Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Science Amazes Me

As far as decades go the 70s don't particularly mean much to me. I was twelve when the eighties were ushered in and if its possible to be defined by a decade in terms of your cultural sensibilities I would guess that I would be labelled a nineties guy more then anything else.

School pictures show that the 70s did make it to Sudbury though, at least they did in terms of clothes and hairstyles. Of course it seems that those school photographers use some sort of equipment that make any picture immediately dated. Your man could come in and take a picture of me tomorrow in front of one of those backgrounds with the lasers firing off (lasers?!) and when I got the two dozen wallet sized plus the 8 X 10 for the low low price of 59.95 next week my immediate impulse would be to toss the whole lot out. Its true.

So Sudbury in the seventies didn't mean we were snorting cocaine off of some French Canadian girl's ass out behind the rink, while the faint echo of disco thumped in time to our pint sized plaid polyester clad hearts. We were kids so other then a vague memory of being introduced to Kiss in Doug Catton's basement by his sneering older brother, I have to say that I was a little out of the loop. Three things do come immediately to mind whenever I think of those days though, all of them related to my grandparents, my mom's folks.

My grandfather had been a bigwig for mining companies and my grandparents were wealthy as a result. They had come from Timmins and from there had lived in mining towns in northern Ontario and Quebec but their travels had also led them to Africa where they lived for a number of years and around the rest of the world for pleasure. This was forty years ago when world travel was a lot bigger deal then it is now. You needed money and moxy to do it and they had both. Retirement led them to settle in Montreal and then they got ahead of the curve and moved to Florida in the late seventies.

With their big house and Asian and African art and foreign friends my grandparents struck me as being slightly other worldly. Well mannered and monied they were a far cry from my father's family, those rowdy hooligans not far removed from the bush, only a few generations from wandering naked from the Scottish moors, howling at the moon. McLean reunions meant guitars and bonfires, rum and cigarettes, laughter and insults rising in a roaring crescendo. Going to Montreal meant lush gardens neatly kept, watching boxing on an enormous TV and eating lavish meals in a house so clean that you could dine off the floor if you so chose.

It also meant cutting edge technology. There was the air conditioning in my grandfather's monstrous Buick. There was the microwave oven, my grandmother warning us not to get too close to the gigantic humming box (it causes the cancer!) as it turned delicious vegetables into grey rubbery imitations of what they once were.

And there was magical wonderful teflon. No more scrubbing cast iron frying pans or Beautiful shiny steel pots. Watch the remains of the day's meal slide right off with a quick and easy wipe.

An unknown fact: teflon was demonstrated in Lachute Quebec in the early 1970s where an enterprising saleman demonstrated it by spraying a young boy named Kevin Lowe. "See," said the salesman as an application of Superglue slid right off of the boy to the floor, "Nothing sticks. Its amazing!"


I'm not one of those guys who hates Kevin Lowe. I think he did a good job before the lockout when he kept a team with a tight budget competitive year after year. No playoff series wins so he might have done better but overall he did pretty well. His work on rebuilding the Oilers' player procurement department was terrific, I think, with a nice cluster of kids in the NHL now and plenty more on the way. And his work in 2005/2006 was outstanding, building a team that came within a break or two of winning it all.

Since June 19th 2006 though Mr. Lowe has been hit and miss, mostly miss. I certainly don't question his passion for the job (I don't want to get throttled) but the mistakes have come fast and furious over the last three summers and this year's slow start has everyone pointing fingers at MacTavish and the players but none at the man who built this team so that there are three goaltenders instead of two, three very good veteran right wingers (plus Gagner) but only one veteran centre and a fourth line that was a great strength a year ago but now a black hole where careers appear to be going to die.

The failure to procure enough veterans to make the team competitive while rebuilding, the botching of the Smyth situation (Lowe's apologists conveniently ignore Lowe's own admission of fault there), the Pronger trade that may work out longterm if the draft picks do but whose main return was a complete disaster, the loss of terrific low cost pickups in Hejda and Glencross, the investment in Penner, oh me oh my it continues on and on and all the dailies and fans can talk about is how the coach is losing the team and his mind and how the players just aren't good enough/tough enough/determined enough/make too much money.

But who put the team together and if the players aren't good enough for the third straight year in an era where the Oilers are one of the big boys financially then should not the fingers be pointed somewhere beyond the bench, the players there and the man behind it?

Yet I would guess when it comes to that, if it comes to that, the man who will come under fire will be Tambellini.

Because that just seems to be the way things work in E-town. Your man Kevin Lowe is above reproach.


Swabbubba said...

Ok I will attempt to defend Kevin. The game as we know it from lock put to now has changed immensely. The popular air hooking calls the phantom holds that have got the penalties on the rise. The change to have the faceoff in the offensive zone. This ain't the game it was 3 years ago.
But building team is not a science it is a bit of luck. Who knew Wellwood would be lighting it up? I think Kevin has put some really good "players" in place for the coach to use. Now the players have they performed to expectations uh I don't think so. I think LT did a report card I think I would have killed to get him as a teacher as I would got a freaking A for sure. The team last year was hamstringed by injury. This year knock on wood we have only lost Pies.
I think the scouts should be reviewed as the Europeans seem to be flourishing in the new NHL.

Black Dog said...

Yeah but swabbubba this team made the finals right out of the lockout - the game has not gone through massive changes since then, right?

I'm not arguing that macT and the players don't deserve some of the blame.

I'm just amazed that year after year nothing sticks to Lowe. The man can do no wrong apparently.

Jay said...

Not to mention the fact that he barely avoided signing Nylander and (apparently) Hossa to albatross contracts. Arguably Vanek too, although at least he would have been Oiler property through his prime. As you say, Lowe has been a Teflon man for a while and I wonder if it isn't because he's another good ol' boy on the bus.

hunter1909 said...

Kevin Lowe I'm starting to think is that proverbial sucker in the poker game.

He appears not to understand the value of money, by his over the top amounts handed to players who, if they played for Detroit would be offered(and accept) half the amount.

You want to argue that it's Detroit!??? Okay suckers! No problem!!

There is this little old thing called THE CAP. Every team,(including Detroit) has got to fill a 20 man roster with THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY, provided they spend to the cap.

Okay, when you have spent to the cap, there is no more money left, to get the high end players. Like Hossa. Or even pay the up and coming star players(no, Gilbert and Penner aren't stars). You're then stuck with your roster of pluggers who get more money than they should, or would anywhere else but on a team run by a sucker, and your team is now condemned to original 6 expansion franchise purgatory.

Secondly, Lowe seems to pine for missed draft picks. Zach Parise, I believe Lowe wants and was possibly(I say possibly since I don't know this exactly enough to bet my life on it) going to go after him with a Vanek(4 first round picks) offer sheet.

I know I'm stupid, but I seem to remember a certain LA Kings who handed a bunch of 1st round picks over in the 80's and never won anything with a late 20's early 30's Wayne Gretzky. I don't know about y'all on this one, but I always partially equated the Kings going nowhere to not having those primo picks in the first round, the kind of picks that turn up a Gilbert Perrault or a Paul Coffey, instead of a Jarret Stoll.

You're right about Lowe. He's every bit as responsible for the current mess the team's in. He might get fired if it were my team. "Screw 2006, we lost and the Oilers way isn't about losing then making excuses". Hunter1909 telling Lowe he's sacked lol

Doogie2K said...

This is what I love about your blog: show a bit of patience and you get rewarded with a golden analogy or punch line. Fantastic.

I can certainly understand those who would say that MacTavish appears to be on the hot seat -- there's at least circumstantial evidence that he's being even crazier than usual for this time of year -- but how Lowe gets off scot-free for this is baffling. His off-seasons in 2006 and 2007 were awful and questionable, respectively, and while 2008 looked good early, so far his prize acquisitions (71 and 26) have been hit and miss, respectively. I don't keep up much with the MSM in Edmonton, but if Lowe's not catching any crap over it, there's something seriously wrong here.

Of course, there was also a time when the Eskimos fired coaches for "only" going .500, so maybe standards are slipping in the "City of Champions."

hunter1909 said...

Those are seriously dirty looking girls.

hunter1909 said...

Katz's first executive decision as owner was to fire Lowe from the GM job. This proves beyond any reasonable shadow of doubt that Katz knew that Lowe was a dangerously bad general manager.

Lowe's main problem? Too bloody proud, which leads to stubborn behaviour even to the point of becoming foolish, and not bothering to notice.

Lowe obviously has major hangups. Too fixated on draft picks that get away, Lowe will move heaven and earth to get a player he has his eye on. Who wants to bet against(giant JF Jacques useless) Nik Andropov as an Oiler? Isbister 2.0

Standing by MacT, despite the fact that MacT, like Lowe, cannot coach offensive hockey. As a result, fans are forced to defend the style and level of play of one of the most dull and sadly(tragically in my opinion) ineffective teams in the NHL.

Loyalty has no place in this business. Not when it interferes with efficiency to the point of a hockey club that perpetually spins it's wheels, all the while awaiting the next major crisis that sets the "plan" back for yet 2-3 more seasons. Guess what Lowe apologists? The 2-3 year window future Lowe yaps about never comes! It's forever 2-3 years away!

And of course I'm not going to mention Lowe's idiotic overpaying players on "potential".