SUN Hockey Pool

Important Oilers don't strike out

JOHN SHORT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:04 AM ET

The answers will start to arrive soon.

For quite a while, it has been obvious that the Edmonton Oilers will get the open-ended lease they feel is essential for successful operation of a professional baseball franchise.

When details are finally complete, the paying public will find out how important the sport, and the team, will really be in the big scheme for Daryl Katz and his army of employees.

Best-case scenario: the Golden League organization will last only until an almost-secret plan to create a Triple-A league in Canada's major cities gets off the ground.

On the way to that desirable end, the Oilers will put together a broadcast package that gets Al Coates back on the air as soon as possible.

They will make sure the front office is staffed by articulate, intelligent people who like their jobs and will have the patience necessary to deal with disgruntled fans and former advertisers who must reopen their wallets for this venture to succeed.

They will communicate willingly and openly about the entire project.

If you weren't closely involved, you can't possibly realize how destructive the Dan Orlich regime has been. Any change is an improvement, but my basic concern is still in place: will excellent people be put in place and left to do the job, or is baseball only a means to a separate end?

Before long, we'll know.

BAD TIME FOR A HOLIDAY

Man-about-town Don Clark is off to Yuma next week and not entirely happy about the planned holiday.

His grandson, Klarc Wilson, has been called up from his triple-A midget team and will play for the Brandon Wheat Kings here Wednesday against the Edmonton Oil Kings.

"We could delay our trip for one day, but not two, so we can't stay for Klarc's game," said the proud grandpa.

Not yet 16, Wilson scored four points last week in a game between the Sherwood Park Kings and Knights of Columbus Pats. He's a strapping 180-pounder who blew the doors off during Quikcard Minor Hockey Week a year ago.

"I'm sure we'll get a chance to see Klarc play another game in the WHL," his grandfather said with fingers crossed.

Good guess, my friend --probably four or five years of chances.

ALL-STAR GAME LOSING TOUCH

At first, I had a huge temptation to congratulate Gary Bettman for striking a blow for the fan by suspending Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom because they opted out of the all-star game.

But reality won out.

By now, even Bettman realizes the game has virtually no appeal to true hockey fans. With no semblance of defensive play or bodily contact, tonight's so-called contest has no connection with the sport Canadians love above all else.

Make no mistake, this is a weekend for the wooing of advertisers and political friends -- nothing more.

The suspension of those players was a sop to those big-dollar allies. If Bettman and his advisers really cared about the paying fan, they'd turn the game into a real contest again.

COMING BACK

Just checking . . . Ryan Potulny, Gilbert Brule and Lim Reddox are spending the all-star break in Springfield to get some game action. Which of them, if any, should be called back?


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