quality of Competition had just made its appearance and Getzlaf/Perry as well as Parise were taking some flak for facing soft comp.

      I can guarantee you that no one was outraged that the Oilers didn’t get one of Getzlaf or Perry at the time the trade was made.

    26. February 13, 2011 at

      I can guarantee you that no one was outraged that the Oilers didn’t get one of Getzlaf or Perry at the time the trade was made.

      I’ll take that bet. I was around. I remember the fury over that very thing. I remember everyone saying, “Where the fuck is Getzlaf? That should’ve been the minimum!” (The Perry consternation had already been had during l’affaire Comrie, if memory serves.)

    27. February 13, 2011 at

      @ Bank Shot:

      Speaking as someone who was both optimistic about Pouliot and worried about the QualComp faced by Perry/Getzlaf, I can all but guarantee that nobody with a functioning neuron ever combined those two thoughts as “well, Pouliot’s BOUND to be better than Perry/Getzlaf…”

    28. February 13, 2011 at

      Yeah, I think even if Lupul’s a bust, it’s probably a sensible deal for Toronto. At the very least, it’s understandable. If Lupul suddenly turns into a useful player (I’m deeply skeptical) it’s a great trade.

      I actually think you have this backwards. It’s a sensible deal for TOR especially IF Lupul is a bust. Then Burke can just say Lupul could never regain his post-surgery “form” (ha!) and send him to the AHL or get a doctor to sign a note and say his back is fucked and he can’t play. That way either MLSE or an insurance company pays, but the cap hit goes away. That’s best case scenario. Worst case scenario is that Lupul plays better than he’s ever played before (he still won’t be worth the cap hit) and Burke feels some kind of moral obligation or other weird pressure to keep him on the team, and the Leafs suffer a 4.25M cap hit for production they could likely get for 1.5M from a player like Sergei Mozyakin. If you hate the Maple Leafs and you hate Brian Burke like I do, you’re rooting for Lupul like you’ve never rooted for Lupul before.

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