Friday, August 03, 2007

Penner and Perry

Getting away from it all for a week starting tomorrow and at the very least I think that the Oilers may be competitive this year. I don't like the Souray deal and I think the money they have spent there and on Penner may kill this team down the road, maybe as soon as next summer when they have to ink Stoll and Pitkanen. What makes things even more frustrating is that watching Lowe make his bold (reckless) strikes is frustrating as hell when he pissed away last season with his failure to pick up a veteran defenceman or two. In a similar vein, suddenly money is no object yet this team would not take on an established player in the Pronger deal and would not sign Smyth to a longterm deal for financial reasons.
That is difficult to take and it really reeks of a lack of a plan at all.
Now, having said all of that while I wish we could have given Penner a little less money, I'm not as down on him as a lot of people are. Twenty nine goals as a rookie is pretty sweet regardless of your opposition. His linemates were good but its not like he was playing with Lafleur and Lemaire. His play without the puck needs work but few youngsters cannot say that. He is a big big man on a team that was pushed around a lot last season and anyone who remembers the '06 playoffs (anyone :)?) remembers that the kid was pretty well impossible to move at times. So, we'll see about Dustin Penner. Could be a killer. But if the kid gets better then its a hell of a deal and I'm not sure why a lot of people say he's not going to improve. A dominant year in the AHL and a pretty good rookie year for starters is pretty good in my books.
I'm a little more optimistic then I was even a few days ago. Suddenly this team has a little more then they did before. I think it still looks like a bit of a mishmash but maybe MacT and Huddy can make it happen. Actually if anything this team reminds me a bit of the prelockout teams. You look at it and you figure they've got nothing but they may surprise. The one thing that was heartening was the enthusiasm from Shawn Horcoff. After a season where he saw management mail it in, he suddenly looks around and has hope. I think he and many others bounce back from poor seasons. If Penner can score thirty again (and again and again) and not be Lupul like without the puck and this team can be middle of the pack this season then I can live with the deal.
One last point about another young Duck who remains in California, Corey Perry. His name came up in a thread over at Covered In Oil and the consensus is the kid is a player but also an A1 asshole. Perry has all of the talent in the world but he is dirty, a diver and a guy who is constantly running his mouth. As I mentioned in the thread I saw a video of him, on HNIC iirc, where he was mic'd. This was in the series against the Wings. The entire time his mouth was running and he was threatening Hasek and Datsyuk. Now this brought to mind Lupul's famous interview before the series in '06 where he claimed the Ducks would handle Pronger by running at him constantly. All yap. Perry is hated but why?
Now I'd like to believe that ever Oiler who ever played was a blood and guts guy, the sort of guy who would be fun to play shinny with and have a beer or two after, the type of guy you could trust your girlfriend with. And of course, every Oiler who ever played the game played it clean. We all know that's bullshit all the way. Ethan Moreau spends a lot of his time on the ice muttering threats and then following through on them. We know about Torres' hits that border on the illegal. Smith loved inflicting pain. And Roloson will do anything to win. Messier was vicious. Anderson was a stickman. Tikkanen was dirtier then most and of course there was the original "rat" Ken Linseman. Plus Dave Semenko.
That's hockey. For every guy who plays it straight like Sakic and Gretzky, Coffey and Lafleur, Beliveau and Red Kelly, I can name you a dozen who played outside the rules. Eddie Shore was brutal. Maurice Richard was crazy. Ted Lindsay too. Gordie Howe was a cold blooded thug with his fists and elbows. Bobby Clarke was out and out dirty. Stan Mikita too until he changed his ways. Scott Stevens would put you under when he had the chance. Yzerman and Scott Niedermeyer were both dirty with their sticks. And on and on.
Hockey is a crazy game. I play with a bunch of guys who are nearly all on the other side of forty. Family men for the most part. The nicest bunch of guys. A terrific group on and off the ice.
And in the past couple of years I have witnessed two guys terrorizing an opponent who had given one guy a cheapshot. They spent two minutes screaming at him as the play swirled around. I believe he was called a "fucking cock" about thirty times in that time frame. He was frightened and for good reason. We had the red mist come over one of our smaller guys who ran into (and over) a defenceman on the other team who had taken liberties with him all game. We had a brawl where one father of two (with a third on the way) ended up being suspended for biting. When asked if he did it he said that he could not remember, he had been so crazy with rage. Myself, a married father of two and probably the most easy going guy that you will ever meet, have been in a fight with some punk half my age who got his stick too high on me at the end of a game. I also speared an opponent in the bag after he slewfooted me in front of their net. And I broke my stick over a guy's arm because he was, uh, holding me. (To be fair the stick was on its last legs - I barely hurt the guy). And except for the fight I spent no time in the box. So that makes it alright. Uh, right?
The point of all of these tales of mayhem and these references to Hall of Famers and Oilers, great and not so great? Hockey is a tough and brutal game. It always has been and people who talk about the violence being bad nowadays should read about the game in its infancy as a professional sport.
We cheer the violence by the guys in our jerseys. A guy who is dirty (Tikkanen) is "great when he's your teammate". The borderline hit is legal when its your man throwing the elbow. We even participate in it when we play ourselves. But we loathe Corey Perry. Why? Its not because he doesn't play the game in a certain manner. We admire Joe Sakic and Selanne and Hemsky - guys who can take a hit but don't go out there with sticks swinging or elbows flying.
Its the talk that does it. The facewash. The late hit and the hit from behind. The turtling. That's why Perry pisses people off. He talks the talk but he won't walk the walk. He's a dirty player. How he plays is against the often laughable "Code" that Don Cherry constantly refers to but in this case Cherry is right. He's a punk and one day someone is going to call him on it. Remember what McCarty did to Claude Lemieux?
We can only hope there is a McCarty in Corey Perry's future.


Earl Sleek said...

Yeah, one of the real reasons why Perry is so particularly snarky is that some 3/4 of his NHL career has been played on a line with Todd Fedoruk, who of course fiercely protected the kid's right to yap. As Perry moves more and more into a top line role, he's not going to be able to bring the Fedoruks along with him, and that's probably trouble brewing, as you intone.

Oh well, the kid's gotta learn a lesson someday--hope it's not you who ends up giving it to him, you spear-stick-breaking-maniac. :)

Anonymous said...

Well put and entertaining. Never liked him but didn't bother to flesh it out.

Doug said...

I was thinking more Domi on Samuelsson :)

Pat said...

That's like two posts in one BD. The first part about the lack of plan consistently bothers me too. I know people get sick of hearing about Smyth, but you're bang on.

It's weird that Lowe gets this credit as being a smart GM who truly understands and is taking advantage of the new CBA. It's pretty obvious that the RFA raids were a desperation move, not a carefully calculated plan formed long beforehand. And in any case, I'm sure Lowe had a lawyer or two helping him out with the technicalities (I don't think he's completely inept, but I think the CBA is pretty technical for a guy like Lowe...maybe I'm being too mean though).

Anyhow,the Penner offer was clearly under the "last resort" column. I keep thinking of that interview Lowe had after the initial UFA signings died down, the one where he came clean on Smyth, saying he should have signed him for what he wanted. He admitted in that interview that they were interested in Drury, Gomez and Briere, but those three wouldn't even talk to him. Kariya was a target as well. And then, of course, was the Nylander fiasco. We bitch and moan about how much some of these guys got, and how we're better off without them. I generally agree (Drury I'd take). But what isn't accounted for is the obvious fact that LOWE WANTED THESE GUYS! Thank God he failed. Penner is a risk, and I'm not totally happy with the situation, but I'd rather have Penner than most of those other guys, considering the money at stake.

Vic Ferrari said...

I'll join in the agree-a-thon. Put me down for exactly what Pat said.

And WTF Black Dog, biting? Jesus, I'm think we can lump your buddy in with Perry, Linseman and Avery right now.

On the same subject, Guerin, Arnott and Messier are guys who always struck me as a complete jerks. Just the vibe they gave off.

I heard Jake Daniels tell a story about Messier on the radio, as I remember it, when he was a rookie reporter Mark just tore into him the the locker room for no reason at all. Just the way the guy was according to JD.

I've heard enough 1st, 2nd and 3rd bad things about Arnott's character to remove all doubt.

Everybody seems to say nothing but good things about Guerin though.

Dano said...

I never met Guerin but I get that vibe from him as well. If I recall correctly, there was some mention of Guerin being involved in an incident during the Nagano Olympics. Something to do with trashing a hotel room (or rooms) after the Olympic hockey team underperformed in the Olympics. The incident proved to be quite embarassing to the U.S. Olympic hockey program.


Dano said...

It might be more accurate to say Guerin was suspected of being a participant in that incident.

Anonymous said...

My first memory of Glenn Anderson is of him kicking another player when tripped in the corner. But then he is one of my favourites from the dynasty.

Plus Stan Mikita: PIM leader to PTS leader in one year. I can only hope the edge leads to room


Black Dog said...

Sean - you can read a little about Mikita above.

Vic - the guy is the nicest guy in the world too - just kind of lost it - I think he was embarassed about it after all was said and done

As for Guerin, Dano is right, there were a few suspects - he, Chelios and Tkachuk (who strikes me as being a huge asshole)iirc. But other then that you hear nearly all good things about the guy.

Cheyenne said...

The thing about some of the players you talked about who played it straight (Gretzky definitely comes to mind here) is that they simply didn't have the physical strength to get in there with their elbows or their fists. While some smaller players are willing and able to get in their and scrap, I don't think any of these guys' coaches were too keen on having them as an injured scratch for the next half a year because they picked a fight they couldn't win. Obviously, players like Coffey were brutal, but they still managed to do it within the rules.

As one of the other readers said in his own comment, a lot of Perry's ability to flap his gums comes from playing with Fedoruk. If he starts playing with a Selanne (or, God forbid, a Hemsky) I just don't think he'd have that sort of freedom.