Friday, February 01, 2008

So Enough About You, Lets Talk About Me For A While

So, I turn on TSN after the All Star game and after the obligatory shot of Pierre Maguire giving Phaneuf a reacharound they go to a panel. Now Glenn Healy is a jackass but MacKenzie knows his shit, Milbury is both entertaining and informative and even Maguire, once he's on his meds, can actually make good sense, so I don't mind these things. Especially when one turns to the CBC and sees PJ Stock explaining how he blows somebody regularly in order to keep this gig.

Seriously I have not heard anyone anywhere say a good thing about this dolt. At least TSN had the sense to pull the plug on that selfish punk Tie Domi when it became clear that he was about as good a broadcaster as he was a hockey player.

Must be some sort of affirmative action thing. But I digress.

So your panel gets introduced and the topic is the post All Star game run to the playoffs and the myriad storylines. I'm thinking, hey here we go - we've got the Wings and the Ducks, the two frontrunners. We've got the Sharks who are lurking and the Sens who have to figure out their goaltending and seem to be the class of the East. And there are three other pretty good Canadian teams who could make an endaround if Lidstrom gets hurt or the Ducks falter or if the Sens' goaltending implodes (likely). And Philly who might be the most dangerous team in the East. And the playoff races with nobody but the Kings and the Oilers really dead and done. I'm getting a boner just typing about it.

So Duthie turns to Darren Dreger to kick it off and Dreger looks at the camera and says:

"Well the last thirty games look really interesting for the Toronto Maple Leafs ..."


Back to my book.

Hey I live in Toronto but I'm from Sudbury and Jenn is from the Island and while I love it here I can certainly see why the rest of the country wishes that this city or at least a lot of the people who live here might disappear into Lake Ontario. Today was a perfect example. My lovely wife, the saint, has a wedding to attend in Banff and was flying out tonight. (By the way don't pray for me, left here with my progeny. Jenn works a lot of weekends so this is old hat for me. Pray for the citizens of Hogtown. With the civilizing influence in our family gone its only bad news for the neighbours. My kids are all me, which means, well, lets just say Cloverfield might be a reasonable comparison for what awaits this town.). But I digress.

So last night we are watching the news to see what is happening. Now we all know that weather is the new Communism. That and the bird flu. So once again Toronto is going to be hit by the storm of the century. Again. I remember the last one, in December. It was unbearable. Dad and I took twenty minutes to walk to the pub. Usually it takes eighteen minutes. It was brutal. Mom almost had to send out a search party. With dogs.

The horror.

So it looks like its all over. No wedding for Jenn. As a matter of fact we might have to do a little Sophies' Choice to survive this bad boy. JESUS HELP US! Its almost as bad as, say , if Kevin Lowe were destroying my favourite hockey club. Not quite. Close though.

Anyways, presently my wife is winging her way across the nation. A little late (although we got her to the airport right on time, no worries) - I have no idea how we managed it. So, how about those Oilers?

- Dick Tarnstrom is probably pretty happy right now

- I actually saw Curtis Glencross score two goals against the Flames earlier this season. If I had not I would have had no idea who he was. Having said that this guy who nobody has ever heard of has more goals and points then a whole lot of Oilers, including PP catalyst Sheldon Souray

- Kevin Lowe should be fired for that Souray signing alone. And I said that the signing was shit the day it happened. Just fucking terrible.

- Its early but I am going to say that barring major injuries that whoever comes out of the Wings/Ducks is going to win the Cup, just like last season.

- Any bets on the package Fletcher would get for Sundin if Mats were to waive his notrade clause? How about the Oilers' first and Bobby Ryan to start if Anaheim gets involved? And if I'm Burke I make that trade.

- Kevin Lowe should be fired. The horror.

- Kevin Lowe was a better GM when he had no money and he had to, you know, think.

- I like Kevin Lowe but he should be fired.

Have to go, the kids have hogtied the big fellow and I smell gasoline.


rickibear said...

Kevin Lowe was better when his decisions were not run by an EIG PR campaign. Two more weeks and there is hope.

Pat H said...

I agree that the EIG PR campaign doesn't help, but I hardly think it's enough to absolve Lowe.

This quote says it all: "Kevin Lowe was a better GM when he had no money and he had to, you know, think."

Black Dog said...

rickibear - I like Kevin Lowe, I do, but he just seems to be on a monumental losing streak

Prelockout I think he did a good job. More often then not his moves worked and he iced a competitive team year after year while working within a very strict budget.

Of course 05/06 was a home run. Very few missteps, if any.

Since then though its just been a mess - I would agree that EIG likely had a lot to do with the Souray signing - but other then that its been all Lowe. He has made so many missteps over the past nineteen months the mind boggles. And it shows on the ice. Just a terrible team. Only one centre deep and if Horcoff is out for any length of time Burke will be picking first overall.

pat - yeah, he's not the only - interesting to see how fast LaCroix got out of the game once he lost the advantage of money. Also interesting how once the Rangers no longer could have an eighty million dollar payroll then Sather built a pretty nice club.

Chris! said...

"Kevin Lowe was a better GM when he had no money and he had to, you know, think."

Very astute as always, BD. I could totally see Lowe following the Sather career arc. Right now, he's in the panicky, more-money-than-brains, let's-sign-Bobby-Holik-at-nine-million-per -for-lack-of-anyone-better stage of his career. Hopefully an ownership change and the pursuant fear of god will provoke KLowe to smarten the hell up and start building a team with an actual identity, like Sather's Czech National Team of 05-06.

The Oilers used to be rugged as hell. Now we're soft, soft, soft.

Mr DeBakey said...

Am I reading you right, are you implying Kevin Lowe should no longer be Oilers GM?

GlenGary sounds like he might remind one of Brett Calligan, one of my all-time favourite Oilers.
Brett, Gretzky's winger in the 78-80 era, had a style fondly referred to as a "junkyard dog"

Black Dog said...

mr d. - you can shrug off one bad year as one bad year but two, well, now it may not be the nagging injury from last season but the fact that his knees may be gone

chris! makes a good point - how much rope will Lowe have under Katz? It sounds like he has his confidence right now but I do not think Katz became so successful by letting things slide. Unless he truly does not care about the Oilers' success, which is silly, then I think another year or two of poor performance by Lowe would result in Kevin getting canned.

chris! - its been an odd transformation - this team, even two years ago, was tough, rugged, workmanlike and now they have more skilled players but not as much heart - not a surprise looking at the guys who left after '06 and who has replaced them - I also factor in the fact that these guys were nearly all on entry level contracts then too - the Cup run made a lot of guys rich and maybe a little fat

This team has so many damn problems though, toughness is just another of them.

Anonymous said...

You're bang on BDHS, that Souray signing just reeks. When all is said and done, having Sheldon Souray on the roster is going to cost us one of Gilbert or Pitkanen. Regardless of the return, I have a hard time believing that the team will be better off for it.

Chris! said...

BD: It has been an odd transformation, but by no means an unforeseeable one.

I mentioned it before, but for me, the most frustrating thing about this team is the lack of a real identity. In hindsight, this is obviously the direct result of trading away lunchpail heroes like Smyth and Smith, who for years were the players around which the team's game was built. They were held up as ideal Oilers, and in turn, it was their job to uphold the ideal.

The most successful teams in this league are ones that identify their core player(s) and build up a roster and system that complements and supports their style of play. In the absence of Gator and Smytty, who is that player for the Oilers? Hemsky? Horcoff? Moreau?

Right now, I'd say our team game most reflects Hemsky's style of play. And MacT looks uncomfortable as hell with that fact. Hopefully the brain trust will figure this out and start moving the roster more towards Horcoff territory and get things back on track.

Sure, the Cup run hangover made a few players fat and happy, but it was the lack of foresight to pursue a proper rebuild and resultant identity crisis following the Ryan Smyth trade that really fucked this team.

And still to this day, the Souray deal make me scoff so hard my tonsils bleed. Can't trade him, can't buy him out, can't even enjoy that fabled offensive output for more than 50 games a season — it's a marriage forged in the very bowels of hell.

I mean, really.

Black Dog said...

chris! - oh yeah, don't get me wrong - while a few players got paid for that run the fact is that guys like Horcoff, Staios and Moreau, just to name a few of the payees, haven't gotten lazy or fat - I just think the mentality of the team changed a little. All those years of being hungry and then 'hey we've made it'.

this team went from being a squad that always had to bust their asses for every goal, led by Smith and Smyth, to a team that came off a big run probably a little full of themselves

Lowe botches the Pronger trade and also makes the conscious (I think) choice to upgrade the skill level on this squad. Not a bad idea but you bring in Lupul and Sykora and send out a few guys and things kind of dip the other way.

Then Smyth and Smith go and that's your team's heart. Lowe has made a mess of things, no doubt.

I actually like Hemsky's grit and Horcoff is a tough guy - love him. Problem is that they have too many young guys feeling their way.

I don't think that so much Hemsky is the guy you build your team style around. You look at the Flames, for example, who I'm watching right now. Or the Sens. Each team has a handful of skill guys - Huselius, Tanguay, Lombardi for the Flames, Spezza, Heatley, Corvo, Redden, Meszaros for the Sens.

And each team has the high quality players who have what we call grit - Iginla, Langkow, Phaneuf, Regehr; Alfredsson, Fisher, Phillips, Volchenkov.

And then you have your supporting cast, most of whom bring that lunch bucket ethic.

Presently the Oilers have a few high quality guys who are skill guys - Hemsky, Pitkanen, Gilbert (I think that's fair), Penner

High quality guys who have the grit - Horcoff. Now I am not saying the aforementioned guys aren't tough - I'm just saying its not part of their game - as you said with Smith and Smyth it was.

So there's one strike.

Strike number two is that the supporting cast fails in this regard too. Gagner and Cogliano are too young. Torres too flighty. Stoll, I don't know. Reasoner and Sanderson are done. The problems go on and on.

Hopefully this new kid is Lowe's start on rebuilding the bottom of the roster. The Oilers have become too easy to play against and a lot of that is that their role players are the shits.

As for Souray, I have nothing to say. Fucking brutal contract.

Now the Leafs have about five or six of those and apparently they are going to move all of them, somehow, so maybe there is hope.

Pat H said...

There are two quotes from Lowe, coming less than 5 months apart from one another, that completely confirm the disastrous state of this organization:

Lowe, July 5 (post-Nylander, but pre-Souray and pre-Penner): "We're in the win-now mode ... we really are, but it didn't work (free agency)"

Lowe,Nov. 17: "We have to take ourselves off the mode where we're winning today. We're not trying to win today."

These are snippets, of course, but even the most charitable interpretation of this can't eliminate the inconsistency on Lowe's part.