Senators at Oilers, G 55 ’10-’11

This is Sprague Cleghorn. I kid you not, that was his name. He was a defenseman-skilled, mean, tough as they come and a winner. He helped the 1920 and 1921 Ottawa Senators win the Stanley.

What else did he do? Well, despite being one of Ottawa’s best players he never managed to be a hometown favorite. He was always doing things like attacking Montreal’s Newsy Lalonde with such vicious intent the police had to get involved. He was a dirty player, and at times his own team would fine him for going too far with on-ice behaviour. God knows what they’d do to him now, likely lifetime ban.

Ottawa finally dropped him, and the legend states he swore revenge. Eventually landing in Montreal, Cleghorn flattened 4 star Ottawa players on his return–Cy Denneny, Frank Nighbor, Tommy Gorman and Eddie Gerard. The league tried to ban him, but two teams refused to do it despite all the evidence that pointed to unacceptable behaviour.

He was by any stretch a great player, elected to the Hall of Fame in 1958 (two years after his death). One final thing: Sprague Cleghorn missed all of the 1917-18 season with a broken ankle. He suffered the injury while walking in Montreal.

Today’s game has the #29 team facing #30, so it could probably use a Sprague Cleghorn to make it interesting. Ottawa traded Mike Fisher this week and Daniel Alfredsson is injured so this should be two points for the home team. How often have we been able to say that with a straight face this winter?

Pierre Lebrun is a credible source. His article for ESPN this week (it is here) includes this item:

  • one name I am told intriques the Kings is Ales Hemsky of the Edmonton Oilers.

I’m already onside with the Kings. If they make the playoffs I’ll cheer like mad for Ryan Smyth and the Kings. Adding Hemsky would only make it easier to cheer for them. As for return, I’d suggest that Braydon Schenn would be a very nice target and they have a 20-year old AHL defensemen named Voynov leading Manchester in points.

Having said that, my preference would be for the Oilers to keep Hemsky and Penner. I keep reading that re-signing both is impossible but looking at the cap numbers it would seem as though that is folly. I think there’s a real danger here in declaring the four horsemen as the future on the wings (four horsemen: Hall, Eberle, Pääjärvi and Omark) this soon. Surely one of them will not deliver on promise, even as we agree the dice have no memory.

I write about David Staples every once in awhile and have at times been less than completely respectful of his error counting. No matter my feelings on that issue, it is an absolute fact that he makes his case with clarity and conviction. His recent defense of Tom Gilbert (latest item here) has been both entertaining and brave. I’ve long defended Gilbert (example here) and suspect it’s one of the things that got me onto that colorful site with all the big words a few months ago. Defending Tom Gilbert earns you howls of derision.

It isn’t easy posting three articles in a week defending a finesse defenseman in a hard rock town. Bless you, David Staples. I’m with you.

Gilbert Brule is getting better. Whatever the problems he appears to be on track and will soon be on the big league roster. I’ve been a little suspicious of the way his story has been handled, because it looks for all the world like the Oilers are trying to sneak through this season without exposing someone like JF Jacques to waivers. And keeping Brule out in order to save JF Jacques is crazy squared and squared again.

Either way, Brule is close to ready and one hopes he gets a chance to play quite a bit before the deadline. A hot streak might increase his value should a trade opportunity arise, and it might be a plan to let him play center since he wins faceoffs more than half of the time.

First edition of “NATION RADIO” goes today at noon. The archive will be up at Oilers Nation soonafter the show, so if you want to listen after today’s game that is the place to go. My first guest will be the legendary John Short and we have several scheduled guests over the 2 hours, but there will be time to get calls and comments. If you have any questions for John, you can post them in the comments section and I’ll do my best to get to them.

I’ll be browsing this thread for questions and comments and may use a few on the show. You are welcome to post questions but I do hope you’ll also add comments. This blog’s charm is in the comments section, so keep it coming.

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