Ex-Oilers happier in Carolina

It's worth remembering the recent fact that Erik Cole was at least a little unhappy as an Oiler....

It's worth remembering the recent fact that Erik Cole was at least a little unhappy as an Oiler. (Toronto Sun Photo)

JOHN SHORT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

If you swallowed all that kool-aid about the incredible harmony that existed last season in the Edmonton Oilers dressing room, it's time for you to scan the Carolina Hurricanes roster.

It's worth remembering the recent fact that Erik Cole, Sergei Samsonov and Joni Pitkanen were at least a little unhappy as Oilers.

Now they're happy in the Carolinas.

What's more, they say so and, most important of all, are all playing like happy men.

It's reasonable to bet that the satisfaction comes not only because they're ready for the Eastern Conference final and not only because they're away from Edmonton's difficult weather and painful travel schedule.

A warm and welcoming dressing room climate can overcome a host of problems. That comfort didn't exist here -- not for these guys, anyway -- and the record shows that it was non-existent for others, as well.

Blame the coach? Sure.

Blame the organization? Absolutely.

But don't delude yourself that the so-called veteran leaders of the Oilers were blameless, because they weren't.

Ben-evolent lineage

Ben's Magic is a name worth remembering, even if the three-year-old thoroughbred never makes a mark at the track.

In the first place, he's a half-brother to Mine That Bird, who shocked the racing world by winning the Kentucky Derby.

In the second place, he was purchased by Hall-of-Fame trainer Red Smith, who paid more than twice as much for Ben's Magic as he would have paid for Mine That Bird on the same day.

Ben Kolbuc, the retired automobile dealer who describes racing as his new passion, now owns the horse, who's training at Northlands Park.

Both animals were sired by Birdstone. The trainer's practiced eye saw something in Ben's Magic that he didn't see in Mine That Bird.

The good news is that Smith tells insiders that Ben's Magic has been galloping well. The next real test can only come in a race.

I can hardly wait.

Energized offence

On Friday night, the Bellingham Slam erupted for 51 points in the first quarter of a professional basketball game.

If they had maintained that unbelievable pace for the entire 48 minutes against the Edmonton Energy, we'd have seen a 200-point game --something never approached in basketball anywhere.

Almost as shocking as the scoring spree was the fact that Edmonton overcame a 21-point deficit and won by 10.

Few if any of the Energy players have seen as much basketball as six-foot-11 Lee Scruggs, who has toured the world playing this game while seeking every opportunity to play golf.

"I've never seen anything like this," said the former NCAA star with the fabled Georgetown Hoyas. "And I never expect to see it again."

During training camp, Scruggs made a point that becomes more penetrating every day: "No lead is ever big enough in this league."

JCSHORT@SHAW.CA


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