SUN Hockey Pool

Comrie, Schremp two of a kind

Mike Comrie takes part in an informal practice attended by several Oilers players. (David Bloom/Sun...

Mike Comrie takes part in an informal practice attended by several Oilers players. (David Bloom/Sun Media)

JOHN SHORT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:56 AM ET

Pardon me, but isn't Mike Comrie just an older version of Robbie Schremp?

Both were spectacular at hockey's preliminary levels and showed all kinds of promise when they matured to be professionals.

As I see it, they have similar skill sets -- good puckhandlers with decent vision on the ice.

They also have similar deficiencies -- lack of foot speed and, in recent years, questionable motivation.

The only clear difference seems to be salary. Otherwise, they're the same guy with different haircuts and varying birth certificates.

If Comrie will sign a two-way deal for the same money as Schremp is reputed to be getting, it should be automatic to sign the veteran. He has experience on his side.

Northlands overlooked

In all the furor over the real estate deal Team Katz is putting together to surround the proposed downtown hockey palace, one thing has been overlooked.

The fact is that Northlands has been a credit to Edmonton for longer than any of us can remember.

I hope you noticed last week that Venues Today, an organization devoted to such details, ranks Northlands second among all the arenas in Canada (15,000 capacity or more) for ticket sales to concerts and other events.

It's also interesting that Northlands has been handed the short end of the stick for a long time.

They lost a lot of income when city council and the public chose Peter Pocklington's brand of infamy over proven stability and then dropped more dollars when the vital group led by Cal Nichols stepped in to keep hockey here.

Now we've got another city council, led by my friend Steve Mandel, preparing to whack Northlands again.

He may be right -- who knows?

One other question: when Team Katz promises these massive upgrades to the downtown area, aren't you reminded that city council, more than three decades ago, promised that Commonwealth Stadium would lead to plenty of positive changes around 111 Avenue?

I'm still waiting to see them.

Paying for mistakes

Last week, a noble soul with solid connections to the NHL gave me some fresh perspective on the Jim Balsillie manoeuvres and the dog's breakfast in Phoenix.

More and more, he said, Balsillie is paying for mistakes he made in trying to buy the Pittsburgh and Nashville franchises.

Both times, the Blackberry-building communications whiz started to sell tickets and launch advertising campaigns before the NHL had taken a serious look at his bids.

He described Balsillie as "a pretty good guy" and strongly maintained that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has no personal grudge against the man who wants to move the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton.

But anybody who hopes to become part of this league has to remember Bettman's old rule: "My way or the highway."

Fleming a good fit

New Oilers assistant coach Wayne Fleming is a part owner of the St. Albert Steel of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

It adds up to one more valid reason for putting this sharp, solid guy on staff.

JCSHORT@SHAW.CA


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