SUN Hockey Pool

Homestand likely no cure

JOHN SHORT

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

Already, the much-desired homestand is too long - at least one hour too long, and maybe more.

It's nothing new for the Edmonton Oilers to stumble after they get home from an extended road trip, as they did on Thursday against the Florida Panthers.

You could give Florida credit for playing a tremendous road game against Edmonton and doing it again against Calgary on Friday, but where's the fun in that?

Sooner than anyone expects, the Oilers' schedule will be balanced in terms of home and away games, but there's a better than even chance that the team's problems will be the same as they are today.

No doubt the Oilers were over-valued by team bosses and devout fans, and even by hard-shelled media wretches, before the season started.

Too late it has become obvious that they aren't tough enough to make it miserable playing against them.

Admit there is no bigger problem and also concede that there are many others.

Too many of the kids got off to slow starts.

To call it a sophomore slump is to provide a ready excuse.

Actually, the youngsters are duplicating the slow-start pattern they created last year. If they don't shape up during this long spell of home cooking, the issue is likely to be more serious than anyone expected.

Is there a solution? Of course.

First, be patient. At its best, this roster does not figure to win a Stanley Cup or come close.

Grit would help, of course.

So would a resolution of the three-headed monster in goal.

Ethan Moreau, Steve Staios, Shawn Horcoff and Dwayne Roloson are the recognized on-ice leaders. They're tough competitors, willing soldiers, all valuable in many ways.

But none of their pro records shows a long list of championships at any level.

Erik Cole won a ring recently. I'm sure his new buddies have tried it on, but before they can earn one for themselves, more replacements are needed.

Big boss Kevin Lowe won regularly on the ice. So did Craig MacTavish and Charlie Huddy in the NHL and Billy Moores at university, the most demanding level of amateur hockey played in this nation.

Where the Oilers need help is on the ice, not behind the bench.

Where are James Bond, Indiana Jones and John Wayne when you need them?

- - -

Thanks to Ross Sheppard Thunderbirds coach David Youngs for this information about retiring Golden Bears hoops boss Don Horwood.

After a recent suggestion in this space that Horwood belongs in the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the Basketball Hall of Fame, Youngs worked it out that at least 30 former Golden Bears are coaching at high school, college or university levels.

When Horwood arrived at the University of Alberta twoand-a-half decades ago, the entire province was a basketball desert.

This guy won championships, prompted growing numbers to take up the sport, helped improve the level of play all over Alberta and inspired coaches to do the same thing.

It would be hard to ask for more.


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