It was around fourteen months into it when she announced to me, out of the blue, that she was done with it and I was thrown onto the rocks. I wandered the streets at night wracked with anguish and friends were astounded by sudden outbursts of absolute heartwrenching grief. I called my folks and spoke to my Mom and broke down.
A few days later my parents called to check up on me. They were each on a phone, calling to lend me support. The conversation went something like this:
Mom : How are you? Are you better? We’re just calling to check in on you.
Me: (Barely choking it out) Oh, I’m ok.
Dad: You do realize that there are plenty of fish in the sea right, son? You have heard of that expression? I think it applies here.
Mom: Jesus Murphy Jack, that’s not helping.
Me: But … but, I love her. I …
Dad: Son, do you know when you’re walking on a beach do you realize that there are millions and millions of grains of sand under your feet. Millions of them. Do you get my drift here?
Dad: Or say the beach is up by Goulais. You look out and you see the north shore and there are trees stretching as far as the eye can see. Millions of trees all of the way up to the tundra.
Mom: Jesus Murphy, Jack.
Dad: Son, have you ever kicked over an anthill? And all of the ants come streaming out of the hill into the hot hot sunlight ….
About a week later I had a small soiree at a little sublet I had for the summer out at Ossington and Bloor. There was a little deck out back of the second floor apartment and from it you could see downtown through the haze. My friends came out in force that day and we drank beer in the hot sun and laughed a lot and I forgot my problems and then a few hours in (midafternoon) the girl from Rawlins Cross dropped by and we talked and I made my case and that night after everyone had gone I heard a knock at the door and there she was and we were back just like that. Drunken sweaty make up sex that night.
It was temporary of course and seven months later things had really begun to slide and it was apparent that her heart was not in it and by that time mine was not either. Just after New Year’s I walked away but it was really mutual, I just took the step that she didn’t have the heart to. It was sad and on my part there was bitterness but I knew that it was time and that it was the right and only thing to do. A month later I was landing at Charlottetown Airport.
MacT is gone and there are a few people a lot smarter then me questioning this and I really don’t understand why. Lets begin with what I believe.
1/ The fault behind the last three years and what this team has become is primarily Kevin Lowe’s. From botching the Pronger and Smyth situations to the Penner offer sheet to letting cheap outperformers like Hejda and Glencross walk to letting the team leave training camp incomplete each year, Lowe’s fingerprints are all over the mess that this club is in today. He should have been forced to walk the plank yesterday along with MacT.
2/ Expectations for this club this season were unrealistic, to a point. The idea that a nice run last spring and a record heavily augmented by shootout wins would lead to a contender was off base. Realistic expectations for the club would have been to contend for the playoffs, which they did.
3/ MacT is a good coach. He will have another job in the NHL, as soon as next season if he likes.
4/ MacT did not do a good job coaching this club this season and while there is a lot of blame to go around the fact is that there are a lot of unbalanced or young or injury riddled (far worse then the Oilers) clubs that did better then Edmonton this year and a lot of this can be laid at the feet of the coach. Saying that MacTavish could not have gotten this team into the playoffs is ignoring a whole lot of evidence that he certainly did not do a lot to help them, that’s for sure.
Start with the things we know a coach controls, the special teams. The PP, which cost the Oilers the Cup in 2006, remains abysmal, regardless of the personnel that are sent out there. Its static and predictable and in its best year under MacT it was average. The PK, after three very nice years, floundered this season. Part of this can be laid at the loss of Stoll, Reasoner and Greene but a lot can be put down to the lack of downice pressure, the use of the wrong players in the role, the sudden inexplicable refusal to block shots.
From there we can look at the misuse of players. Early in the year MacT made my Spidey sense tingle when he said that Pouliot had to find himself a role on the team. Contrast that with what Jonathan Toews said recently about Quenneville, as quoted in a thread at LT’s, and how the new Hawks’ coach made sure to define for each player what their role on the club was to be and what was to be expected of them. The same has been said about Ted Nolan. He tells each player what expectations there are for each and what they have to do. I would guess that if you talked to guys playing for Andy Murray or Ken Hitchcock you would get the same response. The idea that a guy has to find his role or might get moved helter skelter around the lineup is ridiculous to me.
You see, its like Lowe. One mistake can be rationalized or it can be said simply that it is one mistake.
Two or three are a little less easily explained.
A mess of them means that you have a mess.
And finally there is the whole idea of the room being lost and whether or not that actually carries any weight, the idea of guys not playing hard in response to their coach.
I think that anyone who watched the Oilers this year knows that this club came out flat more often then not, that in game after game there was a decided lack of interest shown in playing hard, not just by one but by many players. In many crucial games the team did not compete at all. Players like Cole, a terrific professional with a long record of success in this league, looked lost out there, never mind so many of the kids. And team wide so very few players had decent years, much less improved.
And then you see a team like St. Louis, injury riddled, full of kids, sent their starting goalie to the minors, roar from last in the conference to sixth place.
And of course the final argument, that MacT should stay because changing coaches might not have an effect, might make things worse.
Could they get worse? I guess so though I wonder how having player after player, kids and veterans, struggle through another year of bland static hockey, having successful players arrive in Edmonton and lose their way, only to find it again when they leave, of having a coach unable to get the most out of the players given him, flawed as they may be, when that is his job, his only job really, is something that we, as fans, should accept.
MacT is a good coach. He did not have a good year. I would bet almost anything that if Andy Murray or Ken Hitchcock were coaching this team they would be playing tonight.
That is all. It was time for him to go and while things might slide sideways the fact is the mountainside was already crumbling. Standing by and watching another year pass us by while the puck got sent back to Souray on the PP again would have made me just sick.