Dump the no shows

JOHN SHORT, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

What you read on some of the hockey blogs is amazing. What you hear from callers to phone-in radio shows is equally so.

But nothing compares, for me anyway, with the wild ideas presented in face-to-face conversations with fans who make it obvious in every breath that they're picking with their hearts.

Believe it or not, some have told me they firmly believe the Oilers somehow derive satisfaction in leaving Rob Schremp on the farm and refusing to give Robert Nilsson a permanent spot beside Shawn Horcoff and Alex Hemsky on what usually constitutes Edmonton's top line.

Ask how coach Craig MacTavish benefits from any player's poor performance. No answer should be expected. You never get one.

Ask why no other NHL team has loaded a heavy package in a trade request for Schremp. Again, no answer.

Ask why the New York Islanders gave up on Nilsson but refused to part with Kyle Okposo or others in their organization in the late-season rental deal for Ryan Smyth and you receive only a blank stare.

This is a hockey team loaded at the opposite ends of the hockey scale. There is plenty of under-achieving talent; too much in fact.

Also, there is a veritable truckload of hard workers who have the will but not the sheer physical ability required to lift their self-satisfied partners to another level.

Season after season in the weeks before trade deadline, die-hard supporters have crossed their fingers and prayed for at least one miracle:

* Please turn the dedicated Sheldon Souray into a happy Chris Pronger, equally valuable with the puck or without it;

* Teach big, lazy Dustin Penner somehow that sweating for a worthwhile cause - winning, for example - is a good idea;

* Prove to Marc-Antoine Pouliot and other fringe NHLers with good junior credentials but no big-league success that consistency is not a sin.

Should the Oilers be buyers or sellers in the mad action that is expected on Wednesday?

To me the answer is easy: first, get rid of all the proven underachievers that another GM would be dumb enough to take; second, replace them with the same sort of committed winners that Kevin Lowe and MacTavish were when they played.

A HEALTHY ADDITION

It surprised practically nobody when the Eskimos won the Jesse Lumsden sweepstakes, filling a hole at running back that has hampered Danny Maciocia almost every day.

Whenever a player misses as many games as the speedy Lumsden, it's part of football culture to question his willingness to play with pain.

Personally, I have no such concern. During the Eskimo glory days many years ago, fullback Neil Lumsden was tough enough to hunt bears with a stick.

Old cliche: the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. If Lumsden gets healthy, the Eskimos will be healthier, too.


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