Friday, September 05, 2008

Like A Drink By The Fire On A Winter's Night

Here's Fernando scoring against Calgary.

Last winter in December my folks were storm stayed for a day during one of our many 'Storms of The Century' last winter here in Toronto.

Weather and illness - the new Communism!

Now Dad brings just enough beer to last whenever they come down so Sunday afternoon all that we had in the old 50s beer fridge was a load of Guinness as well as a few other stouts. Dad's not a fan of the good stuff - tastes like wood he says.

So midafternoon and we're antsy so we decide to head out on a little beer run. My Mom didn't pay us any mind, she's used to this, but my wife of course figured us to be mental. Its was actually a pretty decent storm - there'd be no driving down the Danforth - but we're Northerners. Dad was born in the Soo and raised mostly in Franz where he spent most winter days skating on the lake. He and his brothers also used to hop trains and jump off them into snowbanks. True story. And I'm Sudbury through and through.

Little snow and ice isn't going to stop us from drinking damnit!

We headed out and slogged for about a half hour on what is normally a fifteen minute walk. Got to the beer store. Across from the beer store - The Hargrave pub.

Needing a breather and a little warmth we headed in and had a couple of pints by the fire. We weren't the only people there - one fellow at the end of the bar fell off his stool he was so loaded. The bartender called a cab and hustled your man into it. No harm done.


Fernando Pisani is that pint I drank last December. He comes to me and comforts me in the dead of winter.

San Fernando, the hometown boy, the hero from 2006, impregnator of Andy Grabia, patron saint of lost causes, the Oilers' Everyman, a guy who showed true courage (not the phony stuff we get inundated with) battling health issues last year, is back and healthy this season. And this is important. Matt Fenwick, terrific guy and closet Oilers' fan, has been (weakly) arguing the Flames' case, saying that there's no way the Oilers can make up the gap in the standings between the two teams. Now the Flames have lost Tanguay and Huselius and Nolan and replaced them with Cammelleri and Bertuzzi while the Oilers have added Cole and Visnovsky and have a bunch of kids who logically will be better then last year. The Flames will be worse. The Oilers will be better. Plus they have their trump card.

They have Pisani and a healthy Pisani is going to make this team a whole lot better. Its no coincidence that two years ago Stoll played his best hockey with Pisani on his wing or that his arrival last season kickstarted the kids. He is the guy who does the little things that win hockey games and he is back.

Guy is an outscorer at ES while playing the opposition's heavies, a top notch penalty killer and seven less PP goals total then Todd Bertuzzi over the last three years ( at a third of the price).

I remember listening to one of his first games back last season (it may have been his first) and how, as the Oilers protected a third period lead, his name came up over and over again, killing penalties, breaking up plays, getting the puck out, doing the little things right. It was late in the third when the announcer paused after another great play by Fernando, chuckled and then remarked how great it was to have him back.

A true mastabatory moment for Oiler fans everywhere.

Now, Matt may be right and the Flames may finish ahead of the Oilers one last time but the second half of the season was a different story for the Oilers last year from the first half when it was Bettman points or nothing. Kiprusoff may rebound and Keenan may finally give Lombardi a chance (that I have never ever gotten) and the Flames may get lucky with injuries once again but is it just me or has half of the Flames roster passed through waivers this summer?

People speak about Lowe getting a pass but what about Sutter?

Should be fun.


andy grabia said...

Great post. Obviously.

Doogie2K said...

San Ferndando, Patron Saint of Lost Hockey Causes

Shit, we're gonna need him on the third line this year. Good to have him at 100% again.

Paper Designer said...

Sutter is not a good GM. He's managed to tweak his line-up every single year to become slightly worse. At some point, the Flames are going to shock the world and simply fall out of the playoffs. If they do make it into the playoffs, it's because the division itself is a lot weaker. But this is their last year, barring some overhauls... and Sutter is not the guy to make those sorts of changes. Not when he has a gloriously veteran (read: old and slow) team at his fingertips.

boopronger said...

Anyone remember that beauty shoot out goal from "there was something in the air that night Pisani" last year? I believe it was against the Canuckleheads. Anyway, great moment from last year. One of the first games back for pies too.

Kent W. said...

Keenan may finally give Lombardi a chance (that I have never ever gotten)

Don't get me started...

uni said...

I'm both hearthened, and a little bit disturbed by that post on Pisani. It's funny when I was listening to his first game back last season how many times I'd hear something along the lines of: ...across the blueline...and the play is broken up and the puck goes the other way...that was Pisani there with a good play.

Also that bloody ABBA song is in my head going on 12 hours now.

doritogrande said...

So, got into the good stuff whilst making this post I gather?

I can't wait to get old enough to have drinking stories like these. Hearing my older uncles and grandpa talk about the days of "beer parlours" is fascinating to me.

On Pisani: We wouldn't need him to be as reliable if we had a healthier Ethan Moreau, but we've got what we've got. With the emergence of a second scoring line, his offense isn't going to be as needed as it was the past couple seasons or so. It'll be a good season for Pisani if he can maintain his effectiveness at even strength, the PK and in the locker room.

Scott said...

It would seem to me that even the eventual death of the Flames seems overblown unless Mikka really is done. They've got the toughest positions filled over the next four years with very good players.

There has been some very reasonable debate about how good Dion Phaneuf is. I don't think it's a stretch to suggest he's a top thirty defenceman though. I also think that Regher may fit into that category, but if not, I don't think it's any stretch to suggest top sixty. Add in Jarome and Langkow, and the Flames should at least remain in the conversation moving forward. They don't have much depth this year, but going forward that can really only improve.