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8:23 PM ET, 5/30/06
Oilers decide to get lost
Posted by Michael Farber
The Edmonton Oilers have ripped a page out of the dynastic Montreal Canadiens playbook by deciding to get lost.
Facing an eight-day layoff before the start of the Stanley Cup final, the Oilers are heading out of town for a few days for a mini-training camp. Although the move might be a natural reaction to the struggles of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim -- the Ducks were sluggish early in their series against Edmonton after a long wait for the Oilers -- it has its historical roots in Montreal, which the Canadiens would abandon gleefully during the playoffs.
As a native Quebecer, Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe would certainly know the history that, I am told, started with former coach Dick Irvin Sr. in the 1940s and 1950s and became standard practice in the 1970s and 1980s. The Canadiens generally would hide out in the Laurentians, hills about an hour north of the city. During one protracted playoff run in the 1980s, they actually bivouaced in a hotel on an island in the St. Lawrence River, which surrounds the city. No crocodiles. No media, either.
This is the eternal playoff question: to sequester or not sequester? The New Jersey Devils, acolytes of the Canadiens, were the firmest believers in keeping the team together in hotels once the playoffs commenced. There was a particular spot that team president Lou Lamoriello favored in the Bergen County town of Teaneck, known in its most recent incarnation as the Glenpointe Marriott. The chafing players used to refer to it as the Gunpoint Marriott, but it is tough to argue with three Stanley Cups.
Edmonton is more media friendly than the Devils -- New Jersey would practice late in the afternoons in the fond hope of scaring off some deadline-challenged journalists before retiring to their team meal -- but they are also circumspect about staying out of the mainstream during the playoffs. In the first round of the playoffs against Detroit, the Oilers stayed at a suburban hotel. Against Anaheim, they stayed in a Disney-free zone. Certainly they will try to lose themselves in either Carolina or Buffalo, not that anybody other than Chris Pronger and Michael Peca would move the needle on the recognition dial -- at least in Raleigh.
Anyway, summer's approaching. A little camp time can't hurt.