The important thing for Oiler fans this season is to focus on the positives (like Ryan Whitney). If you look too closely at this team you’re going to see a lot of holes and a management group unwilling to address them. This should come as no surprise to us, as “let’s wait to see how bad this thing gets” has been the early season mantra for the Edmonton Oilers during the Kevin Lowe era. Whatever power Steve Tambellini holds, it isn’t enough to sway the group since Lowe wrote the Romano Pontifico Eligendo on how to conduct in-season operations.
An excellent example came yesterday when the club sent out Shawn Belle. Belle is better than at least two of the current blue, but was sent down. These are the possible reasons:
- The Oilers really want OKC to do well in 10-11.
- Tom Renney is so loyal he’s willing to overlook Jason Strudwick’s (clear) shortcomings.
- There’s something about Shawn Belle we don’t know.
That’s it. Any other reason (‘they’d risk waivers once he played a few more games’) are crazy. Shawn Belle should play the rest of this season with the major league club. This is the Oilers depth chart based on even-strength time-on-ice per game:
- Ryan Whitney (sublime season in the middle of Armageddon)
- Tom Gilbert (exposed early, he should recover)
- Ladislav Smid (Oilers badly need him to perform)
- Theo Peckham (Love his thuggery)
- Jason Strudwick (nothing more to say)
- Shawn Belle (helped too much)
- Jim Vandermeer (his ankles may still be broken)
- Kurtis Foster (is not exactly the calvary)
I think Tom Renney is an excellent coach and do believe he was a solid choice (although I’d prefer MacTavish–speaking of which, have things gotten better since he left?) for this team’s rebuild. However, looking at that depth chart, I find it hard to marry Shawn Belle’s demotion with intelligent thinking.
Sean Couturier must be a helluva player.