SUN Hockey Pool

Fans split on net swap

RICHARD LIEBRECHT AND CLARA HO, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

Fans are left carrying a mixed bag of emotions as the Edmonton Oilers say goodbye to one veteran goalie while welcoming another.

"It's a bit of a shocker," said fan Mike Yates.

The Oilers picked up goalie Nikolai Khabibulin from Chicago the same day Dwayne Roloson -- the Oilers' long-time man in net -- jumped ship to the New York Islanders.

"I love it. (Khabibulin) is an all-star," exclaimed Shane Smith from Hudson's Canadian Tap House on Whyte, 10307 82 Ave.

"I loved Roli. I think he had a good year left, but I think he was asking for a two-year contract. That's a bit much."

"Roli's going to be missed, but you've got to look to the future," added Yates. "(Khabibulin) is not washed up, he still has a few good years ahead of him."

One fan will miss Roloson a little too much to enjoy the netminder swap.

"This is a bad idea," said Becky Barthelette from the End Zone Pub, 8604 112 Ave. "He's Roli the Goalie. He led us into the playoffs.

"It's kind of like when they got rid of (Georges) Laraque or (Jason) Smith. They're Edmonton guys."

But looking forward is key, said Yates, and he's seeing the Edmonton moves in goal and at coach -- Pat Quinn stepped in earlier in the off-season -- as a needed refreshing of a stale club.

"I think they realized they needed to do something major," he said.

Jonathan Hancock, a bouncer at the End Zone Pub, is feeling more cautious.

"They've been doing a lot of weird stuff lately," he said. "Hopefully it works out for the team. They've got these new guys, new coach -- they're basically rebuilding the team. They're going to have to learn to work together."

An attempt by the Oilers to land another big star was still in the works last night.

A deal to bring Senators forward Dany Heatley to Edmonton in return for Andrew Cogliano, Dustin Penner and Ladislav Smid was still up in the air.

"(Heatley) could be a great addition to the team with his great experience," said Oilers fan Sean Simmons who was enjoying the Canada Day festivities downtown. "They are giving away a great player in Cogliano, though."

But another fan is not enjoying the Heatley drama.

"He was starting to show his colours and he's a real spoiled brat," Richard Alarie said.

Shane Smith, however, said Heatley would be a big boost to Edmonton's offence if he ended up with the Oilers.

"We've been missing a trigger man for 20 years," said Smith. "I think he'd make a huge impact."


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