CAN’T SEE THIS WINTER ROAD (THROUGH THE FOG AND SNOW)

by Lowetide

The Oilers sent Brad Hunt, Zack Kassian and Griffin Reinhart to Bakersfield this week, so they could see some playing time during the off week for the All-Star game. It is a major item—Edmonton’s hockey team is on a damned long layoff and that will have its own consequences. I think the organization still believes (the Oilers playoff hopes may well end up being an X-File later in the season) they can push for the second season, but a ghastly start after the break will put it all to rest.

I have been thinking about tonight’s lineup (nothing posted yet, McDavid isn’t going to play) and about their decade—the one that begins tonight. Do you remember the old Edmonton Roadrunners? That team is eleven years old now (2004-05) and the years have given us poetry and prose for every line. How did it turn out? Great! And awful.

2004-05 ROADRUNNERS NHL GAMES PLAYED

  1. Jarret Stoll (841) The home run career in the group, on Stanley, on money, on wealth and on fame. A crooked road or two, but hell boys would we have done anything differently?
  2. Kyle Brodziak (667) Miles and miles and miles farther than we thought, Lorne Davis apparently knew but he didn’t have enough friends in management to stay so they sent him away. Brodziak never missed a beat and continues to skate in the world’s best hockey league.
  3. Raffi Torres (635) At 34, still chasing dreams and demons. Exactly one helluva player.
  4. Toby Petersen (398) Although he is often a punch line for Oilers fans, at the end of the day (thanks, Chris Pronger!) the man believed in himself and, more importantly, found important others who did the same. Oilers walked him about a decade ago, he went down to the AHL and ran out every groundball for an entire season—and he caught the train back to the show for another 220+ NHL games. You have to respect that—or you should—and if you are a former Oilers prospect and reading this, you hold on tight to the Toby Petersen Story. Not every hockey man knows his ass from a hole in the ground.
  5. Brad Winchester (390). The wind blew him a long way, he made it, and stayed for a time.
  6. Jeff Woywitka (278) I think Doug Lynch would have had a stronger career, but you can’t blame Woywitka for that, and you can’t blame him for the Comrie deal. Heh. There was a time when I was a mod at HF that I could have sent everyone in that deal into the sun for the trouble they caused. Of course, none of them did a damn thing but pursue their dream. I am glad he got 278.
  7. J-F Jacques (166) He didn’t play much for the Edmonton Roadrunners, but did get into a lot of games as an Oiler. My two enduring memories of him were Quinn’s folly (opening night 2009-10 with Horcoff and Hemsky) and the year he went forever without a single point. How he did it, God only knows. Good Christ this has been an insane decade.
  8. Tony Salmelainen (70) He caught a flight to Switzerland, finished up 2013-14.
  9. Mathieu Roy (66) I think about him sometimes, when I fall down or the dog does something silly. I have never seen a hockey player before or since who could find an awkward moment out of the blue like this fellow. He is still playing, God bless him. DEL. Hamburg Freezers. I imagine one will fall on him soon.
  10. Jeff Deslauriers (62) He played a lot for the Oilers not so long ago (2009-10), but we really don’t talk about him much now. Remains an active player, in the DEL with Augsburg where he is the starting goalie.
  11. Martin St. Pierre (39) I saw him good as a Roadrunner, but he was small, smaller, smallest. One of the big upsets on this list is that he made it into 39 games, suspect that ridiculous skill bought him every game. I am glad he got some at-bats.
  12. Mike Morrison (29) Three memories. Fantastic accent, just a beauty. If I were rich, I would pay him to read Kenndy’s speeches. Second thing: The shootouts! MacT would bring him in off the bench. Holy hell. Third? Well, since he was a goalie in 2005-06, I can’t think of him without also thinking about Dwayne Roloson, which means I am reminded of MA Bergeron and Andrew Ladd and then Ty Conklin. And then it is dark for a long time.
  13. Rocky Thompson (25) He played all the NHL games before he got here, I met Rocky Thompson a few times. He is absolute proof you cannot judge a book by the cover. When I met him, he could have been an extra on the Rocky Horror Picture Show, but the guy is wicked smart and will be an NHL coach some day. Book it.
  14. Mike Bishai (14) He made it into the Hockey Encyclopedia. I would give my left nut for the same.
  15. Doug Lynch (2) He was an AHL All-Star right out of the box, and then a hand injury derailed him. Stupid damn shame really, but he took off to Austria and built himself a career there. I have always followed him, thought he deserved at least that after luck bit so hard. As a Dad, this kind of thing is what I think about sometimes. Hockey is full of tough buggers, that’s the truth.
  16. JJ Hunter (0) I met a man a few years ago who had some knowledge of Hunter and a lot of pro athletes. He told me Hunter worked harder than anyone he’d seen. I wish he had gotten a game in the show.
  17. Jesse Niinimaki (0) First-round pick and he never pissed a drop. He hung around the SM-Liiga for a long time though, played three games this year.

My memories of that team are still pretty strong, wonder if you have any. The game goes at 8pm tonight, I will update the lines and pairings and following the game in the comments section. The decade begins for these Condors. Who is the Stoll? Brodziak? One hopes there is no Lynch in this group.

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N64

Lowetide: I have him on tomorrow, my guess is McDavid gets his year no matter what but we will chat about it.

The whole thing was silly. If they legitimately wanted reconditioning games in the ‘A’ they would have dressed him in Bakersfield last night. Rip the guy out of a UFA year on something as dodgy as that and you deserve to lose him when he gets to UFA.

And it turns out the writer had missed that the players shut down that avenue:

Update

Damn you, CBA. From Article 1:

“Accrued Season” means any League Year during which a Player was on a Club’s Active Roster for 40 (30 if the Player is a goalie) or more Regular Season Games, provided that, for the purposes of calculating an Accrued Season under this Agreement, games missed due to a hockey-related injury incurred while on a Club’s Active Roster shall count as games played for purposes of calculating an Accrued Season but only during the League Year in which the injury was incurred and a maximum of one additional season.

frjohnk

hunter1909: Meaningful hockey. Finally.

With McDavid, we finally have Exciting Last Place Hockey.

hunter1909

Ice Sage: oilers tied for last in league. will play CBJ in the toilet bowl in a week.

Meaningful hockey. Finally.

russ99

This may stir up a hornets nest, but with a long break, maybe we should look at the tenets of “Oilers Hockey” that have consistently failed us in the last 10 years, even with different groups of players and multiple coaches:

1) Three scoring lines – It’s not the 80s anymore, and we’re putting an undue stress on our already weak defensemen corps and goaltenders due to weak 2-way play from the majority of our forwards.

Also in our current “dump/cycle/shoot from everywhere” system, the effect of “unicorns” on scoring is dramatically reduced. Cyclers, shooters and net front presence are more important to the current system than precision passers and skaters. McLellan isn’t going to go away so the roster has to be adapted to work within this.

2) Kid/Goon 4th line – Goes with #1, if we’re trying to shoehorn three scoring lines in, we need much better 2-way players on the 4th line. I still vastly prefer the optimal MacT coached Oilers line deployment, and it fits better in our current system: 2 scoring lines, the Moreau/Reasoner/Pisani checking line and the energy line of Glencross/Brodziak/Stortini on the 4th. We’re very much lacking in those types of players today.

3) All puck movers on defense – somebody has to be able to clear the crease, make a tough play one on one and do the hard work behind the net. By moving away from truly defensive defensemen, we’re weakening an area of the ice where goals are most often scored against us, and all the puck movers are having issues with breakout passes anyway.

4) Readiness of young prospects / AHL players (especially coke machines) – Rushing Nurse, Reinhart (earlier), Khaira, etc. is doing us no favors. Draisaitl is the exception, not the rule and it’s proven that defensemen take more time to develop. Starting with this draft, we need to give our prospects more time, and have better options to call up to fill in for injuries. Granted the record man-games lost the last two years have really hurt us in this area.

kinger_OIL

Lowetide,

– That will be good. For sure the consensus in here was it didn’t matter, he’s on the roster. I thought as did the writer: it’g games played for UFA, but I deferred (cough Woodguy cough)

– If management and McDavid’s were smart, you would agree to do something like the writer suggests, and get an understanding that you want to lock him up for 8 years plus, and use the “savings” to build the team: Brady style mentality.

G Money

geowal:
Huh, they still do “cotteneye joe” in Bakersfield

The real Cotton is a childhood friend of mine. (People who were at Oilers and Eskimos games in the 90s may know what I’m talking about)

kinger_OIL

– Whose right? I asked this group a few weeks ago whether Conner and playing 40 games matters for UFA, and the response was no because he was “on the roster”, vs games played. I advocated getting him a less than 40 game schedule.

– Article says OIL should do what I queried. Is he wrong re:games played vs. on roster for UFA?

http://www.coppernblue.com/2016/1/26/10825140/mcdavid-and-the-ahl

Pouzar

Centre of attention: CanKassian become a top 6 forward in the NHL? [in time?]

I think he is an ideal 3rd liner who can play in the Top 6 when injuries or circumstance call for it. He adds a ton of value to this team. I hope he works out his personal life.

anonymous

Samson Loveblast: I’m a pretty big American Football fan, the Cleveland Browns, arguably that team has been worse than the Oilers. The DetroitLions also, they have since turned it around but there was a ten year horror stretch, the nadir in that case was failing to win a single game in ’08.

Those teams are/were bad but really no comparison. The oilers have rewritten the book on bad as far as major North American sports teams go.

jake70

another win for Milos…..into the semis down under…

rope-a-dope

Ice Sage:
oilers tied for last in league.will play CBJ in the toilet bowl in a week.
really an unbelievable decade of ineptitude – are there any comps for this in professional sports this century?

I’m a pretty big American Football fan, the Cleveland Browns, arguably that team has been worse than the Oilers. The Detroit Lions also, they have since turned it around but there was a ten year horror stretch, the nadir in that case was failing to win a single game in ’08.

Ice Sage

oilers tied for last in league. will play CBJ in the toilet bowl in a week.
really an unbelievable decade of ineptitude – are there any comps for this in professional sports this century?

JD_Wry

dadoug12: if Mcdavid hadnt got hurt , would Leon been called up.

Well Drivesaitl and McDavid both scored points in this game:

http://oilers.nhl.com/gamecenter/en/recap?id=2015020144

Centre of attention

Pouzar: Man if he can stay on the straight and narrow this could be a steal.

Can Kassian become a top 6 forward in the NHL? [in time?]

Jethro Tull

geowal:
Huh, they still do “cotteneye joe” in Bakersfield

I always wondered where did he come from and where did he go.

Pouzar

Centre of attention: He got the Condors a power play out of that mess.

He’s a f*cking animal I love it.

Man if he can stay on the straight and narrow this could be a steal.

Centre of attention

Pouzar:
Kassian disturbing the shit lol

He got the Condors a power play out of that mess.

He’s a f*cking animal I love it.

Centre of attention

Kassian completely lost his sweater in that scrum

Pouzar

Kassian disturbing the shit lol

geowal

Huh, they still do “cotteneye joe” in Bakersfield

Pouzar

6-3…booooooooooo

Pouzar

Winquist deflects home the Hunt point shot.

6-2.

Centre of attention

Winquist again. I swear there is a player there. 6-2 Condors

Centre of attention

Platzer uses his brain on the penalty kill.

Very effective.

BONVIE

Is Miller the centre for That line?

Centre of attention

These kids are actually trying to unfold a frozen t-shirt as part of a contest.

the kid in the kopitar sweater looks pretty entertained, haha.

geowal

Lowetide:
Pitlick from Kassian, 5-2 Bakersfield.

Did he “look like a hockey player” while doing it? ?

Centre of attention

Pitlick whips out that old school wrist shot and the Condors have a 3 goal lead

dadoug12

StevieG_8: Leon stepped up when connor went downbut klefbom was tough to replace though.

thats true, and if Mcdavid hadnt got hurt , would Leon been called up. Since Chiarelli has only been on the job 1 season, and with alll these injuries, hes got a small mulligan, to work with, another season of no playoffs, and the knives will be out again.

Gordies Elbow

Rocky Thompson, True Story.

Wife booked the young boy into a hockey school over summer. Fit into the schedule, in Ft. Sask at the Dow which is close to Sherwood Park, and a full day program with lunch. Our boy was a Novice centre with skill, and one of the smallest players at his age group.

Wife hadn’t heard of it before, but hey, seems like a good fit, right?

I get home and she tells me.

I’m flabbergasted. Rocky Thompson? The boy is going to get killed.

I take time away to watch the first session, ready to pull him if there are any concerns.

Rocky spent the first day on skating technique, head position, and drawing the leg up to the centre line. He spoke of sitting “in the kitchen chair,” and keeping the head in the same position. Lunch came, and his wife spoke of macronutrients and micronutrients, and why soda is one of the worst things you can put into your body. It was, in a word, awesome.

My boys have been to more of Rocky’s programmes (e.g. 3 on 3) but I will never forget my trepidation when I first heard about Rocky’s hockey school.

Rocky was an exceptional teacher, and I’d bet, an exceptional coach. Truly amazing.

Zelepukin

Lowetide: I don’t really know what Winquist is beyond he has enough offense to be successful in the AHL. Very skilled, he isn’t fast but he can certainly travel. Is he fast enough to play in the NHL someday? I don’t think we know.

Poultiot is/was a different animal, a more obviously qualified NHL player at the same age.

Ya, AHL numbers only mean so much. To question that, is to forget that Jultz lead the entire league until the NHL resumed.

StevieG_8

dadoug12: Theres no point on complaining about the injuries, when they happen other players have to step it up, look at arizona they lose there starting goalie, and they didnt fall apart. Other players have to try to seize the opportuntiy, , its too easy to say injuries killed this season. Losing yakupov who has done very little the last 12 months.Losing an 18 year old rookie and your team falls apart????Im sorry but Oscar Klefbom is not Niklas Lidstrom, the fact is the team is flawed, and its so obvious, the team needs to be overhauled.

Leon stepped up when connor went down but klefbom was tough to replace though.

fifthcartel

Winquist has 30 points in 61 games in the AHL. Maybe there’s a player there?

Centre of attention

Lowetide,

Do you think Winquist is applying for Benoit Pouliot’s job eventually?

If the Oilers move on from Ryan Hamilton they should 100% sign Winquist. Because Winquist might actually be useful.

dadoug12

Frank the dog:
The problem isn’t the coaching, or even the players to such a degree. We’re not dealing with a full roster shitshow. We’re dealing with an injury shitshow.
No team can be effective with 5 or more of their top forwards injured, and 2 or more of their top D out at the same time. That’s why the last game wasn’t worth watching, and that’s the problem Chia and Katz actually ave to solve – at the NHL level. Add scrotum shots to the head shot ban. After all the latter drives the former much of the time.

Theres no point on complaining about the injuries, when they happen other players have to step it up, look at arizona they lose there starting goalie, and they didnt fall apart. Other players have to try to seize the opportuntiy, , its too easy to say injuries killed this season. Losing yakupov who has done very little the last 12 months. Losing an 18 year old rookie and your team falls apart???? Im sorry but Oscar Klefbom is not Niklas Lidstrom, the fact is the team is flawed, and its so obvious, the team needs to be overhauled.

Centre of attention

Hunt from Hamilton. *eye roll*

square_wheels

Lowetide,

He’s paired with Hunt.

Hmmmm maybe we try the ol’4 fwds and one kinda-Dman setup ?

Can Joey play D at the NHL level, is he growing into that coveted PP QB role, someday a mini-Buff ?

dadoug12

GCW_69:
After ten years of losing its not surprising that some fans are getting a bit cranky.

I have gone the other way. I tried to watch the game on Saturday and realized I just don’t care anymore.The passion for the team is gone.

Now, its an academic problem for me.How do you build something out of the shit this franchise has become?I enjoy reading different points of view and learning more about the game of Hockey.

I have been a hockey fan for 36 years and this is the first time I find watching the Oilers leaves me empty.

Thanks Katz, Lowe and company.You actually managed to ruin the game of Hockey for me.

So, if the Oilers make you angry, I get it.Let’s hope they get better before you end up where I am.In the mean time, try to direct your anger where it belongs- at the clowns who own and run the franchise.

I think what makes it worse is to see other teams in the last 5 years who have finished in the bottom 3 progress to even at least 1 year in the playoffs. You would think that eventually the oilers would fluke off one season and get into the playoffs or at least not be near the bottom. Would anyone at the start of the season thought Arizona be in a playoff spot at the all star break, and without there starting goalie. Theres no more excuses anymore for always being in the bottom.

Centre of attention

LaLeggia scores 1-0 Condors

JD_Wry

The one and only (and maybe that was a good thing), Andy Kaufman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZS6Nrjurew

In 1977 he convinced network execs to tape this bizarre show, but it didn’t air until 1979. If you can stand the tracking noise from the old VHS tape, this is quite amazing. And the commercials…

square_wheels

G Money,

Does the HNiC crew now talk about how key injuries heavily influence a teams success in this new “parity” league…..or do we get to watch PJ stand awkwardly with a stick in his hands while Kypreos performs some puck handling magic to demonstrate their deep knowledge of the modern game ?