Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The End of Something, Parts One Through Three

It was almost three years ago that I was surfing the net, er, hard at work I mean, and discovered something called Covered In Oil. At the time I only had a vague idea of what a blog was and I picked up whatever Oiler news I could from the online versions of the Journal and the Sun. Pretty sad. In the days that followed I discovered a new world - through CinO I found Battle of Alberta, Lowetide, IOF and Mc79hockey. Soon after I started my own blog and after a few weeks of posting about the Olympics, my kids and the Oilers I decided to concentrate solely on the Oilers.

To say that plenty has changed since those days is a massive understatement. The night that Ales Hemsky's goal put the Oilers in the playoffs I logged onto Lowetide's site and posted a comment on his latest post. A few minutes later he posted his own 'hooray' and as we chatted back and forth excitedly a few other folks chimed in happily. A far cry from the hundreds of comments now found on a thread for a November game in New Jersey.

Those spring days were the best days of the Oilogosphere, imo, although of course I am biased. On any day you could log onto any of the six sites and read multiple posts. Sacamano at BofA, Tyler and myself were all prolific at that time and of course Lowetide was (and remains so) as well. IOF had Vic, RiversQ and Dennis posting regularly and of course Covered In Oil featured daily brilliance from Dave, Mike and Chris! On top of this Heather was posting regularly at the Ulanov fanclub, Loxy and Colby Cosh posted regularly about the Oilers on their websites and some punk commenter named Andy Grabia also wrote about the Oilers on a terrific site called Sports Matters. All of us were caught up in that wonderful Oilers' run - it was a time that I would guess most of us will not forget. I have made some good friends thanks to that spring. I played hockey with Tyler one summer and have had eats and drinks with him, Mike, Chris, Alana, Matt, Hugh and Colby among others. And of course Andy squired me around Edmonton a year ago and I was able to repay the favour slightly last spring here in Toronto. Plus Andy and I are lovers. He is a sexy beast.

Times have changed as they always do. Loxy and Tyler have moved on from school to careers. Sacamano has been around the world and back and has a family now (his daughter was born that spring). I have three kids and less free time as expected. Igor Ulanov is in Russia. Andy, sadly, posts far less frequently then he once did. Most of us post less then we once did.

New sites have arrived, many of them excellent. Newspapers have gotten into the blogging arena. There's a lot of great stuff out there - one only has to look at any site's blogroll. But I still miss those early days. Of course the Oilers were (nearly) on top of the world too so that helped.

And earlier this week we got some sad news. Mike Winters is hanging up his pencil, following Dave Berry into retirement. Hopefully for Mike it will be a Grabia style retirement (the original one anyhow) but I doubt that this is the case. And sadly Chris Boutet has been posting very rarely these days so I think we all know where this is leading. I hope that I am wrong but I fear that I am not.

Fare thee well you bunch of dinks. I'll miss the playoff beard, the slash fiction, the comics. It was a daily visit of mine for nearly three years. Thanks for the laughs.


Speaking about the end of something the Oilers just finished what may be their toughest stretch on the schedule for the year. Nearly a third of their road schedule is now done, just fifteen games into the season. A dozen games on the road, six and six, eight, six and one overall. A point out of first place

If you had told any Oiler fan that this would be their record at this point in the season I think there would have been much rejoicing. This stretch could have buried their year.

If you had told them that this would have been their record and that the special teams were sucking ass, that there was no clearcut # 1 goalie, that Nilsson would be demoted to the fourth line and Gagner would be without a goal then I think they would have held a parade.

Despite the offensive struggles of many players, the underlying numbers are terrific. Check out Dennis' work on scoring chances and Vic's analysis of some of those numbers, especially his look at Viscoff. This team, barring injury, should be a playoff team. Regardless of the tough schedule and the problems just mentioned (to mention a few) this team is not winning with smoke and mirrors.

Adding to the optimism is the end of the Pisani at centre experiment. His line was a sinkhole at ES - moving him and Cole to Horcoff's flanks give the team a line that can compete with almost any in the league.

Things are looking up.


One evening a couple of years back the dog was laying on the floor. Suddenly a big black ant began to make its way across the living room. He walked with purpose, probably heading back up to the bathroom where his tribe was busy turning our window sill into sawdust. The ant passed by the dog's ear and entered his field of vision. The big fellow lay motionless except for his eyes which tracked the ant until the bug just passed his muzzle.

And then his tongue flicked out and he ate him.


Earl Sleek said...

Great post. Even as a non-Oilers fan, I gotta say I also stumbled on those sites during my hard-at-work hours, and it was eye-opening to say the least. Went from an occasional reader to a frequent reader; from a rare commenter to a regular presence.

You're right, though. The web world these guys are leaving isn't the web world it once was. I guess I'm a little biased, too.

Matt said...

You're right, though. The web world these guys are leaving isn't the web world it once was. I guess I'm a little biased, too.

Indeed. Cripes Earl, even though you and Rudy are two of my absolute favourites, I still can't help but think of the BoC as a newb sometimes.

Glad you wrote this, Pat. I have a same-but-different post in mind, and you've refreshed my memory nicely.

HBomb said...

Adding to the optimism is the end of the Pisani at centre experiment. His line was a sinkhole at ES - moving him and Cole to Horcoff's flanks give the team a line that can compete with any in the league.

Fixed it for ya Pat.

Loxy said...

Le sigh.

andy grabia said...

Le sigh.


canablach said...

Blog's adulthood is coming in, showing no grace.
But I do hope I will be reading from you all, a long time from now ... and Stanley no.6 in the meanwhile. It's been a pleasure and an honour.