I learned about Steve MacIntyre's return to the Edmonton Oilers, as I learn about all news ranging from World Cup results to the birth of children: on Twitter. The lovely thing about Twitter is that you can provide an instant, if thoughtful, reaction to the news as it happens, and like when children are born that's exactly what I did. Kept it brief, too. My reaction was two words: OH GOD.
The Oilers, being the Oilers, have told us nothing about MacIntyre's contract beyond that it's a one-year deal, but we know that this is a forward who we lost on waivers last year to the Florida Panthers and didn't bother trying to claim back when he passed through on the way to the Rochester Americans. Steve Tambellini can't possibly think that much of him (can he?) so this is probably a two-way deal. Of course, Derek Boogaard and Jody Shelley have driven up the market for completely useless hockey players, so one never knows. Personally, I'd have preferred it if the Oilers had saved themselves the trouble and just signed Mike Tyson, who I'm pretty sure will do anything for money.
What's there to say about Steve MacIntyre, the hockey player? Not much. He's actually a lot better at hockey than the aforementioned Boogaard, having scored multiple NHL goals in his forty-four career games. He's probably better at the sport than Jean-Francois Jacques, for that matter. I realize I'm not aiming too high here but it's important to keep things in perspective. Steve MacIntyre is a dreadful hockey player but even if he gets a one-way deal he's not likely to be the most dreadful of the Edmonton Oilers.
Hrm. What else have I got? I'm willing to bet money he's the only NHL player to play in the Continental Elite Hockey League, which I hadn't even heard of until the last time we signed Steve MacIntyre and have never heard of for a second since. He's definitely the only current NHL player to have been banned for life from the Continental Elite Hockey League which is an encouragingly Ogie Oglethorpe sort of thing to have on your professional resume. He's probably the only NHL player to come out of the WHA2, that lockout-year joke of a league that was meant to be the minor league affiliate to a resurrected World Hockey Association and wound up only as a punchline. He can play both forward and defense, to the extent that he can play any position at all. Last year in eighteen games with Florida he got one more point than Dean Arsene did for us, and Dean Arsene was being employed as a hockey player.
That record doesn't exactly get your motor running, does it? Well then congratulations, you're over-qualified to be general manager of the Edmonton Oilers.
Let's be clear, on no level does this signing make a fragment of an iota of sense.
By any measure, MacIntyre was one of the worst players on the Florida Panthers last year, and the Florida Panthers weren't starving for bad hockey players. He played with the worst Panthers against the worst opponents, got 2:53 of ice time a night, and was still -3 in his eighteen games (or, for those who dig their rate statistics, -2.84/60 EV minutes). He didn't even do much of what he was allegedly good at, spending only 24 minutes of 2009-10 in the penalty box, posting what hockeyfights.com calls a 3-1 record in NHL fights as well as a 4-0 record in the American Hockey League.
So he can't play a lick and he fights a little more than Georges Laraque on quaaludes. Even more importantly, the Oilers already have a goon named Zack Stortini who is about the same size as MacIntyre, younger, and comes with bonus ability in "actual hockey". Stortini only had a 6-6-5 record last year (again, thanks hockeyfights.com) but oooh noooo, we're going to lose because our goon doesn't win 75% of the time and he spends too much time taking care of his on-ice responsibilities rather than considering his best opportunity to be truculent.
It's hard to imagine a universe in which this could help us. Whatever deterrent effect an enforcer has preventing injury, it certainly didn't do the Oilers any good during the parts of two seasons they previously had him and it probably isn't considerable when said enforcer gets about one minor penalty worth of ice time a night.
Remember, guys, we've seen this movie before. The darker recesses of the Internet are full of mouth-breathing praise for this signing. One commenter at tsn.ca, who I will leave anonymous for his own sake, praises the signing and says Tambellini "Can't let [the Oilers] get pushed around like in years past." Years past like, I don't know, the two seasons Steve MacIntyre spent on this team? If the Oilers have been pushed around, we have better-than-average proof that Steve MacIntyre is not the solution to that problem. Yet here is our beloved Tambo, having taken our earnest pleas to stop evaluating, put a hold on the dithering, and actually making some moves, proving that really we were lucky when he was looking between two ties for an hour and a half because that meant he wasn't ruining our hockey team.
If Steve MacIntyre wants to make a fan of me, he will throw Tambellini out of the press box like Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi and then he can name his price as far as I'm concerned. Other than that, there's no way he can cover his contract even if we're paying him in pocket change.