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Lombardi Apologizes to Edmonton and the NHL

When news leaked that Ryan Smyth had asked for a trade home to Edmonton, Oilers fans immediately thought back to Chris Pronger’s trade request and felt that finally hockey karma was making things right. They knew that Los Angeles King’s GM Dean Lombardi was in a difficult situation, but that this was an easy trade for Oilers’ GM Steve Tambellini where the Oilers could make out like bandits. No one could have anticipated what happened next.

For Oilers fans the return of Ryan Smyth was worth anything, but in this situation, Tambellini was able to trade for very little. While that made the people in Edmonton happy, the folks in LA felt ripped off and with good reason; Gilbert Brule couldn’t be bought out and Colin Fraser’s recovery from an ankle injury was taking far too long.

I still hold to my belief that Steve Tambellini didn’t purposely mislead the Kings. Tambellini is not a doctor and has to rely on the information that he is given by his staff. But, not everything about this trade was made public and there were certainly discussions and facts that remained behind closed doors.

What was made public was Lombardi’s frustration with Fraser’s health and after a discussion with Sportsnet’s Mark Spector on the Team 1260 Thursday afternoon we are reminded that even GMs are human.

“I was certainly frustrated having to lose a player like Ryan Smyth,” explained Lombardi. “And then getting in a bind to try and replace him and then there was a little grey area as far as what we got back. But on the bottom line I should have never said what I said publically. It was the wrong thing to do and I apologize to Edmonton as well as the National Hockey League.

“That wasn’t the way to handle it and once we were sat down we were able to come to some resolution but the bottom line was that I was wrong in the way that I handled that, and we move on.

“It was a tough situation losing a good player like Ryan Smyth and it’s kind of been one of the things we run up against. You talk about the building process whether it was Ryan or Drew holding out or going to Europe, those are all things that you confront. Regardless of that, that was the wrong way to handle it.”

Lombardi made similar comments on another Edmonton radio station Thursday and of course the easiest conclusion is that trade deadline day is just over a month away and now is the time to mend fences.

Realistically, Tambellini and Lombardi would have patched this up at the time of the settlement, but a public apology like this was a great gesture from a man whose patience may be being tested even now, but because of #pennercakes.

“When you’re in this position and trying to manage your team into a winner, it’s not always the young kids that you have to put out some fires.” Lombardi said of Dustin Penner’s pancake related injury.

In case you somehow missed it, Dustin Penner suffered a back injury Saturday “I just leaned over to dip into some delicious pancakes that my wife made. It’s just like it (the pain) wraps around you and squeezes. . . . So it was disappointing. Hopefully it’s just an isolated incident and not something that’s going to become chronic.”

For Dustin Penner, this may still be a laughing matter as the winger has written an open letter to fans. In it, Penner discusses the incident and the ailment itself, “SOBS” (Sudden Onset Back Spasms) “Those who have experienced “SOBS,” know it is no laughing matter. I’m a little hurt, to tell you the truth, that the plight of my people isn’t being taken seriously,” explains Penner.

In closing, Penner finishes his letter saying “, I’m partnering with MayorsManor to sponsor a ‘Pancakes with Penner’ breakfast. In the weeks to come we’ll be setting up a special raffle. Fans will be able to purchase tickets for $1.00 for a chance to have a pancake breakfast with me. All the money raised will go to charity…while we enjoy some delicious pancakes!”

How could Lombardi not laugh upon hearing this news? No matter what made Lombardi want to clear the air, it was refreshing to hear. Hockey is still another business and although every team is out for themselves, it usually isn’t personal.

Filed in: Edmonton Oilers, Ryan Smyth, | Oil Patch | Permalink


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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.

Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.

Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.

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