Finding the Switch (Ten Years After)

This is Miro Satan. One of the truly hilarious quotes from Ron Low was this about one season after Satan had been dealt:
“He could always score but he was a very streaky scorer. We’ve got streaky scorers here too, but they’re all streaking the wrong way. Miro’s become a lot more complete player there than here, like a lot of young players.” Thanks, Ron. At least you were honest.

Satan, who from all reports is a reasonable fellow, had this response those long years ago: “He (Ron Low) wasn’t confident in me and I wasn’t able to convince him to be that way. Once you get an opinion about somebody it’s hard to change them.” Amen, Miro.

The best quote on the story comes from Darcy Regier, who made off with the loot for Buffalo. He said “With young players there’s a window of opportunity, especially ones with skill. You don’t know if you’ll be able to help them find the switch in time before the window closes. Some make it, some don’t … some just squeeze through and that’s the game we all play.”

I think the Oilers do a much better job of playing that game now than they did a decade ago. First of all, a note on Satan. He wasn’t a “Rob Schremp” type, a guy who was putting up solid but unspectacular numbers. He was kicking the living crap out of the minor leagues early on (24 goals in 25 AHL games at age 20) and he scored in his first trip to the majors (18 goals in 95-96 with the Oildrop).

The 1995-96 season had a major impact on the decade that would follow for the Oilers. Ron Low, Glen Sather, Bruce MacGregor, Barry Fraser and the others involved in procurement and evaluation had managed to gather a lot of young talent. The key of course is to keep the right people, send away players who don’t make it for useful parts and move the battle forward.

Let’s list the forwards on the major league roster who were 25 and under:

  1. Doug Weight (24) 82gp, 25-79-104
  2. Zdeno Ciger (25) 78gp, 31-39-70
  3. Jason Arnott (20) 64gp, 28-31-59
  4. David Oliver (24) 80gp, 20-19-39
  5. Todd Marchant (22) 81gp, 19-19-38
  6. Miro Satan (20) 62gp, 18-17-35
  7. Dean McAmmond (22) 53gp, 15-15-30
  8. Marius Czerkawski (23) 37gp, 12-17-29
  9. Scott Thornton (24) 77gp, 9-9-18
  10. Ryan Smyth (19) 48gp, 2-9-11
  11. Kent Manderville (24) 37gp, 3-5-8
  12. Louie DeBrusk (24) 38gp, 1-3-4
  13. Ralph Intranuovo (21) 13gp, 1-2-3
  14. Jason Bonsignore (19) 20gp, 0-2-2
  15. Tyler Wright (22) 23gp, 1-0-1
  16. Dennis Bonvie (22) 8gp, 0-0-0

I didn’t include Kirt Maltby (going) or David Roberts (coming) because it always gets confusing when you use half-seasons and player who were traded for each other. Okay. Do you know about these players? Maybe I should just do a real quick thumbnail sketch on each just to make sure we’re on the same page. Good?

  • Doug Weight: Excellent playmaker, intense as a young NHLer. He once belted Dmitri Yuskevich so hard the Russian went over the boards and when Garry Galley came to his aid Weight split him open with his stick. He was no Nancy boy, but he was a beauty player with leadership skills upon arrival. Weight had done his early development work in the NHL by the time he arrived in Edmonton.
  • Zdeno Ciger: Oilers got him from the Devils because he was on Peter Stastny’s line and wouldn’t shoot the puck. He had size and skated pretty well but wasn’t tough or anything. Oilers got him for Bernie Nicholls at a time when they were just gathering players who were young and might be something.
  • Jason Arnott: That first season was magic, maybe the best rookie season ever by an Oiler. Arnott displayed many of the skills we’d see later in that first season, but we soon found out he also had a penchant for injury and a reputation of entitlement. A gifted player but not a perfect fit.
  • David Oliver: He was a goal scorer who had a lot of success in college. The Oilers made effective use of him on the powerplay. Oliver had good size but wasn’t a banger.
  • Todd Marchant: Marchant was a good center when the Oilers had a bunch of good young ones who were just ahead of him. But he had blazing speed and he could score some.
  • Miro Satan: A great natural talent who had lapses in terms of effort and wasn’t a fabulous pupil. He was very streaky and played for an Oiler team with plenty of options when he was in a slump.
  • Dean McAmmond: He was a nice prospect (a role player on the ’93 WJC team for Canada), lots of speed and some skill but there were injuries early on (back troubles). He was gritty and could score goals in bunches.
  • Marius Czerkawski: He was in the group of LW’s (Marchant, McAmmond, Satan) trying to establish themselves but was a little older. Czerkawski was a good offensive player but one dimensional, probably the most one dimensional player on the team. There were also rumblings about contract troubles.
  • Scott Thornton: He was part of the famous Anderson/Fuhr-Damphousse trade. Thronton was a checker and a role player, a gritty winger who made himself useful.
  • Ryan Smyth: He scored 91 goals his last two seasons of junior, he played motivated and early on he got results in the NHL (20 PP goals and a nice post-season in the year we’re discussing). Ryan Smyth was a crowd favorite very early on.
  • Kent Manderville: Famous to Oiler fans as the guy Calgary drafted the summer they won the Stanley (all of the hockey magazines featured the Flames all summer long) and he was a player who used size and speed to create energy. He was overwhelmed on this list in terms of offensive talent.
  • Louie DeBrusk: He was an enforcer. Good size and he could run people through cement. Had some memorable bouts.
  • Ralph Intranuovo: Cogliano without the jam. He used to do this curl inside the blueline, did it every time I saw him. Never drove to the net, ever. He was a talented player though. Small, good speed. Killed AHL pitching.
  • Jason Bonsignore: A big finesse center who was more pass than shoot. He came with great expectations because of his draft number. The truth is, unlike pretty much all of the others here, I never got a feel for him as a player. I remember seeing him but he was one of those “also in photo” players. Nothing much seemed to happen. But he was highly touted, I mean they talked him up real good. Earned the nickname “Bonsign-snore”.
  • Tyler Wright: He was a fun player as a youngster. Played with an edge (despite being average or a little undersized) and he had speed so buzzed around the ice all night. He had a sputtering, Pouliot-type start to his career and injuries were a factor early on too.
  • Dennis Bonvie: He wasn’t an NHL player or anything, but I always liked him. Tough guy, hard worker, did everything asked. Fought a lot, ended up setting PIM records.

Okay, I think that’s it. Using Darcy Regier’s profound quote above (“with young players there’s a window of opportunity, especially ones with skill. You don’t know if you’ll be able to help them find the switch in time before the window closes. Some make it, some don’t … some just squeeze through and that’s the game we all play”) and using hindsight it’s much easier these years gone to grade Sather on performance.

Now, you have to remember that we Oiler fans had just seen the dismantling of a dynasty. You can live with dealing Coffey or Linseman or even Gretzky when the Stanley’s continue to roll but you’re never going to win those deals and when the Messier trade came down (imo) the Oilers handed the keys to greatness right along with them.

So I was never on board with Sather from the Messier deal forward. I mean, looking back these are fine players and when you have no money and are trading Tikkanen and MacTavish getting back Weight and Marchant is just about as good as it gets. But I’ll tell you buddy it sure as hell didn’t feel like it at the time.

So, if we’re going to use our hindsight let’s make three lists: A-List, role players and bait:

  • A-List: Doug Weight, Jason Arnott, Ryan Smyth, Miro Satan.
  • Role Players: Ciger, Marchant, McAmmond, Czerkaswski, Thornton, Wright
  • Bait: Oliver, Manderville, DeBrusk, Intranuovo, Bonsignore, Bonvie

You’d like to see the GM keep the A-Train, allow the coach to find the useful role players and weed out the rest, and bait can be used to fill out the roster and be dealt when something better comes along or someone has a specific need and is willing to overpay a little.

Sather traded Arnott because the town was eating him up (and I’m not lying here, when Arnott left he was called everything from spoiled to lazy and every time he said anything it made things worse) but got a nice return. He blew it on Satan big time (especially because Satan wasn’t shopped, we know this from interviews after the fact. Sather wanted the players he got in return) but the coach was the real culprit in that battle.

I think we need to give him credit for getting max return on people like Bonsignore and others. If there’s a quibble the organization didn’t give Tyler Wright enough of a shot but that’s probably just me being a fan. I do know they didn’t get enough in return for him.

We also need to understand that while these kids were gifted, re-signing them was a bear. After the Adam Graves fiasco (don’t ask, it’s too painful) Edmonton would often deal off guys who might be contract hassles before they needed to just because Sather needed to bodies. I don’t know how you quantify it but this was a factor.

Bottom line in all of this is that by the late ’90s Edmonton was in some classic playoff series and although the Weight Oilers never won a damn thing the table was set for the 2000s. A team with Weight-Smyth-Guerin at the top, a checking line (Marchant-Moreau-Grier) that could do some things and some nice role players plus some pretty good prospects (Horcoff arrived fall 2000).

Now, I said at the top somewhere that imo the Oilers are handling this “finding the switch” deal with kids better now than they used to. I think there was a point when the Oilers changesd their way of doing business and I think it was Mike Comrie. Since Comrie, if there’s any issue of maturity the organization falls into snail-pace and waits for the kid to mature. They fast-tracked Hemsky and Gagner but they (like Ryan Smyth above) were unique talents.

I’ll have a follow-up to this post in the future, with specific attention to Lowe’s tenure before the lockout. I have some questions for you:

  1. Did Sather do his job after the Messier trade? Did he re-stock the cupboard?
  2. Did Lowe use the assets wisely?

Thanks in advance.

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80 Responses to "Finding the Switch (Ten Years After)"

  1. HBomb says:

    All I’ll say is this – I may not be a MacT fan, but he’s a hundred times the coach/hockey mind that Ron Low is.

    Satan couldn’t fit on the 3rd line, so he got traded. That’s what it came down to, and lordy it looks stupid in hindsight.

    All those occcasions between about 1999 and, well, now, begging for a one-shot scorer to magically fall into the Oilers possession, when they had one and dealt him for Barrie Millar and Craig Moore.

    I don’t mind what Sather did in terms of replenishing the cupboard, but the procurement department, lead by Senor Fraser….good lord they were lousy. Joe Hulbig? Bonsignoire? Kelly over Doan (not to mention another local prduct named Iginla)? Heinrich? Rita? And then, in the final insult, Mikhnov two picks ahead of Alex Frolov in 2000?

    What an awful decade draft-wise – lots of top half of the first round draft picks, and all they had to show for it really was Arnott and the subsequent returns (which, in essence, includes the guy currently wearing 83 for the Oilers, thanks to the “pick swap” option included in the Guerin to Boston trade), and a fantastic decade from Ryan Smyth.

    As for Lowe’s use of the assets – many good moves, but the Weight trade was underwhelming and the whole Pronger deal simply was not good enough of a return (especially if Cole, who is an offshoot of the Lupul return, walks for nothing on July 1st), even if Riley Nash and Jordan Eberle pan out. Between the Pronger trade and letting good cheap assets like Hejda and Glencross walk away while overrating aging players like Moreau and Staios and giving them undeserved long-term extensions, not to mention the whole Smyth debacle and subsequent signing of Penner….Lowe’s performance since June 19, 2006 has been mediocre (although things like the Visnovsky trade help salvage his reputation a bit – issues with faceoffs notwithstanding, they got an elite defenseman for two players that theoretically should be easily replicated and replaced from some other source – the problem is that they’ve failed to do that….)

  2. Coach pb9617 says:

    1. Did Sather do his job after the Messier trade? Did he re-stock the cupboard?

    Asset Management:
    From a blinders view, no. With a frame of reference, yes. I don’t think there’s a GM on the planet that could have done better.

    Scouting and Draft:
    1996 was a a decent year, but backwards. Devereaux, Poti, Pisani.
    1997 was a complete bust
    1998 was the crusher. It was one of the deepest drafts ever and the Oilers got Horcoff. That’s it.
    1999 was a complete bust.

    So he did a really nice job getting a return given his situation, but then destroyed the franchise by not supporting those assets with draft pieces.

    2. Did Lowe use the assets wisely?

    Pre-cap, Lowe was excellent in asset management and poor on the draft board. Post cap, he’s been average in asset management and much better on the draft board.

    Again a two-part answer, in my mind. I think Lowe has always done well, extremely well, to get return out of his salary and/or personality dumps, but I think he’s fared poorly when actively seeking assets, if that makes any sense. When he’s under the gun he must talk like a combination of a snake-oil salesman and carnival barker. No matter what anyone says, even when people know they have his balls in a sling, he gets a return.

    Fans have nailed him to the to the wall for Pronger, but honestly, every GM in the league knew that Pronger had screwed Brent Gretzky’s German Shepard and Pronger’s wife wanted him as far away from that bitch as possible. Lowe, caught in the midst of the puppy lovin’ scandal had to get rid of him and ended up with a nice return given the circumstances.

    So I think in the end, Sather was an average GM after the Mess trade and Lowe has been an average GM since.

  3. hunter1909 says:

    I always remember equating the post Messier Oiler’s having a guy named SATAN playing for them as a bad sign.

  4. Schitzo says:

    So I think in the end, Sather was an average GM after the Mess trade and Lowe has been an average GM since.

    15 years of 8th and 9th seeds would seem to support this theory.

  5. godot10 says:

    Sather had no bargaining power in the Messier trade. He wanted to be sure that Gretzky and Messier would NEVER be reunited in LA, and there was no team except the Rangers whom he could trade Messier to to guarentee that.

  6. Lowetide says:

    Fine. Then get better players. Look, I don’t care what anyone says, Messier was the last freaking piece and they needed to get a replacement for him, a new leader.

    Bernie Nicholls was a real nice hockey player. But for Messier? No damn way. Work out a three-way deal if need be, whatever.

    I’ve heard it was a cash deal, I’ve heard Messier got to pick his spot, I’ve heard every damn thing in the book.

    Don’t care. They got more for Tikkanen.

  7. Asiaoil says:

    Don’t torture yourself with this history LT – the late 80s Oilers were one of the worst tear-downs of a successful pro franchise ever. Be thankful for the 5 cups but God damn the lot of them – Puck, Slats and the rest.

  8. hunter1909 says:

    Pocklington I’ve always liked.

    Without him, there would have been no Gretzky, and no dynasty.


  9. hunter1909 says:

    All I can say about the Messier trade is, I never played organised hockey again afterward. And even though I was certain I’d never stand a cat’s chance in hell of going much further, at that time and for my age I was a pretty good goal suck and overall team loudmouth.

    It’s one of the most sickening things I ever had to put up with.

    Messier was the heart and soul of the Oilers. More than Gretzky. And he only wanted out because the team was going nowhere, and didn’t give a fuck anymore.

    Bernie fucking Nicholls lol.

  10. Jonathan says:

    Peter Pocklington’s a jackass (And in the news once more – couldn’t happen to a nicer guy). I’m amazed anyone can say anything nice about him.

    Did Lowe do a good job with his assets? I think Lowe did a great job dumping his lousy prospects for useful stuff, and a bad job dealing off established players for good stuff. Outside of the Guerin (and subsequent Carter) trade, I can’t remember the last time Lowe got full value for an established star. Mironov, Weight, Smyth, Pronger… I realize he wasn’t going to get a one-for-one swap, but in each case he brought back a bunch of fringe players and busted prospects in the deal.

  11. hunter1909 says:

    I can say plenty nice about Pocklington.

    Starting with, thanks for bringing Gretzky to the Oilers.

  12. hunter1909 says:

    That’s the problem with frontier towns like Edmonton. The movers and shakers more often than not tend to be riverboat gambler types, who made their fortunes on the back of a few shady deals.

    Having said that, most fortunes are made off of the back of a few shady deals.

    It’s just more commonly aknowedged on the frontier, than in the older more established places.

  13. Lowetide says:

    Hunter: Are you serious? He held the town hostage!! Sure he brought 99, and then he ran over everyone from city council to the bank in a 10-year romp.

    No one can do the things he did to Edmonton without a tremendous amount of contempt for everyday people.

  14. hunter1909 says:

    Lowetide: My memories are from a adolescent’s perspective. They’re not necessarily going to make a whole lot of sense to the rational viewer.

    All I do know, is that without the son of a bitch I’d never have seen the greatest club team imaginable 50x

  15. Lowetide says:

    Hunter: I love this team. Too much. Really. I should have a cleaner house and my wife is a saint and all that.

    The ONLY guy who ever owned the Oilers who routinely threatened the fanbase was Pocklington. The EIG had their moments and were a funny bunch, Katz looks like he’s too hands on.

    Pocklington? I’m surprised he didn’t show up at my house with a gun and a freaking balaclava over his head.

    God knowsn he did everything else.

  16. mc79hockey says:

    At the risk of giving everyone a stroke, I can see where hunter is coming from here. Pocklington’s mistake was that, after about 1983, he didn’t mature into being a bastion of the community. He’d made his fortune (I don’t know enough local history to know whether it was real money or illusory). If he’d just sort of settled down at that time and conducted himself as a leading member of the community instead of as a cowboy, nobody would remember a lot of the earlier stuff. Instead, as I understand things, he just kept on going the way that he’d gone all along.

    Tough to say one way or another. He lived by the deal and, ultimately, died by the deal. If his fatal flaw is what allowed him to enjoy such success, maybe he never could have been anything else. Like I say though, I can see where Hunter’s coming from.

    Re: LT’s list. Marchant probably deserves to be on the A-list. 1000 games is a 1000 games and he played tough minutes for a lot of them.

  17. hunter1909 says:


    Soon after the Messier trade my family split up and I was thrown into a world of chaos that I’ll probably be dealing with at least on some levels with for the rest of my life.

    As sickeningly precocious as I might have been at that time, fourteen year olds rarely if ever(probably never) make the rational decisions necessary for comprehensive thought.

    Like I already said, no matter what a jackass old Peter Puck might be, he never did anything to me. Except give me a hockey team to follow that will still be getting talked up when I’m dead and buried.

    Someone needs to start archiving some of those games that were recorded, before the inevitable fire destroys every trace of the past.

  18. Coach pb9617 says:

    ocklington’s mistake was that, after about 1983, he didn’t mature into being a bastion of the community….

    …Instead, as I understand things, he just kept on going the way that he’d gone all along.

    He got worse. Much worse. it’s like he was born on Ork. The older he got, the childish, petulant and thrown to tantrums he got.

  19. MikeP says:

    I saw Bonsignore play live a couple or three of times, in the A with Georges Laraque, Jesse Belanger, Terance Sandwidth, Dennis Bonvie, etc. Every time was against the Fredericton Baby Habs, so I also got to see Jose Theodore a couple of times.

    With JBon, you could tell the talent was there. He did some great things with the puck and showed vision. You could also tell the work ethic wasn’t really there, not all the time. When the going got tough, he got going – the other way. The stars of the games I watched were guys like Bonvie and Belanger, never good news when there’s a high first rounder on the ice.

  20. hunter1909 says:

    Just look at an old pop star like Elton John and you see what happens to anyone who is surrounded by syncophants on a long term basis.

    They don’t mature at all.

    If anything, they regress.

  21. oilerdago says:

    My two cents will probably reflect that of others.

    Lowe does a poor job of getting back equal value for top notch talent (Weight, Pronger, Smyth). He has that quality for quantity philosophy and it’s yielded some useful parts, but that’s not the same.

    In regards to “B” level talent (role players), I think he’s been well above average. The role players/draft picks sent away to get Roli, Pronger, Spacek were good. Picking up Garon, Glencross and others over the last 8 years have shown he’s adept at filling holes – which makes the issues with the current roster more frustrating.

    What I think is very hard is being able to re-build a team. Building it once is not hard – a lot of GM’s (Sather among them) have done that. Staying near the top long-term – you have Detroit and NJ to some extend and that’s it.

    Re-stocking a team without completely cratering is very hard, just as it is to re-stock and win (the rules for the old Montreal teams were finally re-written so they could not have an unlevel playing field).

    That said, I do think the Oil were on the way to a good re-build in the late 90′s but the salary structure of the NHL did not enable small market teams to keep top level assets.

    While I do think we have some quality assets, I think we have too many youngsters and we badly need to make a move like the 1980 Islander’s did and get a “Butch Goring” type for some young guys who can show them how to win.

  22. MikeP says:

    Is any GM successful when he trades away a player of star-calibre? Star-for-star trades are pretty rare. Look at the return for Joe Thornton, for instance.

  23. Coach pb9617 says:

    Lowe does a poor job of getting back equal value for top notch talent (Weight, Pronger, Smyth). He has that quality for quantity philosophy and it’s yielded some useful parts, but that’s not the same.

    Can you name a GM that has done this? A GM that has consistently, not just once, received an equal return on top-notch talent?

    I think that the majority of the hockey world judges their own GM in a vacuum, as if they are the only ones that can’t get value. But I can go back through a large number of transactions where A flight talent is being moved, but I’m finding it rare that equal return comes back. Not rare that a GM is consistent, rare that it EVER happens. EVER.

    So it’s possible that rather than grading a GM on a straight scale for getting return on A flight talent, there should be a curve, based on past results instituted.


    Chris Pronger for Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smid, first-round pick in the 2007 draft, a 2008 second-round pick and a conditional draft choice.

    to the following:

    Jaromir Jagr for Kris Beech, Michal Sivek and Ross Lupaschuk

    Jeremy Roenick for Aleksei Zhamnov, Craig Mills, and a first-round selection

    Keith Tkachuk for wingers Michael Handzus, Ladislav Nagy, Jeff Taffe and a first-round draft choice.

    Ron Francis, Ulf Samuelsson, Grant Jennings for Jeff Parker, Zarley Zalapski, and John Cullen.

    Brad Richards and Johan Holmqvist to Dallas for Mike Smith, Jeff Halpern, Jussi Jokinen and a draft choice.

    There are pages more of these, but in each case, the team holding the more valued piece can’t get return, and how are they supposed to?

    There are a few examples where trades bring return (usually involving Keith Tkachuk), but they are few and far between.

  24. Coach pb9617 says:

    Is any GM successful when he trades away a player of star-calibre? Star-for-star trades are pretty rare. Look at the return for Joe Thornton, for instance.

    What this guy said in many, many few words than I.

  25. oilerdago says:

    Coach and Mike,

    So let’s see then. If I buy your argument that getting something top-notch back for “A” talent is very rare, do we then give Lowe (and by way of that) Sather a pass for not doing better?

    Not trying to be a jerk, just askign where you put the marker.

  26. Matt N says:

    I think that Lowe got a very good return from NYI for 20 games of Smyth.

  27. Coach pb9617 says:

    So let’s see then. If I buy your argument that getting something top-notch back for “A” talent is very rare, do we then give Lowe (and by way of that) Sather a pass for not doing better?

    Nope, but I think that the definition of a “good” return for A talent must be established, and can’t stay a concept in each fan’s head because he can make that trade on Eastside Hockey Manager. And it certainly can’t be an “A for A” return, because at no point in hockey history has A for A been the norm for the market.

    Off of a gut feeling from following this stuff for way too many years, my initial stake in the ground for a return on A talent, that the market will bare and has borne is:

    A: B, C, pick, pick
    A: B, B, pick

    I’d LOVE to see a study on it. Maybe take the top couple of hundred players to be traded and look at return and go from there. However, I know that A:A is not a possibility and judging a GM by that scale isn’t logically fair.

    If you look at the “great traders” of all time, they made their living bringing in top talents for a collection of stuff. There are no “great traders” that traded away stars. There’s a reason for that.

  28. Vic Ferrari says:


    I remember you being less forgiving of Barry Weaver back in the day on OilFans, never understood that.

    Pocklington was something other than a legitmate businessman from day one. I don`t know the guy personally, but it surprises me that Peter hasn`t met his maker in Florida in a random robbery in a bad neighbourhood.

    Surely in all of the parallel universes this has already happened. There Hunter1909 noted that Peter`s watch was taken and rolled his eyes at the lawless US of A, Lowetide wondered what he was doing there in the first place (drug habit?) but kept silent. That`s just the way it works.

    For Christmas sakes, it`s the “committed suicide in a Paris hotel room” of the new world.

    Yet somehow Peter is still ticking. Incredible. He`s crossed swords with lots of people, he`s just been dead lucky I suppose. None of my business, it`s still curious though.

  29. Lowetide says:

    Coach: Bill James did just that thing years ago in one of his abstracts. He have each season a value for each player (MVP-18, Marginal player-4 and everything in between) and then had a 5-year limit (or some such) because if Riley Nash turns out it’s nice but I don’t know how much it’ll have to do with the Pronger trade when it happens.

    So, if someone is going to do the study that’s a starting point.

  30. Tyler says:

    I remember you being less forgiving of Barry Weaver back in the day on OilFans, never understood that.

    I don’t remember this, so it’s hard to comment on it one way or another. I can’t remember when I would have said anything about Barry Weaver, other than about Skyreach buying the naming rights, which seemed to make sense to me.

    To clarify, I’m not trying to suggest that I’m forgiving or not forgiving of Pocklington. He was done with the Oilers by the time that I was 18 or so and I honestly don’t know a whole hell of a lot about him, other than he was one of those wheeler dealer types who make me uncomfortable.

    I took hunter1909 as saying that a lot of guys make a pile of money doing things that don’t look particularly nice when held up to the light. A guy like Boots Del Biaggio, if it had all held together, maybe he gets away with it and ends up being a “legit” member of the mega-rich.

    For some of them, they make their fortunes, dial things back a bit and behave like wealthy benevolent citizens. For whatever reason, the source of their wealth then tends to be forgotten. Any chicanery disappears into history. My understanding is that hunter1909 suggesting that, at some point in time, this could well have been the route that Puck decided to take.

    Of course, he didn’t do that. Maybe today he wishes he did. To the extent that he is saying that that was an option for Pocklington, I agree with him.

    I can see why Peter Newman got himself addicted to writing books about these people. They’re probably all fascinating characters. Even a guy like Cal Nichols, who I’m not particularly fond of because I think that he knew how to use the media to his own ends and that he benefitted from a soft ride from them and who is, from everything I’ve ever heard, an absolutely honest guy to have business dealings with, there’s probably a great story to be told about him.

    He’s probably not vain enough (and probably too smart) to give someone smart enough unfettered access though. Shame.

  31. Coach pb9617 says:

    LT, I’m not trying to judge the merit of any trade because I know that the return is rarely as good or better or ends as such.

    I’d just like to establish, say, an average trade value for an all-star. Not actually judge the trade. If you get that number into the blogosphere, at least people can stop saying “we wuz robbed” whenever any trade comes over TSN.

    “Oh look, the return for Brad Richards + C was B, B, C, C, so it was Richards for BBC. They got expected value. Interesting”

  32. Master Lok says:

    I’m old enough to remember Peter Puck. And I agree with Lowetide. Yes, thanks for bringing Gretz and the Oilers to Edmonton, but stop raping me already.

  33. PDO says:

    With Lowe, unless he pulls off a ridiculous trade of the opposite of the Pronger deal (say… Penner, Nilsson, Chorney and a 1st for Heatley), I lost my patience when he dealt Pronger to Anaheim and Getzlaf didn’t come back.

    And I lost it with the EIG when it came out that Coburn and Hossa were on the table.

  34. Doogie2K says:

    the rules for the old Montreal teams were finally re-written so they could not have an unlevel playing field

    If you’re talking about what I think you’re talking about, that rule never did them any Goddamned good, anyway, save the one year (’69, the last one) they got Rejean Houle and three years of original Nordique Marc Tardif. Those Montreal teams from the late ’40s to the late ’70s were built on the vision of Frank Selke and the swindling skills of “Trader” Sam Pollock (who, incidentally, ignored the Rocket when he recommended the Habs draft Mike Bossy — oops).

    There are a few examples where trades bring return (usually involving Keith Tkachuk), but they are few and far between.

    The only one that comes to mind is Nieuwendyk for Iginla, straight across. Worked out pretty well for both teams, albeit with a slight time delay in Calgary’s case.

    Pocklington was something other than a legitmate businessman from day one.

    As Gzowski noted in his book, Pocklington got his start in the used-car business buying cars from rural Manitoba, where there was no salt on the roads, and selling them in urban Ontario where there was, so they “looked” newer than they were. After getting fired from a Ford dealership a few years later, he turned around, lied to both the bank and Ford, and got his own dealership; Ford kept quiet about the arrangement after the fact because he quickly became one of their top performers. They eventually sent him to Edmonton to prop up one of their flagging shops, and the rest is history.

  35. hunter1909 says:

    If you think Ron Low was a bad coach, you should have seen him play goal.

  36. Lord Bob says:

    Ah, Ron Low. The guy who Wayne Gretzky called part of a Mickey Mouse organisation and who spent the rest of his career trying to show Gretz what a real Mickey Mouse organisation looked like.

    Obviously, the discussion about whether Lowe’s a good GM or not has been going on for years and will go on years from now. So instead of rehashing that, I’m going to do what LT did for Sather and apply it to Lowe. I picked the 2001-02 season because it’s the beginning of the real Lowe era and is far enough back that we know a lot about the impact of each of these guys.

    Guys 25 Years Old And Younger, End of 2001-02, Skaters Only

    F Mike Comrie 20y 82.33+27=60
    F Ryan Smyth 25y 61.15+35=50
    F Jochen Hecht 24y 82.16+24=40
    F Dan Cleary 22y 65.10+19=29
    D Eric Brewer 22y 21. 7+18=25
    F Shawn Horcoff 22y 61. 8+14=22
    F Georges Laraque 24y 80. 5+14=19
    F Ethan Moreau 25y 80.11+ 5=16
    F Josh Green 23y 61.10+ 5=15
    F Marty Reasoner 24y 52. 6+ 5=11
    F Brian Swanson 25y 8. 1+ 1= 2
    F Jason Chimera 22y 3. 1+ 0= 1
    D Sven Butenschon 25y 14. 0+ 0= 0
    D Ales Pisa 24y 3. 0+ 0= 0

    Horcoff and Moreau are still with the team. The rest of those guys were either traded or left as free agents. Which ones of them do you figure Lowe blew?

  37. Lowetide says:

    Lord Bob: I’d say Smyth is the big issue. It’s a strange one imo. The return on Smyth was solid considering they weren’t going to sign him (I don’t believe they planned to at the deadline, imo they made the decision after the SC run the previous summer).

    So the mistake wasn’t the deal (Nilsson, O’Marra and a pick). For 20-some regular season games it was an overpay.

    The issue was not signing him. The Pronger trade and how they spent the money after G7 SCF is everything you need to know about the Oilers after June 2006.

  38. HBomb says:

    PDO: A Hossa/Coburn package was offered? First time I’ve heard that one. I do remember hearing LA was offering Frolov plus Visnovsky. Philly, Florida, Ottawa and San Jose were all in the picture too. And we got Joffrey f’n Lupul.


    Bernie Nicholls was a real nice hockey player. But for Messier? No damn way. Work out a three-way deal if need be, whatever.

    I remember that the Oilers wanted some guy named Alexei Kovalev, but the Rangers wouldn’t give him up. When you’re trading Mark Messier, you have every right to take a hard-line stance there, just like you have every right to do so with regards to Getzlaf as a return for Pronger.

    In one case (Messier), reports were that there was $5 million (or more) changing hands as part of the deal (Pocklington was in deep with the ATB by late 1991). In the other, lord knows why Lowe didn’t take a Yashin stance and tell Pronger he was sitting until the Oilers were offered a sufficient return. Maybe he’s actually dumb enough to think quantity is better than quality?

    Who knows.

  39. hunter1909 says:

    If I was the GM of the OIlers I’d have sat on Pronger until I got the offer I wanted.

    He was signed to something called a multi year contract, and that pretty well meant he was going to be an Oiler until the contract ran out, or else he was traded.

    That baloney about Lowe having to trade him fast was so much bullshit.

  40. Dennis says:

    Every one of these Biggest Impact deals like the Pronger move has their own set of circumstances and it wouldn’t take long to list what the Oilers had to offer in Pronger.

    Lowe’s never gonna get His and the main thing I’d like to know is when he said he didn’t know the cap was going up and that’s why he didn’t bring back 94, was he:

    - that fucking stupid
    - stumping for the EIG.

    Before the lockout, my biggest beefs with Lowe were his handling of Salo and the way he based his big moves on whether or not he liked the guy he was trading. Weight was a fave and was moved to one of his desired locales and was moved to that team without that team having to give up anything bonafide. For instance, go look at the stable of D the Blues had at the time and tell me where Jan Horacek rated. Later on, Comrie didn’t get moved for Corey Perry because Lowe was down on him and didn’t want him to go where he wanted to go. So, instead we get the offensive dman without any offfense: Jeff Woywitka.

  41. Nelson88 says:

    Not to hijack another excellent Lowetide thread but how bout the Slovaks.

    I will repeat my earlier prediction that Kyt”nash” is Brodziak 2012. His face off percentage has dwindled as the tournament has progressed but something about this guy screams “player”.

  42. Graham says:

    Bernie Nicholls helped the oilers get to the 3rd round of the ’92 playoffs. That 91-92 team was pretty good – not oilers dynasty great but with the same personel, and Ranford at his peak, that team would have competed well throughout the mid 90s, I think. The Oilers got really bad after that period. 91-92 is seriously the most underrated team in franchise history.

  43. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    Just an update on Hemsky. According to Gregor, about another week and it appears MacT has lost a few more tiger eyes and thinks Spurgeon may the answer to the PK problems.

    It’s all on ON.

  44. slipper says:

    Guys 25 Years Old And Younger, End of 2001-02, Skaters Only…

    …Which ones of them do you figure Lowe blew?

    Jesus Murphy LT, your children read this blog!

  45. HBomb says:

    Tyler Spurgeon?

    MacT is screaming one of two things:

    1) “Get me a G-D veteran center who can kill a penalty or win a faceoff”


    2) “I’ve had enough of this crap, fire my ass, I dare ya…”

    My guess is that it’s “a”, and even though MacT has done some stuff to NOT help himself this year, I can’t blame him.

    And the Slovak win is great. Definitely my favorite national hockey team past Team Canada (obviously). Serious respect for the Finns and Czechs too….

  46. PDO says:

    Do not, under ANY circumstance, rush Hemsky’s head.


  47. Lowetide says:

    I don’t understand why everyone overlooks Reddox. You know, he was drafted the same season as Schremp right? He’s undersized but has all kinds of nice things and his AHL season a year ago was a stunner.

    Slipper: lol.

    The Slovaks!!!! I’m not anti-American but am a little pissed at the entire US development system that they can piss around with a Taylor Chorney for all those years and not actually teach him anything aboyut playing defense. Same GD thing as happened with Tom Poti, these kids have the puck for 4 damn years and don’t know a thing about playing without it.

    In regard to Hemsky, PDO said it all.

  48. Kris says:

    “thinks Spurgeon may the answer to the PK problems.”

    MacT: Nobody freak out about our underachieving PK; we have a whole team full of underachieving AHL’ers to call up.

    Buchberger: I flerr doo sup maaaaa. duuuuuuuhhh… PK gud now?

  49. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    Also this:

    “I’ve seen teams that are chasing a strategy that works, and they never get there. Penalty killing is a very coachable area, and as a coach you should be able to identify the personnel you have and find a system that best suites their strengths. We (coaches) have to focus in on it more and try to improve it.”

  50. Dennis says:

    I just rewatched the Sens game this afternoon and 85 certainly wasn’t a problem in that game. Without talking SCF/A or Corsi or any of those things I can’t see why the guy couldn’t be a 4th liner.

    Of course the problem is we need a PK guy and it seems like they don’t trust him in that role.

    LT: it used to be a favourite talking point of mine but it was one of the few I gave up on;) Anyway, it was how every Amerk D wanted to be Brian Leetch:)

  51. Lord Bob says:

    Tyler Spurgeon?

    Somewhere in Springfield, Colin McDonald is sitting by the phone eagerly.

  52. oilerdago says:

    Lord Bob,

    With an assist in tonite’s Falcon’s game, McDonald is probably making his own reservation as we speak.


  53. Lowetide says:

    Oilerdago: Did you see Jonathan's post over at Copper & Blue? Some very good info that puts McDonald in a new light. I'm not saying he's a future NHL player, but it's also true none of us knew Pisani would be Pisani based on the boxscores too.

  54. oilerdago says:

    LT, sure did. Have to admit I was surprised given how poor his boxcars were (-6). Certainly he’s better than last year at this point, but I’d call him a bigger reach than say Tyler Spurgeon (imo).

  55. Lowetide says:

    Yeah, agreed. McDonald imo is a long shot to get a contract next season. He hasn’t shown much offense this season (way behind last year).

  56. Lord Bob says:

    LT: looking at Jonathan’s numbers, I don’t see Colin McDonald succeeding but merely that he’s not getting killed quite as badly as we all thought he was. Forgive me if I’m not enthusiastic. :P

  57. HBomb says:

    Lowetide: I think it’s pretty clear Reddox is a capable 12-14th forward.

    I think the problem is that he’s playing on the first line. That’s just not right.

  58. oilerdago says:

    Lord Bob, I think you are right. The other thing about Jonathan’s numbers that stands out to me is that some of the guys we thought might be top 6 material (Potulny, Brule, Schremp) are really getting fat on the soft lines.

    I think we have enough of those types already in Edmonton now.

    What the org really lacks is top 6 material on the farm. What we do have is defensive depth and it seems to me if you’re going to make trades, you trade from that group to get what you need.

  59. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    What the org really lacks is top 6 material on the farm. What we do have is defensive depth and it seems to me if you’re going to make trades, you trade from that group to get what you need.

    The org also lacks top pairing defense potential on the farm.

    The “depth” is a mile wide and an inch deep.

  60. Lowetide says:

    Well, I know you all know this but real top 6F’s don’t stop in the AHL.

    They really don’t.

  61. Fake Craig McTavish says:


    By that metric, the Oilers don’t have whole lot of top 6 players then, other than a couple of sophomores who were pushed into that role for PR purposes.

  62. PDO says:

    LT: They do, just for like… a half season.

    See: Getzlaf, Ryan and Perry, Corey.

    McDonald’s offense has taken a step back?

    I’m calling shenanigans.

  63. Lowetide says:

    Lord Bob: Yeah, I don’t see McDonald getting a second contract (as mentioned above). Still, it gives us an idea about why the organization still says nice things about him and why Reddox and Sestito have been called up over others.

    HBomb: Agreed on Reddox. However, I’m seeing a lot of “why don’t they send Reddox out and callup Schremp for the top line.”

    And I can totally see why the organization would prefer Reddox, up to and including replacing Hemsky on the 1line for a few games so Gagner-Cole can keep working on the mo-jo.

  64. Lowetide says:

    PDO: Getzlaf scored 33 points in 17 AHL games before making the NHL to stay, Perry 34 in 19 games. I’d have to look it up but that looks like a team trying to make room as opposed to any kind of seasoning or development that might have been required.

    Both men were ready.

  65. PDO says:

    LT: Guess it was a bit shorter than I recall.

    I know it’s Burke, but his explanation was along the lines of “the dressing room was very toxic, we were on a losing streak, they were slumping and I didn’t want them to think any of it was okay. I sent them there and told them if they produced, they’d be back here.”

    They also played out their junior careers. Much like I wish Gagner would’ve. Waste of his rookie contract.

  66. Lowetide says:

    PDO: I think part of those two playing out their junior careers had to do with the lockout but would have to check that too. Most of the time in sport (imo) you’re better off moving people along once they’ve mastered a specific level. Oilers felt that way with Hemsky and I suspect they’ll do similar with Eberle (who looks brilliant to my eye. Much more aware than I’d hoped).

  67. PDO says:


    Well, then get rid of that stupid juniors can’t play in the AHL rule. Seems like the only logical step to me. I can agree Sam may have been TOO good for the OHL… but he sure as hell wasn’t too good for the AHL. It’s a dumb rule, and it’s sole purpose is for old men to make a lot of money off of teenagers backs.

    I’ve loved Eberle’s game. He’s got some jam, he’s a better passer than advertised, and I can’t argue with that “aware” comment either. Not sure I want to see him anywhere near Regehr quite yet though.

  68. oilerdago says:

    Speaking of Eberle, is there any place where a guy can find out what his stats have been for the WJ’s? Would also like to know how Kytnar has done too.

  69. Lowetide says:

    PDO: Agree completely on that stupid AHL rule. Sending Gagner down for 5 games this season would have been a nice option (although he does seem to have found the range).

    Oiler Dago: Eberle is 2-5-7 according to TSN but he’s been robbed of at least 3 a’s and maybe a goal too (I think he tipped it but maybe not). I’m not one to bitch about that kind of thing (who cares?) but Eberle imo would be very close to leading this thing (scoring race) if things we played straight up.


    Eberle is 4gp, 2-5-7 +6


    Hartikainen is 4gp, 0-2-2 E


    Kytnar is 5gp, 0-5-5 +2

  70. PDO says:

    LT: I just found out Cole scored at the end of the NYE’s game… hah. Hopefully a sign he’s finding the range. It’s an option that should be available. Maybe you create some sort of threshold or something? I understand the CHL needs stars, etc, but if some kid scores 120 points before he turns 18, clearly he’s ready to move on and it’s just plain not fair to him.

    The scoring at these Euro tournaments is always ridiculous, no matter where they are. The worst for Eberle was against the Czech, when he got himself in trouble with some Maguire love by blocking a shot, going down the wing, setting up a 5 bell chance for Boychuk and someone cashing the rebound. Eberle didn’t get an assist, but Boychuk did. Never fails.

  71. oilerdago says:

    Thanks LT. From the games I watched, I thought Eberle had been robbed of a couple of points as well.

  72. Doogie2K says:

    Well, then get rid of that stupid juniors can’t play in the AHL rule.

    They were saying on TSN that Tavares is exempt from that rule because he’ll have already played four full junior seasons after his draft, because of his early start and (marginally) late birthday, so regardless of who drafts him, he’s not playing in Oshawa next year; it’s the AHL or NHL. They called it “the Jason Spezza rule,” and I assume he’s the reason they created the exception.

    I dunno, I think each team should have the right to have one underage (i.e. under-20) player in their minor-league system.

  73. Coach pb9617 says:

    I lost my patience when he dealt Pronger to Anaheim and Getzlaf didn’t come back.

    Again, that’s not how it works when you’re unloading the talent. Be pissed at Lowe if you’d like, but not for this trade.

  74. PDO says:

    Unless you sit him.

    Ask Yashin.

  75. HBomb says:

    Lowetide: I’d say the obvious thing here and now with all of 83/78/34 out would be to throw Cogliano up on the top line and play Moreau with Reddox and either Brodziak and Brule in a checking role.

    Until at least one (and probably two) of those three get healthy, this team simply isn’t going to win many games.

  76. MikeP says:

    I understand the CHL needs stars, etc, but if some kid scores 120 points before he turns 18, clearly he’s ready to move on and it’s just plain not fair to him.

    CHL needs stars because CHL owners like money just as much as you (presumably) and I (definitely) do. They have the leverage somehow, maybe all those numbers they keep running up 20 years later make the NHL types all misty-eyed or something. Can’t see that ever happening, least of all to be more fair to the players.

    oilerdago: no, of course you don’t give Lowe and Slats a pass for trading stars for crap. You just understand that usually, you’ll get crap. The reason why they don’t get a pass is they shouldn’t be in a situation where they *have* to deal stars in the first place.

  77. dawgbone says:

    PDO, there are only certain teams you can fleece with that Yashin type deal, and I think most of them became warry of it when The Islanders dealt a Norris-candidate defenceman and the rights to a 100 point centreman.

    I don’t know of anyone in the hockey world who saw that deal and thought it was a good one for the Islanders to make.

    In the end though, it’s all about what you do with it. If this trade ends up being Smid and half of Riley Nash, it’s going to look bad. That being said, if the Oilers had gotten Steen and Kaberle or Bouwmeester and Horton, would they have been any better the last 2 seasons?

    We’d still be in the same spot and needing to trade away either them or others to find the room for them.

    The Pronger trade didn’t hurt nearly as much as the 10 UFA’s the Oilers lost that season. Looking at that, it was going to be damn near impossible for the Oilers to bounce back from that. It was just another nail in the coffin for the last 2 seasons.

  78. Doogie2K says:

    The Islanders dealt a Norris-candidate defenceman and the rights to a 100 point centreman.

    Today, yes. At the time, it was a defensive prospect and a first-round pick. Perspective, here.

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