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.

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