Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Winners and Losers

After a year in PEI it was time to move on and I got the call to head south to Florida. My original stay on the Island was supposed to be three months but that got extended to six months and then a year while my employers searched for a replacement for me. While they searched I spent my summer in the pubs and on the harbour, playing pool and lying on the beach, reliving my youth. And months after I was supposed to have been long gone I met a girl through a friend's girlfriend. She was just out of school, free and beautiful, all long legs and flashing green eyes and wonderful smile, we drank and smoked and spent days on the water and driving around and nights in the bars and between the sheets. Later she told me I was supposed to be her summer fling and I certainly had no longterm plans at the time. We had fun together and became good friends and that was a good start.

We had been together for about six months when I moved to Florida for what was supposed to be six months to train and work with the plan being that I would end up in Toronto. We didn't know where we would end up and we didn't really talk about it. She came to visit in March, two months after I left; we rented a room in a cheap motel on the beach and she hung out by the pool while I was at work. At night we wandered the beach and drank wine and caught up on our sex. One night we went to dinner with my boss and his wife and as we ate he mentioned to her that he hoped I would stay for a few years and wondered why she didn't just move down. (She is a nurse who aspired to work with kids with cancer - at the time there were no fulltime nursing jobs in PEI and certainly none in that field at all). Then he and his wife laughed as our jaws hit the ground. First we had heard of this plan.

A few days later she winged it home and I sat on it for a day or so and then I called her and told her that I thought she should write her boards for the States and that we should move in together as soon as she could come south. I told her that I wasn't one to come to such decisions lightly (I wasn't) and that essentially by asking her to do this I was making a big commitment to her (which she knew).

I told her to think about it - there was no rush. She hung up the phone, walked downstairs and told her folks she was moving to Florida.

She called me and told me she was in.

Six months later she landed just as a hurricane was about to make landfall (it never did). We went to our apartment and made love on our single piece of furnishing - an air mattress. We were on our way.

Good thing she said yes or I'd probably be living in a flophouse downtown with the dog, sitting on a beanbag chair eating hamburger and onions or fried sausages (two of my favourites as a bachelor) drinking lemon gin and wondering where it all went wrong as I stared at my Trainspotting posters. Oh yeah and as frequent readers know I am wont to do, playing with myself until I was raw.


But instead I didn't play it safe - I made a choice and so did she and while the good things in life can be fleeting, so far we have been lucky and have made a good life for ourselves.

Its 4-1 Ducks right now and another season goes down the toilet and there is plenty of blame to go around. There is Lowe who dismantled a club that came within a break or two of winning a Cup and turned it into a laughing stock. He escapes censure (even now Tambellini will likely get blame for this team that Lowe put together) but the last three years have been pisspoor.

The players deserve blame because they are the ones who play the game in the end but this team looked off almost from day one. Too many poor starts. Too many poor games. Points given away all through the season. Only right before the break did they look like they had any heart and of course in the end that is the killer. Since the dynasty days the next best era was the stretch from 1997 to 2004 with the Cup run of 2006 capping those years. Teams of hungry young dudes who skated and hit with abandon. They nearly always came up short but never for lack of trying and when the money was finally spent and Pronger and Peca and Spacek and Samsonov and Roloson and Tarnstrom were added well then it came together and it probably would have been the best Cup of all except for the very first, I would say. That team that grew up together, with all of those kids, including those who weren't around when 2006 rolled around - Janne and Grier and Marchant and Weight and Guerin and Brewer and yes even Salo and Carter and Comrie - they had spirit, they had elan, they left their opponents reeling and they always went out on their shields.

But not this team and in the end MacT will fall on his sword and it is fitting. Once a terrific PK reduced to a joke. A PP that cost them the Cup in 2006 remaining a joke - no movement - pass it to Souray. Playing for the tie in the hopes of getting to the shootout (who the hell does that?!). Harnessing the young offensive talent, no aggression, no passion. Whipping boys. Patterns of bad behaviour unpunished when it suits. Odd decisions all through the season. MacT began to lose me in November and it was a slippery slope from there.

MacT fans have long pointed to the fact that players leave and do no better elsewhere but the fact is recent years have begun to turn that theory on its head. Raffi Torres is a force in Columbus and Jarret Stoll produces in LA while Greene becomes a rock on their blue. Lupul may be a guy I don't want on my team but he has scored a lot of goals on two winning teams, soft opposition or not. Erik Cole leaves and sparks the Canes to surge into the playoffs. Brad Winchester. Jan Hejda. Glencross.

Its the same old story. You can explain one or two and I liked the Lubo trade, don't get me wrong, but when guys leave Edmonton and start scoring goals and kicking ass for teams that are ahead of Edmonton in the standings then I would ask What the Fuck?

Meanwhile the Oilers look like a team with no heart. Thing is we saw some of these guys in 2006 and we know they have guts. We saw many of them in the stretch last spring and saw them play with courage and conviction. And yet when they had a spot sewn up, as recently as a couple of weeks ago, they pissed it away with a disaster of a stretch run.

This summer is going to see some change. It won't reach the executive suite, where it should, but its going to hit behind the bench, where it also should, and its going to happen on the ice, where it should.

Its time someone makes some intelligent choices, makes some choices which take guts, makes some choices that will set things on the right track.

Its not that hard. Even a mook like me can do it.


jdrevenge said...

Cheers to that... The trend is not very appealing.

Sucks to see Mact fall under the wagon during his final days. Hopefully something happens and allows him to go out with a little dignity. The amount of respect i gained for the guy during the Detroit series has almost evaporated.

Hemsky looked like he was half laughing after the man fell on his sword.... not good coming from your best player. Moreaus comments were pretty telling yesterday of the rift thats been created in the room. I think its pretty obvious that its been the new guys that dont like the coach vs. the old soldiers.

The soldiers will have to go down with the captain on this one. At the very least Moreau should be gone. Seemed like he was selling out his teammates for his coach like a guy whos been jealously waiting to wear the c for this team for a very long time.

As a fan I'm very confused right now as I have been throughout the season. I need to see some commitment from the team. They're somewhere between reliving their success of the 06 season and rebuilding. Watching teams like WSH, PIT and CHI turn it up over the last few years has left me wondering if we should just blow it all up. Trade Hemmer for Tavares and see what happens .

What do you see them doing other than the obvious resignation of MacT?


Olivier said...

Jane? As in Jane Niniimaa? Jesus god did he sucked when he came to the habs (straight up for Ribeiro; I still wonder how Bob got into that one). I guess some fall off faster than others...

That being said, the last few weeks had me wondering about Souray; seeing what he's done this year, and remembering what you saw ho Hamrlik, would you say betting on the Hammer was a good choice? I know the habs wanted nothing of Souray because they knew his shoulder was busted, but still...

Dennis said...

I assume that's the missus?

Well done, sir!

raventalon40 said...

Niinimaa was great in his Oilers' days, Olivier.

I don't quite understand the rationale behind trading for Gilbert Brule when they had already picked up Cole, Potulny, and had Schremp on the farm. If the idea was to make the farm team better, they should've focused on coaching. If their idea was to coach the Falcons according to a system that matched the Oilers system - we can see where that left the Falcons this season: in last place. If we still had Torres he'd whip a few of the guys into shape.

And with the Visnovsky trade: I love this D-man but it didn't make sense since we didn't fill any holes by making this move. Conversely, we created two holes: the 3rd line checking centerman and the shut-down D-man are two roles that were never competently filled this season and yet the team is playing better with Visnovsky injured.

I think the Oilers will definitely need to deal one of Gilbert or Grebeshkov this off-season because we need to fill those two holes we created when we traded Stoll and Greene.

Arguably, we have a third hole to fill. It's the hole where traditionally the team's "heart" is stored.

We lost it when we traded Smyth, Cole, and Smith: guys who loved being Oilers and would give up their teeth and whatever else to see this team succeed.

hunter1909 said...

This team has stunk since the Messier trade.

And as it couldn't manage to beat a feeble Canes team, when it mattered. So fuck that for a game of soldiers.

The Oilers used to stink because there was no money. Now they just stink.

MacT and Moreau encapsulate this pathetic franchise. A pair of whining, don't blame me no matter whatever happens losers.

The young players are isolated, and none of them look to be going far in this league, sans Gagner, who will probably get a concussion and then go down the toilet anyway.

They've got a soon to be 40 year old goalie, a pair of "top flight" d men with injury guarantees, a "first line" center that fans have to quote a spreadsheet of stats to "prove" that he's anything else but Craig MacTavish 2.0

Oh yeah, and they're basically about as maxed to the cap as the Rangers.

Nice work, dildos.

I'm cool. I haven't seen an actual game since February, lol. And, unless a real coach comes back next year(Pat Quinn, not another pansy ass like Tom Renney), I'm just through with NHL fucktard hockey.

It appears that they might as well just dissolve the Canadian franchises(other than Leafs and Habs), pull up stakes and try to sell it to the Chinese.

Good Muckin' Tonite said...

Had to do a little back-reading but last night reminded me of your post from Feb 25th:

"I think I follow the Oilers because I need some yang to go with the yin. To remind me that things don't always work out.
And also Zach Stortini should be captain.
Purple monkey dishwasher. "

Got the yin, the yang, the purple monkey and the dishwasher last night vs Anaheim, and by the way - Stortini is pretty much on identical pace with Moreau in terms of points/shift (or per icetime for that matter), plus he gives his teeth and gives a shit. Not turning out so bad. So although he will never wear the 'C', this morning I say Why the fuck not?

more green said...

BD: I love the blog, it's a joy to read. I'm like a little kid whenever I open up your blog. I get fidgety in my seat thinking to myself "what's he going to talk about today?!?" I come to read your perspective cause it's a good one to love by it seems, the optimism tempered with realism.

But man, Hunter, I don't know why your comment bothers me so much today. My own built up Oiler frustration perhaps. If you're so cool and you don't care then why do you keep coming back and why do you always talk like you're right? You're just playing it safe, I get that. But don't pretend you don't care because you know you do.

And the oil beat the canes three times when it mattered. Stop talking like there hasn't been a single good thing in the world since 1990 just because the oil suck.

doritogrande said...

I assume that's the missus?

Well done, sir!

I dunno Dennis. She looks a tad young to be married with three kids. Call me crazy, but I'd rather have her mom in the background ;)

Bruce said...

BDHS: You, sir, are enjoying a life worth living. Thanks for sharing.

Interesting comp between Zorg and Dr.Moreau. Counting non-coincidental penalties only:

18-46 - Infraction
6 - 0 - Hooking
1 - 0 - Holding
4 - 0 - Tripping
4 - 0 - Interference
2 - 0 - Slashing
5 - 0 - Crosschecking
1 - 0 - Unsportsmanlike
1 - 0 - Instigating
1 - 0 - Fighting

That column of zeroes is pretty impressive. Zorg has taken two stick fouls all year, both high-sticking calls and both bad calls (it was another player's stick that came up in both cases). His penalties that have resulted in shorthanded situations have all been confined to the realm of what BCB calls "aggressive" penalties: charging, boarding, roughing, I think maybe there was an elbowing penalty thrown in there somewhere. Penalties that at least fit the job description.

I don't think Moreau's job description is to skate around like a madman without control of his stick and without concern for putting his team shorthanded with needless, offensive-zone obstuction fouls. But that's certainly been the result.

Darren said...

"This summer is going to see some change."
Hasn't that been the case every summer since our beloved cup run memories? Am I the only one tired of changes? I want to watch my players grow and do something and see development. I realize it is needed, but man.... I am sick of watching our team being recycled year after year. I can't even call one player a favorite anymore, they seem to change so much. I say Gilbert, and worry he will be out the door, and will I really be all that upset if/when it happens?
What is fandom without a love of the players that wear your beloved jersey? And watching them shame that jersey with no effort and pride hurts in itself. How can you want them to do well when they play like they do and you come away disgusted?
Ugh, I hate being a passionate fan some days

Black Dog said...

Thanks Dennis, Bruce, dg - I'm not complaining ;)

Olivier - yeah Janne was terrific but they moved him at exactly the right time

To address a lot of the comments here I think its apparent that the frustration fans feel, including Hunter in his own special way, is that this has become just another team. LT has remarked on how Lowe and MacT and the org have done some things that embarrass a once proud club. There has been a lot of arguments about moving Smyth but the fact is that argue his value or not they miss what he brought a lot. I don't think we expect a Cup every year but it would be nice to see some passion.

And not the misguided foolishness of Moreau but as Bruce points out, what Stortini brings. Hunter may hate those late 90s teams but those guys had a ton of heart and there is something to be said for that.

Black Dog said...

Thanks for the compliment more green, appreciate it.

As for what changes may come I agree with Darren. I don't think they should rip the team apart. I do believe that a lot of the problem stems from coaching. I like MacT but he did a poor job this year.

We know that they will likely try and hit the home run again but the reality is they need some grit to augment the skilled guys. They need to move Moreau and Staios - too much money for too little return and replace them with some veteran guys who will do the same for cheaper.

They do need to keep the young core - Cogliano, Brodziak, Stortini, Jacques, Gagner, Gilbert, Grebs, Hemsky, O'Sullivan, whoever you think is part of that, but management has to put them into a position to succeed.

heed said...

my oiler fandom died last night at the end of the second period. i feel like my dog just died and my best friend kicked me in the nuts for crying when it happened.

jdrevenge said...

Heed I feel ya man... I've got a bit of Harvey Dent going on too.

I didnt really mean that we should trade hemmer for tavares. At this point, I dont see him happy sticking around while they figure out the identity of this team. Maybe the new coach can turn him around and he finally scores 100 next year.

Its gonna be another long summer. This time without a crazy record in the last twenty and some false hope... Fack...

Maybe we got what we deserved.

Anonymous said...

This whole Edmonton Oilers team is like a bad Samuel Beckett play, a prime example of Theater of the Absurd. The mind-numbing, soul-drenching monotony which permeates every inch of this team is overwhelming, the repetition of the same shit over and over again maddening. This team is full of Vladimirs and Estragons, characters without character, looking for their roles on the team but never finding them, constantly out of place. Always passengers. Coming so close to making progress, to an epiphany, to solving the puzzle, and yet falling back to square zero but an instant later.

It can be hard being an Oilers fan. And for those of you who haven't read Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, I'm sorry. Both because you're missing out on great literature and because my post doesn't make much sense without some knowledge of it.

Gord said...


I knew I was getting good vibes when Stortini was on the ice but I could never figure out why.

Since the season is ending very soon, would it be possible to post a complete Zorg penalty analysis on your blog.

It appears you already have done some research :-)

TY in advance...

Doogie2K said...

I was about to correct Bruce that Zorg has actually taken 23 fighting majors this year, then reread his post and saw "non-coincidental only." So never mind.

Silly theCAPTAINethanmoreau.

(Verification: godshe. Make of that what you will.)

hunter1909 said...


Sorry man, if you think I don't care. I do. As for me appearing "cool", well, maybe I am. If so, deal with it. I don't care what you worry about.

Bruce said...

Gord: Yeah, probably. BCB has done a lot of good work to this end, which I borrowed early in the season but have been tracking ever since.

Doogie: Yeah I don't care a tinker's dam about coincidental penalties. Fights without instigating are no problem. Fights with instigating minors (see: Thecaptainethanmoreau) or fights without the other guy actually fighting back (see also: Thecaptainethanmoreau) are a problem.

Zorg's dumbest penalty of the season was when Jerkko Ruutu suckered him into an even-up unsportsmanlike penalty after Jerkko had already been fingered. Cost us a powerplay, although technically was a coincidental penalty. But for his role, the number of unnecessary penalties are at rock bottom. And when you consider how NHL refs usually have a field day on young, crude players, his stats in this respect are nothing short of remarkable, nay astonishing.

Here's another stat for you. Last 2 seasons combined for Stortini:

AHL: 1 fight, 1 instigator penalty
NHL: 46 fights, 0 instigators

This guy really knows how to pick his spots. And his fights.

Word verification: ablog

Anonymous said...

What's a mook?

- Chris