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THE TEAM TODAY

THE TEAM TODAY: Final Cuts

Eight forwards have rough start to the week after being assigned by Oilers

Monday, 04.10.2010 / 3:04 PM / The Team Today
By Jen Sharpe  - edmontonoilers.com
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THE TEAM TODAY: Final Cuts
MONDAY, OCTOBER 4

FINAL CUTS

Consecutive losses to their arch rivals likely didn't have the Oilers in a great mood to start Monday morning, and for eight players, it only got worse.

Oilers coaches and management made some difficult decisions and trimmed their roster by six forwards and two defencemen, bringing the total number of players in camp to 24 The club must be down to 23 by Wednesday.

Linus Omark and Chris Vande Velde were assigned to the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons, while Shawn Belle, Alexandre Giroux, Ryan O'Marra, Ben Ondrus, Richard Petiot and Liam Reddox were placed on waivers for the purpose of assignment to the Barons.

It was a "tough day," Head Coach Tom Renney said, but he hopes players are motivated by the experience.

"I think that all of these people today need to recognize that this is still very much the front end of a work in progress and it doesn't let anybody off the hook, myself especially," Renney explained. "What they have to remember is that this will be a body of work over time that I think they should want to be a part of because this is a pretty exceptional organization, in my mind, with a great landscape."

PLAYER REACTION

Some of the more veteran players, like Ondrus and Belle, have been through final camp cuts before and had a positive perspective on the experience.

"It's never easy being reassigned but they've got numbers to get down too and unfortunately I was not in the mix right now," Ondrus said. "It's what they feel they need to go ahead and have a good season, and hopefully down the road I can still be a part of it."

"It's a pretty disappointing time right now," Belle added. "There's obviously some positives I've got to take out of it, that I still stuck around here for a little bit.

"I just had my meeting -- it was positive. They just told me to continue to work hard down in Oklahoma City and show that I belong in the NHL and just go from there."

Rookie O'Marra said his first reaction to the 8:30am phone call was shock, then disappointment.

"I was already awake -- I haven't been sleeping much the past few days. I knew it was coming between eight and nine so I was up at about eight, just sitting around and hoping it didn't come," he reflected.

"It was just kind of paralyzing when he (Patrick Garland, Oilers Team Services Manager) called. When I picked up the phone, I didn't say much at first -- I didn't say anything actually -- I just heard Patty say what he had to say. And just said thank you. I couldn't really speak."

Linus Omark

Fellow rookie Omark was also tight-lipped.

"Of course I'm disappointed, but I'm going to go to Oklahoma and do my best there and hopefully come back," he said to the media.

When asked if he felt he was given an opportunity to succeed, Omark replied,"I don't want to discuss that. I want to play, so that's all I can say."

Renney understood Omark's reaction.

"Everybody aspires to the NHL, at least I hope they do, so he can comment however he chooses. I have no trouble with that whatsoever. It's an emotional time -- he believes he's an NHL player. Good for him."


Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Bob Stauffer

 
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 3

OILERS at FLAMES

In just their second road game of the pre-season schedule, the Edmonton Oilers travel south to take on the Calgary Flames at the Saddledome to conclude the 2010 exhibition campaign.

IN THE VIDEO ROOM

The Oilers' game group did not skate on Sunday morning. Instead, they spent time at Rexall Place going over video prior to an afternoon departure for Calgary.

One player looking to make a final impression before final cuts is Linus Omark. Omark has put up a goal and three points in two prior exhibition games.

"It's going to be a tough game, away against Calgary but I'm going to do my best out there and hopefully they want me," said Omark this morning.

In what's expected to be a physical affair, Omark stated that he was up for the challenge.

"I like it when it's tough. I think I get better when it's a tougher game."

Another player needing to make an impression is Shawn Belle. The blueliner has only played in one pre-season game due to a hand injury. He's competing with Richard Petiot and Theo Peckham for that last spot on the blueline.

"It's a big test. I know Calgary's going to dress their top guys so it's going to be a final tune-up for them. For me, it's a chance to prove myself against top-flight NHLers."

"For Shawn, he's missed some hockey. He's going to get an opportunity to play. I want him to keep it simple. Use his size, his strength, his passing skills, his shot. He's a great skater."

'WE WANT TO WIN'

Renney was asked what was of key importance to him in this final exhibition game - ensuring he had a proper evaluation of the remaining players on the bubble or pulling out a victory at the Saddledome.

"The evaluation is what's important to individuals. We have guys that are fighting for jobs, employment and a way of life," Renney remarked. 

The Oilers head coach, however, said that for him personally coming up with the win was the key as he tries to bring the team together.

"We want to win. We have to execute as a team and show the continued growth of our team game, never mind the individual needs of our players."


FLAMES 1 - OILERS 0

Alex Tanguay scored in the opening period and that was all the Flames would need, as they held on to defeat the Edmonton Oilers 1-0 in what was the final pre-season game for both clubs. The two sides will meet again for real on Thursday night at Rexall Place for the NHL regular season opener.

Author: Ryan Dittrick & Marc Ciampa | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Tom Gazzola

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2

SATURDAY SCHOOL

The Oilers had a few hours to lick their wounds from Friday's Battle of Alberta before returning to the battleground Saturday morning.

The team was split into two groups, starting with the squad that is expected to take on the Flames in Sunday's rematch.

The line combinations were as follows:

Penner - Cogliano - Eberle
Giroux - Gagner - Brule
Omark - Fraser - Jones
MacIntyre - O'Marra - Ondrus

Smid - Peckham
Petiot - Belle
Strudwick - Gilbert

After practice, Alexandre Giroux said he is looking forward to playing with young, speedy forwards Sam Gagner and Gilbert Brule.

"I've played with different players every game. The last one I played with two really offensive guys so that's going to be a lot of fun to make some plays with these guys," he said.

Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk will share netminding duties tomorrow, but there is no confirmation on who will start.

TIME TO SHINE

Sunday's game in Calgary is Edmonton's final pre-season match-up and the final opportunity for coaches and management to assess the players before opening day rosters are due Wednesday, October. 6

With 32 players remaining on the roster, the Oilers must cut nine prior to the deadline. Head Coach Tom Renney said it won't be an easy task.

"We'll have to make some tough decisions after that game, so yeah, there's some people in the game that we're going to pay close attention to," the coach explained. "We still have a number of guys here, and the numbers are large, so we'll place an emphasis on that."

The coach admitted that he wasn't anticipating having such an over-loaded roster at the start of October.

"I was hoping that we would be able to play our line-up in even these last couple of games, but it's a testament to the players -- they've made it difficult, they've made it interesting for us," he added.

Some of those players can be found on the blue line. Shawn Belle and Richard Petiot are expected to be paired up in Sunday's game, and both players are battling for a prized spot on the Oilers blue line.

"Going into tomorrow night, I'm just going to go out there and work as hard as I can and try not to do too much, just keep playing the way I'm playing," Petiot said.

Belle is expecting another tough challenge from the Flames and is looking to prove he can excel at the NHL level.

"Talking to some of the Calgary guys, it's going to be a tune-up game. They're probably going to have their better guys in the line-up, so for young guys like myself going in, we're going to view it as trying to play against top-flight NHLers," Belle explained.

ONE-ON-ONE

Alexandre Giroux

In the latest edition of our fan question series, Craig McArthur of Whitecourt, AB submitted a question for Alexandre Giroux.

CRAIG: "How well does the Oilers depth pool compare to the Capitals four or five years ago?"

ALEXANDRE: "I think every team has a lot of good players coming up every year. It's a little different with  (Washington's AHL affiliate) Hershey -- they've got a big market for the American League so it always brings some older veterans to win down there.

This year we've got three rookies that are unbelievable. I'm not sure every team has got that talent.

My first year in Ottawa it was Spezza and Vermette coming up, then I went to Washington and I saw Backstrom and those guys, so obviously every team has got good scouts that bring some good young players and that's what's going to happen here too."

Fill out the form on the right to submit a question for one of the Oilers. We will ask one of the submitted questions after the next practice and will post the answer in the next Team Today.


Author: Jen Sharpe | edmontonoilers.com, with files from Jack Michaels & Marc Ciampa


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