** wrote this a couple weeks ago, I realize recent rumours have hemsky as the most likely to go. Nevertheless here is my (first ever)blog about Dustin Penner
I remember that summer of turmoil well, a year removed from game seven of the stanley cup finals. Chris Pronger, though I loathe him for obvious reasons, is the best defensemen I’ve seen in Oiler silks. I didn’t get the luxury of watching the oilers in their glory days, and am jealous of all of you that were there. I was being born near the same time that last oilers cup was raised.
Back on topic.
Kevin Lowe was looking and sounding like a desperate man in desperate times. First came the offer sheet to Thomas Vanek. At the time I thought it wasn’t a bad idea, the kid had just come off a monstrous year(43-41-84) when that Buffalo team was near the best in the league. Buffalo eventually matched the offer, clearly not happy about it. I remember them criticizing the oilers claiming they would get back at them, I guess they kind of did in the end: remember that disaster Kotalik we wasted a pick on? Looking back now I breathe a sigh of relief, just like I do when I think of not landing Heatley or Hossa.
It was tough times for Edmonton, though we are a two and a half hour drive north drive of Calgary we are still the only Siberia in the NHL. Kevin Lowe was very desperate to prove that we could attract talent here, any way necessary. When I saw the headline that Dustin Penner had been offered what seemed to be a pretty monstrous contract I didn’t know what to think. I knew he had won a cup, I knew he was in his only his second season despite being 24 or 25. So I looked him up and found out as much as I could about him. First full season in the NHL 29 goals, not half bad but was it worth the contract?
I don’t want to get into the Lowe vs. Burke fiasco because I am writing about burke in a different work. Love them or hate them they are good hockey guys, which was demonstrated by them being able to reconcile and show companionship for each other in tough times (Brenden Burkes Death).
After all was said and done, and printed, Dustin Penner was a member of the Edmonton Oilers.
Two years of tough times followed, with Penner being in Mac T’s doghouse for almost the entire time. Mac T even went to the media criticizing him saying that they(the organization) saw the contract as a “starting point” were he had to play increasingly better to get to the end point, and Penner thought he was already at that point. He was very frustrating to watch night in and night out. The guy is 6’4 245 and he didn’t play like it. It’s hard to watch someone that big not willing to throw a check, because you know if he really wanted to he could be a Lucic.
But thats not Penners game.
Dustin Penner was seen to have one of the worst contracts in the league, and was deemed untradeable.
After Mac T was eventually fired, Dustin Penners third season as an Oiler was a coming out party of sorts. I remember it very well.
Eager to gain some practical experience I got a few security jobs. Rexall place was one of the first ones that I got. I rocked that powder blue security jumpsuit for only a couple months. Being a die-hard Edmonton fan I was ecstatic to know that in my first week (opening week of the season) I would be down “guarding” the oilers dressing room with a more senior security officer. I remember seeing different oilers coming in and out, my heart just about stopped each time, but one person stood out more than the others.
Dustin Penner had been criticized heavily, for .... well being heavy. Constant jokes about that contract and hamburgers were always mentioned. This was different, someone had obviously lit a fire under his ass. With Mac T out, Penner had something to prove.
I looked Dustin Penner up and down that day like a victoria’s secret runway model, and he looked great. He didn’t look fat and lazy, he looked lean and powerful. I told anyone that would listen to watch out for this guy this year.
32 goals he scored that year, and he could have scored forty. He was off to a torrid pace and scored a huge percentage of those goals in the first half of the season, and then Hemsky went down with (yet another)injury. He’s on pace for another 30 again this year, and he could potentially do it for another 5 seasons.
Edmonton fans forget that he was pretty much are only legitimate scoring threat as well. He went from a player who seemed overweight and disinterested to a guy looking to prove he was worth every penny of that contract.
I wouldn’t want to be in Tambellini’s shoes at the moment.
Penners value is as high as ever.
6’4 245 power forward
Soft hand, capable of 30 + goal seasons
Warrior, 4 games missed in 4 seasons with the oilers.
Taken a leadership role with the team.
You see fire in his eyes on the ice, and he is not afraid to stand up for his teammates, a far stretch from when he was seemingly disinterested.
People are quick to say deal him while his value is this high, but will the return be worth it?
If there was a way to pluck a Zach Bogosian or a player of that caliber I would say do it. No, I’m not saying Penner for Bogosian straight up, I realize we would have to add considerably.
For the time being we all wait patiently for the trade deadline. Steve Tambellini who has a reputation of sitting on his hands, could be making decisions in the coming weeks which will affect his “legacy” as oilers gm.
I like all of you diehard NHL fans anxiously wait for that day to unfold.