2 teams, 1 problem

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:46 AM ET

Off an 0-for-8 power-play performance in Vancouver Saturday night and a 7-for-70 pre-season, is it only a matter of days before we have the Edmonton Oilers' next-to-last-in-the-league power play to kick around again?

In the interim, there's the Edmonton Eskimos penalties.

After the fallout from the Esks' 40-14 loss in Hamilton and coach Danny Maciocia's call in yesterday's Sun for the veteran leaders to take ownership of the football team, two veteran leaders - Singor Mobley and Ed Hervey - have decided to stand up publicly to take that ownership.

"It starts with the veterans and the penalties," said Ed Hervey. "It's the veteran players who are taking the penalties!

"If we're going to start showing veteran leadership, we start by the veterans eliminating the penalties."

The Eskimos had 18 penalties for 139 yards against Hamilton after finally getting their spit together the previous game, with only seven infractions for 44 yards against the B.C. Lions.

Against Hamilton, veteran former Tiger-Cat Joe Montford took five of those penalties himself - three offsides, one roughing the passer and one unnecessary roughness.

FLAGGED AGAIN

The Eskimos have had 1,443 yards of penalties. That's an average of more than 100 yards a game. That's almost three football fields more than any other team in the league. That's nearly the length of five football fields more than the B.C. Lions.

"I don't think the penalties should reflect on Danny Maciocia," said Hervey. "They reflect on the veteran players who are taking them. Danny is doing an excellent job of keeping us together. The only way we're going to finish where we want to finish is to address it and everything else involved in why we don't bring the same things to one game as the next.

"It's ridiculous for a team this talented to lose 40-14 to anybody in this league, much less a team which had two wins going into the game," says Hervey.

Defensive leader Singor Mobley answers the challenge as well.

"It's time for the vets to take control and start leading," says Mobley.

"We can't afford to continue on with this one week sky-high, next week so-low way we've been going this year. It's late in the season. We shouldn't need this wake-up call.

"We're a veteran group. We shouldn't be having these mistakes. What happened in Hamilton wasn't part of this team's character. That wasn't us. We didn't come out with any emotion.

"We didn't have any enthusiasm or intensity behind us. We have to be the team we expect to be, playing with discipline and emotion like we did against B.C., every single game the rest of the way."

Both veteran leaders suggest there's hope in there somewhere in that the Eskimos have played well in games against Montreal and B.C., which they designated big games.

They're all big games now that they blew that one in Hamilton. There are no two-win teams, no bottom-feeders left on their schedule.

Next up in Toronto on Thanksgiving Monday are the 8-5 East Division-leading defending Grey Cup champion Argos.

The following week it's the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who are on a five-game winning streak, tied with the Eskimos with an 8-6 record and one-point up in the two-game total point series to settle ties in the final standings.

Then it's the Lions, who had their winning streak snapped the last time they were here, returning for a rematch.

Then it's the Stampeders in Calgary. With the two teams having split the Labour Day doubleheader, the winner of that one wins the season series.

GOING BY THIRDS

"The way this team usually looks at it, the first six games are for growing pains, the middle third is to put yourself in position and the last third is where you make your run," says Hervey. "We're still working on things that should be worked out in the first third of the season."

Both say the veteran leaders will be spending the four days the Eskimos have off getting the players together away from the locker-room to commit themselves to each other for the rest of the season.

Now, it's about that Oiler power play. And that penalty killing. And the goaltending ...

How come, as much as things have changed, the stories seem to be staying the same with these two teams?


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