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Brule handling seems strange

Of all the questionable decisions the Edmonton Oilers have made withplayers this season, the handling of Gilbert Brule ranks up there interms of head-scratchers.

Of all the questionable decisions the Edmonton Oilers have made with players this season, the handling of Gilbert Brule ranks up there in terms of head-scratchers.

Brule played his 152nd NHL game against St. Louis last night, meaning he is just eight games from having to clear waivers to move between Edmonton’s roster and the minors.

You’d think, seeing as Edmonton traded Raffi Torres to Columbus to get the talented speedster, there’d be some sense of urgency in wanting to assess Brule before that 160-game mark to see if he’s in the plans.

But there was Brule last night, stuck on the fourth line with Kyle Brodziak and Steve MacIntyre while Liam Reddox played alongside Dustin Penner and Shawn Horcoff.

Mind-boggling.

“It’s in the back of my mind,” Brule said of the waiver rules under the CBA. “I look at my games played and it’s part of the rules, but I’m just trying to go out there and play the best I can with the chances I’m given.”

Now, there’s no disputing the Blue Jackets rushed Brule into the NHL as an 18-year-old after drafting him sixth overall in 2005, so patience is something of a virtue.

Still, with just eight games before teams can claim Brule before any assignment to the minors, does playing him on the fourth line make sense? Well, no. Unless you’re coach Craig MacTavish.

Brule, now 22, desperately wants a shot here. He’s an Edmonton boy, after all. When Ales Hemsky went down with a concussion, it looked like a perfect time to get that shot. Not so fast.

“I’d like to play more, obviously,” said Brule. “I’d like to show my stuff.”

BILL OF GOODS?

The focus on the Oilers shortcomings has been on the players and the way MacTavish has used them, but let’s not forget the bigger picture. While Kevin Lowe has stepped back from day-to-day dealings since being named president of hockey operations, leaving Steve Tambellini to take over as GM, this is the team he built.

Every player on the roster, with the exception of Ethan Moreau, arrived after Lowe took over as GM June 9, 2000. The collection of players here has been drafted on Lowe’s watch, traded for or acquired by Lowe and signed to contracts with him calling the shots.

With optimism abounding in pre-season, we were led to believe Tambellini was being handed the keys to a shiny new sports car and that fans were in for quite a ride. Instead, it looks like Tambellini’s got a clunker in need of a full-scale rebuild.

That falls on Lowe.

WHILE I’M AT IT

If Rob Schremp isn’t in the plans here, and he isn’t, it’s time to move him … With Jeff Deslauriers due back from the conditioning assignment in the AHL, are the Oilers any closer to resolving their three-goaltender situation?

- In a decade covering the Edmonton sports scene, Robin Brownlee has been the news-breaker and insightful voice for sports fans in Oil Country.

 
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