• Familiar Smell of Oilers Glue Factory Brings Old Horse Out Of Retirement

    by  • February 18, 2012 • Hockey • 28 Comments

    Sometimes when I walk down the street, people stop and ask me, “Aren’t you that guy who once compared Dion Phaneuf to the Elephant Man? Didn’t you once coin the phrase “Wasting away in Jani Rita-ville?” I immodestly hang my head and pretend to be embarrassed. Then they say “Why did you take your talents away from us? Why good sir, why!!”

    OK, the only parts of that anecdote that are true is that I really did make those jokes and it has been a long time since I contributed anything to this space other than the mathematically funereal scoring chances logs; or, as Flames fans call it, porn. Dear Jesus, those can be painful. The whole scoring chance experiment was something I mused aloud about back in the early aughties when the Oilers at least made the playoffs every second year and I wondered where all the bodies were really buried.

    By the time Vic Ferrari – online hockey stats legend – sent me a link to make this possible the Oilers were freefalling like Philip Seymour Hoffman in Owning Mahoney. But just like my rotund friend, I was already in deep so Vic and I started a project that has now eventually been aped by fans throughout the league and I’d like to think we’re closer to understanding what truly matters then we were before. Along the way, however, I became so apathetic towards the way the Oilers operated that I could no longer muster any longform thoughts on the debacle.

    Apathy is a a really formidable enemy towards any productivity or progress; be it in a professional life or personal relationship or even a hobby that you once looked forward to losing yourself in. There were times when Oilers games were so labourious and ultimately fruitless that the exercise of logging the futility imbued me with such a level of apathy as to preclude any of my once frequent rants.

    But I have kept soldiering on just because I knew that outside of championing a billionaire owner’s quest to build an arena with mostly public funds David Staples could always use someone’s ideas to rip off.

    The timing of my pretty much going underground couldn’t have been worse because the writing that I now see – and sometimes like – comes across as the same as I was did five and six years ago when you mixed jokes and pop culture references with points and opinions. So, I figured the timing has never been better for me to return to operating in my customary way of getting my point across and poking fun at the same time and once Beyonce and Jay-Z had their baby, I knew I was ready to come back!

    Well, honestly, no. I was spurred back into action once I saw Van Halen make their return and I thought of how much magnetic frontman David Lee Roth and I had in common: in the 80′s we both had great hair, we both got a lot of pussy and we also could rock a high-kick like no one else’s business. Note: onIy one of those things is true. Seriously, I sent along something a couple of days ago regarding Mike Comrie’s retirement because I wanted to be the first person to say that we can learn from the past – I’m not serious obviously – but before Comrie hung them up and sent me once again sulking down memory lane my Irish had previously risen when I started to think of the way Ales Hemsky is about to exit the Oilers organization.

    Yes, folks, it’s that time again when the Oilers management and in-pocket press corps put on their oldest pair of pants, their longest pair of black socks and hike them up to their knees before slipping on their sandals and mowing that old familiar grassy knoll in preparation for yet another character assassination.

    This time it’s Ales Hemsky in the crosshairs and he’s easy to isolate because he always leaves practice early. This is the way it always ends with the Oilers and having three kids who look to be already ahead of the counting stats curve provides the perfect time for yet another stupid move where the Oilers are walking around with their tongues hanging out, exhausted by their ever present search for yet another hill to die on.

    But, first, some history.

    Ales Hemsky is an old man now; he turned the ripe old age of 28 this past August. As winning NHL rosters are only weighed down and not buoyed by players of Ales’s vintage it’s easy and understandable for the Oilers to think of him in terms of nothing more than his DOB. An old hand like myself, however, is prone to harken back to him being the result of an extra first round pick acquired in the Bill Guerin/Anson Carter trade so many years ago; over 11 if you’re keeping score.

    His first season was in 2002-03, where he earned some early bones playing with the ultra-talented combo of Ethan Moreau and Marty Reasoner before eventually landing on a line with Smyth and Marchant. I can’t remember exactly when this happened but I know that I was home visiting my mother during the Christmas holidays in December of 2002 and Smyth scored a goal vs the Leafs on basically an empty net after Hemsky made what was quickly becoming one of his trademark jaw-dropping passes. In hindsight a beautiful Hemsky pass when perhaps the traditionalist or cretin would demand a shot on goal provided an ominous harbinger for the divide between fantasy and reality that would eventually exist concerning his true value and replaceability.

    Hemsky didn’t log a point in the 2003 playoffs and after having posted a .51 PPG in 2003, I don’t think I was alone in being disappointed that he pretty much ran in place with a .49 PPG mark in 2004.

    In the 2005-06 season Hemsky went on a run that over the next four years would see him average .95, .83, .96 and .92 PPG. He missed a total of 37 games in those four seasons. Just as importantly, there began a process by which Craig Mactavish – especially beginning in the 2006-07 season and certainly in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons when kids like Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano and Robert Nilsson were to be sheltered like flu-ridden kittens in February and of course the parallel is easily uncovered – turned Hemsky into a two-way player who would be asked to backcheck and do it against the other team’s top lines to boot.

    But before this happens we have something quite remarkable: Kevin Lowe inks a player to a contract that shows foresight and winds up holding incredible value. In August of 2006, with Hemsky having played just three full seasons and one where he looked like he could go full throttle, Lowe signed him to a six year deal worth $24.6MM. So, here you have Lowe finally coming to terms on a great deal and with a kid who was A: happy to be here B: worth the price of admission C: able to play against the other team’s top lines.

    Were there warts? Well, maybe one or two. There were some soft whispers about his lack of goal-scoring prowess, his propensity to turn over the puck not waning as his games played piled up and also the idea that he didn’t practice hard enough and could be better player if he cared a little more. Still, the fan and pundit with good sense never really subscribed to these newsletters and thanked their value-contract stars.

    In the 2009-10 season, Hemsky started off with seven goals and a PPG pace through the first 22 games but a Micheal Handzus check from behind in November ended his season and may be looked at as the beginning of the end of his Oilers career. In 2010-11, Hemsky put up 14 goals and 42 points in 47 games but had three major injuries: first a groin problem, then suffering a concussion and finally suffering another shoulder injury to finish the season.

    In the middle of this Oilers puppet GM Steve Tambellini appeared during the intermission of the first game after Dustin Penner was dealt and addressed some rumours surrounding the club. This was the first time that Hemsky’s name had been linked to the trading block. Tambellini fielded the question and asked how close Hemsky had been to being moved and beamed – and yes I’m paraphrasing, “I’m open to trading anyone.”

    Now, as Oilers fans and having gone through the Gretzky move we are all aware that anyone could be moved at any time. So, yes, theoretically anyone could be dealt but would all those decisions make sense? For instance, right now I could physically shit my pants: there is no one here to stop me. The ladyfriend is out buying groceries and I am here all alone and if I wanted to I could just let it fly.

    Now, is that a good move? Absolutely not. But Tambellini seemed to revel in the bigger question of how everything was possible and no one was safe and the idotic look that radiated from the top of his bagged eyes screamed of a man with no plan outside of accumlating as many top picks as possible.

    And here we have the rub.

    While there is a pricepoint at which I would not support bringing back Hemsky, I’d make sure all options were exhausted and I would lose a little bit of sleep about a summarily dispatching a proven entity. Most especially if I was running a team that’s the doormat of the league. Personally I would propose a four year deal at $5.75MM annually and I would go to $6 mill if I was assured that Katz would take some of the public’s money and in the worst case stash Hemsky in the minors if his injury troubles continue. Yes, that contract will run into the next deals for the three kids but who knows what the next CBA will bring. There’s the possibility of there being an amensty clause like the one included in the recent NBA labour agreement and let’s say that happens. Well, if you have older versions of Nugent-Hopkins and Gagner down the middle you could easily walk away from the remainder of Horcoff’s money and there’s your money for Hemsky.

    Or you could just commit to going barebones with the last four or five forwards on your roster and putting the money into your top six and having them carry the load of matching while the bottom two lines are there to keep things even and drive your penalty kill. There is a way to make it work and especially for the first two years of a long deal. After that? Well, you get creative. You don’t build a winning hockey club by discarding useful pieces because it might take a little bit of work to fit them all together. Finally, if you believe Hemsky can stay healthy – and make sure you have the opinions of doctors as your basis – then there will always be a trade market for a useful player.

    The point is there’s still a place for Hemsky on this club but as we’ve seen in the past more and more smoke signals are being released to prepare fans for his dismissal. Over the weeks the following narratives have built up steam and I’ll list them in no particular order and then highlight the one that makes a fool of anyone who supports it. The list of grievences are as follows: he leaves practice early, he’s inconsistent and doesn’t care and the Oilers really don’t need him. Guys with a lot of a cachet like Ray Ferraro have recently parroted the idea that Hemsky isn’t consistent and doesn’t care enough.

    Excuse me? Heading into but excluding this season the guy had 331 points in his last 360 games so I’d say that’s quite consistent. It’s also quite good. Note: one of the most integrity-bereft displays I ever witnessed from the press – because I have seen a lot from my friends – was during the second intermission of the Leafs game when Mark Spector was forced to admit Hemsky was having an effective night. The press has been building this anti-Hemsky snowman based on a perceived lack of effectiveness from Hemsky and with Ales pissing all over it with no less than two goal posts all Spector could mutter was, “he makes these moves and they are good but it’s never enough for him.”

    That’s such a stupid point because good is enough and value is enough. At this age it’s true that Hemsky will never be broken from plays like carrying the puck too much and turning it over and he’ll never shoot as much as anyone wants him to. But, at season’s end, he’ll be worth the time and money and however he gets it done the reality is that it always gets done.

    Another Edmonton MSM meme with the strength of a thousand ignorant shoulder shrugs is the idea that the kids should see more time-on-ice and it’s time to let them run. That’s all well and good but with more EV TOI comes a helluva lot more responsibility and it means that every shift the kids will play will feature top quality opposition. Not just on the road when the Oilers can’t get the last change but also at home because the more Hemsky-types you let walk the worse your depth and options become.

    So we’re left with the impression of a press that either doesn’t know how to watch hockey or has an implicit belief that not only are the kids good, they are ready to be matchup-good and that using them in this fashion doesn’t ensure yet another lower five finish in 2013. But are they alone? Do the Oilers really know what they have in Hemsky? Or are they so blind to think he’s easily replaced; emboldened by one paltry set of half-season’s stats when the previous nearly 400 GP paint a different picture? One thing that’s clear is he’s either that grossly underrated or he’s worn out his welcome.

    Jason Gregor had to actually start the ball rolling on contract talks by asking Hemsky point blank if anything was happening; only when that was reported did everyone else pick up the idea that yes they were talking. In fact the Oilers lack of interest was so galling that Hemsky even moaned to the CBC’s Mark Lee, “I just wish they’d let me know either way if they want me or not.” Dear Jesus, can you imagine confiding in Mark Lee? I wouldn’t tell Mark Lee if I had an ingrown toenail and here’s Hemsky practically begging to have the situation addressed. Since then talks have apparently heated up but the fires actually had to be stoked from outside and what can we make of this?

    To veer just for a second but to promise to bring you back, I know the Eagles get a lot of heat for being light rock but let me tell you something: if you don’t appreciate the harmonies of that group then when you listen to music you don’t even know what you’re hearing. For as much as I love Eberle, Hall and Nugent-Hopkins, the wolves are already starving themselves for next year because without Hemsky in the top six these kids will see the other team’s top lines each and every night and there’s a good chance they will get eaten. Maybe they still put up the counting stats and maybe they drive a top ranked PP but how will the goal differential look at season’s end and what will the Oilers look like in the standings? Sure, I know that maybe the press can’t be bothered to learn new tricks over how to watch a game but surely the Oilers know about line matching right? Ignoring Hemsky’s value in this measure is akin to a music producer sitting down in a studio and exclaiming, “holy fuck, what is this devilry? How can one person do a five part harmony”?

    You might object that I am citing stats of old and 2012 Hemsky has just 24 points this season thus far and is -15 and maybe he’s lost his matching-jam. OK, well what did he do before when he wasn’t feeling his way back from shoulder surgeries? Hemsky the first three years post-lockout: a combined -21. Hemsky the last three years: a combined +11. The Oilers for the last five years of that timeframe? Goddamn terrible. BTW, the only time he doesn’t see tough competition is when the opposing coach turns himself inside out to run his best at the kids. Check out the scoring chances for the Oilers win last Saturday vs Ott; check out who Renney elected to play the kids against in Wed’s OTL to the Leafs. Eberle and the kids need the help and Hemsky’s able to provide it. And this is what it comes down to. If Hemsky’s asking for the moon or his shoulders are actually brittle then try and take him for a value contract or let him walk. But has due dilligence been done in this regard? Is Hemsky expendable because he’s older? Because the Oilers think Paajarvi or Jones can take his place?

    The Oilers are drunk on highlight reel goals and top ten picks with never a thought given towards balance. Cam Barker skates away from criticism with a deftness that doesn’t translate to the ice and Andy Sutton’s continued presence in Edmonton is trumpeted as requested and desired from someone who sees a bright future for the organization. Both are bottom pairing defencemen at best. Hemsky’s a guy who has played tough minutes for forever and the media guys in Edmonton take shot after shot based on his lone unproductive season and keep track of his practice time like they’re monitoring their wives’ contractions.

    The old knives are out, greased so as to let the public know why yet another useful player isn’t long for the city. The fans shouldn’t be worried because just as the Eagles replaced Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon with Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh, people are just dying to play in the Oilers’ band.

    28 Responses to Familiar Smell of Oilers Glue Factory Brings Old Horse Out Of Retirement

    1. Schitzo
      February 19, 2012 at

      Was at the season ticket holder meet-and-greet today, chance for photos with the players and then a 45 minute propaganda session that would make the Iraqi information minister blush.

      Roundtable opens with a promo video. If there was a single frame where Hemsky was visible, I missed it. Extremely ominous.

      Laforge gets asked about price increases on season tickets. He says that the cost of the product is not tied to the results on the ice, and the bills have to get paid whether we win or lose. Convenient that he ignored the fact that when your team is made up of guys on ELCs, your salary expenses tend to go down.

      Tambo made a comment about all the defencemen in the pipeline and that they project them 3-4 years out. Described the upcoming three years as the gap where we would keep veterans around until we’re able to move them and replace them with the prospects. If there would have been a wall within a hundred feet I would have dented it with my head at that one.

      New arena new arena new arena, everybody cheer, hurray, go team, circlejerk away.

      Laforge and Tambo both referenced the fact that for the first time in ten years, we have a unified development system in place between OKC and the Oilers. Which would raise the question of why the incompetent boob who put the last system in place didn’t get fired.

      Hard-on for David Musil. Mentioned repeatedly and randomly.

      Clearly described this as year two of the rebuild, and that there were multiple years to go.

      All in all, a pretty frustrating experience. But not surprising.

      • RiversQ
        February 19, 2012 at

        Ah, so there’s my answer. That’s exactly what they want to do – wait 3-4 years for these dmen. This will not work under this CBA. They do not understand the guiding document of their business nor the market for NHL talent. If they don’t fire these clowns we will get to ten years without playoffs. Seriously ominous stuff.

      • bring back the flyers
        February 19, 2012 at

        wonderful post….if the oilers prove one thing, a piss poor hockey organization can inspire real sports writing, in fact it nearly demands it, as a way of protecting one’s sanity

        liked the “drunk on highlight reel goals and top 10 picks” phrase…the spin doctors never sleep with this bunch, and just to think we now have 2 years of “community spirit” ahead, having the arena shoved down our throat

        what is worriesome about the hemsky business is that this level of institutional incompetence is going to demand a steady diet of sacrifices to insure its own survival, what once seemed like random stupidity is becoming a pattern

        and just think…if you can do this to hemsky, what chance does a lamb, relatively speaking, like omark have?

        when will he be ceremoniously called up for the next slaughter? the high priests must already be sharpening their knives…

      • Doogie2K
        February 19, 2012 at

        Did anyone ask why Hemsky had to go to the media to get contract talks going?

    2. RiversQ
      February 19, 2012 at

      Nice post Dennis. Good to see you writing again. A couple of comments:

      I’m fairly certain that Barker and Sutton aren’t even bottom pairing dmen. There is just one team in the league that would consider letting them jump over the boards.

      Second, it looks like the Oilers are going to punt next year. They’re basically bringing back the train wreck of a blueline and no Hemsky means they will be desperate for a top six forward. All this leads to the last comment…

      The Oilers are going to try to finish this rebuild organically. Prepare to be disappointed because by the time Klefbomr or Musil or Marincin are ready for top pairing minutes, they’ll be wondering if they can hang on to one of RNH, Eberle, or Hall. At this point you wonder if we move into the 3rd rebuild post-lockout without interruption.

    3. David Staples
      February 19, 2012 at

      For the 119th time, yes it was your idea to study scoring chances. And it was my idea to take what I had been doing with goals for and against and apply it to scoring chances, which produces markedly different metrics on players than what you find. You seem awfully sore about this, as you mention it repeatedly as if I really did rip off something from you without giving you credit. But I have given you that credit many times, even as I have taken your idea and put a very different twist on it. I am going to leave it at that. Feel free to continue to accuse me all you like. I am done with this beef.

      • February 19, 2012 at

        Hear, hear. I generally get a kick out of you Dennis, and you have a lot to offer, but this and a handful of other dead horses you flog are just incredibly tiresome. You’re loved and admired — now give the fucking ego a rest, please.

        • RiversQ
          February 19, 2012 at

          Staples was denying this for awhile and there are comments to that effect on this site. He was claiming to be a disciple of Roger Neilson or some such nonsense. He’s earned some needling on this topic in my opinion.

    4. Pete.
      February 19, 2012 at

      Nice to see you posting something other than depressing scoring chances, though this was depressing too. Funnier, anyway.

      My wife comes from a foreign land where hockey probably doesn’t even make the top twenty most popular sports, and she’s resolutely avoided watching it for the last ten years in Canada, until this season. Nonetheless, she’s proven of late to be a quick study, and is pretty perceptive about good or bad defensive play by forwards, ill-timed pinches, guys wandering offside, and other things you’d expect her to miss. She has also noted the value of Hemsky, without my prompting, and when I said he was probably trade bait she was confused and irritated. Confusion and irritation are pretty common responses, as well as amusing emperor’s new clothes type questions, mostly about the defense (“what’s wrong with this Barker guy?” “If Whitney only has one leg, why is he out there so much?”)

      Anyway, after some consideration, she came to the conclusion that she hopes he’s traded, as she likes Hemsky, and figures he’ll stand a much better chance of actually winning something elsewhere than he will if he continues with this woeful organization. I’m inclined to agree, but it’s depressing that complete hockey neophytes are noticing these things. It’s also depressing that I hope the team I’ve been cheering for for 25 years will give up on a player I really like, just because I want him to win eventually. Of course, if they were to re-sign him that would be a sign that the organization has some sense, thus that he might have a chance of winning here eventually, but it’s hard to be optimistic at this point.

    5. Tigerunderglass
      February 19, 2012 at

      Clearly you don’t have a solid grasp on the importance of body language. I think it will finally be clear when you see what a profound effect Johnson’s magnificent posture will have on this team.

    6. Tigerunderglass
      February 19, 2012 at

      Clearly you have no understanding of the importance of body language. I believe this will finally become clear when we all see the profound effect of Johnson’s magnificent posture.

    7. Tigerunderglass
      February 19, 2012 at

      Dammit. Sorry about the double post. I thought the the first one didn’t work. I need to give up on commenting anywhere with my phone.

    8. Dennis
      February 19, 2012 at

      Schitzo: That’s very disappointing. They are basically saying they only truly believe they can win when all these kids mature enough to be able to somewhat keep up with the three kids; plus maybe 91 because right now the jury’s still out as to just how much Pitlick and Hamilton will be able to make a difference.

      Riv: I just keep thinking about how a lot of these Oilers D men have “slow feet” at the top of their scouting reports and then I see Tuebert and I’m thinking these kids are all projects.

      Staples: I keep it up for two reasons: first off I believe there’s a great deal of truth to what I say but the other one is that I know it gets on your nerves:) I have always credited you with shining a light on the Oilers stats communities so I don’t really have much hatred for you; if that means anything:)

      Matt: When I start being wrong about the old saws, then I will stop writing about them. I want so much to be wrong about this club; Jesus, who’s put more time into watching such a terrible display of six years worth of hockey? But, I look at the same mistakes being made over and over again and these are things that a handful of us keep warning people about it and do you want to argue that we’re off base?

      Pronger: look how long it took for Smid to be worth the hype? What became of Lupul as an Oiler? What became of the Oilers in the process?

      Smyth: Stauffer boats of three first rounders and the rest of us are saying. “well what’s a middle of the first round pick really worth? O’Marra’s already a suspect; Nilsson’s a talented project. And how did that go?

      Penner: Let’s see what they can get from that first round pick but how long will it take to pan out? ie Smid. And a lot of us didn’t like the looks of Tuebert even Before we saw him play. I don’t think anyone’s gonna tell us we are wrong about him. Sure, he’s still a kid but if you want to say he tops out at Jason Smith – and that’s the best case for him – then he’s gonna be meaner than a rattlesnake and his mistakes will have to be infintesmail because he can’t give you back much on the other end.

      • RiversQ
        February 19, 2012 at

        Good point about the slow blueline. There’s a common thread there. Peckham, Teubert, Sutton and Barker are just plain slow. Whitney is cooked and might be the slowest of the bunch. I don’t see skating mentioned as a strength for Musil or Marincin, so one wonders where the dmen are going to come from. You don’t HAVE to be a burner to play effective hockey (take Kelly vs. Doan for one example), but if it’s a weakness, it’s something that has to be overcome in every aspect of the game.

    9. Roke
      February 19, 2012 at

      It’s nice to have you writing Dennis. I’ve enjoyed the recent pieces. There’s a lot here, but the expectations/criticisms of Hemsky are what I wanted to comment on.

      The huge weight expectation plays when one evaluates a hockey player is interesting to me. Blue-collar grinder types get a huge leash despite generally being mediocre to abysmal at hockey at the NHL level. Players putting up gaudy goal totals or huge point numbers generally aren’t criticised too much. Be neither of those things and everyone expects you to play like Ethan Moreau and/or put up points like Wayne Gretzky. For all the complaints about specific plays during the game I believe most complaints stem from people being disappointed by a player’s goal or points totals (or God help us, the pox that is regular +/-).

      It’s easy to envision what a player “could be” if things would be a little different; if Hemsky took more shots he might score more goals, if he didn’t turn the puck over “so much” more goals would go in for the Oilers and fewer would go through Khabibulin. What is forgotten with non-grinders is that most (all?) of them are playing hockey to the best of their ability and the simple changes to improve the calibre of play may be beyond the players.

      Unrealistic expectations or horrible evaluations aren’t an Edmonton-only phenomenon though. From what I’ve seen it happens in at least every major market. In Montreal Andrei Kostitsyn, a decent top-6 forward, is perceived to be a lazy, soft bum because a number of players drafted later than him turned out to be better than he is. I guess North American hockey xenophobia doesn’t help his case either but Edmonton seems to run people out of town with no regard to ethnicity or nationality. That’s at least admirable.

      Fans and media types also overestimate the amount of talent in the league: 60-points from a forward is not first-line material, 50 points is maybe a bottom-tier 2nd liner. Draft previews seem to project a third of the first round as first-line players. If the rest of the league looks awesome or prospects in the draft are slated to be amazing it’s way too easy to under appreciate what you already have. I don’t see the general culture changing any time soon.

    10. Dennis
      February 19, 2012 at

      Roke: Yes. As I said above, “good” is enough. I think 83 could be better if he shot more but at this age he’s not likely to add that MO.

      One thing I didn’t get to here – but have alluded to many times – is I think the Oilers fan is so fucking beaten down by the old late 90′s threats of relocation that they will put up with anything. Good players are moved and there’s never enough of an uproar for MGMT to change their ways.

      It’s a culture of dumb decisions unencumberd by any kind common sense pushback by the collective fanbase

      • Roke
        February 19, 2012 at

        The relocation thing is something I hadn’t thought of before (and I should have having lived in Winnipeg since shortly before the Jets left). Up to a point I can see how it can affect the expectations but with revenue figures leaked and the Oilers up near the top well, you know better than I. I would hope it can’t last forever.

        So the Oilers plan is sell hope for 2 more years, sell new arena smell for another 3 or so after that and then pray for something else. The Laforge comment on ticket prices (thanks Schitzo) has me wondering if the team will try do to what Winnipeg did and have 3 or 5-year commitments for season tickets. I imagine the company line will be “we have to pay for the cost of the arena”.

    11. Dude
      February 19, 2012 at

      Reading this article, I found your arguments compelling… refreshing even, considering all of the repetitive and largely baseless, amnesiastic hemsky-bashing circulating the oilers blog universe lately. Yes, I was compelled to agree with you, that is until the Eagles analogy when you essentially pulled the lynchpin of credibility on your whole position. Comparing the creative playmaking of the Oilers young guns to the painfully sickening saccharine harmonies of the eagles is copper & blue sacrilege of abominable proportions.

      To quote the dude: “Man, c’mon… I had a rough [trade speculation month] and i fuckin’ hate the eagles.”

    12. Dennis
      February 19, 2012 at

      Dude: the Eagles harmonies are seriously real. I was into them when I was also the typical teenage Metallica fan. I don’t listen to them like I used to but, still, the harmonies, sir!

    13. Thiru
      February 19, 2012 at

      On the open market, Hemsky’s asking price is going to be heavily predicated on his above average record of PP production. If Gagner, RNH, Ebs, and Hall are going to soak up primo PP minutes in the years to come — and I don’t see why that wouldn’t be the case — does that not affect how much value Hemmer has to the club going forward, versus another club that would feature 83 as their main PP weapon?

      I ask this not rhetorically but for the sake of discussion, because I really don’t know: can you justify signing a guy for, say 5.5 million, to saw off the toughs and quarterback the 2nd unit PP?

      Omark can do the latter for much cheaper, for instance. A smarter man than myself would have to come up with a suitable candidate for the former, though :p

    14. David Staples
      February 19, 2012 at

      All is good. Fair enough.

    15. David Staples
      February 19, 2012 at

      All is good. Fair enough. I’d be more bugged if my work was inferior

      @RiversQ Thanks for weighing in with usual amount of common sense.

    16. Brig. Gen. Jack Ripper
      February 20, 2012 at

      But I have kept soldiering on just because I knew that outside of championing a billionaire owner’s quest to build an arena with mostly public funds David Staples could always use someone’s ideas to rip off.

      That made me smile.

    17. Vic Ferrari
      February 20, 2012 at

      Nice to see you writing again.

      And on the MSM bashing, it’s funny, but maybe it’s time to let it go. Wake up and smell the Internet Dennis .. you’ve won.

      I too am offended by the way Hemsky is being treated by the Oilers, and agree the writing is on the wall. A shame, brilliant player to watch and a true difference maker to boot. And a cap team (supposedly) like the Oilers should be more tolerant to injury risk than most other squads. This will likely end badly for the Oilers.

      On a positive note, the current CBA rewards failure. So eventually incompetent management will be gifted so many high end players through top draft pick positions that they end up with a good team. That’s our way through this, Dennis. Has to happen eventually.

      My inner Oiler fan stopped fighting the cold a while ago .. he relented, started feeling warm and curled up in Tyler’s snowbank to sleep in peace. Be sure to wake me when things change.

    18. Vic Ferrari
      February 20, 2012 at

      By the by, I happened to catch a Craig MacTavish interview while flipping through the channels on Saturday. He’s coaching the Canucks’ AHL affiliate now (I think they share with another NHL team, can’t remember who).

      Great stuff, you’d have loved it. He was about to head into a back to back series against a team coached by Mike Keenan, and he waxed on a bit. Dude is a thinker. He may well be wrong on a few points but all merit testing imo.

      I’d recommend googling for that if you get a chance, Dennis. It’s right up your street.

    19. Mike W
      February 20, 2012 at

      My inner Oilers fan is now frozen solid, well-buried in Tyler’s snowbank. Little X’s for eyes.

    20. FastOil
      February 20, 2012 at

      Great read Dennis. Thanks to you, Vic, Rivers et al, and those that followed for the great work. Many hockey myths of mine have been dispelled. At the same time I’ll say I hate you guys because at least in ignorance the team was somewhat tolerable to follow ;)

      It’s pretty much been proven that what is going on in the Oilers batcave is bat crap. The record now reflects it as well, with even rebuild about to hit the skids as an excuse. What is the solution? Are you saying there is enough in the org. that if they replaced the bad players with astute signings they could contend? How do you sign a top D and not poke holes elsewhere? Do they need an elite defensemen?

      I am curious as to what you (and the others who think the game deeply) see as the way out beyond firing Lloyd and Harry?

    21. Maestro Fresh Mess
      February 20, 2012 at

      It would be justice for the Oilers to fall back a spot when the lottery is drawn. The management is either incompetent, or they are lacking in morals(highly likely given the owner’s request for arena financing)and purposefully tanking seasons. Just an embarrassment of an organisation.

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