Monday, March 05, 2007

Spin, Media and the UFA Foolishness

Remember this?
Anyone catch Bryan McCabe's comments after his atrocious outing against the Sabres last week - so says the genius (and I paraphrase) "I'm busting my ass out there - everyone knows that mistakes are a part of the game."
He coughed up the tying goal Friday night as well.
Well, Bryan, its certainly one part of the game that you have mastered.
Met Tyler from Saturday night - he came out for a game of shinny and afterwards we dropped by my local for a pint - caught a bit of the Oilers' game and enjoyed Pisani's second goal, if not the Flames' response.
We discussed you know what briefly and while we sit on opposite sides of the issue, as I said to him, we may as well not argue about it because I know his arguments are great ones. Plus he's a lot smarter then me. Plus a far better hockey player by the way. Of course my excuse is my advanced years.
I certainly can't add much to the general debate raging all about us except to make these points.
1/ I think that while everyone is angry with the trade itself, many are just as angry, if not angrier, with the spin. And here is where the Oilers are blowing it and making people who accept the trade, like myself, a little leery. Dropping hints like Lowe did Saturday that Smyth may have asked for 6 + (he did so in just a quick aside but people would pick up on that) or having Cal Nichols blather on about tax rates or employing the full court media press just smacks of foolishness. Saying that you feel that the guy is not worth the money he is asking for is all they had to say. People can agree or disagree with you then. Fair enough. At some point you have to say this is it. But saying that if they were still in the playoff race they would have signed him or saying that the gap may have been only 100K which then makes both parties look stupid (and I don't believe for a minute that was the case, btw - anyone who heard what Smyth said when that was posed to him on Thursday knows that was not the case. He's awesome but he's not a good actor, I would say.). Fact is, the Oilers apparently could have had him for 5M per last summer. If that is the case and you can live with that amount then they blew it.
Anyhow the Oilers would have done best to leave well enough alone and ride out the storm. My sister, who has no access to Edmonton media and no time to watch talking heads debate the subject, did catch Smyth's farewell at the airport. She emailed me to offer her sympathies and also remarked that if he wanted to stay so bad why did he not take what they offered him? Its not like he needed the money, she said. Now, I have NO PROBLEM with Smyth rejecting what was offered AT ALL before anyone starts piling on here. I'm just repeating what she said as an example of a legitimate opinion formed without any input from EIG or their media flunkies. Not everyone was sympathetic to Ryan's side of it and that's ok just as its ok to ream EIG a new one for their botching of the whole situation. Anyhow EIG should have kept their damn mouths shut. Its not like people will desert the team in droves ... yet :).
2/ Interesting notes on the whole media situation but let me tell you that Edmonton has no monopoly on this type of situation. With only a couple of exceptions the Toronto media does not ask the hard questions of the Leafs. You'd think their last Cup was 3 years ago, not 39. And those reporters who do question or mock MLSE are derided as having agendas. Interesting, huh? And they don't fuck around here either. When the Jays were becoming contenders back in the 80s we were all treated to talk of how they had the best outfield in baseball and how every prospect was the next Dimaggio. Anyone remember Lloyd Moseby? Nice guy, average hitter, signature move was coming in at the crack of the bat and then turning and running as the ball sailed over his head. I remember watching Willie Wilson from KC and thinking why he made it look so easy. Because he could play the position, that's why! And then Devon White came along and he could do it all and man was he a fielder. But for years people bought the crap about the Best Outfield In Baseball because that is what they were told, by EVERYBODY. And a member of that trio was a below average outfielder, I'd say. At best, he was average.
And while Edmonton media run down guys after they leave, they have nothing on the media here in Hogtown. You want to know if a guy is going to get shipped out or if he will be allowed to leave via free agency. Watch for the hints in the Toronto dailies about the guys who have lost a step, who are selfish or cancers in the clubhouse according to unnamed sources, and so on.
EIG has nothing on these guys. Hell, Roberto Alomar was getting booed long before his contract ran out and when he left the fans were ready to throw a parade.
3/ Finally the whole idea of where the Oilers go from here is interesting and originally what I planned on posting about today. I have my ideas of who should stay and who should go and am hopeful that Kyle Brodziak will show that he belongs in the next few weeks now that he has returned. We need more Pisanis and less Lupuls and that goes without saying. Anyhow, the idea that the Oilers are going to dip into the UFA pool is one that Lowe has to run with right now but if I were a betting man I would say that the big acquisition this summer, if there is one, will be made via trade. We know the numbers that get throw around in July and if you're not willing to give Smyth 5.5 over 5 then I can't see how giving Briere 6.5 over 5 is any smarter. We all know that come the summer the GMs' brains take a vacation. Vic Ferrari said the other day that the average GM is smarter then Joe Fan and I'd sure hope so - it is their job after all - but we all know that in the past there have been a ton of dummy contracts handed out. Smyth will likely get over 6M - as a matter of fact if he gets the Islanders anywhere I'd say he's going to get 6.5 plus over five. The argument that therefore the Oilers should have been willing to pay out for Smytty due to this fact does not make a lot of sense to me. After all these GMs are the same guys who gave Mr. McCabe, Marty Lapointe, Alex Yashin and so on hefty deals. Doesn't mean it makes sense or that its smart.
Now, my own opinion you can read below and I know from getting around the Oilogosphere that it is not the popular one. And if Smyth has five more seasons like this one or better (imagine of he got to play with, say, Crosby and Malkin?) then he's a bargain. Some would argue if he has three more then he is. And what can I say? The arguments on both sides are good ones and people a lot smarter then me are on the other side of the fence on this one. The fact that Smyth is Smyth and that EIG are EIG makes even me waver at times. As I said to Tyler Saturday night despite what I have said, if Smyth came back July 1st (not going to happen) I'd be a happy guy. What can I say?


lowetide said...

I still blame it on the defense. Vic lays out a very strong argument for the wingers being the problem in your post below but I'm unable to see it.

For me, once the puck is in the Oilers zone the options are a goal, icing or a penalty.

Black Dog said...

I blame it on pretty well everyone LT :)

Seriously - who has had a very good year? Smyth.

And Pouliot, Thoresen and Hejda have exceeded expectations.

And Smith, Staios, Roloson and Pisani have done what they can.

Everyone else started slow, has disappeared or was just plain awful.

lowetide said...

Well someone (maybe Tyler) mentioned that we should have known better when Pronger left and Luongo arrived. Hell the Oil beat VCR by a single point for crying out loud.

But I blame Lowe. Not for the Smyth trade (I like the return) and not even for what Pronger got them, but for not improving that blueline.

Why would you hire a 37-year old goalie and then let his children play defense?

Black Dog said...

Its been a weird year for Lowe, no doubt.

Last year everything he touched turned to gold.

This year, not so much.

Watching him on HNIC and he says "well, we went with the template we had last year and it did not work out".

But it might have - not SCF but at least playoffs if he picks up a vet or two on the backend (or pushed Hejda - pure politics there).

And then adds a Dvorak or two for the playoff run.

Just a weird weird year, he could not have screwed it up worse if he tried.

Wait a second!

gary b said...

is it too early to get excited about summer, and the entry draft?

assuming the Oilers picking 6-8ish (likely 7th?), what will they do? i'd like to see them move one first-rounder and a Lupul, maybe, to move up to picking top 3 or 4. And i agree with the idea that there's a big trade for the Oil in the offing this summer...

Black Dog said...

You and I would move Lupul in a second, if just to free up more cap space, gary, but I cannot see Lowe doing it.

Torres, however, I think is a goner. And exactly in that type of deal. Torres and their high pick to move up.

I think they need someone to replace Smyth (duh) and need someone to play in the top pair (again duh). So they need more cap space and moving Lupul would give them another 2.3 to remake the roster.

Kyle said...

Regardless about who is to blame, this post sums up my feelings about Ryan.

There was something very special about him and whomever we received for him will not be special in the way Smyth was.

It sickens me that they're trying to drag his name through the mud though, especially after hearing about the luxury box offer.

Some players can't be measured purely by goals and assists, and Smytty was one of them.

Alana said...

I WANT TO PLAY SHINNY! Seriously, Pat -- email me if you guys go out again.

RiversQ said...

One thing I have a problem with is the $100K issue.

It was floated in front of Lowe on After Hours and he did NOT deny it.

The further stories about Smyth offering to spend $100K on a luxury box refuse to go away as well.

Personally, I suspect that the Oilers leaked this one as a way of making Smyth look bad. Predictably, it makes both sides look bad and that's how I've interpreted the Smyth reaction you described. I don't think anybody knows Smyth well enough to determine whether his reaction was one of amazement because: a) It wasn't true at all; b) he didn't know that had been leaked; or c) he was just flustered by the question because he isn't flattered by the implications either.

Personally, I think Lowe makes a deal this offseason. Not because it's the right hockey decision but because they have dug themselves a hole with all their pre-lockout whining. They have to spend the money anyway and it just makes financial sense to try to squeeze into 8th place again and gross another $8-10MM in a four game sweep.

Andy Grabia said...

I think that while everyone is angry with the trade itself, many are just as angry, if not angrier, with the spin

Yup. That pretty much sums it up for me.

As for RiversQ point about the Oilers leaking stuff, I wouldn't be surprised. But I am surprised Meehan hasn't said anything back. That is definitely not in his nature. Smyth must really be reignig him in, which discounts, at least to me, this ridiculous idea that a player agent is controlling Smyth.

Andy Grabia said...

I should also add that I agree with Vic that the wingers have been the problem this year, not the d-men.

Black Dog said...

rivers - agreed on the Oilers signing someone or dealing for someone this summer - they have the room and contrary to what some have said they have been willing to spend big money longterm (Pronger); my guess is they try and acquire a longterm piece and failing that, go with a short term fix - someone signed for a year

I would agree that the Oilers leaked the 100K difference and as you said who knows why Smyth reacted as he did - in the end everyone looks foolish if that's the difference - as Tyler said - that's Nedved - I'm still not sold on it being the truth

Andy - well, a lot of people have said its Meehan's fault but he works for Smyth and from what Smyth has said - they set the benchmark - Smyth was a full partner in it

As for the wingers/Dman debate - well I think its chicken/egg really - we know the D situation was terrible and certainly the failure to have a couple of guys to headman that puck (MAB has almost as many points already for the Isles as Staios has all season, Staios now being the leading scorer among Dmen.)certainly impacted the offence.

Having said that you look at the forwards and there's a whole lot of shit going on there, especially on the wing.

Its just a massive load of shit. If I were Lowe I'd be making some fair size changes.

LittleFury said...

Here's a question: is there anyone on the roster right now who shoudl not be traded? 'cause I look at this roster and all I see are replacable cogs.

Black Dog said...

well, littlefury, everyone can be replaced and if the right deal came along (ie/ say Florida dangled Bouwmeester - right, dream)but based on what this team needs I would say the following players should not be moved: Horcoff, Pisani, Moreau, Smith, Staios, Thoresen, Pouliot, Stortini, Hemsky

Hemsky because of his talent, Stortini because he fills a role he team needs and the rest of them becasue they either can play the tough minutes or are youngsters who look like they may be able to handle some hard slogging in the years to come

Kyle said...

Did Stoll not make the list because of his injury status?

Black Dog said...

I'm just talking about guys I'd prefer not to move - I think Stoll's concussion will make him difficult to trade until he's proven healthy. And I like him a lot. Also think he could bring a nice return from a team that needs a second line centre.

Shawn said...

I think we'll be dipping both into the free agent pool AND into the trade market. Too much youth and not enough space for everyone to start playing at the NHL level. Not enough veteran help on D and on the wing.

That adds up nicely both possible trades and free agent pick ups.

I just don't buy that they'll be of the superstar variety.