Saturday, July 25, 2009

New Home for Off The Post

"Off The Post" Has Moved!
Please visit our new URL

In preparation for the 2009/2010 NHL season, I have set up a new location for Off The Post. This blog will remain as is but will no longer be updated. Please visit the new home for Off The Post.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Off Season Update

So I guess it's about time for me to chime in on how the off season is and has been going. First let's recap: After the Penguins won the Cup the Oilers made a somewhat surprising move in hiring not just Pat Quinn as their new head coach, but also added Tom Renney as the "associate" coach. Many speculated that both were heavy candidates for the vacant position, but I don't think many considered the possibility of landing both of them. After having some time to ponder this move, I really don't see anything bad about it. It seems that our coaching staff has just been significantly been upgraded and has more depth.

Next, the rumors, oh the rumors. The draft was quickly approaching and as per usual the trade rumors started flying. In the end nothing overly exciting happened aside from Brodziak being flipped to The Wild for a couple late round picks. I liked Brodziak 2 season ago, his rookie year, but this past season I really could have taken or leaven him. I think the organization was hoping that he may emerge as a replacement for the previously traded Jaret Stoll, but this never happened. He became somewhat of a spare part on the 4th line who really didn't add much. He wasn't particularly physical, and didn't add much energy like he had on the line consisting of him, Stortini, and Glencross the season before. Considering how many contracts we have, and some of the younger guys on the farm needing some NHL ice time, like Brule and Schremp, this is a move that really made sense and is low risk.

And finally.... Heatley-Gate. I've been trying to reserve judgment on this for a while, simply hoping that it would eventually work itself out. Either him becoming an Oiler, or getting traded to another team but giving us all some closure. Ever since the supposed "deadline" prior to July 1st, we have all been left in this state of purgatory while Mr. Heatley decides weather or not he is willing to grace the Oilers Jersey with his presence. I for one don't give a rats ass what he thinks about Edmonton as a city, or the extra pressure that the Canadian media will give him. After all I'm sure Ottawa is probably pretty similar to Edmonton in that regard, but I'm thinking he may want to leave the Canadian media all together. As far as I'm concerned as long as if and when he becomes an Oiler he gives it his all and contributes to making the Oilers better, I will welcome him with open arms. All the behind the scenes b.s. really doesn't concern me, at least once the season starts. We probably don't know the whole story anyway. For all we know when Management went to visit Heatley in Kelowna to convince him to come play for the Oil, they may have come to an understanding. Perhaps not, but the bottom line is, we do not know anything other than what the media tells us. As I said, I want what's best for the Oilers. Heatley, if committed, will be great for the Oilers. Any hard feelings will be erased as soon as he buries his first beautiful feel via #83.

Khabibulin signing. I like it. The general consensus is that it's maybe a few dollars to much and a year too long. I think I would fit in to that opinion group. 3.75M per for 4 years does seem like 1 year too long, however I really don't think the dollars are too bad assuming he can be solid in front of our progressing defense. I do like the fact that they brought in a vet rather than someone unproven. I like the fact that he has won a cup, and is comming off a decent playoff run. He should take over nicely from Roli and I think upgrade the position. Nothing against Roli. He was a great Oiler and will be cheered when he plays at Rexal this season as the visiting Goalie. Let's hope he gets the start.

We still have a couple of pending RFA's to deal with, Brule, Schremp, Smid. Grebeshkov, just resigned for a one year deal at just over a 3M cap hit. He will still be an RFA next summer, so this deal is low risk for the Oil. They don't want to be handcuffed next summer when Gagner and Cogs (providing he's still and Oiler) are due for new contracts. I like the signing. It could also inspire Grebs to have a career season while he plays for a contract next season. Up side of that would be, we get a solid season out of him this year, but also if we are sellers at the deadline we could trade him and likely get an inflated return on him. The obvious down side would be that he may be asking for the moon next summer when negotiations start. I'm thinking one way or the other Grebs being an Oiler to start the 2010/2011 season are slim, considering we have a couple prospects knocking on the door in Chorney and Peckham. Of course there has been plenty of speculation that Gilbert may be moved, or even Lubo or Souray. I like the idea of rolling with these 4 this season, but I can't see that working under the cap long term.

That's about it for now but I have been working on an off season project which I will begin posting next week. It will be a several part series of the history of how I grew up an Oilers fan. I figure the summer is as good as anytime to post something like that.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Oh, did someone say something?

Right, I have a blog to post to here. Hmmm, well let's see what's been happening in Oilers land? Well, not much.

Today I read some rumors about Messier being considered for the vacant coaching position. I don't know about that. I always figured that WHEN he gets back into hockey it would be with the Rags. I could see him as assistant GM to Slats for a few seasons before taking over in NYC. But maybe he wants to try coaching? Still, I can't see him stepping into a full time NHL head coaching gig with no experience. Maybe as an assistant, or down in Springfield to kick Rob Schremps ass around the ice for a season before moving up the big club ala Kelly Buchberger? I don't know about any of it and to be honest, I just want a great coach to help turn this team around. I'm no expert on what makes a great coach, but I'm hopeful that Tambo hires the right man for the job.

In other borderline Oilers news at the World Championships, Canada lost to Russia yesterday for the 2nd year in a row picking up another Silver medal. But for Oilers fans perhaps the biggest news of the World's was Jagr's comments saying that if he were to return to the NHL, Edmonton would be his first choice. He is under contract for one more season in the KHL in Russia and remember, there is that fairly loosy goosy rule the 2 leagues have about respecting each others contracts. However, with the money problems the KHL has been having I don't think it would be too hard for Edmonton billionaire owner Darryl Katz to find a way to make that contract "go away". As Oilers fans, do we want an aging Jagr? I've been thinking about this since last summer when these rumors first hit, and now I think I do want Jagr. He will likely want a 2 year deal if we got him this summer, and I think we can get 2 seasons out of him. Aside from the obvious positives he would bring to the team, it will also force us to move some salary to make room for him. I think this is a necessary task this summer anyway and it will also free up some salary cap space in 2 years when his contract would expire, at which point we will be able to sign some of our kids, or other UFA's.

The Capitals have just forced a game 7 vs the Penguins in what has been maybe the most entertaining series of the post season so far. It's great when you can see the 3 top offensive stars in the game today playing in one series.

And lastly for those who are still feeling down about another long off season, watch this video. If you don't get goosebumps watching this you're likely not an Oilers fan, a hockey fan, or a Canadian...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Playoffs and Scattered Thoughts

Well round 1 of the playoffs will wrap up tonight with 2 great game 7's on the schedule. I'm watching the Capitals vs Rangers as I write this and Fedorov has just scored to give the Capitals the go ahead goal late in the 3rd. This also marks (approximately) the anniversary of our beloved Oilers knocking of the #1 seed Red Wings 3 long years ago. Ring a bell Sharks? Oh wait didn't we knock them out that same year? The only thing I didn't enjoy about seeing the Sharks loose last night was that it was at the hands of the Anaheim Dorks. Ah, well someone has to win I guess, though I did take the Sharks in my pool.

Last night I went out and watched the Blackhawks knock off the Flamers of cow-town, it was great to watch. I love playoff hockey I really do but when the Oilers aren't in it, it's just not as much fun. I usually find myself cheering against teams rather than for anyone. And then once all the teams I dislike are eliminated I find it barely worth even watching. Though every time I see the Stanley Cup awarded, regardless of the winner, I always find myself getting a little teary eyed. With the exception of the Hurricanes in '06. After they potted the empty netter I grabbed my slightly warm pint glass and walked out to the patio. I still to this day haven't seen the rest of that game after the empty netter.

Anyway back to the playoffs. At the start of the season I obviously hoped for a better outcome for the Oilers and to have them at least in the playoffs. However, I took the Blackhawks as my darkhorse team, meaning if I had to take a team other than the Oilers who would it be? Yes I took the Hawks. I didn't enjoy loosing to them 3 out of 4 times this year including a good shellacking in one of our losses, but once the Oilers were out and the Hawks were in well, what can I say, I'm riding the Blackhawks through the playoffs this year. It didn't hurt having them line up with the Flamers in the first round, that's win-win for me. I would have been cheering against the Flamers either way, but if the Blackhawks can do the deed? Well I'm ok with that, and they did! And now the Hawks have another great win-win for me. Their next challenge will be the Canucks, another team I love to see loose. I think it will be a tough series for both. Both are riding hot goalies, but Vancouver has been sitting for 2 weeks and I think they'll be rusty. Chicago is young and ready to rock. I haven't made my official prediction yet, but I think I'm leaning towards the Hawks in 6. Other teams I've been following are the Capitals simply because they are an entertaining team to watch, and I want to see what Ovechkin can do past round 1. And as luck would have it, they've just beaten the Rags in a thrilling game 7 coming back from being down 3 games to 1! I also enjoy seeing the Rangers loose, except in '94, that was cool! I don't care too much about any of the other teams in the East. I would rather New Jersey win over the Canes, (still a little bitter I guess), I don't like the Bruins so I will likely be cheering against them in round 2 and the Penguins are whatever to me. I guess that makes the Caps my East team. Hmm, a Capitals vs Blackhawks final? Could happen, lot's of work to be done first though.

Back to some Oilers. Hmm, I haven't really been thinking Oilers much since the MacT firing. I'm still waiting to hear from MacT publicly, I guess he isn't obligated to speak to the media, but knowing his track record I'm sure he will eventually. Maybe once he knows what he will do next he'll speak.

There are a few Oilers playing at the worlds, Horcoff, Roloson, Hemsky, Kotalik, O'Sullivan, Grebeshkov, and prospect Omark. I will probably try to watch a few games later in the tournament, but for now, ho-hum. I have taken some time to reflect on the Oilers season but I'm still not ready to put my thought to this blog yet. I've also been working on a series of posts that I will post over the summer. It's more of a story of my history as an Oilers fan. All of us who grew up in Edmonton in the 80's have stories, and great ones at that. I look forward to posting them during the off season.

For now though, back to the Oilerless playoffs.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The end of the MacT regime

Alright so what can I say here that hasn't been beaten to death over the entire season? It's no shock today as Oilers GM Steve "Tambo" Tambellini announced that Craig MacTavish has been relieved by the organization. MacT coached the Oilers for 8 seasons from 2000/2001 to 2008/2009. First the stats:

93 points 39-28-12-3
6th place in the West
Lost in quarter finals to Dallas 4-2

92 points 38-28-12-4
9th place in the West

92 points 36-26-11-9
8th place in the West
Lost in quarter finals to Dallas 4-2

89 points 36-29-12-5
9th place in the West


95 points 41-28-13
8th place in the West
Won quarter finals 4-2 over Detroit
Won Conf semi-finals 4-2 over San Jose
Won Conf finals 4-1 over Anaheim
Lost Stanley Cup finals 4-3 to Carolina

71 points 32-43-7
12th place in the West

88 points 41-35-6
9th place in the West

89 points 38-35-9
11th place in the West

To me the most glaring statistic throughout these 8 seasons is the fact that the Oilers have made the playoffs only 3 times. Prior to the lockout they could use the "small market" team excuse. The season following the 2006 cup run they could blame the sudden departure of one Chris Pronger, coupled with the teams collapse after the Ryan Smyth trade and not to mention a pretty injury riddled squad. Last season they came close but fell just short. This year was the year that I, and most Oilers fans, have had the most trouble with. They had the playoffs in their grip down the strecth and fell apart like a cheap tent in the clutch. This team had a different dynamic this year and I'm sure it goes well beyond what the media or the players themselves state publicly. One thing is obvious, the Oilers need a shakeup. They were not playing Oilers hockey this past season and MacT has taken the first bullet.

I'm not a MacT hater, though I do beleive it was time for a change. Perhaps even a year past time for a change. None the less here we are, our 2nd worse finish in 8 seasons, not even close to meeting our expectations and we have some salary cap issues ahead of us.

But first off, what do we do about a new coach? I would like to see someone with NHL experience from outside the organization. I'm not going to begin to sit here and say what makes a good NHL coach, or who the top candidates should be. But after listening to Tambellini's presser this afternoon it does seem to me like this team is ready to do what it takes to win. The GM spoke about accountabilty throughout the organization and it sounds like he has a plan.

He breifly touched on the idea of MacT staying on with the organization in some capacity but said that ultimately MacTavish would take some time and decide what's best for him. I've speculated about this in the past myself thinking that MacT would step down as coach to accept a position in upper management. While I do beleive Craig MacTavish has a great hockey mind, and will be an asset to whatever team in whatever capacity he is in, I think the Oilers would be best to move on without him for 2 reasons. 1, I think they need to move away from the "Ol boys club" and yes that means that I think Bucky, and Huddy should probably be on their way out along with the rest of the coaching staff. And 2, we need to inject new blood, and new perspective into the organization from the players up.

The team has stated that they want to pursue a more offensive style. Tambellini also mentioned today that a large priority will be to get bigger, tougher, and grittier something the Oilers haven't been in some time now. I watch them night after night get pushed around by less skilled teams. They let lesser opponents dictate the flow of the game. The Oilers for years have been always consistent at putting out a hard working, fast, and aggressive team. Not always the most talented, but as an opponent you knew a win vs the Oilers was going to be earned. This year was the first year that I can remember as an Oilers fan that they were a "gimme" for many teams in the league and even lesser opponents knew they had a good shot at beating the Oilers, especially at Rexall.

So where to next? I hope we get a great coach that can help our young players develop and dictate leadership throughout the roster. Perhaps our captains should also be reevaluated. Will the veterans be back next season? Moreau, Staios, Pisani? They're all under contract still but maybe it's time to change up the leadership group. I think Staios has served the team well but he could easily be replaced and the same goes with Moreau and Pisani. I think We'll be stuck with Horcoff and his contract, however I still beleive that he can be our #1 center if we can get an elite #1 left winger to play with him and Hemmer. But we've got months to kick all this around.

All in all, I like MacT and I wish him the best in whatever he does. I know I will circle the date on my calendar when the Oilers face him in the future, and I am pretty sure they will. I think he still wants to coach and I don't think he'll have a hard time finding work. Good luck Mac, you'll always be that helmetless #14 to me!

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Game Review, vs Calgary - Apr 10th 2009

I've been reading about people debating what's better for the Oilers, beat Calgary in a meaningless game, or loose to grab a better draft pick? I've mentioned before that I don't believe in teams tanking for draft picks and what sort of professional athlete goes out with the intention of loosing? We've all seen the Oilers at times playing like they don't appear as though they want to win this season, but I'm sure that they do. Sports is so much about psychology, if one team is more mentally prepared than the other, even if they're less skilled I think 9 times out of 10 they will win.

But to get back on track, the Oilers are going to finish 11th in the West regardless of how tonight's remach vs the Flamers turns out or how the out of town scoreboard goes. We could tie with the Wild, but I'm pretty sure they have the tie breaker because of winning the season series, and Dallas could tie us but we would win that tie breaker on a count of more wins. The Eastern teams are also all set, at least as they pertain to the Oilers finish in the overall standings and unless my math is off, or I'm missing something the Oilers will have the 10th draft pick this spring no matter what happens in Calagary tonight or anywhere else.

Anyway, last night's 5-1 win over the Flamers was proof of 2 things. 1, the Oilers are a good team when they want to be, and 2, the Flames are a bit banged up right now. It's looking like Vancouver is going to take the division unless lowly Colorado can muster up a win over the Canucks. However if Vancouver does somehow manage to beat the last place Avs in a Saturday matine, tonight's battle of Alberta will be for nothing except pride for both teams. I suppose this is good for our Oilers because the Flamers will know if there is anything on the line by the time the 2 teams hook up this evening. If Vancouver does loose, and Calgary beats our Oilers they can then tie Vancouver but get the division because of more wins. I like the idea of playing a dejected Flamers team tonight even though the thought of Vancouver winning the division is a little unsettling. But six of one, half dozen of the other. A divisional rival is going to win the NW no matter what, we might as well get something out of it by dousing the Flamers 2 nights in a row.

Last night, well what can I say. Horcoff with 3 points, Sheldon (future Oilers captain) Souray with 3 points, and JDD with a solid performance after riding pine for nearly the entire season. All I had on my wish list for these final 2 games was a split with Calgary and competitive hockey. With the second half of the back to back going tonight we have already got at least the split. A win in Calgary is never a bad thing, and I think it would be nice to send the Flamers into the post season on a loosing streak.

To recap: Tonight's game will have no bearing on our draft pick. If Vancouver wins this afternoon tonight's game will have no bearing on Calgary's post season spot. An Oilers sweep of the back to back vs Calgary would send us into the long off season on a positive note.

My prediction: Oilers 4 Calgary 2

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Off Day.... Not much?

Hmm, not a whole lot going on in Oilers land. Since our playoff hopes are now gone, head coach Craig MacTavish announced that back-up goal tender Jeff Deslauriers will be starting both games vs Calgary to end the season. Not a surprise since he hasn't started a game since November.

I have to wonder if Dwayne Roloson has played his last game as an Oiler? He is of course a UFA as of July 1st after signing his post '06 cup run 3 year contract extension. I've heard lots of speculation about Rollie: he wants to resign in Edmonton, he wants to play in the East closer to his family, but one thing is for sure, Rollie ain't done. And after the season he's had why would the 39 year old late bloomer call it a career?

My prediction? Rollie will sign a 1 year deal with the Red Wings this summer. Why? Closer to home, chance to win a cup, and play for a team that will limit his shot exposure, thus extending his career. He can't face 35+ shots a night and expect to last much longer, Detroit will have him probably averaging around 25 shots/games plus they will have a back-up that will be able to handle 20-25 games.

I would like to see Rollie back with the Oil for 1 more season, but at the same time I think if he takes off I can't say I would blame him. He deserves to do what's best for him and his family.