Friday, July 18, 2008

Why It Means So Much

Matt Fenwick posted something last season, I believe it was, about players who have a chance to play their entire careers with one team. Nowadays there are very few veterans who may do this although one wonders if the numbers may go up with the huge lifetime contracts being handed out lately.
Compare this to as recently as the early 70s. I took a look at the 1971 Chicago Blackhawks as an example when Matt wrote his post and the vast majority of players were career Blackhawks. Even some of the few exceptions were players who played for one team and then came and played a decade or more with the Hawks to finish their careers. Pit Martin and Jimmy Pappin come to mind as examples.
With thirty teams, big money and free agency times have changed. Even the big money teams of the nineties had very few players who stayed put. Colorado has Sakic. Dallas looks to keep Modano. Even the Wings, an outfit known for continuity, only have Yzerman, the tragic Konstantinov and likely Lidstrom as examples of guys from this era.
And then you have teams like the Oilers who have nobody. Ever. The closest would be Randy Gregg and Kelly Buchberger who both played nearly their entire careers with the Oilers. All of the players from the great dynastic teams moved on. (As an aside how many Cups would that team have won if it had existed in an oldtime feudal system like the old Six Team league? Are they the greatest team ever? Have to be top three with the 70s Habs and 50s Habs I would think and an easy argument could be made for #1. Not that I am biased .... ;) )
Many of the players from the 90s are not lamented but any time a bright light shone through Oiler fans knew it was only a matter of time. Joseph. Guerin. Weight. Even lesser lights like Marchant and Grier. All gone.
With the lockout and the transformation of the Oilers into a have team, even before Katz arrived, things began to change. Longtime veterans Steve Staios and Ethan Moreau will finish their careers as Oilers unless they get moved out in the next couple of years. Money was not an issue when it came to keeping them. Fernando Pisani fits as well if he accepts less money on his next contract and he may be the first career Oiler, which would be fitting considering how much he epitomizes the lean years, as well as his story - low draft pick and local boy makes good, his heroics in 2006, his recovery from a terrible illness in order to continue his career.
That's why the fallout from the Smyth trade was so vicious. Hockey arguments aside, Smyth was the guy who was supposed to be the Oiler's first star player who was going to remain an Oiler. His trade hit fans hard - the lockout was supposed to end the exodus of players!
And this is why the happiness for the Horcoff extension as approached orgasmic heights. The guy is a terrific player and its a great contract, I think, but the most important thing is that finally one of our own is not going anywhere.
Hey, he may still get moved down the road. Who knows? Ask Lubo how much a longterm commitment from a team can mean.
But if Shawn Horcoff does what he does then he will at the very least play the vast majority of his career as an Oiler and could possible go wire to wire in Edmonton colours. The first Oiler's star to do so.
That is why this signing means so much. That is why the outpouring of emotion. It has been a long time coming.


Jonathan said...

I've had similar thoughts since that contract was signed, although not so elegantly expressed.

I agree with every word.

andy grabia said...

The first? Really? There hasn't been another player who played their whole career here? Yikes. That's a post in its own right. Break that down for me, brother. Get out the Excel. Get cracking. Tell the wife the new baby can wait. Get er done!

PDO said...

Jason Bonsignore did ;).

Fully agree with everything.

Black Dog said...

Someone with more time on their hands then me would have to check but the closest guy to do was Gregg, I believe.

Retired an Oiler and then played twenty or so games with the Canucks when they lured him out of retiement a year or so later.

This crew has already started a new and hopefully continuing trend for the franchise - Moreau, Staios, Pisani and Horcoff, no matter how it ends for them, will have all spent the prime of their careers with the Oilers.

Its great to see.

Thanks for the kind words guys.

Bruce said...

PDO: Bad example. Bonsignore wound up playing with Tampa (58 GP), where he scored 2/3 of his career goals. (As in, 2 of his his 3 career goals)

As for guys who played their entire NHL careers with the Oilers, how about Igor Vyazmikin? Don Cutts? Darcy Martini? I'll bet there's a long list ...

Jonathan said...

As for guys who played their entire NHL careers with the Oilers, how about Igor Vyazmikin? Don Cutts? Darcy Martini? I'll bet there's a long list ...

And who could forget those guys?

Peter said...

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Mike Greenlay[]=2025

A career GAA of 12...

Anonymous said...

Some more glove taps from another faithful reader (and a couple of helmet pats too).

uni said...

Thank goodness for this. If Horcoff had become a UFA July 2009 and signed with Anaheim with Burke extended I would have had to stop watching hockey. Also I believe it would have been one of the signs of the apocalypse.

Matt said...

Here's the link to that post, Pat.

Guys who will be starting at least their 12th consecutive season with the same team this fall: Martin Brodeur, Jarome Iginla, Daniel Alfredsson, Saku Koivu, Mike Modano, Nicklas Lidstrom, Kris Draper, and (maybe) Joe Sakic.

Black Dog said...

Thanks Matt.

Draper played twenty games with the Jets.

Longest serving Oiler by my count is Moreau - this will be his tenth season with the club (only played 14 games with them in the first season though when he came over from Chicago)

Anonymous said...

If anyone wants to hear an enthusiatic NW division review by Drew Remendez, try Dan Russell's show

around the 10:30pm mark.

uni said...

If Mr. Remendez's reviews are anything like his colour commentary, I'm fairly sure I didn't miss anything worth the time =\.

Anonymous said...

and anyone else not wanting to waste their time;
just fun to hear a Vancouver radio host (actually a pretty good one) and a Sharks commentator (tho yes he's from Sask-who was at just at Stollie's golf tourney too) say they like the Oilers & moves alot.
Paraphrased- they got rid of players who weren't going to do it for them anymore, that even if you don't like the Oilers they're an exciting team to watch "they fly", that Brule went to maybe the best team to get his game back, Hemsky is the most underrated player in the league. Remenda/Remendez? chatted with Shremp at the golf tourney as well.
I'm just exctited for the season to start and to hear some of it from sources outside Edmonton/Oilers was a fun jolt.

Black Dog said...

thanks for that anon

Anonymous said...

Another tidbit from Spector/Lyle Richardson who guests on the Face Off Hockey Show
(July 16 halfway point)
-they were talking about how no one wants to go the Islanders, and Spector said (paraphrased) that you hear about how no one wants to go to Edmonton but you know what?! Edmonton can still ice a damn good team!
I like listening to radio hockey talk while I'm toodling around the house. Like I noted previously, there may be some out there who find it interesting to hear some of this stuff out there... Even on Leaf radio they've noticed what's happening over here and are impressed.
Just wanted to share.