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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Split Decision"

What if the fate and the future of the Edmonton Oilers was in your hands? What if it was up to you, to decide the next decision as owner, President or General manager of the team? Would you use the wisdom of the scouts, coach's and manager's in making big decisions? Or would you give the fans a chance to voice their vote, give their opinion?  After all, we know the fans can't be wrong. Or can they?

Well, it was a interesting night on many accounts. Got a chance to take in the one game at 'Rexall Place'  tonight and came out happy to see hockey again. I will admit, after the first period, I was just glad to have hockey back, but was starting to get that feeling of 'here we go again'. Turned out, the Oilers got back into the game and started really making some things happen. All in all, it was a good night. Enjoyed the folks around us, talked lots with Oiler fans, filled them in, on  lesser known players and even got to cheer after seeing some goals scored.

I planned to listen to the radio broadcasts on the way home to get updated on anything from the Chicago game in Saskatoon and then catch the game replay from streaming video online. Upon getting home, I find out I can't see the replay of the video feed. Also found little information was given. In fact I had more information from twitter then I did anywhere else, including sports radio coverage. For me, the Oilers dropped the ball on this one. Felt more like this was about working on the team game for the players and less about the fans. I can get it, but one problem with that....'the fans pay the bills".

So with saying all that, I just want to let you know, I have very little information from what happened in Saskatoon except the limited highlights. The game itself here in Edmonton carried a lot of mistakes from both teams early on. Once the players started getting their legs going, the cob webs started to unsettle and it started looking like a NHL hockey game. We all know it's the first game of the year, players are trying to get their legs going and establish chemistry with line mates, not to mention just get their timing down. It was exciting to see the 'All Swedish Line' do well. Sure they took 4 penalty's but again it's pre-season, it's the time to get that all out of the system isn't it? Fedun played another great game until taken out by a boarding hit by Powe. Hordichuck laid a crushing check and had to face Kassian in a fight to the ice. He held his own even though he was definitely out sized in this one. What was his secret to staying in the fight and not getting his face messed up? Throw way more punches then you receive and don't stop til it's over. Seriously, he may have lost the fight, but besides his helmet sent flying by a big punch by Kassian, he was speed bagging (except rarely hitting much) Kassian.

Would have been exciting to see a overtime match the first game of the year with real competition but you can't have it all on the first night can you? In Saskatoon, the 'Nuge' along with Smyth and Eberle stole the show by the sounds of it. Except for Josh Green who would not be upstaged this night. He appeared to do well on the scoreboard despite his limited time on ice. Smyth looks to be a ageless wonder (let's hope that continues) Eberle looks to still have the 'Midas Touch' and RNH continues to show why he was selected #1 over all in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Coming back to my opening comments. What if, it was really up to us fans to decide who stays up and who does not? The reason I bring this up? Well, after reading blogs all summer, see all the comments by fans,  read the opinions by scouts and the so called experts, I really do believe that many of us believe we can make decisions for this team better then management. I am not saying this to get your hair up and to start a debate, but c'mon Oil fans. Actually, it's not only us Oiler fans, it's the MSM as well.

The problem that I am seeing is, the opinions are not balanced both ways. (ok, I know, that's my Opinion) Let me explain. If someone plays well in pre-season, people get all excited and start believing their the next ( fill in blank). Of course , some will say, wait and see. let's see if this player can carry this through to the regular season. OK, that's fair, let's do that. But what about the other way around? What if they struggle early on? Could that not be the actual player just shaking off the dust from a season off? Can't we give them till the regular season and see where they are at? I guess what I am saying is, how can we jump all over a player cause of one bad game, yet in the same breath , praise another player cause of a good game? Is it not a wait and see for them both? Now granted, based on practice, based on previous years and background, we may already (management I am meaning, not fans) know their potential ceiling or lack of. However if someone is not known to fare as well in their past history, yet has one good game, should that not be considered?

Past history tells us a lot about a player. If a player is known to show signs they are lacking in a area of their game and it shows in the pre-season game, chances are good, they have not improved enough to warrant a continued look. On the other hand, should a player show continued improvement and elite level skills throughout their career to date, a good showing in a pre-season game, could be a sign that player is showing exactly the player they were thought to be.

Confused yet? I think I am almost confusing myself. My main point as a fan is, 'why do we think we know more then the actual management, coaching and scouts?' I have no problem someone arguing a point that has some merit and thought process into it, but let's be realistic here. There are many factors to making a decision as to who will be in the Edmonton Oilers roster for the duration of the year.

The best example I can use is the 'Nuge'. Tonight at the hockey game I had a discussion with some folks about the possibility of RNH staying with the Oilers or being returned to Jr's. Either way, he WILL be a Oiler. If not this year, then next year for certain. It doesn't matter to me either way, however some are already sending him back to Jr. My only question at this point is why? If you told me, we will wait and see how he fares against tougher competition, I would be ok with that argument, but to say he has to go back, because he is too small? Really? Is that all you got? I have already covered some of the argument to that in a earlier blog called "Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ready for PRIMETIME?"
(check out what Oiler staff,players and coach's have said about RNH and his size)

How do you decide if someone is too small? Because their too Short? Too Slender? Too Lanky? They look like a teenager? 'Sorry kid, back to Jr's for you!' What if they are a better player then your other option's? You still send them down? I understand Entry level Contracts, One way contracts etc...What I don't understand, is why some so adamantly believe they know better then the professionals who make a living doing this. Give me good meaningful reasons why RNH or anyone else for that matter should be sent packing at the end of camp and I am all ears. Just use reason and logic, not senseless thought statements. The one statement given to me tonight on why RNH needs to go back to Jr's (you know who you are, Mr.Hemsky fan) was, "A friend of mine who works in the medical field says RNH is TINY, no way he can take a hit without being crushed. He has to go back and get bigger". Maybe he is right, maybe he needs to build up his core strength more. I don't know, all I can say is, til this point, he has looked pretty good. The 'Nuge' has shown nothing to the Oiler staff that he needs to go back to the Red Deer Rebels. Now that could change within a game or two, but right now, he continues to perform and perform well.  All hail "the NUGE"!

p.s. (I gave this wonderful Oiler fan our website address and told him to please comment in here if I am wrong and RNH does not remain with the Oilers for the season. My question is, 'will he comment in here if I am right?')
If the Oilers were in your hands, what would you do? What is your logic behind your decision? What about Hartikanen? How about Lander? Tough decisions that can affect the future of your club if not handled properly. For me, I will leave that up to the Oilers management and continue to sit on my soapbox, yelling and judging every decision the Edmonton Oilers make. In the meantime, and in between time, that's it, for another addition of 'hockey tonight'!

Edmonton Oilers 2011 Pre-Season

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