Raising a white flag

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:44 AM ET

TORONTO -- Kevin Lowe. Seller.

He won't admit it, but it's the official white flag raising that the Edmonton Oilers playoff hopes are history.

If there was any doubt about it after three losses to begin the 'Make Or Break The Season' seven game road trip, the deal the Edmonton Oilers' GM made yesterday - sending Marc-Andre Bergeron away - says Lowe isnt going to deal from denial.

When you can no longer see yourself in the playoff picture, it's all about the big picture.

Trading Bergeron, the Oilers' heebee-jeebee hockey player, the young man most responsible for goaltender Dwayne Roloson's injury in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final, a defenceman who never stopped being an accident looking for a place to happen, is not the biggest deal Lowe has ever made.

But getting one in the bush for one in the hand certainly appears to telegraph everything.

Is Petr Sykora next? Petr Nedved? (If you can get anything for him). Jussi Markkanen? Brad Winchester?

MAKING APPROACHES

Lowe won't go there. But, arriving in Florida for GM meetings last night, he admits "the Bergeron trade will likely result in a lot of teams making approaches."

Dealing Bergeron to the New York Islanders for Russian Denis Grebeshkov isn't much more than a 1.4 on the Richter Scale of trades.

But Lowe just traded away the best shot the Oilers had from the point. In a season where the goals have just stopped coming, Bergeron had eight of them and no other Oilers defenceman has more than two.

For most Oilers fans it's largely good riddance to Bergeron.

It's a 'Hope' for a 'Nope.'

"We see the upside in the player we're acquiring," said Lowe. "We see this as a long-term upgrade. We've been thinking about this one for a while. We really like the upside of this player. Our guys have watched him in Russia recently.

"The optics don't look good because we're not getting anything back right now. But we had a chance to get a guy who can be a top player for a lot of years."

Lowe says this isn't waving the white flag.

"We don't feel that internally. We're not in the firesale mode. It's a straight hockey deal we would have done anyway.

"We don't think this is insurmountable because we still have five games left against Minnesota. We're also not trying to kid anyone.

"It's the biggest challenge we've had in a long time. It's bigger odds than we've had in many years."

Coach Craig MacTavish says the players better not read this deal as giving up.

"If anybody thinks that this is an indication or an excuse to tolerate defeat then they're mistaken.

"If anybody reads into it that we're accepting getting beat, they'll be gravely mistaken.

"If there are players in our locker room who start to get complacent and accept defeat, they'll be out of here in a hurry.

"What's the downside of changing things? We're losing with what we have here, we've got some injuries, so there's very little downside other than to make your team worse. You have to be careful not to do that. We know some guys are really struggling.

MAKING SENSE

"If we're offered something to make sense, we'll certainly make the deal. But up to now we haven't seen any of those scenarios out side of this one.

"I really don't see it affecting us all that much in the immediate future.''

MacTavish made the point that Daniel Tjarnqvist is back skating and close to returning to the lineup.

"Given the experience that Tjarnqvist has, we maybe improve in that area and at the same time have a blue- chip prospect in our pocket.

"We've been around long enough to know that it's salvageable. If we thought having Bergy here would play a large part in that, then it's a deal we wouldn't have made. But with Tjarnqvist coming in we had the flexibility to do it."

But there are actions and there are words.

The action says Kevin Lowe is a seller. And he's going to get a lot of action between now and the deadline as a result.


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