Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Horcoff is hurt, but no reason to panic

There is one thing the Edmonton Oilers are known for in hockey and that’s not hitting the panic button.

This team doesn’t make a first-instinct trade when trouble strikes or fire a coach in the middle of a long season, at least not since Glen Sather sacked George Burnett back in the 1994-95 season.

With Shawn Horcoff’s shoulder injury after taking a hard, late hit by Andy Sutton during a 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders, fans in Edmonton are already hitting that giant red button.

“The Oilers need to claim someone off waivers, like (Erik) Christensen,” said one caller to the Team 1260 Tuesday. “Steve Tambellini needs to make a trade now.”

Not so fast, fans.

Horcoff’s injury, if it is a long-term injury, is probably a good thing for the copper and blue. Players like Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano will have to step up, and we all remember what happened when Horcoff was last on the long-term injured list.

Does anyone remember 2008?

Horcoff only played 53 games that season when the Oilers missed the playoff for the second time since the team’s run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006. But unlike last season, or the other failed season in 2007, 2008 gave fans hope.

Fans everywhere got to see how good Gagne and Cogliano really are as rookies and, with them paired up with — back then — a talented Robert Nilsson, they helped the Oilers get close to the playoffs as rookies.

Now the pair of young guns are older and much wiser after their poor sophomore seasons.

Both are restricted free agents after this season, so they have something to prove. And Cogliano, who has struggled a bit this season, has much more to prove after his name was linked to that botched Dany Heatley trade this summer.

And with a healthy Mike Comrie, and with Gilbert Brule continuing to play well on the dot, the Oilers are fine without their $7-million man. (Yes, I know Horcoff is a cap hit of $5.5 million. Woptie-doo.)

When the Oilers fight off this flu bug, and when they can fight off the injury bug on their blueline, the Oilers are capable enough to be an eighth to a fifth place team in the West Division without Shawn Horcoff. (No, I don’t have the homer glasses on.)

There is no reason to hit the panic button, or for fans to abandon ship.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Oilers looked good, despite a dud from the Wall

Talk about being disappointed by a hot date on prom night.

You know what I mean. You get the courage to ask her out for that special night. And once that big, successful night happens, everything goes well until you catch her making out with your best friend near the end of the dance.

Sounds somewhat familiar.

After a strong and solid 60-minute effort by the Oilers, their coveted goalie — someone who they lured through free agency — duffs one in the last minute of the game and essentially gift-wraps two points for Calgary. Maybe Nikolai Khabibulin was feeling generous.

Everything was going well for the Oilers. Sam Gagner was close to scoring a Gordie Howe hat trick tonight after Coach Pat Quinn demoted him to the fourth line. Yes, Gagner dropped the gloves last night and a he scored a goal.

Dustin Penner, who was in everyone’s doghouse last season, made a big impact in the game with a goal and an assist and so did Quinn’s new “gritty” additions to each line like J.F. Jacques, Gilbert Brule and Ryan Stone who knocked Flames defenseman Mark Giordano into the Oilers bench in the third.

Everything was clicking. The Oilers were forechecking, outshooting, outhitting, and they were even digging and clawing their way in the corners, even when they were down 3-1. This is definitely something that didn’t happen during most of last season.

Quinn’s system looked like it was making a solid difference in every player. Every check was finished and the effort was solid.

And after Gagner scored his goal to tie it up in the third, Khabibulin duffs a clearing attempt on a bouncing puck with 49 seconds left in the game. Flames forward David Moss took advantage of the poor clearing attempt by Khabibulin.

“It doesn’t feel very good right now,” said Khabibulin after the game.

“It feels like I basically lost a point, but I can’t get it back now. I got to take some positives out of the game and look forward.”

It could have been worse. It could have been Game 1 in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals. Cough, Ty Conklin, cough.

Besides being kicked in the groan on prom night, there is a lot of things that looked very well for the Oilers and if every player buys into Quinn’s system, the copper and blue will be in the playoffs quite easily. Tonight’s game is proof for all the Oiler haters out there.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Let's get random!

Pardon for this post, but I have a lot on my mind. That means, just like Lady Sovereign, it’s time get random…

…Big Dustin Penner is starting to do things Oiler fans have never seen before and that’s digging in the corners on the forecheck. Penner has had a strong showing so far this pre-season, especially with how he is going to the net. This could be — cross your fingers — a breakout year for Penner after having a terrible season…

…If Penner does have a breakout year, that will be crucial for the Oilers since the team still has nine forwards on the roster who are all under six-feet-tall, and everyone is getting tired of hearing about it. TSN analysts talk about it, bloggers yak about it like it’s the be all and end all in Edmonton — yawn. The size issue will be addressed before the season starts…

…And like I said back in Sept. 24, the Nashville Predators are pitching the Oilers for a deal, and word is that’s not the only team interested. Tambellini could work out a deal that could mean making large salary dump for the Oilers as it gets a solid, tough forward in return. It’s simple math. The Oilers are over the cap by $800,000 and it has plenty of young, small and talented forwards. A deal will be done before Oct. 3…

…Speaking of young talented forwards, and since this is a random post, signing Theo Fleury to a small contract would be one way of sticking it to Calgary after the Flames inked Curtis Glencross last season when he bolted from the Oil. Fleury, who is definitely aging, has created waves in the NHL pre-season with his performance after kicking his much talked-about drug and alcohol addiction. His performance this pre-season was inspiring until GM Darryl Sutter showed him the door. The Oilers do need a player that has plenty of heart, especially after looking uninspired throughout all of last season…

…Grant Fuhr’s last season in his career was with the Calgary Flames back in 2000, just to add more fodder to the Fleury idea. Fuhr’s last game ever was against his old Oilers and he was a backup until late in that third period when the game was out of hand for the Flames. I was there and it was a memorable game in the Saddledome…

…Flames suck…

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Preds interested in Nilsson, Pisani

Something is brewing in Edmonton, or should I say Winnipeg.

As the Oilers only dress a handful of veterans in tonight’s lineup against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Winterpeg, two players could be wearing different colours when the first puck is dropped in the regular season.

The Nashville Predators, which has plenty of cap room, are very interested in players like Robert Nilsson, Fernando Pisani, and, maybe Marc Pouliot for some draft picks.

Word is the Preds are interested in one or two of the mentioned players and the Oilers need to make this kind of deal only because it would give them some breathing room going into the cap, especially if Pisani and Nilsson are dealt.

If the Oilers traded the pair away for one or two draft picks, it could give Oilers GM Steve Tambellini $5 million in breathing room when it comes to swing a deal before the trade deadline.

The move would be an ideal one since both Nilsson and Pisani have each had a less-than-stellar pre-season so far.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Oil Patch is getting a facelift

For those noticing some changes on this site today, you had better get used to it. I am trying to give the Oil Patch a bit of a facelift to make it standout as a great site and blog for Oilers fans.

So far I've battled with its appearance, but Google's blogging engine can only do so much.

If you read the site and like what you see, or you think it's a waste of a web page, please e-mail me at

I need to hear some feedback into how I can improve this site and any suggestions would be very appreciated.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Nilsson's days in Edmonton are numbered

If tonight’s 3-2 win against the Islanders is any indication about where Robert Nilsson will be after Oct. 1, odds are he won’t be in Edmonton.

Nilsson mustered an assist on a line with Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky, but it was one single highlight in a game where he mostly floated during all of his 16 minutes and 20 seconds of ice time.

For a guy who has his job threatened in Edmonton, he sure didn’t play like it. Nilsson was like a rusty third wheel while playing alongside two very talented players.

If Nilsson wants to stay an Oiler he had better play like he’s desperate and the guy who could be forcing Nilsson out of town is young Jordan Eberle who looked very impressive tonight with Andrew Cogliano and Dustin Penner.

Eberle was robbed by the crossbar in the third period after undressing veteran defenseman Andy Sutton during a rush to the net on a night when it was all about John Tavares’s NHL debut for the Islanders.

The young player doesn’t want to go back to the Regina Pats and he proved his point tonight by looking explosive in nearly every shift. Eberle was the game’s first star.


…Dustin Penner looks much faster than what he was during all of last season. The big forward scored on a breakaway in the third. Yes, Penner was actually on a breakaway. Looks like his summer diet has paid off so far…

…Northlands (the non-profit group that runs and owns Rexall Place) should look into buying some much stronger plexiglass after a pair of Sheldon Souray slapshots cracked two panes in the second period. Souray wasn’t happy about it, either. He looked frustrated after the second errant shot and he didn’t want to talk about it to reporters after the game…

…Swedish prospect Johan Motin looked dangerous on the blueline for the Oilers. He was strong on the body check…

…Who pays $8 for a plastic cup full of Molson Canadian or Coors Light at a hockey game, especially in these tough economic times?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Not a smart move by the Oilers, but Hilary Duff could be playing more shows in E-town!

Kevin Lowe and, lately, Steve Tambellini were both always able to swing a deal or two on Trade Deadline Day simply because they both played it safe by giving themselves plenty of wiggle room in salary cap space.

With Mike Comrie now inked, and some other large contracts, the Oilers are now automatic sellers when it comes to this season’s trade deadline.

Picture this: The Oilers are fighting with Nashville, Vancouver, and maybe, say Calgary for a playoff spot and Team X is looking for it’s long term interests as it struggles all season.

Team X has a star forward who can score goals and that player wants out of town to play for a playoff bound team, but he’s a cap hit at $5 million.

While Comrie does come cheap at a cap hit of $1.125 million, the Oilers are now, officially, $800,000 over the $56.8 million salary cap.

Tambellini can’t pull off a deal with Team X even if he axed a player in his roster — something that he must do before Oct. 1.

Scuttlebutt says Robert Nilsson is the player Tambellini is looking to ship out of town, but Nilsson is only a $2 million cap hit. It’s still not enough to make an impact trade during the season.

And forget about Dustin Penner, Penner haters. You can’t ship out a big-sized player from a team that lacks size.

Yes, I’m happy for Comrie. He did a lot of growing up since he parted ways with the City of Champions. It’s nice to see he’s home and the fans will forgive him.

They won’t forgive Tambellini and Lowe, however, because Comrie just adds to a giant mess for the Oilers coaching staff.

Tambellini said it himself after firing Craig MacTavish. He told a packed room of reporters that this team lacks size and grit — a reason why this Comrie deal doesn’t make sense.

Now the Oilers have a bunch of small, 30 to 50-point players (Ales Hemsky, Comrie, Patrick O’Sullivan) and other players who are known for their speed (Gilbert Brule, Rob Schremp, etc.).

To make four solid lines out of what the roster is now would be like digging through a rain forest for Patt Quinn. You won’t have one or two solid checking lines with this team — the Oilers are too small.

With Comrie’s addition, here’s what Pat Quinn might do to:

LINE 1 : Comrie, Horcoff, Hemsky

LINE 2 : O’Sullivan, Gagner, Penner

LINE 3: Moreau, Cogliano, Pisani

LINE 4: Nilsson, Brule, Pouliot

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: Schremp, Jacques, Stortini, Eberle, MacIntyre, and many, many more prospect forwards.

Comrie is a good news story for the Oilers after its struggles with the Dany Heatley saga, but fans and hockey pundits are wondering how Comrie will fit in the roster.

Makes you wonder why Tambo inked Comrie in the first place?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mike Comrie an Oiler again?

The Oilers are too close to the cap, but Oilers Nation blogger Robin Brownlee tonight says Mike Comrie and Steve Tambellini will work out a new contract before Friday at noon.

Stay tuned...

It's the final countdown for Rob Schremp

Rob Schremp will have a lot in common with Europe on Saturday — and when I mean Europe, I mean the one-hit hairband rockers from the 1980s. Google it.

Come Saturday, the first day of training camp for the Edmonton Oilers, it will be “the final countdown” for the former London Knight who has only played a total of seven NHL games for the Oilers since 2006.

And after signing a $715,000 two-way contract with the Oilers last week, Schremp has everything going for him now.

There is no Craig MacTavish barking at him to step up his defensive game during this camp. This is the same coach who called everyone up from the Springfield Falcons, including the beer vendor, before deciding to call up Schremp last season. But you can’t blame MacTavish for that decision.

Schremp only scored 42 points in 69 games last season in the minors for a train wreck of a hockey team. That’s a very big drop from the 64 points he scored the year before for the Falcons.

Since Schremp has now played three full seasons in the minors, the Oilers would have to put him through waivers before shipping him back to Siberia.

If that happens, New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers are rumoured to be very interested in making a move to scoop him up.

With no MacTavish and the possibility of playing with another team, this year’s training camp is a clean slate for Schremp who has been working out with Sam Gagner in London, Ont. all summer long.

Some players have already said he is stronger, much quicker than last season, as well as having an attitude adjustment since March. He’s hungry for a permanent spot in the NHL.

It's a $7 million make or break season for Horcoff

If TSN’s Pierre Maguire would describe Shawn Horcoff’s six-year $33 million contract, you can pretty much guess what he would have to say.

“It’s a monster.”

In today’s tough economic climate and at a time when the NHL’s salary cap isn’t getting any higher, Horcoff’s monster contract has turned into Godzilla for GM Steve Tambellini. Thank you Kevin Lowe.

The contract has handtied the Oilers from making any deals, so forget about signing free agent Mike Comrie or making any earth shattering trades during the season. The Oil would have to give up a lot for a star player.

With no changes in store for the copper and blue, Horcoff now has the world on his shoulders and fans will more than likely remind him about his contract if he struggles this season — just as they did with Dustin Penner.

The centreman inked his name to the deal back in July 2008 before earning $3.6 million during the 2008-09 season.

Now Horcoff is set to make an eye-popping $7 million this season for a player that notched 17 goals and 36 assists for 53 points in 80 games last year.

Ottawa Senators star forward Jason Spezza was an $8 million player last season when he scored 32 goals and 41 assists for 73 points in 82 games.

Calgary Flames forward Jarome Iginla inked his name to a contact last year that would see the player earn $7 million a season until it expires in 2013.

And not to rub it in Oiler fans, but Iggy scored 35 goals and 54 assists for 89 points during a $7 million season in 2008-09.

Horcoff hasn’t had a 70-point season since 2005-06 when he was on a line with Ales Hemsky and Ryan Smyth. The top-line centre scored 22 goals and 51 assists in the same season when the Oilers made that infamous run to the Stanley Cup finals.

Here’s a quick breakdown of Horcoff’s stats and salary, according to

2006-07: 16 goals +35 assists = $3.6 million

2007-08: 21 goals + 29 assists = $3.6 million

2008-09: 17 goals + 36 assists = $3.6 million

2009-10: ? goals + ? assists = $7 million

2010-11: ? goals + ? assists = $6.5 million

2011-12: ? goals + ? assists = $6.5 million

2012-13: ? goals + ? assists = $6 million

2013-14: ? goals + ? assists = $4 million

2014-15: ? goals + ? assists = $3 million

Horcoff needs to score around 70 points or more this season to be worth $7 million. There will be lynch mobs hanging outside Rexall Place come April 2010 if he doesn't.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Oilers are the NHL's biggest question mark

Ah, September.

Training camp is ready to begin, rookies are trying their best to crack the roster and there are stacks of NHL preview magazines to read through.

And I just picked up the Sporting News preview and where do they rank the Copper and Blue? Twenty-third in the league? What the fuck?

OK. Settle down. Oiler fans go through this every year. While we’re optimistic about a new season, we need to be reminded about what we have on paper before we’re disappointed in April.

There are good reasons why the Oilers won’t make the playoffs this year on paper because of a dismal off-season.

Nikolai Khabibulin is in, Dwayne Roloson is out and so is Ales Kotalik, as well as the team’s second best faceoff guy in Kyle Brodziak.

Then there’s that two-month Dany Heatley ass-sucking saga and now there are rumours about Mike Comrie coming back to Edmonton.

And since the Oilers are so close to the cap thanks to some very large contracts this season, Comrie will not become an Oiler again, at least not this season.

Lubomir Visnovsky is set to make $7 million this season, and so is Shawn Horcoff. Sheldon Souray is set to make $5.5 million and Dustin Penner will continue to make $4.25 million.

On paper, this is the same team as last year with one or two subtractions, but there’s a much larger payroll. That doesn’t make sense.

The only thing that could turn into a positive for the Oilers is the revamped coaching staff, which really makes this team very unpredictable going into this season.

Pat Quinn and company could bring new life to a team that played with little emotion on the ice last season, or you could see the same players (Penner, Robert Nilsson) create problems for Quinn’s staff.

When it comes to predicting the season outcome for the Oilers, NHL preview publications are bang on to rank them near the bottom of the barrel.

But with a new coaching staff, the Oilers are currently the NHL’s biggest question mark other than what team Heatley will play for.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The silence is over, but the questions continue

Dany Heatley has spoken and as expected, his words didn’t move mountains.

The City of Champions was not an option for Heatley because “it was the only option,” he said during a teleconference call today.

Are you scratching your head right now after reading that? Edmonton wasn’t an option because it was the only option? What?

That’s like an airplane pilot opting to sit in his chair and give up, even though pressing the eject button is his only option before it crashes.

“This has nothing to do with Edmonton, this has everything to do with options,” said Heatley who refused to answer why Edmonton wasn’t a good enough fit.

Heatley confirmed Edmonton wasn’t on his list of his preferred teams even though Edmonton was the only team publicly interested in the 50-plus-goal scorer.

“I thought we has some good talks with (Steve Tambellini and Kevin Lowe), but we (Heatley and his two agents) wanted options, said Heatley.

“I needed options in order to make the right decision.”

Heatley says he maintained his silence since news broke about his trade request from Ottawa because he never wanted to make his request public.

(Actually he was told to talk to the media before he laces up at the Hockey Canada Olympic orientation camp in Calgary Monday)

And Heatley says he wanted out of Ottawa because he wants to be an “integral” part of the Ottawa Senators, something he feels has “diminished” since he inked his name to a contract two years ago.

“I regret the way it’s been this summer. It’s been a tough summer. It hasn’t been fair, especially to Edmonton and Ottawa but that’s the way it went,” said Heatley.

No it hasn’t, especially in Edmonton.

Fans here still don’t know why Edmonton is not a destination for superstars. It’s a city where hockey fans have had their hearts broken over and over again every summer.

They’re tired of the Prongers, the Nylanders, and now the Heatleys.

If a player doesn’t want to be in Edmonton, or wants out of Edmonton, he should show some balls and explain why the city isn’t the right place. Or why the team is not the right fit.

That’s all we want to hear. Be honest. Tell us Edmonton is a shithole if that's the reason you don't want to stay or come here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cogliano's days are numbered in Edmonton

Andrew Cogliano has the potential to be a future star in this league, but he won't be shining in Edmonton, suggests Oilers Nation blogger Jonathan Willis this week.

It’s a pretty damn good argument about a great draft pick by the Oilers.

Willis says Cogs has a gift when it comes to his offensive skills and speed. Cogs also has some work to do on the defensive side of the game, but he’s still young.

The only thing that is holding Cogliano back from turning into a power player for the Oil, says Willis, is his lousy stats when it comes to face-offs and the centre position is absolutely flooded right now with depth. This is a strong reason why Cogliano isn't a strong fit in Edmonton, suggests Willis.

Willis is very accurate. Shawn Horcoff is going to be around for the next six seasons as Edmonton’s top line or second line centre. And Sam Gagner is going to be a future top line centre within a year or two.

Cogliano, with all of his talent, is not an ideal candidate for a third or fourth line player up the middle.

Putting Cogliano on the right wing position would also cause some challenges for head coach Pat Quinn, but forget about left wing — it’s been reported that Cogs feels too uncomfortable with the position.

And let’s not forget about the other future guys up the middle like Gilbert Brule, Rob Schremp if he actually has a good training camp this season, Marc Pouliot, and Ryan Potulny.

Then there’s Anton Lander who the Oilers picked in the second round during the draft this summer. The Swedish centre played for Tirma in the Swedish Elite League where he scored 10 points in 47 games as a teenager with his younger linemate and fellow Oilers first round pick, Magnus Paarjvi-Svensson.

As Willis suggests, Cogliano is a good player for the Oilers only on a short-term basis, but he’s ideal for trade bait and that’s exactly what Steve Tambellini did by using Cogs to lure Dany Heatley from Ottawa.

It’s too bad for such a player that has such promise in the NHL, but it must happen. Staying in Edmonton would only hinder Cogliano’s development.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Heatley saga is over, Tambo. Now go and enjoy your summer

Say it ain’t so, Steve.

You say it’s finally over between the Edmonton Oilers, the Ottawa Senators, and disgruntled hockey star Dany Heatley in working out a deal.

But, Steve, why give up now?

You and Kevin Lowe only paid Heatley a visit at his summer home once in Kelowna to convince him to play for the copper and blue. That wasn’t so successful.

Your rich boss paid cash to send someone to his summer home a few weeks later to deliver him a special video package of how great the Oilers really are.

Now all of a sudden you announce your decision to throw in the towel yesterday.

Why not keep trying? Why not send some Edmonton women his way? You know — those women that you see along 118 Avenue.

Your boss has a lot of cash. Why not send a Hummer or a high priced vehicle his way?

Heck. Why not put on a French maid dress and clean up his summer home? That right there would convince him to come to Edmonton.

Give me a break.

Trying to swing a trade for a guy who wants out of his town because he doesn’t like his ice-time is one thing. Trying to play desperate to get him is another.

Meanwhile, the only thing that has been upgraded with this team is your coaching staff and your goaltending situation so far this off-season. Kudos to you on that.

While you were begging, you and your crew lost one of your only two players who was over 50 per cent on the faceoff circle in Kyle Brodziak. Then you lost Ales Kotalik to the Rangers.

The offence really didn’t upgrade, in fact, it's a step backwards. Don't forget, this is the same team that has missed the playoffs three years in a row and it's the same offence that produced little on the faceoff circle, which led to an atrocious powerplay and penalty kill last season.

We also remember that "culture change" speech the day you announced Craig MacTavish was no longer head coach for the copper and blue. What you have done so far this summer isn't much of a culture change when it comes to your offence.

Now, here we are in August — the peak when it comes to the dog days of summer. You more than likely don’t want to be by your phone. You probably want to hang out in your summer cottage somewhere, like everyone else does in the league.

Enjoy your summer, Steve. Relax and take it easy.

After all, your going to need it come October, or later in the year when the Oilers miss another round of playoffs.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It's all uphill from here for Dustin

It was a deal to dream about in Edmonton after a rotten season. At least according to many, and I mean many, fans of the Oilers.

You’ve heard the talk before.

“You mean we have to give up a promising young hockey player, a dependable defenseman and a sack of hockey pucks for a guy like Dany Heatley? That’s fucking awesome, eh!”

Yeah, well it didn’t happen. Andrew Cogliano was left wondering where he was going to play come training camp.

There’s also Ladislav Smid who was probably thinking the same thing at his summer home in the Czech Republic or wherever he hangs out during the off-season.

Then there’s Dustin Penner. Need I say more?

Penner, who was scorned by fans and Craig MacTavish all season long, had a lot of expectations ever since Kevin Lowe stole him from the Anaheim Ducks.

Well, it wasn’t quite a steal. It was more like a hostile takeover as Lowe signed the restricted free agent to a five year $21.25 million offer sheet back in July 2007.

It was a big salary for a guy who only had one good season — something Oiler fans will never forget.

Ever since he was signed as an Oiler, Penner has done it all for the copper and blue. He’s played on the first line one night, played on the fourth line another night, and then he watches a few games from the press box. Maybe he had to diversify to earn his annual $4.25 million.

Penner was the Tin Man and Fat Albert all rolled into one in Craig MacTavish’s eyes, and everybody knew about it.

The coach would lash out by saying Penner had no heart on the ice and the fact that he’s a lard ass.

Ah, memories.

With training camp only a month or two away, could it get any worse for Penner? Maybe not.

MacTavish is gone. Pat Quinn and Tom Renney are in. And new coaches could mean a new outlook for the troubled left-winger.

Penner might also play like a man on a mission each game as he may have something to prove to Oiler fans and to prove how wrong MacT was in lashing out at him.

Who knows? But he does have 4.25 million reasons to not suck down pop and inhale cheeseburgers this summer. Everyone in the City of Champions knows that.

Monday, July 27, 2009

You were screwed by Heatley. Now show some balls!

Getting a massive coaching team assembled was a step in the right direction this summer for the Oilers and so was the move to solidify its goaltending situation for at least the next three to five years.

Locking Denis Grebeshkov to a one-year $3 million contract was also a smart move.

But acting desperate to lure a malcontent hockey star all summer long is embarrassing.

Dany Heatley obviously doesn’t want to play here, nor does he want to play with his teammates in Ottawa.

Heatley wants to be with a contending hockey team, a team like the San Jose Sharks where GM Doug Wilson wants to make a major shakeup with his roster.

His mind is set and his silence says it all. Heatley hasn’t gone public about his actions up to this point because he’s scared about pissing off Canadian hockey fans, especially in Alberta.

But Kevin Lowe, Steve Tambellini and company are obviously not good at taking any hints and they should have bruises on their knees with the amount of begging they have done this summer.

Flying to Kelowna to Heatley’s summer home was fine to avoid a looming deadline back in July 1, but to pay someone money to deliver a video package last week to his agent is absolutely absurd.

The video was supposed to show off players like Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner, according to Dan Barnes with the Edmonton Journal last week.

That same DVD is more than likely unopened as it continues to sit on Heatley’s kitchen counter.

He probably hasn’t had time to watch it. He’s too busy riding his motorboat in the Okanagan or he’s too busy shooting hockey pucks into an empty net in his backyard.

They would have been better off sending the 40-plus goal scorer a soother with an Oilers logo on it.


Instead of begging, Tambellini should ring him out in front of the press. Show some balls for Pete’s sake.

This player has strung along two NHL teams. He demanded a trade, but he has a list of preferred teams like a six-year-old’s Christmas wish list for Santa.

And guess what? Edmonton is not on his list.

Fans are fed up about the saga, so after trying to please a spoiled rotten NHL superstar, it’s time Tambellini should go to the fans and say “we’re sorry we couldn’t lure Heatley, and here’s why…”

There are other teams out there looking to unload talent because of the salary cap and the economic situation. Why focus on one player this whole time?

Time to move on.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Time to stop the shit from hitting the fan

Things haven’t been brewing that much at all in the Oil Patch and, quite frankly, there’s a bunch of cobwebs still inside the patch ever since Pat Quinn and company were hired. That was a long time ago.

A lot — and I mean a lot — has happened to me personally in the last little while, however.

My wife and I lost our condo to a flood three months ago and we are still trying to get back into it.

I lost my media job, I am contemplating another career path and I feel like shit is really starting to hit the fan in my life. And when I mean shit, I mean elephant shit.

I haven’t been interested in tapping anything on my computer or publishing anything since I was let go from Metro in their last wave of downsizing — it’s been tough.

And just when Steve Tambellini might cheer me up in luring a superstar in Danny Heatley, another selfish player decides the City of Champions is not a destination to play hockey. Same old story over and over again.


I feel like I have just been shit-rolled on Whyte Avenue or kicked in the groin continuously by a group of angry teens.

But now it’s now time to get on my feet and I have just decided to do just that tonight. Maybe this blog will go somewhere or it will take me in a new path? Who knows?

I just hope you read it and maybe telling others about it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A coaching decision is made and wow, what a deal!

There’s a lot to chew on after today, and there’s a lot of Oiler fans that more than likely feel the same way.

And so it begins.

Hiring Pat Quinn as head coach is a step in the right direction for all the right reasons. The World Junior Hockey Tournament this year proved he can lead a team with young players and he has enough experience to get job done in making sure his veteran players are at the top of their game, no matter what the score is.

Quinn, who began his hockey career during the late 1960s as a junior in Edmonton, demands a sense of respect in the dressing room and he gets it with every team he has coached.

When he calls the shots, the players will listen — something that didn’t happen this season under Craig MacTavish all because players like Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky gave up on him.

There has never been a season where a captain has called so many player-only meetings until now, but with this shocking announcement, that’s now all in the past.

However, with a guy like Quinn, who is desperately wanting to win a Stanley Cup before he retires, he will change a player’s work ethic.

And while Quinn demands respect and enforces work ethic, he will get the help from another great hire — Tom Renney.

Renney is a technical coach, an Xs and Os bench boss who spends a lot of time with his key players to set them straight, just ask Sean Avery this season.

The New York Rangers never should have fired him in the first place, but he’s decided to take up an assistant position with the Oilers for at least a few seasons before Quinn retires. You would have to be a pretty humble guy to do something like that.

Overall, it’s obviously a one-two coaching punch for the Oil, but a big move was promoting Kelly Buchburger as an assistant. Bucky is respected around the league for working with young and talented players.

Charlie Huddy and Bill Moores are out as assistant coaches and that shouldn’t be surprise considering how awful the Oilers were on the powerplay and the penalty kill.

But GM Steve Tambellini has said the two could be offered position within the organization, possibly as scouts.

When it’s all said and done, Tambellini has assembled a massive coaching staff and he’s already proved that he alone calls the shots — not Kevin Lowe.

Now he has to focus on the draft and free-agency, but with the revamped coaching staff, don’t expect to see star players coming to Edmonton in July.

Tambellini told the Oil Patch that it will nearly be status quo on that front, and there will be more details about it in this blog tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Pat Quinn named Oilers head coach

Here's the skinny! The Oilers have hired Pat Quinn as head coach while Tom Renney are Kelly Buchburger are hired as assistants. Charlie Huddy and Bill Moores are out of the coaching staff.

Stay tuned later tonight on what the GM Steve Tambellini said and it may shock you!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Don't spill the Kool-Aid

“Oh yeah!”

A blogger has crashed through a wall and spilled the Kool-Aid by creating an Internet firestorm all over the fact that he’s angry about whether or not TSN’s Darren Dreger pulls trade rumours out of his “ass.”

The site, which is obviously by an L.A. Kings fan, believes Dreger was making things up when he reported that the Montreal Canadians and the his Kings are contenders for Vincent Lecavalier.

The blogger, who identifies himself as “Bozo the Blogger” and uses a Kool-Aid profile pic, verbally contradicts everything that Dregs says, even the suggestion that the Kings are interested in shipping defenseman Jack Johnson for the superstar forward.

I don’t even understand why he wrote it and it didn’t make a lot of sense.

Rumours are rumours, but they always make headlines.

Now go and drink your Kool-Aid.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Forget Ales, trade Horcoff!

Trade Ales Hemsky? Fuggetaboutit.

Trade Shawn Horcoff, a player set to make an astounding $6.5 million this season? Now you’re talking.

But any owner with a strong business sense would ignore any pitch from Steve Tambellini to ditch the Oilers top-line forward and his big contract.

That is, unless you’re in Tampa Bay where there are two financially-strapped owners dealing with a much larger contract and they need to do it in an awful hurry if they don’t find any more investors.

OK Hockey, led by businessmen Oren Koules and Len Barrie, bought the Lightning back in June for $206 million and $100 million of that cash was backed by the previous owner, Palace Sports Entertainment and Galatioto Sports Partners.

And since the deal, there’s been a lot of talk that things are not going well in the Bay.

For starters, the club, allegedly, began charging its workers to park at the St. Pete Times Forum and 30 employees were let go over a “restructuring process,” reports the Tampa Bay Tribune.

The team also owes at least more than $210,000 in realty taxes over a parking lot that was due since April 1, and the financial problems have created a ton of rumours, especially around the team’s star forward, Vinny Lecavalier.

Lecavalier will make $10 million for the next seven years as part of his $85 million contract extension that will kick in after July 1, complete with a no trade clause.

Now we all heard what Tambellini said about making drastic changes in the dressing room and about holding players accountable as he made his announcement about losing Craig MacTavish as head coach.

Why not make a statement by getting rid of your heart-and-soul player for a superstar, or at least just make an attempt at the NHL Draft? That’s roughly the same time after Tambellini hires a head coach.

Horcoff’s leadership could be an attractive deal in Tampa Bay where leadership is needed in that dressing room, and it could payoff for the forward who could make a difference in a new city. That’s especially after a mediocre season in Edmonton.

Lecavalier, who has been rumoured to arrive in Edmonton before, would add a lot to an offence that hasn’t existed in three seasons.

It’s obvious he would make Hemsky a better player, possibly a superstar.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Let the games begin!

TSN has their prognosticators, but here at the Oil Patch, we have hard-nosed and intellectual rigpigs who’ve devised a list of the top five trade possibilities for the Oilers going into the deadline.

Sources, meanwhile, say GM Steve Tambellini is making some calls there is a chance we could hear about something in terms of a deal by the end of the weekend.

Enjoy the list.

NUMBER FIVE: Marty Reasoner and Boris Valabik from the Atlanta Thrashers.

This trade does seem like small potatoes, but it addresses two key issues with the Edmonton Oilers: face-off productivity and depth on defence.

Coach Craig MacTavish had urged Tambellini and Kevin Lowe to keep Reasoner before the player signed with Atlanta for a $1 million contract last summer.

And there’s a reason why MacT wanted Reasoner, and it shows this season on special teams simply because the Oilers can’t win a face-off. Reasoner was a tough penalty killer and consistent player in the circle.

Valabik is a six-foot-seven gritty and young defenseman on a weak Eastern Conference team. The addition of Valabik would answer the Oilers’ depth issue on the blueline after losing Lubomir Vishnovsky and Denis Grebeshkov to injury.

ASSETS TO GIVE UP: Marc Pouliot, a second round draft pick, and maybe Liam Reddox

NUMBER FOUR: Alex Kovalev from the Montreal Canadians

There’s a train wreck brewing in Montreal and GM Bob Gainey might be busy during the trade deadline because of it.

Not only is he dealing with a public backlash over making Kovalev sit at home for two games, he’s now dealing with a criminal scandal that links Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn and Roman Hamrlik.

With the mess, Gainey could be desperate in shipping out his slumping star forward, and there is some scuttlebutt that Tambellini is interested, says TSN.

Taking Kovalev is a risk, but with Ales Hemsky finding ways to pass him the puck, he might work well in Edmonton.

ASSETS TO GIVE UP: Dustin Penner, or Eric Cole.

NUMBER THREE: Ryan Whitney from the Pittsburg Penguins

The Pittsburg Penguins have a stockpile of defensemen — the Edmonton Oilers, on the other hand, don’t.

Sergei Gonchar is now back on the blueline and the Penguins are out looking to make a deal for some grit to get them back in the hunt.

Don't be surprise if Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero has already called Tambellini a few times in shipping Whitney who happens to be a young and promising blueliner on pace to reach 24 points this season in 49 games.

ASSETS TO GIVE UP: Kyle Brodziak or Marc Pouliot, Steve MacIntyre and a conditional draft pick.

NUMBER TWO: Scott Niedermayer from the Anaheim Ducks

With the economic downturn and the Ducks finally hitting reality with their overpriced talent, it will be sell, sell, sell in Disneyland.

Niedermayer as a rental player will add a potent offence on the blueline that will include a one-two punch with Sheldon Souray. That could be one hell of a powerplay.

Niedermayer’s one-two punch with Oiler nemesis Chris Pronger has turned a little stale as of late. Niedermayer has also struggled offensively in his last seven games all because the team is a mess.

There is no word or info out there that says Niedermayer has a trade clause in his contract, however.

ASSETS TO GIVE UP: The Ducks can have Dustin Penner back and a conditional draft pick or two. If not, they can take Eric Cole and a few draft picks.

NUMBER ONE: Ryan Smyth from the Colorado Avalanche

No, I’m not kidding.

The Colorado Avalanche is another team looking to unload because of the global recession. The problem is GM Francois Giguere has his hands tied because of the clause in Smyth’s contract.

Smyth will choose where he will get traded to and with a different ownership situation in Edmonton now with Daryl Katz as the owner, the City of Champions is suddenly more attractive than when he first left.

Fans saw Smyth when he was traded from Edmonton, especially that infamous teary news conference in the Edmonton International Airport.

It was tough pill to swallow, but with the Oilers on the verge of making the playoffs this season, Smyth might be looking for redemption after helping the Oil in that 2006 playoff run.

And if Tambellini does manage to make a deal, you can guarantee it will have Katz written all over it

The top line will be that much better, especially with Smyth’s skills in front of the net combined with Souray’s slap shot.

ASSETS TO GIVE UP: The Avs can’t take much salary, but they can take Eric Cole or prospect players like Rob Schrempf and/or Robert Nilsson, Marc Pouliot and/or Liam Reddox, along with a first round draft pick.

Back to the Oilers future


Let's hop in the Delorian and set the flux capacitier to 2006, the same year as that memorable playoff run.

Odds are you won’t find many differences between the Edmonton Oilers back then and the current team now.

Around this time in 2006, the Oilers lost four straight, including a lowly 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues, a team that had no shot of playoff contention.

The loss exposed the Oilers, a team that was weak in net with the likes Mike Morrison, Jussi Markkanen and Ty Conklin. They also lacked a scorer to play with Ales Hemsky and Ryan Smyth.

After dropping down the Western Conference standings, then GM Kevin Lowe made some deals, trading for goaltender Dwayne Roloson and Sergei Samsonov.

The deals helped the Oil clinch the last playoff spot and everyone knows what happened next.

The 2006 Edmonton Oilers were 30-20-8 around this time. This year’s team in 29-25-4 after last night’s loss to the Dallas Stars, it’s something pretty similar in my opinion.

In a few hours, log onto the Oil Patch to hear the top five trade possibilities for the Edmonton Oilers.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

An Edmonton exposure

Time to hit the panic button.

Sure the Edmonton Oilers have lost only once in their last four games, and yes, they’re still in the playoff hunt.

But their last three wins were against an injury-depleted Montreal Canadians, a Los Angeles Kings team that’s near the bottom of the Western Conference barrel, and the defensively- struggling Phoenix Coyotes.

Play against a struggling, but strong team like the San Jose Sharks and you’re bound to have potential holes on your roster exposed like a sunburned Canadian in Jamaica.

That 4-2 loss was just that, a total exposure for the Edmonton Oilers.

The Oil had a chance to come out on top late in the second period when they had a two-man advantage, but a fear to shoot the puck cost them.

Too many passes, too much time worrying about looking pretty for those skating babes that clear snow from the ice in San Jose, whatever. Dustin Penner is proving he can’t play on the powerplay, along with not being that powerhouse Kevin Lowe thought he was.

Here’s another hole: face-offs. It's a key ingredient in any powerplay or penalty kill. Other than Shawn Horcoff, the Oil doesn’t have anyone who is consistent on the circle.

A lack of attention in the transition game is another hole and that explains the last goal in the game Joe Thornton scored thanks to a gift of an assist by Oilers forward Marc Pouliot.

Oilers have given up too many opportunities for its opponents by coughing up the puck while getting it out of their own end. No wonder Dwayne Roloson faces about an average of 35 shots a game.

Do the math and it’s obvious. The Oilers need a centre who can win face-offs and who can consistently score goals off of an Ales Hemsky pass.

The Oil also needs a strong, defensive-minded defenseman who can produce some offensive numbers.

Without those two elements in their roster and the dead weight that’s there now, forget about the playoff hockey in Edmonton.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

In case you missed it

Want to know why Tomas Plekanec got two games? Here's you answer.

It looks innocent at first, but Plekanec was lazy with his stick. A lazy play in a 7-2 defeat.

Time to rule the Kings

With a 2-0 loss to the Calgary Flames Thursday night, the Los Angeles Kings will not be a team that will roll over twice at home this afternoon.

Jarret Stoll’s Kings are also three points behind the Oilers and the Oilers are one point away from Minnesota and Columbus for that last playoff spot.

The Oilers are also without Denis Grebeshkov who was injured at Wednesday night’s tilt against Montreal. Theo Peckham will take his place.

With a 7-2 win at home, the Oilers can’t get back to playing inconsistent hockey on the road — they can’t afford to anymore.

That will depend on their powerplay that improved considerably against Montreal thanks to Shawn Horcoff owning the faceoff circle.

Dwayne Roloson is going to start between the pipes for the 11th straight game, while Jonathan Quick, who as been strong in his last 18 games, will get the nod for the Kings.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Taking a time out

I know there are cobwebs in this blog, but bear with me. I have a full time job so it's pretty tough to get a handle on things. I did watch highlights of the last game and it was good. The team looks well, but we still need to make some deals.

I will have some more goodies for you in the Oil Patch soon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More wiggle room! What?

Oilers GM Steve Tambellini suddenly has some more options thanks to Lubomir Vishnovsky who is gone for the rest of the season.

The player's torn labrum could force Tambellini to place Vishnovsky on the injured reserve list, freeing up roughly $3.5 million in cap space.

Can you say, "Vicent Lecavalier?"

But those dreams of getting solid talent could turn into nightmares for fans, including myself, if they don't turn things around soon.

Let's not get ready to rumble

Forget about seeing a slugfest between Steve MacIntyre and Montreal Canadians enforcer George Laraque tonight, reports the Edmonton Journal.

That’s because Craig MacTavish might not play his enforcer as he was not seen in a lineup during Tuesday’s practice.

MacT might pair up Zack Stortini, Kyle Brodziak and Liam Reddox tonight on the fourth line and Stortini isn’t the right guy to drop the gloves against the Laraque, a former Oiler tough guy.

But forget about fights, how about defence tonight?

Montreal was shellacked at the hands of the Calgary Flames in a 6-2 defeat — a tilt that was rife with turnovers. The loss resulted in a players only meeting after the game.

The Habs have also been struggling as of late, and the Oilers should expect players like struggling Alexei Kovalev to up their games.

The Oilers must come out large on the face-off circle and they need to out hit. I might be wrong, but they only had roughly 10 hits in their loss to Minnesota.

A loss tonight also puts them further away from a playoff race and an inch closer to finding a new coach.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Dawes and Rozsival deal in the works? Hmm...

This first post ever for this blog is going to be a blog bombshell.

After learning there is no truth in seeing Jaromir Jagr escape the financially strapped Kootinental Hockey League in Russia to play in an Oilers unnie this season, don’t think for a second GM Steve Tambellini doesn't have something cooking.

And after doing the math, this transaction is waiting to happen.

With struggling to strike deals for more good talent all season, Tambellini is going to Manhattan to talk to Kevin Lowe’s old friend, Glen Sather.

We’ll give up some baggage — Rob Schremp, Kyle Brodziak, Marc Pouliot — for a speedy forward who isn’t afraid to bang it up along the boards for a forecheck and a defenseman who could replace injured Lubomir Vishnovsky who is reportedly gone for the rest of season.

What we’ll get in return from the New York Rangers is defenseman Michal Rozsival and forward Nigel Dawes and no, I’m not drunk.

Rozsival has 13 points this season — nine of those points are goals, a good support to fill that role with Sheldon Souray.

Dawes only has 16 points in 43 games this season as I am tapping this post, but he’s fast, he hits, he dangles, and it’s only his second season in the NHL for the former WHL standout.

Under Craig MacTavish’s system, Dawes is the type of player that would thrive in Edmonton.

He would work well in a line with Fernando Pisani who is close to coming back. He’s already skating.

The Oil are neck-and-neck with the Vancouver Canucks for the last playoff spot, and if team continues to tank over the next three games, you can forget about the trade ever happening because Tambellini will sell, sell, sell.