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Craig MacTavish Appreciation Thread

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Old
03-20-2004, 11:11 AM
  #1
Lowetide
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Craig MacTavish Appreciation Thread

His line juggling drives me crazy, and I almost broke my tv the night he rolled 4 lines on the powerplay, but credit where its due: Craig MacTavish has pulled all the right strings and deserves a lot of credit for where this team is currently.

He didn't rip Oates for showing up woefully unready for NHL action. As a matter of fact, he gushes about him in today's Journal. A critic might ask if he is so good why did he get 8 minutes, but MacT has managed to make lemonade there.

His handling of the backline has been very good, and credit him for recognizing an unlikely duo in Ulanov and the kid.

Up front, he's tried some things that didn't work (Smyth at C) and some that have worked very well (going away from a defined checking line, or at least entertaining the idea of doing it).

If Craig MacTavish's job is to get this bunch into the playoffs, and it clearly is, then he's managed to get this team into contention despite a plethora of major issues. Lack of depth at center, inconsistent goaltending, an indifferent powerplay and for much of the season an inexplicably terrible pk. MacT even looks like hes getting a good nights rest these days. His post game interview last night saw him almost giggle.

Good on him.

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03-20-2004, 11:17 AM
  #2
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Absolutely. Full credit to Craig MacTavish for the success the Oilers have had. Bergeron/Ulanov looks look a divine pairing for us now. Ethan Moreau has gone crazy in terms of scoring - geez when did his hands kick in?

But it's still a long road ahead... It isn't nearly over yet. ...and Staios is looking mighty tired out there due to the minutes he's played earlier this year which is something to be watched. And the powerplay still needs to be addressed. Despite the goals we have scored on it, it still looks flat. No time to get complacent - always have to keep improving.

That being said.

GO OILERS

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Old
03-20-2004, 11:20 AM
  #3
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Everyone was giggling after last night's game. What an effort. I think that MacT is a good coach. I've always thought that. Even when everyone was slagging him. Btw, you may be opening a big can of worms with this thread. I don't think that he is necessarily a great coach however. The reason for this is that the Oilers always seem to play to the level of their opponents. The great teams they play well against. The lesser teams they don't. It's part of the reason we have to fight for a playoff spot every year. However, in sticking with the theme of this thread, I am going to say good job MacT for getting the boys rolling on this run we're on. Better late than never. Let's hope it's not too late. I think he can keep them motivated from here on in.

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03-20-2004, 11:29 AM
  #4
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He has done some good thing for sure. But still he makes some very strange calls. Conks wasn't on his game last night and it was very obvious after the 2nd goal. He should have been pulled for Jussi.

One line I woul like him to try would be

Smyth - Nedved - Hemsky

I really think that line could be great.

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03-20-2004, 11:41 AM
  #5
hillbillypriest
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Thank you for starting this thread.

Although McTavish's game management decisions have tended to annoy, probably more this year than any, I don't think that he gets enough credit for his strengths. McTavish starts every year in a hole with a key player missing and by the end of every year there is tremendous development of replacements that (almost) makes up for it. McTavish cannot himself make up for a lack of high end scoring ability. However, he has consistently been able to make not make up for losses of top tier defensemen and end the season with a strong core. I, for one, was never one of the people at the start of this season that was worried about where we were going to get a good defenseman. This problem has ALWAYS solved itself by the end of the season. Not sure whether MacT specifically should get the credit there, but his staff certainly should.

In my opinion, the current Oilers have the strongest depth on D and from lines 2-4 that we've had since 1990. It would be a pitty if they didn't make the playoffs because of how unbelievably rough the start of the year was. We all remember that the team couldn't kill a penalty to save their lives, Salo fought the puck every game and only won by good fortune (he improved later) and nobody on the team could win a faceoff. In my mind, that was not coaching, it was gaps. Was it McTavish's fault that he had nobody at the start of the year that could win a faceoff? That had a huge impact on the penalty killing stats - as was most evident in that comical game in detroit. Now faceoffs are not a problem even though the players have not changed. Somebody must have - dare I say it - coached them.

McTavish is also criticised for his undying faith in "commitment" players rather than skill players. This has also reaped big unrealized benefits. Where would this team be if Moreau was not playing here now? I know I had him as a candidate to traded for "whatever" a couple years ago. I was wrong. McTavish's faith on the other hand I would say has been completely vindicated.

My bottom line is that individual skill development seems to be McTavish's forte, and he doesn't ever seem to get recognized for this. This has had a huge benefit for the franchise, because I believe that this has made the kind of players that this team can afford to pick up either into "assets" (hate that word) or, more likely, replacements that have allowed the really high priced parts to be sold off for players that the coaching staff has been able to develop over time into solid NHL players.

My coach - I think I'll keep him.

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03-20-2004, 11:53 AM
  #6
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This has the makings of a good thread LT. I wanted to say that you make some good points HBP. As always- quality, not necessarily quantity. That's why I appreciate your posts mosts. Anyway, you're right. It seems like the focus is always on what he is doing that everyone doesn't like and not often on what his strengths are. I've always felt that they don't need to ever worry about dmen or the depth there. For some reason this organization always gets the most from their dmen and I suppose this is mostly attributable to the coaching. One other thing I might mention is that with the macblender going, the room probably gets closer as a result. Everyone plays with everyone else and thus they all become more familiar.

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Old
03-20-2004, 12:44 PM
  #7
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a while back, there was a thread that talked about pp success and it basically came down to this - you can have to buy a good pp and it isn't cheap. The big spending teams have the best pp. The place where a small market team can shine is on es. We are one of the best even strength teams in the league and a lot of credit has to go to mact. In spite of having a very young team, poor goaltending, and disappointing results from Oates, we are in a position to fight for the playoffs.

How many of us laughed when Lowe said that 20 other teams would stand in line for mact?

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03-20-2004, 12:50 PM
  #8
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Well timed and much overdue post.

Patience. Oiler management is simply not about the quick fix. MacT definitely deserves his props for staying the course, maintaining composure, and believing in his players.

While we are at it, can we please lay to rest the perception MacT is ill-suited to coach a young hockey team? Stoll, Torres, Bergeron are all excelling under MacT. He rewards hard work and effort. In the case of Hemsky, I think MacT is managing him well to ensure the longterm development and success of this 20 year old kid. Semenov too for that matter.

Way to go MacT.

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03-20-2004, 12:58 PM
  #9
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I gotta give MacT a lot of credit for having the cajones to sit Ales right now, but he's not out of the doghouse yet. Playing Scott Ferguson on rw was probably the most lame-brained thing I've ever heard of an nhl coach doing, not to mention a few other things that have been brought up ad nauseum.

When I look at the character players he has to work with I can't heap praise on him for his modest success of late, most of that goes to Lowe.

If the Oil make the playoffs I'll give MacT a 51% for this semester.

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03-20-2004, 01:10 PM
  #10
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I recently asked DB to name some things about MacT that he didn't like. He obliged. He didn't ask me to come forth with anything I liked about MacT though, which would have been a fair question too.

I'll volunteer.

Unfortunately a coaches job is rarely talked about when things are going good........but gets flamed when things go south. Nature of the biz.

As MacTs biggest critic here, I have to say I'm pretty impressed lately. He's made this team into beleivers in this push. Something I always harped/questioned about him.

This season he has made me happy with revoking Laraques "free pass" into the line up and being critical of certain players at the right time.

He's not perfect though. And I'll hold that against him until it changes.

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Old
03-20-2004, 01:25 PM
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oi'll say!
I gotta give MacT a lot of credit for having the cajones to sit Ales right now, but he's not out of the doghouse yet. Playing Scott Ferguson on rw was probably the most lame-brained thing I've ever heard of an nhl coach doing, not to mention a few other things that have been brought up ad nauseum.

When I look at the character players he has to work with I can't heap praise on him for his modest success of late, most of that goes to Lowe.

If the Oil make the playoffs I'll give MacT a 51% for this semester.
I think Lowe is a better general manager than MacT is a coach, but I also think that MacT has contributed to Lowe's success as a GM. The oilers are all about a long term plan - they have had to be. Lowe has made quality for quantity deals. But MacT's team has turned a lot of the quantity into "quality quantity", which has led directly to the fact that we have so many players that are really capable of playing on a credible 2-4 line in the NHL or a 2-3 defense pair. This, IMO has also led directly to the fact that there are nightly debates on this Board about whether player A should or should not be playing (and thus whether MacT is really an idiot because he decided to let player A play but player B has to sit).

Playoffs this year or no, the whole organization is starting to see the fruits of the long term view. The RR's are laden with NHL calibre talent or talent that is not ready but is constantly improving. The Oilers are on the cusp of a virtuous circle where the depth is so great that there is always going to be competition for a roster spot and for a place in the lineup. As GuyF has drawn our attention to, the pipeline is pretty full. That's a really good situation to be in and speaks not just to dramatically better drafting - especially later round drafting - but also to an organization wide player development focus that includes the staff in Edmonton.

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03-20-2004, 01:44 PM
  #12
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I won't pretend to be an NHL coach who understands line juggling altogether, but I saw an Avs/Wings game a couple weeks ago where Granato had used 7 fwd line combinations in the first 10 minutes. How is that for juggling?

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03-20-2004, 01:47 PM
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vb
I won't pretend to be an NHL coach who understands line juggling altogether, but I saw an Avs/Wings game a couple weeks ago where Granato had used 7 fwd line combinations in the first 10 minutes. How is that for juggling?
The most successful coach of all-time Scotty Bowman was notorious for juggling lines. People criticize for that yet a majority of the time it works out well for the Oilers. Smyth-Horc-Pisani, Moreau-Stoll-Laraque, Torres-York-Dvo all lines that were formed due to juggling at some point.

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Old
03-20-2004, 03:36 PM
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hillbillypriest
I think Lowe is a better general manager than MacT is a coach, but I also think that MacT has contributed to Lowe's success as a GM. .
I'd agree with that, certainly considering that the GM really didn't replace Comrie until the week before the trade deadline. One could certainly argue that the Oilers were as thin at center as any team at any position in the NHL at one time this season, but MacT kept making do and talking about how well Adam Oates talked to people at practice.


Quote:
Originally Posted by hillbillypriest
The oilers are all about a long term plan - they have had to be. Lowe has made quality for quantity deals. But MacT's team has turned a lot of the quantity into "quality quantity", which has led directly to the fact that we have so many players that are really capable of playing on a credible 2-4 line in the NHL or a 2-3 defense pair. This, IMO has also led directly to the fact that there are nightly debates on this Board about whether player A should or should not be playing (and thus whether MacT is really an idiot because he decided to let player A play but player B has to sit). .
There's more to it than that imo. MacTavish is gold with players who can play with a defensive edge, but hasn't really developed an offensive player of note despite being given some wonderful clay (Poti, Comrie, Hemsky). Before someone posts 'what about Comrie's 30 goal season', I'd like to point out that part of developing a player involves the player actually being on your team for the long haul. No matter MacT's blame or lack of same in the Comrie situation, it happened on his watch and so is part of his record.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hillbillypriest
Playoffs this year or no, the whole organization is starting to see the fruits of the long term view. The RR's are laden with NHL calibre talent or talent that is not ready but is constantly improving. The Oilers are on the cusp of a virtuous circle where the depth is so great that there is always going to be competition for a roster spot and for a place in the lineup. As GuyF has drawn our attention to, the pipeline is pretty full. That's a really good situation to be in and speaks not just to dramatically better drafting - especially later round drafting - but also to an organization wide player development focus that includes the staff in Edmonton.
Agree completely. I still have some misgivings about MacT's ability to get the most out of guys who aren't foot soldiers, and probably will for some time. But the sheer volume of players coming through the pipeline means trades like the Nedved deal can easily be accomplished without compromising the long term future.

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03-20-2004, 05:09 PM
  #15
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I've been quite critical of MacT this season on certain items this season... the big one being the development of the SKILLED young players - namely Hemsky. I really like what MacT's done to salvage the season though, and he has to be given a lion's share of the credit.

Also, I had to love his quote in the Journal today where he said he'd like to get Hemsky in, but would only want to put him in if he could play off his strengths. That did a lot to relieve my fear that MacT was trying to focus on Hemsky's defensive deficiencies.

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03-20-2004, 07:35 PM
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gretzky2kurri
... He's not perfect though. And I'll hold that against him until it changes.
Perfection is highly overrated.

I think the best thing about MacT is that KLo says he's the man to do the job.
I have a great deal of professional respect for Kevin.

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03-20-2004, 08:17 PM
  #17
hillbillypriest
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowetide
There's more to it than that imo. MacTavish is gold with players who can play with a defensive edge, but hasn't really developed an offensive player of note despite being given some wonderful clay (Poti, Comrie, Hemsky). Before someone posts 'what about Comrie's 30 goal season', I'd like to point out that part of developing a player involves the player actually being on your team for the long haul. No matter MacT's blame or lack of same in the Comrie situation, it happened on his watch and so is part of his record.
I'm sorry but I'm affraid I don't buy this issue as a legitemate knock against McTavish. I'll go from easiest to hardest.

Firstly, I think it's way to early to panic about Hemsky. He only came into the NHL straight out of junior because he had no where else to go. He was in an awkward position where he was too good to go back to junior but not really ready for the NHL. Optimally, he should have apprenticed in the minors until his NHL toolbox got developed. Other players who have developed have done this. Remember for example that Raffi Torres was, I believe, a number 4 pick - lots higher than Hemskey (13 right?). A draft position like that is based primarily on showing talent. He wasn't ready for a regular job in the NHL right away, now he is. Another example in a different way is Dan Cleary. Very highly touted junior. Who can say that the fact he didn't develop on the oilers was because MacT didn't give him a chance to succeed? In any event, on what basis are we presuming that Hemsky is so discouraged that he wants off the team? I haven't heard this.

Secondly, its not clear to me that Poti was or is a mishandled talent. To be a defenseman in the NHL, you have to be able to play defense even if your thing is an offsensive style. Poti appeared to be uncoachable for same defensemen basics. Kept that too long stick, and never learned to take the body. Poti has not been a hit in NY, to put it mildly. In fact, if you ever wander to the NYR board, one of the common things you hear when fans talk about Poti is how much they want York back, because he's a well rounded player that brings it every night and makes the team better. In short MacT and Lowe's kind of guy. That trade is a no brainer win for the Oilers. I haven't missed Poti for a second.

Comrie may be the most difficult of your examples to prove that Oilerfans did not lose someone that could have been special if he had been handled differently. I did not want him to go and was holding out hope that the hardened positions could have been softened. However, as the standoff wore on, it became pretty clear to me that Comrie just didn't have the personality to withstand some criticism, and reacted uniquely badly when it came and then had his later negotiating actions spin out of control on him. The fact for me is that Comrie deserved to be playing 4th line centre when he came back from his injury last year. He was just not playing well, but not only that, he was playing selfishly and did not want to make an adjustment he needed to make. The blue line moves were not working, and he was ignoring advice to change because he felt that he was a star that should have different rules apply to him. Ultimately, I just think that that kind of attitude is hard on a team. On the other hand, I think that it sends a terrific message not just to the other players on the team, but also in the system, when a guy like Pisani does well and gets rewarded. Players come into the system and have hope that if they work hard and prove themselves, they will get a shot and become a regular. Some people think that this will curse the team forever to having only mediocre talent. I'm not one of these. I really think that players develop at different rates. Some show early and peter out. Some like Fernando take longer but are still improving. Pisani didn't get to the top line because he's defensively aware, he got there because he's actually shown that he can shoot, and he's getting better and better.

Anyway, sorry to jump in so hard on this, but I really think that this criticism is a bad rap.

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03-20-2004, 08:34 PM
  #18
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Aaahhhhh...It's good to be right.

MacTavish has dragged this team, AGAIN, away from the abyss. Good to see a good coach getting rewarded by good play by his team. From vets all the way to the rookies.

I still remember being one of the few who never wanted to trade Moreau. I called the guy a GEM and said he needed time to prove it everyone. I remember taking a lot of flak for calling him a gem. Only nagging injuries have kept him from being team MVP material the last 2 years. Now the Oilers are reaping the rewards. Blood and guts guy!

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03-20-2004, 08:42 PM
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hillbillypriest
In any event, on what basis are we presuming that Hemsky is so discouraged that he wants off the team? I haven't heard this.
I certainly haven't heard it either, if I implied it my bad.

We'll see. I don't see any evidence that Craig MacTavish has the patience to see an offensive player with defensive problems through those tough times and out the other side. So far, the evidence (the "breaking down" of Poti's game MacT's first camp and the Comrie situation) isn't encouraging.

Hopefully it's much ado about nothing.

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03-20-2004, 08:44 PM
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hillbillypriest
I'm sorry but I'm affraid I don't buy this issue as a legitemate knock against McTavish. I'll go from easiest to hardest.
...
IMO that's a terrific post HBP. Or at least it expresses my own thoughts on these three issues better than I could ever have articulated them myself.

It's only the 20th, but I'm gonna give you the covetted "Post O' The Month" award for March anyways

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03-20-2004, 08:50 PM
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HOZ
MacTavish has dragged this team, AGAIN, away from the abyss. Good to see a good coach getting rewarded by good play by his team. From vets all the way to the rookies.

I still remember being one of the few who never wanted to trade Moreau. I called the guy a GEM and said he needed time to prove it everyone. I remember taking a lot of flak for calling him a gem. Only nagging injuries have kept him from being team MVP material the last 2 years. Now the Oilers are reaping the rewards. Blood and guts guy!
Well enough about you.............lets talk about you for a while.

So tell us all Nostradamus, will the Oilers make the playoffs?

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03-20-2004, 10:46 PM
  #22
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Thanks Lowetide...

Seeing as I am apparantly a genetic clone of Mac-T, it's nice to see that he isn't being lambasted at every turn.

One thing I don't get is this... what is it with this obsession of yanking the goalie? I've seen several posts saying Ty should have been pulled after the 2nd goal... I don't know any coach (except for Keenan) who would yank their goaltender in a 2-1 game in the 2nd period. In the first period, I can understand that (somewhat), but once that 1st period is over you are pretty much past that magical line where pulling the goaltender will help your team. It's tough to have your backup come in after sitting all period and then come out and play, especially in a close game.

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03-21-2004, 12:00 AM
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gretzky2kurri
Well enough about you.............lets talk about you for a while.

So tell us all Nostradamus, will the Oilers make the playoffs?
Well if it isn't FLAK-boy.

Should I start the 'Feel good' threads for you to fire Flak at?

Should I refer to you as YO-YO??

AS FOR MY PREDICTIONS:
Go find Lowtides' prediction thread. I'll stick by those predictions.


Last edited by HOZ: 03-21-2004 at 12:11 AM. Reason: added info
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Old
03-21-2004, 01:21 PM
  #24
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i was one of those guys who was very critical of mact and in some ways i still am. however, i stress however this current push for a playoff spot has made me believe in him. i think he is a good coach however as lowetide once pointed out, he might be a better fit for an older team. it is only my opinion, not a binding contract so keep the slagging to a minimum.

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03-21-2004, 05:58 PM
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgbone
Thanks Lowetide...

Seeing as I am apparantly a genetic clone of Mac-T, it's nice to see that he isn't being lambasted at every turn.

One thing I don't get is this... what is it with this obsession of yanking the goalie? I've seen several posts saying Ty should have been pulled after the 2nd goal... I don't know any coach (except for Keenan) who would yank their goaltender in a 2-1 game in the 2nd period. In the first period, I can understand that (somewhat), but once that 1st period is over you are pretty much past that magical line where pulling the goaltender will help your team. It's tough to have your backup come in after sitting all period and then come out and play, especially in a close game.

but seeing as how I don't regard Keenan as being incompetant, I would look to pull Ty after that 2-1 goal because he looked so very bad on it that I'd play a hunch he was gonna be shaky for the rest of the night.

And that being said I would've been right. And I also would've been right to pull Jussi after the Rucinsky goal a couple of Friday's ago.

I don't think you could get off with doing that stuff to vets but neither Ty nor Jussi are vets and they are just happy to be here and I'd like to see all avenues and methods explored.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Would it be radical? Sure, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be successful

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