This is Red Berenson versus Rogie Vachon. Incredibly, Vachon won–no goal. When it comes to trading wisely, St. Louis bought low and sold high with with Mr. Berenson.
Early in their first season (67-68) the Blues were struggling badly. Lynn Patrick and Scotty Bowman (Cliff Fletcher was also part of the management group) got lucky when Emile Francis came calling about veteran penalty killer Ronny Stewart. A deal was struck and the Blues caught fire with Berenson leading the way. Berenson was easily the best player in the expansion division, scoring 22, 35 and 33 goals in the first seasons of the 12-team league.
A few years later Detroit called and asked about Berenson. The pricetag? Garry Unger, a gifted offensive center who would replace Berenson as the face of the franchise. The Blues got over a decade of 30-goal seasons in exchange for a mid-30′s checker who probably wasn’t a better player than Fernando Pisani is right now.
I don’t really have much to say about the Oilers. I think the management group are obtuse and unlikely to “get it right” over the long term. Steve Tambellini’s media clips are like chalk on a blackboard, Pat Quinn’s postgame PC’s have lost their charm and are difficult to watch. Any fan can see a mixture of try, indifference, heart and desperation in every game but the truth is at this point it is hard to identify the contenders and the pretenders on this roster. It sometimes changes from game to game, shift to shift.
The Edmonton Oilers have spent almost 4 seasons hopelessly out of balance and it’s apparently too late to stop now. Almost 4 seasons of inertia, 4 seasons of “deer in headlights” inactivity. Last summer it was “let’s wait for Heatley” and this winter it is “Khabibulin’s injury really hurt.” Following a team whose management acts like a victim is just about the least rewarding thing I’ve ever encountered. I can’t imagine what comes next. The last 4 years have taught me it is going to be very painful, like watching Papillon or going to the dentist for root canal.
What’s the definition of insanity again?