SUN Hockey Pool

Penner shows leadership

JOHN SHORT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

Leader.

Print it in capital letters in your mind.

The word should be filed in a special category as the single, specific label Dustin Penner would never earn as an Edmonton Oiler.

Or as an Ottawa Senator, if he had been destined to turn up there.

Penner's amazing on-ice turnaround has been documented by every form of mass media and noticed by every fan with a tiny appreciation of the NHL.

Less obvious is the truth that he has done this with a variety of playing partners.

For two full seasons, the Oilers had to keep looking for someone who could help Penner get untracked. Now, with Ales Hemsky gone until next season, the team's only choice is to find the players most likely to benefit by having Penner on the wing beside them.

To this point in the season, he has made everyone around him a step or two more effective.

He works hard, visibly hard, almost every time he steps on the ice. Besides, he has added new dimensions to his game.

Need a penalty killed? Call on Penner.

Time for some double-shifting? Tap Penner on the shoulder and send him out there.

Now, at last, we can see what level of talent the Oilers thought they were signing as a result of Kevin Lowe's raid on the Anaheim Ducks. It's impossible not to see size, speed and willingness to battle in the corners.

Nobody in the organization talked about future leadership in Penner's early days as an Oiler. They wouldn't dare.

These days, they can. He has become something special during trying times.

That's what leaders do.

Gals invade St. Albert

The candles just got a little brighter on the birthday cake that is sure to be part of the massive 150th birthday party set for St. Albert in 2011.

Canada's best female midget hockey teams will be at Servus Place April 17-23. Perhaps it's too early for the casual fan to get excited, but you have to know that NAIT Ooks coach Deanna Iwanicka and all of her college coaching opponents have marked the calendar already.

The same applies to university coaches in the United States and Canada.

Many of us still think of midgets as tads playing their sport -- any sport --strictly for fun. It's easy to forget that those years in a player's life are the vital link between childhood and the world of real competition.

St. Albert's commitment to sport has been impressive for many years. Mayor Nolan Crouse, who encountered plenty of sport politics while running the Fort Saskatchewan Traders in the last while before the former AJHL franchise folded, says he's enjoying his new gig.

Small wonder.

Buying a championship

Bah! Humbug!

It's shameful that so many voters picked either Mark Teixeira or Derek Jeter as the American League baseball MVP.

How could they vote for C.C. Sabathia as top pitcher or Joe Girardi as top manager?

The Yanks would have won the World Series without any one of them. Perhaps, without any two of them.

Every one had a great season.

But the only award the Yanks really deserve is Bankroll of the Year.

JCSHORT@SHAW.CA


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