Oilers at Flames, G7 ’10-’11

That’s Darryl Sittler battling Greg Joly in front of the net, mid-70′s. Washington’s defense during that era was among the worst in the NHL’s long history. Unready youngsters combined with old men barely hanging on and mid-level AHL players. It was a disaster, and Milt Schmidt paid for it (fired less than 2 seasons into the job).

When David Poile arrived as Capitals GM in 1982, the club wasn’t much better. They missed the playoffs, had multiple coaches and only a couple of defenders from that team had much time left in the NHL.

Poile made quick work of things. He may a huge deal with Montreal, sending them Ryan Walter and Rick Green in return for defensemen Rod Langway, Brian Engblom, center Doug Jarvis and winger Craig Laughlin. Poile said at the time: “for the first time in Capitals history, we have a defense.”

It wasn’t an easy trade to make. Rick Green was the 1st overall pick in 1976 and Walter went 2nd overall two years later. Green was mid-20′s, Walter 24 when the deal was made. The club drafted young Scott Stevens that summer and the Caps improved their GA to 6th best the following season and the playoffs became a regular spring event in the US capital.

That’s kind of what we’re waiting for with Steve Tambellini. The Oilers roster hasn’t had balance for about a decade, save for that period between the trade deadline 2006 and G7 SCF. One year we’re skating without any goalies and the next season there’s no blue. Next we’re out of centers and then there are times when there is no one to penalty-kill. There’s always something missing from the Edmonton Oilers.

ST could help the situation in a heartbeat: trade one of the better forwards for real help on the blue.

I have no idea what the Oilers are going to do about the defense. If Smid can’t play top 4 minutes and Foster doesn’t come around, they might want to do what Milt Schmidt did as GM for the Caps fall 1974: call Doug Mohns. He’s 76 now, but I suspect he might be able to help.

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