Oilers’ Renney sticks to game plan

JOHN SHORT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:06 AM ET

It surprises me that Tom Renney got so little immediate praise for his part in the Oilers' scoring outburst against Chicago on Friday.

Leading a tired team, the head coach promised to stick with four lines and three sets of defencemen because he knew the Oilers would be weary in the late stages of their third game in four nights.

That kind of thing is easier to say than do. Coaches talk about it all the time on road trips.

Renney not only talked the talk, he walked the walk.

Only Ryan Jones and Zach Stortini lodged fewer than 10 minutes of playing time. Colin Fraser, the other member of the so-called fourth line, drew enough extra shifts to boost him beyond the 11-minute mark.

All the other Oilers, except Dustin Penner who's starting to look as disinterested as he was through most of his early time in an Edmonton uniform,. thrived on the extra work.

joy in Eskieville: It is better to give than receive.

If you had a chance to watch the offensive line when the Eskimos took on Winnipeg last night, you must have noticed how much fun the wide-bodies were having.

Thanks to increased focus on the running game, their game is enjoyable again -- not perfect, but enjoyable.

Years ago, Eskimos offensive line coach Bill MacDermott told a friend that all football games are settled "in the seven fist-fights in the line."

Simple.

On a running play, the offensive linemen deliver the blows. On passing plays, the job requires them to absorb solid pops on the head, and sometimes elsewwhere, from the other guy.

Now the Eskimos are winning most of the fist-fights.

It's only logical that they've been winning most of their games.

New line coach Tim Prinsen and offensive co-ordinator Kevin Strasser smile a lot these days. So do the running backs and quarterbacks.

Golden opportunities: Orv Franchuk flashes that familiar open-faced smile whenever he's asked about his World Series ring, the one he received while working for the Boston Red Sox a few years back.

It's safe to bet that Franchuk, recently named to manage the Edmonton Capitals of independent baseball's under-nourished Golden League, showed the same grin when John Farrell became Cito Gaston's successor as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.

They were in the Red Sox organization together.

Insiders say that Farrell will help the Blue Jays on their next step to becoming an American League contender.

I'm counting on Franchuk to make improvements with the Capitals, as well.

But he can't do anything about the quality of the Golden League.

Too bad.


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