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Stauffer Stuff: Red Wings give us perspective

by Bob Stauffer / Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton Oilers' Tom Gilbert, left, attempts to defend against Detroit Redwings Justin Abdelkader, as he crashes the net of goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, during third period NHL hockey action in Edmonton, on Friday, Nov. 5, 2010. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press - John Ulan)
For the second time in less than a week the Edmonton Oilers will face one of the elite franchises in the National Hockey League as the Oil get another shot at the Detroit Red Wings, this time at the aging Joe Louis Arena.

Coming after a very disappointing performance in a 7-1 loss in Raleigh, North America against the non-descript Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night it goes without saying that the Oilers will look to elevate their level of performance.

They better….as the veteran-laden Red Wings appear re-energized after an injury-plagued 2009-10 season that saw them bow out in the second round of the Stanley Cup play-offs, after back-to-back seasons in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Red Wings have been a model franchise for the last 15 seasons, though it should be noted it wasn’t always like this in “Hockeytown”.

The Red Wings were the “Dead Wings” throughout much of the 1970’s and into the early 1980’s.
Mike Illitch who founded “Little Caesars” in the late 1950’s purchased the “Dead Wings” in 1982 and brought over New York Islanders bird dog Jimmy Devellano in to be the General Manager to turn around the Wings fortunes.

Detroit Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman walks with Jim Devellano, left, before the start of the news conference in Detroit, Monday, July 3, 2006, where Yzerman announced his retirement from hockey. Yzerman, the Red Wings' 41-year-old captain, played his entire NHL career with Detroit.
Devellano’s teams, led by #4 overall pick from the 1983 draft, Steve Yzerman, had decent runs in the ’87 and ’88 losing to the Oilers in the Campbell Conference Final.

But the Wings didn’t really become a top-notch NHL Franchise until the mid 1990’s thanks in large part to a brilliant 1989 draft that netted them understated superstar defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom amongst a host of others.

In other words, building an elite level team sometimes takes time.

As Oilers fans for the most part patiently await the on-going development of the three young Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle who are 18,19 and 20 respectively it should be noted that many of the top Red Wing stars did not become elite level players into their mid-20’s.
Make no mistake the Wings’ organization has had the luxury of bringing their players along slowly, but it should be noted that four-time Lady Byng Award Winner Pavel Datsyuk did not score 30 goals until he was 25, Zetterberg the 2008 Conn Smythe Trophy Winner was also 25 before he scored 30+ goals, and Thomas Holmstrom, the third member of the Wings top line, broke through for his first 20 goal season at 29.

I am not suggesting that it will take Hall or Eberle until they are 25 years old to become NHL stars, in fact I would be surprised if those two didn’t break the 20 goal barrier this season, but sometimes a little perspective is needed in terms of assessing players in the embryonic stage of their NHL development.

As the Oilers take the ice against the Wings likely without captain Shawn Horcoff for the second straight game, the team will have just two 30 year-olds in the line-up. Conversely Detroit will have 10 skaters 30 or older, including veteran puck-moving defenceman Brian Rafalski who did not play Friday in Edmonton.

The Skinny on Hall

Edmonton Oilers' Taylor Hall, right, celebrates after scoring a goal as Chicago Blackhawks' Troy Brouwer looks on during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Friday, Oct. 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
You had to feel a bit for Taylor Hall on Tuesday night.

Hurricanes first round draft choice Jeff Skinner, who was drafted seventh overall, six spots behind Hall in the 2010 NHL Entry draft is off to a great start to the season in virtually total anonymity in Raleigh.

With his three point performance against the Oilers, Skinner now has 15 points in 15 games.
As Hall and Eberle got sat down for the first 15 minutes of the third period, a move which raised more than a few eyebrows in the press box, given that Oilers Head Coach Tom Renney had a plethora of Oilers forwards he could have sat; there was Skinner getting all the looks on a lethal ‘Canes powerplay.

Skinner saw four minutes of pp time against the Oil whereas Hall was limited to 18 seconds of sugar time.

It appears as though Hall will play against the Red Wings with former Michigan Wolverine Andrew Cogliano and Eberle.
Given that Hall will have several friends and family making the trek across the Detroit River from Windsor, don’t be surprised if we see a strong bounce back performance against the Red Wings.   
Something in the Water
Vancouver Canucks' Jeff Tambellini, left, and New Jersey Devils' Henrik Tallinder, of Sweden, collide during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, B.C., on Monday Nov. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)
Current Oilers General Manager Steve Tambellini played with the Calgary Flames in the mid 1980’s and though they were over-shadowed by the Oilers of that era they were prolific in their own right.

Tambellini, former Oilers scout Kent Nilsson, and current Wisconsin Head Coach Mike Eaves, were all members of the Flames in 1984-85 and at that time and all had boys within a one year span that would end up being selected in the first round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

Tambellini’s son Jeff who was born on April 13th, 1984, went 27th overall with the Los Angeles Kings that year. Jeff Tambellini started the season with the Vancouver Canucks and is currently with the Manitoba Moose in the AHL. 

Kent Nilsson, who was known as the “magic man” during his playing days, is the father of former Oiler Robert Nilsson, who was born Jan. 10th, 1985. Robert Nilsson was selected 15th overall in the 2003 NHL draft by the New York Islanders. After playing 252 games in the NHL including 199 with the Oilers, Nilsson was bought out this past off season and is currently playing for Ufa Salavat in the KHL.

Eaves son Patrick was born May 1st, 1984, and was selected 29th overall by the Ottawa Senators in the 2003 draft. He will likely be on the Red Wings fourth line Thursday night.

Bob Stauffer is the Colour Analyst on the Oilers Radio Network and Host of “Oilers Lunch” on the Team 1260, Monday thru Friday Noon until 2:00 PM.
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