Quinn has bagged a solution

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

It was one of the all-time bag skates in Edmonton Oilers history.

There was one, back with Gretzky and the glory gang, that was comparable. When the team flew home the next day after losing 11-0 in Hartford, the bag skate that Glen Sather put them through might have come closest to requiring the players to bring barf bags.

But this one, with the Oilers having gone through the motions in losing 6-0 Monday night in Colorado to make it 15 losses in the last 16 games, came close.

Craig MacTavish had a few good ones, but his best skate-'em-'til-they-drop jobs seemed to come on the road, so there was no good footage for the supper-hour sportscasts.

HUMILIATING

The most humiliating and embarrassing one for Oilers players might have been on a day when they had been booked into West Edmonton Mall for a practice and hundreds of kids and curious shoppers were there to watch the high-priced players treated like a bunch of army recruits at boot camp.

But it was harder on coach Ron Low than on his players because, with all the kids and ladies watching, he couldn't curse them like a sailor as he would have normally done in that situation.

On Tuesday, Pat Quinn and Tom Renney barely said a word as they put the worst Oilers team ever through one creative skate routine after another with astounding variety involved.

It looked like some giant compulsory figures pattern from the old days of figure skating as they traced circles at centre ice and in both zones and did zig-zag patterns from one side of the ice to the other and even dropped to their bellies to perform push-ups for the entertainment of the assembled media.

Renney ran the practice, which for the last 40 minutes or so didn't require pucks.

"With me, I think it was No. 1," said Renney. "It was definitely up there with some of the best."

Renney said it's not punishment, the way he looks at it.

"It's to purge a bad performance. Hopefully that got it out."

He compared it to a purging he conducted as Canada's Olympic team coach in 1994.

"We were in Lillehammer for a pre-Olympic test event tournament We tied France the night before. Not a good thing. But I'd sure have taken that tie (Monday) night."

Renney said he remembers a purging conducted by John Tortorella which ranked up there, too.

"Torts had lost nine in a row. That team went on and won the Stanley Cup. Not that I'm saying we're on the threshold," Renney added with a bit of gallows humour.

REFUSED

Quinn refused to call it a bag skate.

Maybe you've noticed. No coach in the NHL has called a bag skate a bag skate this season. Must have been a memo from Commissioner Bettman.

"We haven't had one of those good skates all season," said Quinn, who Monday night in Denver said his team "sucked the hind banana", whatever that is.

He said he felt the "good skate" was required "because we didn't skate real good (Monday) night. I thought we should skate today."

He felt the extra exercise was needed.

"That's the poorest we've participated as a group by far this year. We might not win a game the rest of the year. I don't know that. But you can't lose your pride. You have to muster up to compete in the NHL."

Thus, he decided, some work was needed on their tempo.

It was about tempo, not punishment.

"Punishment was not what we were trying to accomplish. We looked like we needed a high tempo skate," said the coach.

Quinn added there have been higher-tempo skates in the history of hockey.

"This was a day in the park. It was a skate that good skaters would laugh at. Guys like (Paul) Henderson and (Dave) Keon would fly around and laugh at (Tim) Horton and myself. They were gliding on top of the ice and we were gliding through it."

Often you don't get the right guys.

It was a bag skate. A real good one.

"There was a message in here. What we witnessed (Monday) night was not acceptable," said Quinn.

Of course, his alleged hockey team may be too pooped to play tonight against the Vancouver Canucks.

"Yeah, possibly," said Quinn.

Like that would make a difference.

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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