SUN Hockey Pool

Quinn and Renney speak their minds

JOHN SHORT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:57 AM ET

For most of last season, fellow guessperts in the media and in the seats objected that Liam Reddox was getting too much ice time.

This year, the gritty little guy is being hailed as something of a life preserver.

I'd like someone to tell me how he's changed. What I see is the same on-ice creature as last year.

He skates hard, checks willingly, takes his undersized body into all the tough areas, sacrifices his body to block a shot or make an offensive play.

The hockey club is much the same as last year, too. Unfortunately.

Players work as hard as their comfort level allows, and not a touch harder. The inconsistent ones are still inconsistent. The veteran leaders keep saying the right things and getting the wrong results.

There has, of course, been one welcome public change. Now, Pat Quinn and Tom Renney call out those who aren't doing the job. It's about time.

If Tom Gilbert was any softer, he'd melt. Finally, he spent some time on the bench because of it.

Last year -- remember? -- Craig MacTavish protected most of the under-achievers by keeping his mouth shut for a long time. Finally, he opened up about Dustin Penner's flabby attitude. He also had uncomplimentary things to say about a few others.

Players responded by throwing MacTavish under the bus.

Between April and September, many veterans took the easy way out by telling an interviewer that the change in coaching would mean a big improvement.

Some players -- notably Penner -- have improved from last year. Others -- notably Gilbert and a few other so-called Young Guns -- have not been as good.

Clearly, help is needed.

But how do Quinn and Renney and Kelly Buchberger and general manager Steve Tambellini improve a team that simply isn't good enough between the ears or in the physical arena?

How can they call for help from the minors when the farm system is virtually bare of athletes who could provide a quick fix? How can they make trades when the expendable Oilers are overpaid? How can they take on new contracts when salary-cap issues interfere?

Put on the cap

Speaking of salary cap, it seems to me that most of the critics of Rick Lelacheur and Danny Maciocia are either unfair or uninformed.

When objections are raised about the Eskimos' inability to rise toward the top of the Western Conference, there is always a subtle message that Hugh Campbell, somehow, would have done it better.

And he probably would have -- but only because he had unlimited financial resources to play in those glorious days before the CFL introduced a salary cap

Maciocia and Lelacheur have made mistakes. They'll make more. It's the nature of their business.

But they operate in circumstances that were never a factor for Campbell at the peak of the organization's success on the field.

JCSHORT@SHAW.CA


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