Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pitton Goes Farming

It's come to the attention of The Pipeline Show that netminder Bryan Pitton will join the Springfield Falcons in the middle of this week.

Pitton's club team, the OHL's Brampton Battalion, were upset in their opening round playoff series against the Barrie Colts. The Colts beat Brampton by scores of 3-1, 3-2(ot), 2-1(ot) and 2-0 while only dropping the third game in the series by a lopsided 5-1 score.

Pitton, despite only getting one win, had the 5th best goalie stats (amongst starters) through the opening round ahead of the goalies from Belleville, Sault Ste. Marie and Sarnia who combined for a 12-1-1 record. The Brampton keeper went 1-2-2 but had a stellar 1.80 goals against average and .938 save percentage through the first round.

The Pipeline Show has learned that Pitton will join the Springfield Falcons on Tuesday but it is unclear at this time if he will see any action or even dress. Currently, Springfield co-starter Jeff Deslauriers is in Edmonton leaving Devan Dubnyk to carry the load. Stockton Thunder goalie Glenn Fisher has been recalled but may return to California to rejoin his club in the midst of their own playoff drive.

This will be an interesting summer for Pitton who must be signed by the Oilers before June 1st or he will return to the draft pool and be up for grabs again. Pitton was an OHL All-Star this season after helping lead Brampton to a second place finish in the league's Eastern Conference.

Recently on The Pipeline Show Oilers GM Kevin Lowe admitted that post season performance would factor into Pitton;s future with the team.

"We're monitoring his play in the playoffs quite closely to see if he's a player that we're going to be interested in signing," said Lowe.

Clearly if there is competition for what, at this point, liely be the Stockton Thunder job next season it would come down to Fisher or Pitton. Fisher is nearing the end of his contract and it would seem probable that if he is back with the organization next year it may be on a strictly minor league deal so as not to overload the 50-contracts rule with goalies. It is conceivable that Pitton would be asked to do the same but in my opinion, that is less likely.

For more on this story, Bryan Pitton will be a guest on The Pipeline Show this coming Tuesday night.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Where There's Smoke...

...There's someone's pants on fire.

In case you're wondering, that's the logo for the Malmö Redhawks, a team normally playing in the Swedish Elite League but was so crappy last year that they were relegated to a lower level for 2007-08. It's also the team that is covered by Kent Jonsson, the journalist that first mentioned the possibility of Rob Schremp heading to Sweden next year.

From what information I have been able to gather, "Sydsvenskan" is a reputable publication, a newspaper in the southern region of Sweden and the writer is respected. His Schremp story appears to have been published on the newspaper's blog not that it gives the credibility any less weight.

In fairness to the writer, one of the volunteer translators who has converted the article to English for me indicates that Mr. Jonsson has so far only called this a rumor on his end. My experience certianly pales in comparison to the Robin Brownlee's and Jim Matheson's of the world, but my experience tells me that you don't publish rumors without there being a little bit of truth for you to stand on or pretty soon your credibility is shot. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that Mr. Jonsson is simply making this story up.

Again, I've contacted everyone involved in this story from the Oilers to Schremp to Scott Norton (Schremp's agent) and all deny any knowledge of this. So I contacted Mr. Jonsson who was kind enough to reply by saying: "My source is reliable. Someone is shopping Schremp around."

So the story I thought was dead just produced a pulse.

Someone's pants are on fire but who's the liar?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Agent Denies Swedish Report

The title says it all really.

Just a few minutes ago I spoke with Scott Norton who is the agent for Rob Schremp as well as other NHL players like Dustin Brown and Zack Stortini. Here's a transcription of that fairly brief conversation.

Flaming: I just wanted to touch base with you about this Sweden story and see if from your end it's even a story at all.
Norton: I can tell you from my end that it's not a story at all. I have had no contact with anyone in Sweden, Japan or anywhere else. There was some contact [to Schremp] on the internet, no idea who it was, asking if he'd be interested in going to Europe in the future and Rob being like anyone said "Sure, I don't know". We still don't know who the guy is whether he's an agent over there or a local yokel and all of a sudden one thing snowballs into another. Rob told me about the contact with this guy about a month ago but he'd stopped talking to the guy by that point. Then I get a call from one of the Oiler scouts yesterday asking me about this article on the internet. It appears to be one over eager person trying to make a name for himself off of other players, I don't know the other player involved or how much significance that has to it but in terms of Rob I can tell you that I've had absolutely no talks with anyone over in Europe.

Flaming: So Parenteau isn't even one of your guys?
Norton: No.

Flaming: Interesting.
Norton: It's obvious that Rob's not happy or satisfied with the situation. We'd obviously like to be in a different spot [as opposed to Springfield] whether it be Edmonton or on another NHL team I don't know but, we think he's proven himself at the level that he's at and hope he gets the opportunity but that's where everything stands at this point.

Flaming: Fair enough, sounds like the Sweden story is a non-story then and I can quote you on that?
Norton: Yes, that's fair. If there's any follow up from either end just let me know.

There you have it, take from that what you will. For the record, my conversation with Schremp yesterday also included the theory that the rumor may have begun via internet contact from an unknown person but I didn't think it worthy of mention until Mr. Norton further explained what happened.

I've actually heard that this is a growing problem for atheletes and celebrities in all walks of life who have accounts on or Faecbook or other such sites. While some players don't spend much time answering fan mail or responding to correspondence over the internet, some do. Georges Laraque is a prime example and Rob Schremp is another. It appears that in this case, this whole story may have stemmed from a simple response to a fan asking Schremp if he'd ever consider playing in Europe.

The only person involved in this "story" who I haven't spoken with is the Swedish "source" in the original article. Perhaps that's the next step, if there is even a point to taking another one.

European Vacation?

Oilers prospect Rob Schremp is interested in playing in Sweden next season or at least that's what we're to believe if you read this report that came out on Thursday.

Now, for the record, I am not one of the media guys who makes a habit of becoming buddies with players. Have I ever gone out for drinks with any? Outside of a post Pipeline Show episode last summer when Millard and I went for a couple pops with Theo Peckham, Ryan O'Marra and Oilers PR man J.J. Hebert - the answer is NO.

(OK, I did have a lunch with Mike Bishai one summer too but you get my point)

Is this some sort of high road lifestyle choice I've made to seperate myself from the people I interview in order to keep a friendly bias from invading my work? The answer to that one is also NO.

Truth be known, I'm 37 (as of midnight 5 hours ago) and the bulk of the players I interview are about 15-20 years younger than I am and so for me to be pals with any of them would simply be... a little pathetic on both sides I would think.

This does not mean that I do not have a healthy "relationship", strictly in the business sense of the word, with several players and in fact I talk regularly with a certain handful of them. Rob Schremp happens to be one of those on that short list.

Over the years Schremp has taken a lot of flak in certain sections of the media and on public forums like message boards and blogs. Some of it I think is fair, much of it I don't. Did he do or say things as a teenager that were impulsive, stupid and immature? You bet. Is he cocky and arrogant? To an extent, but not to the level that has been portrayed most of the time.

So when I heard this Sweden rumor I made a couple of phone calls, the first was to the Oilers and the second to Schremp, if only because I wanted to hear it from him and not from a second or third party source. If the report is true I wanted to hear his side of it, if it was bullshit, I wanted to hear that from him too and nip it in the bud before it becomes more fodder for those who frequently take aim at his reputation.

The gist of the Swedish story as it's been translated to me is this (courtesy of a poster at HF who took the time): Schremp and another player are apparently being "shopped" by agent Scott Norton to teams in the Swedish Elite League for the suggested retail price of $170K, I assumed that's US dollars but have since been corrected and that the article says "170k Enkrona (roughly US $28k/month)".

My call to the Oilers was to someone in senior management but was not recorded so I will not offer quotes of what was said but just summarize the important parts.

Schremp is just finishing year 2 of a his 3 year entry level deal so can he even consider going to play in Sweden? Yes he could but he would still owe the Oilers a year of service if and when he returned to North America. Does this report come as a surprise to the organization? There had been rumors to this effect but not to this extent where it would lead to a report out of Sweden. Where does Schremp stand in the organization?

For that I'll gladly quote GM Kevin Lowe from his recent appearance on The Pipeline Show.

"I'm really interested to see Robbie's season next year," Lowe began, "We really hope and feel that he needs to commit himself to the training side and that's not to suggest that he hasn't but we all agree that he's been victimized by the knee injury at the end of last season and didn't get a full summer of training."

"I think Robbie is quickly realizing what it takes to play in the NHL, he knows that he has to get stronger and a little bit quicker; stronger for puck protection and quicker for obvious reasons," Lowe added, "If he does that, he's got offensive ability that could be a huge asset for, not just us but for any team in the league."

There was more said in that interview (please listen) but in short, the Oilers still see potential and value in Schremp.

After some phone tag I spoke with Schremp and got right to the point about the Swedish story and asked him if he was aware of it.

"My agent just called and asked me about it," he said, "It's nothing we'd talked about so it was news to me."

We chatted for a little bit about how rumors like this get started but just to get to the point I asked him flat out: So from your perspective, you're not looking at going to Sweden next year?

"No, and I've never said anything like that"

And this was not something you've talked about with your agent?

"No, definitely not," he clearly stated, "Makes for some good gossip though, huh?"

Schremp suggested I contact his agent, which I will attempt to do on Friday, for his input on the matter and to get clarification on whether or not he has in fact "shopped" the player's name to teams in Sweden. This story can't be put to rest until I make that call so keep in mind the next few paragraphs are complete specualtion on my part and could be blown out of the water by this time tomorrow.

My own personal opinion on this is this: If the Sweden report is true (and I say again... IF) then it appears to me that the agent is trying to do one of two things (a) force the Oilers into some sort of agreement to get Schremp more NHL time (b) initiate a trade.

I find it hard to believe that the Oilers will be forced to do anything they don't want to do so if they feel Schremp is ready for the next step out of camp next fall, then he'll play. I can forsee a scenario where Edmonton elects to move Schremp rather than deal with the possibility of a player going to Europe, empty threat or not.

Would going to Sweden be a bad thing for Schremp or the Oilers? I actually see positives for both parties, especially if the player really isn't ready for the NHL yet. He'd get to play in a more defensively demanding league and the Oilers would not be on the hook for that contract for a year. The negative should be obvious in that Schremp wouldn't be available for the NHL at all in 2008-09 and thats's his ultimate goal.

What I found interesting in Kevin Lowe's comments is the last few words that I quoted above, let me remind you...

"... he's got offensive ability that could be a huge asset for, not just us but for any team in the league."

Any team in the league? Is it just me or does that sound like a Schremp deal is already a distinct possibility? Maybe I'm reading into it too much.

Maybe I'm not.

More after my planned discussion with Mr. Norton.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Springfield's Wild Playoff Drive

The Pipeline Show has learned that the Edmonton Oilers have come to terms with collegian Cody Wild and will announce the signing on Tuesday. The former Providence Friar will dress and make his AHL debut on Wednesday when Springfield hosts Manchester.

As I first discussed at Hockey's Future in the recent Top 20 release and then more so yesterday, Cody Wild has been on the minds of the Oilers for several weeks now. With mass injuries depleting their supply of defencemen at both the NHL and minor league levels, it has exposed the types of players in the system. In short, not enough puck movers, especially in Springfield.

Conversations with those around the AHL club pin point the team's habit of being badly outshot to one thing; an inability to get the puck out of its own end.

Springfield's backend is dominated by defensive players like Bryan Young, Theo Peckham, Rick Berry and Allan Rourke. The club has been forced to go out of its way to sign league castoffs to try and fill the void but the Mike Gabinets and Kenny Smiths of the world aren't getting it done.

With Providence College's one-sided loss to Boston College last weekend in the Hockey East playoffs, it left Cody Wild with a decision to make; return for another season or go pro and get a start on his major league career and again, my sources confirm it's a done deal.

Wild is exactly the kind of player Springfield is missing, an offence first defenceman who can carry the puck out by himself or make the outlet pass if it's open. It will give the Falcons and head coach Kelly Buchberger a dynamic they haven't had since the underachieving Danny Syvret was cast aside.

The 20-year-old set new career highs in points (22) and assists (18) this year in 32 games, the fewest played in his 3 seasons spent with Providence. His sophomore year was ravaged by injury, a torn labrum that required off season surgery. Wild is an offence-first blueliner almost to a fault as the knock on him is that he's often too eager to attack leaving his own end vulnerable.

Comparisons range from Tom Gilbert to Jordan Leopold with one source saying that Wild's tendency to rush with the forwards is not unlike Joni Pitkanen's style although the overall skill level is clearly not the same.

Wild is the first, Taylor Chorney may very well join Springfield once North Dakota's year has come to an end as well, either the last weekend of March or at the conculsion of the Frozen Four on April 12th.

NOTE: Cody Wild and fellow Oiler prospects Jeff Petry and Riley Nash will appear on The Pipeline Show Tuesday March 18th between 7-9 PM (MST). You can submit your questions to these players by sending an email to:

Friday, March 7, 2008

Banner Contest

"Coming Down The Pipe!"

They're the first 4 words we utter on every edition of The Pipeline Show as we intro the program by verbally setting the table with the names of our guests for the evening. It's also the title we decided on for the Blog and we think it's a fine name. However, since starting up the blog I've come to the realization that there are 2 problems:

1) The top of our page here sucks... we need a fancy banner.

2) Dean and I are only slightly ahead of monkeys on the evolutionary scale meaning if one of use were to "create" a banner it would more than likely involve paper, crayons and a piece of scotch tape to strategically stick it on the monitor covering the monstrosity you currently see up there.

This is where YOU the loyal listener/reader comes in. We know that you photoshop geniuses can do a way better job than we ever could so we want you to design our banner by entering this new online contest.

Elements it must include are:

- The Pipeline Show logo
- The "Coming Down the Pipe!" blog name
- The show's Red, Black and White colour scheme

Other things that will help you win...

- something creative that tells people at a glance that this is a blog for a radio show.
- the cooler the graphics the better.
- somehow incorporating the time and day the show can be heard yet without making the banner look cluttered.
- Making Guy look more important than Dean. (ok, that one is a joke... probably)

That's about it. What's in it for you? How about a Pipeline Show hat or toque? If you live in the Edmonton area then perhaps there's a beer in it for you, if not, we'll mail out the lid of your choice.

If you have any questions or need the show's logo image, I have that and can supply to you with an email request that you send to

We'll leave the contest open until we get something good or at least better than what's up there now. Feel free to mention this on other blogs/messageboards/sites whatever.

Good Luck and please, help us to look like we know what we're doing here.