Fall stars

All Star talk dominates a morose column

Water finds its own level. So did our Oil last week. The Oilers put the brakes on a seven-game losing streak by being just one goal better than the New York Islanders, who were also one point behind the Oilers in NHL standings at faceoff time (it ended with a 2-1 win). Then the Oilers faced a much better team in Vancouver and were outclassed 6-1. The Canuckleheads were on a 12-0-2 streak at the time; the Oilers just added to it. The Oilers continued their new losing streak in Dallas, fighting hard but falling 3-2.

Leave Grapes Alone!

I'm not a big fan or defender of Don Cherry—the guy has proven himself on a number of occasions to be a xenophobic, sexist, slightly senile old man—but the press has been unfair towards him in regards to the comments he made about the Russian World Juniors team. When Cherry quipped, "I can't stand people who can't stand liquor," in regards to the behaviour of the Russian team after it won the tournament—unruly behaviour that got the team kicked off a Delta Airlines flight that was to take them home—he was being more charitable than usual. Kind, even. That team's members were out of control, acted dishonourably and should have been more careful, especially considering the legal drinking age in New York State is 21 and all players in the World Juniors must be under 20. Printing Cherry's comments verbatim and not providing any context is a nasty business, akin to misquoting him. BB

Hey now. You're an All-Star

Kudos to Ales Hemsky for being the token Oiler named to the All-Star roster. We'll have our most exciting player in the showcase. It was also good to see Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall added to the Rookie roster. The Oilers are the only team with more than one of the 12 Rookies in the group. DY

Future considerations

At some point this year, team management is going to have to take a long hard look at trading away some players who aren't necessarily a part of the team's oft-mentioned five-year plan. The two most likely to come up are Penner and Hemsky. With a glut of talented wingers coming up in the Oilers' system and a dearth of quality centres and defencemen, coupled with the fact that either of Hemsky or Penner would make nice additions to any team looking to make a dent in the playoffs, the return on investment could be vast. And with Penner's inability to work hard every game and Hemsky's increasing propensity for injury, the two could be liabilities if re-signed at the end of next season, when both contracts expire. I'm not saying I want to see either of them go, I'm just saying we gotta think about what's best for the team. BB

Pick me! Pick me!

I'm jazzed about the new format being rolled out for the All-Star game to pick teams. Instead of East/West or Europe/North America, the teams will be drafted by two panels of three captains each (which the All Stars will privately choose) on Friday, January 28. The draft is billed as new NHL executive Brendan Shanahan's idea and does sound like the kinda plan Shanny would dream up. A big stink-eye goes to writers Dave Lozo and Dan Rosen, who held a mock draft using the same rules the team captains would have to follow (all three goalies have to be chosen by Round 10 and all six d-men need to be picked by Round 15 of 18). In their obviously amateurish mock draft, Ales Hemsky was picked last. Boo to Lozo and Rosen. Boo. DY

Free ideas, NHL execs! Come get 'em

Thinking of the All-Star game draft (my wife actually thought it was a neat innovation and she hates hockey) gave me some ideas to give pizzazz (Zip! Razzle dazzle! Jazz hands!) to the telecast.
1) The set should look like a basement or den, just like the rooms we all gather in to do our own sports drafts. Or a pub. Complete with a homemade board to put names up.
2) Maybe have a celebrity ride shotgun with each team to crack wise and give witty advice as picks are being made. Free advice: Kevin Smith, Denis Leary, Mike Myers (despite Love Guru) and Steve Carell are all hockey fans and funny. This is the NHL and it will be on Versus so we may have to settle for Full House's Dave Coulier and some jackass from a reality show.
3) Don't just stop at letting the players pick their teammates. Let them also pick which rookies will have to sing the anthem.
This shit just flies out of my head for free. Genius. DY

Oilers Player of the week

Devan Dubnyk: Nearly impossible to pick a player of the week in a week like this, but Dubnyk stood his ground against the Isles, allowing the Oilers to steal a win from a classic rival. BB
Ales Hemsky: Named to the All-Star team. Had the lone Oiler goal in Vancouver. DY

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