Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Dan Barnes of the Edmonton Journal,
Yes, it has been an embarrassing week and a costly, frustrating half-season for the Oilers, who cannot win for losing. They lost Tuesday to Phoenix in OT, Saturday in San Jose, Friday in the Saddledome and again in the court of public opinion after getting into a beef over a massive dinner bill at a Cowtown restaurant. Those headlines were unflattering and they will be written out of the playoffs soon enough, too.
They would have to go 25-9-5 or something similarly out of character, and still hope that all eight playoff-bound teams in the west played no better than .500 hockey until the end of the schedule, just to sneak in and offer themselves up as first-round hors d’oeuvres for San Jose.
It’s not a mathematical impossibility, but it’s pretty safe to say 39 hockey games stand between the Oilers and their first sanctioned golf games of the new decade.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
Look—we’ve all been part of a bad bill before. And, yes, NHL players can become targets in a situation like this one.
But the end result was 20 millionaires didn’t suck it up. Men who get more stuff for free in a year than anyone reading this column does in a lifetime, refused on principle to come up with less than $1,000 apiece for them and their spouse/girlfriend on New Year’s Eve. Instead, they created an incident that stained a once proud organization’s reputation from coast to coast.
Another dent in a train wreck of a season—in Calgary, no less. Like the story of the Oilers dine-and-dash wouldn’t have legs in that city? Sheesh.
Within days, team owner Daryl Katz had canceled a planned golf trip to Palm Springs for the players and their wives. The Oilers say the two incidents had nothing to do with each other, but we can only hope that isn’t true.
Now, the players will stay in minus-20 Edmonton for a mini-training camp instead of teeing it up in the sunshine. And their wives will sip Tim Horton’s coffee instead of Cosmopolitans by the pool.
from Spector at Fox Sports,
The Blue Jackets entered 2009-10 coming off their first playoff appearance in franchise history, while the Oilers — having made changes behind the bench and in goal — were expecting to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Instead of being in playoff contention both clubs enter the New Year mired in the bottom of the Western Conference standings and in danger of falling out of the postseason chase….
Goaltending has been a common issue. The Oilers brought in veteran Nikolai Khabibulin last summer to be their starter but he struggled with a bad back which eventually sidelined him in late November. Backup Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers has done his best but it’s clear in relief that he’s not yet ready to be a full-time starting goalie.
The Blue Jackets made the playoffs last season in large part to the goaltending of Steve Mason, who won the Calder trophy as rookie of the year with his 33-win, 2.29 GAA, 10-shutout performance. This season, however, Mason is mired in a sophomore slump, with only 11 victories in 32 games, a bloated 3.18 goals-against average and only two shutouts.
from David Staples of The Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal,
Heading into this season, there were two worries in regards to the goaltending of the Edmonton Oilers, that starter Nikolai Khabibulin would get hurt and miss a huge number of games, and that the young-ish Deslauriers wouldn’t prove to be a capable back-up, let alone being able to carry the load as a starter….
Khabibulin had been slowed and knocked out of the line-up in Chicago on numerous occasions during his four years as a Black Hawk. In 2005, he missed ten games with a groin injury. In 2006, he missed 13 games with a knee injury. At age 36, he wasn’t getting any younger. If he was having injury problems before, one would expect they would only get worse.
As for Deslauriers, he had never been a dominant goalie in the minor leagues, just an OK-to-good one. In his brief appearances in Edmonton, he had looked shaky in net, not strong or balanced on his skates. It was certainly possible that a goalie who looked so unorthodox would still have success at the NHL level, but I’d be curious to know if anyone can point out a goalie with Deslauriers’s poor positioning in net and tendency to wobble so often who has become a stand-out goalie at the NHL level.
from Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail,
The Oilers, no doubt stinging from a 2-1 loss to the Flames earlier in the evening, drowned their sorrows and brought in 2010 with the help of $8,248 worth of booze – including two $500 magnums of Dom Perignon and a $250 round of shooters.
The alcohol amounted to nearly half the total bill, which reached $16,796.39 once an 18 per cent tip was tacked on, according to a newspaper report confirmed by owner Maurizio Terrigno.
According Mr. Terrigno, the team – which has a payroll of $59,253,000 before certain cushions bring it down just below the National Hockey League’s salary cap of $56.8-million – refused to pay the full bill and forked over only $12,381.45.
Mr. Terrigno said the players argued they should pay for their “shooters” – small one-ounce shots of strong drink – by the bottle rather than the round.
“There are a lot of nights when it’s pretty tough to watch us.
“If we’re going to turn this around, we’re going to have to do a complete 180 degrees. We know we’re better than this, but we can’t seem to put our finger in the hole to stop the water from leaking out.”
-Sheldon Souray of the Edmonton Oilers. More on the Oilers from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal.
The owner of an upscale Calgary restaurant is furious, claiming that Edmonton Oilers players refused to cover the full cost of a nearly $18,000 tab during a recent night out for team members.
Players were dining at Osteria De Medici, an upscale restaurant in northwest Calgary after their game against the Calgary Flames Thursday night.
Maurizio Terrigno, owner of the eatery, says the team was partying with a group of 45 people and ran up a huge bill, which included a bar tab worth close to $8,000.
added 6:55pm, from 630CHED,
After last night’s game in Calgary, the entire Oilers team went out for a pre-planned meal with their wives and girlfriends at the upscale, downtown eatery Osteria De Medici.
At the end of the night the players were presented with a bill for close to $19,000, a figure that struck them as being grossly inflated for what they consumed over their roughly 90 minute stay. The players, while still waiting at the restaurant, asked for the bill to be re-calculated at which point they were presented with a revised cheque for $12,381. The team paid for the bill with a credit card, and left.
a bit more...
“We were playing three-quarter-ice hockey. Bring it out, bring it up, give it to them, come back in our zone, play like hell for a while, and if we get it out, make a quick change and put another set out that takes it up, turns it over and goes back to its end.
-Edmonton Oilers Coach Pat Quinn after losing to the Flames. More from Scott Cruickshank of Flames Insider.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
For all the words spent on the National Hockey League’s growing problem with concussions, Sheldon Souray figures you can get rid of 90 percent of them with two words:
“I do it — and guys have done it for me,” Souray said this week. “As a matter of fact it happened at the end of (Saturday’s Washington) game, against Ovechkin. I was going to hit him and said, ‘Head’s up!’ You know. ‘It’s comin’!’”
He’s fine with a hard hit, and like most NHLers, Souray says of Mike Richards’ hit on David Booth “there is an element of risk to this game.” Injurious mistakes — like Jarome Iginla’s inadvertent trip that cost Souray 16 games with a concussion — are never going to be eliminated from the game.
But it is time for the players to put an end to the needless, high hits that happen along the boards and in the corners, delivered by players who need to know better.
from David Staples of The Cult Of Hockey, For years now,
Oilers management has chased after big name talent, high-priced players in their late 20s and early 30s. That strategy paid off in 2006, with Chris Pronger and Dwayne Roloson almost leading the team to a Stanley Cup victory.
In the years since then, however, this same strategy has produced nothing but mediocrity in Edmonton, and there’s no sign things are going to change in coming years. In fact, the best bet would be for things to get worse.
As a result, the Oilers now need a new management team to bring in a new philosophy, and the sooner, the better.
It’s time for someone else to run this team. The roster itself needs to be dismantled, a difficult job, given the constraints of the NHL’s salary cap system and the strained budgets of many other teams. Nonetheless, if the Oilers appoint a caretaker manager, similar to what Toronto did in bringing in Cliff Fletcher, it’s likely some progress could be made.
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