Friday, May 22, 2009

Dreams Can Come True But ...

My wife is out east right now, visiting her Dad who is back home and recovering nicely, thank you very much, from his recent brush with the Reaper. Its baby steps right now, a walk to the neighbour's tires him out, and he's chafing a bit at the enforced inactivity. The other day we were talking.

Yes, he says, read a book the other day for the first time ever and now I'm watching the grass grow. The grass and the weeds.

I told him he could get after the weeds next summer, they weren't going anywhere.

And my poor wife gets out there with the baby with the idea of giving her mom a break and then spends two days in bed with a fever herself, struck down by mastitis.

I told her that the leading cause of mastitis was not letting your husband touch your breasts constantly. And that the male equivalent, ballstitis, was pretty easily preventable as well, if she knew what I was saying.

She laughed and said I am funny.

Do I look like I'm laughing over here?

Anyways so its the Three Amigos again here and things are going well. My theory is to tire them out quite frankly so they go to bed nice and quiet and then I can devote myself to the drink and the porn. Its going pretty well. A week and a half. Piece of cake after last time when we were on our own for just under a month.

A couple of weeks ago news began to float around our neighbourhood that an ice cream joint was going to open up. We live in a great little neighbourhood in Toronto. It used to be predominantly Italian and then as many of them moved to the suburbs it turned a little for the worse. Not terrible mind you but the streetscape was mostly minor industrial shit like appliance shops interspersed with seedy bars, pawn shops and the odd rub and tug. Put it this way, I've rarely seen a bar I didn't like and I definitely will take your local little hole in the wall over your faux Irish chain pub any day of the week but there were about a dozen bars within ten minutes of our house and I've only ever been into one (its actually Gare Joyce's local) a couple of times, a reasonable little sports bar where I watched a couple of games in 2006 when my wife had had enough of hockey on the TV every second night.

She's selfish I know.

Anyways I just avoided all of the other places, mostly because I have an aversion to getting stabbed. I'm getting older I know, not so much fun anymore. And then there was the one place where buddy got gunned down on the dance floor for a change of pace from the usual knife fights. Quality.

Thing is, relatively cheap housing in Toronto just minutes from the lake, Broadview and Danforth and little India, has a way of getting popular. We got in on the ground floor seven years ago and since then the prices have doubled and as the old Italians have died off and more and more young families have moved in suddenly things began to change. There's a farmer's market in the newly redone park and the drug dealers who used to hang out there are gone. The cops busted the rub and tug (sigh) and nearly all of the bars are long gone. Now there's a bistro and a boutique and a cafe and they're like those little flowers you see that pop up on a rock face, somehow growing out of nowhere, surrounded by empty storefronts. But things are changing and its for the better. Its a great great neighbourhood to raise a family.

And the other day the rumour was proven true and we walked into our brand new ice cream shop, run by a young couple from the next street over. The kids (and I), well, we pretty well have died and gone to heaven. We're talking less then a five minute walk from the house and this is with the boy.

The kids stood there and looked in awe and I swear you could picture the heavens opening up and the light of Dog shining on their faces and the singing of angels.

Glory Glory Indeed.

And it was good.

And everybody we talked to over the next couple of days received the boy's sermon on the subject of the new ice cream place in the neighbourhood.

My folks came down to give me a hand for a few days and the other day I came home to find my daughter skipping rope in our living room (this was the day before she had six Freezies for lunch) and when I came in she ran over and said that Grandpa took them to the park and then they went for ice cream and she had mint chocolate and I said wow, that's great, and I asked the boy what he had and he turned and I told him not to bother telling me because it was quite clear that he had had cotton candy.

And you should have seen him before the woman at the shop cleaned him off, my dad said.



Watching the third round and it looks like these series may be quick to go, especially now that the Wings have stormed back to tie the Hawks. Great hockey in both series although the Hawks and Canes are on the edge. The Malkin performance yesterday was one for the ages.

I'm really enjoying it but its a little depressing because facts are facts and the Oilers have a ways to go before they get anywhere near these clubs.

Here is what has to be done in Edmonton.

1/ They have to hire a very good coach. I have to admit I love the idea of Scott Arniel without knowing whether or not he would be any good. I would prefer Mike Babcock or Joel Quenneville or Ken Hitchcock or Andy Murray but they're not going anywhere. I definitely don't want Crawford or Quinn or Constantine or the newly available Keenan. I think they are poor fits or past their due dates. So its Arniel or the idea of Arniel but Tambellini has to make a good choice here. Too many kids who need teaching and this team needs structure and someone who has a clue about the power play among other things. The good news is this is something that is within the realm of possibility.

2/ They have to get their farm system figured out. Springfield was a joke and I think that fact, besides having the very obvious impact on player development this season, also was a symptom of where this organization is. Any team can have a bad year because of injuries, poor luck, shit just not working out but when the drift is from top to bottom then you know something is rotting and has to change. The Oilers need to become more professional as an organization and they need to get a development program in place. This half assed shit does not cut it. The good news, once again, is that this can be done.

3/ Of course the most important thing is the makeup of the team and unfortunately this is also the most difficult task facing management. The Oilers are already nearly right against the cap and they don't even have a starting goalie under contract. The players they would want to move will bring them fifty cents on the dollar or less. They don't have a wave of lottery picks coming in like Chicago or Pittsburgh benefitted from. They don't have a whole bunch of kids bubbling up from the farm who could step in, even in support roles, like Detroit does.

They need to move contracts in order to give themselves more financial flexibility. They need to bring in value contracts like they had in 2006, like they had in Jan Hejda and Curtis Glencross, guys who will outperform their contracts.

Oiler fans talk about getting value for guys like Nilsson and Pouliot and Schremp and Staios and Penner; they hope that they can package some of the depth guys or failed prospects on a team that was out of the running and bring back serious quality the other way.

This idea isn't exclusive to Edmonton. If I had a nickel for every time 'Tony from Woodbridge" told Bob McCown that the Leafs should trade a couple of marginal NHLers like Rob Pearson and Drake Berehowsky for Joe Sakic I'd be able to fly every person reading this to Toronto and take them out for ice cream.

The truth is Steve Tambellini is going to get nothing for the aforementioned - Steve Staios and Penner might bring picks the other way. If he wants to make something happen then he's going to have to move Cogliano or Gilbert or Hemsky or Grebeshkov .

What do I think about that? Well I don't think the Red Wings would make those moves, myself, lets put it that way. This team is okay. Bringing in a shooter at the cost of Tom Gilbert and Andrew Cogliano is going to give them a shooter and leave them short two young players who will likely have long careers as NHL players.

LT always talks about working on a building. Thats exactly what Steve Tambellini has to do, put it together piece by piece. Start with the coach and the farm. Get the finances in order so that they can keep their good kids and bid on free agents. Keep the good young kids. Fill in some holes with cheap veteran options. If you can find a guy who can play in the top six for relatively cheap then do it.

You aren't moving Schremp, Pouliot and Nilsson for Frolov.

Ice cream parlours fall from the sky only once in your lifetime.


R O said...

I'm not an Oilers fan so I can't comment on the hockey part, but I must say you are an exceptional storyteller.

robert cleave said...

The return for Staios isn't as important as the cap space cleared, so a pick would be fine, I'd suggest. The value of a defenceman who's lost the step he couldn't lose isn't very high. Penner, well, who knows what lurks in that mind. Maybe a new coach and a fresh start are enough to get more consistent results.

Oh, and a good tale again, Pat. You should write child-rearing books. Seriously. I must confess that I read these and think, "hope to Christ some humourless prig from Child and Family Services doesn't stumble upon this stuff." That'd make a hell of a headline in the Sun: "Local man arrested after Guinness-fueled porn spree; feral children discovered."

HBomb said...

Guinness-fueled Porn Spree?

Am I the only one who thinks that would be a kick-ass band name?

Word Verification: Bunti. Sounds like the baseball playing cousin of Rimouski Oceanic player and TBay Lightning draft pick Luca Cunti.

Baroque said...

Ice cream is fabulous.

Okay, I have absolutely nothing hockey related to add to this, but the ice cream parlor brought to mind perhaps the one time IN MY ENTIRE LIFE that I had a smart-ass comment to make at the time when it should have been made, not 10 minutes later, so I'm going to ramble about it anyway ...

It was many, many years ago when I was in junior high (or middle school, I guess they call it now) and the family was visiting my mom's parents in the Chicago area. Grandma had taken all five of us kids (I'm the oldest) for ice cream to give mom, dad, and grandpa a little break. I knew exactly what I wanted so I went first, and here I am off the to side eating my black cherry ice cream while everyone else is figuring out what they want and deciding which pints to get for the family members at home and grandma is paying, when a couple little old bitter snooty ladies decided to get nosy (everyone knows the type).

Grandma, until the cancer got going shortly before she died, always looked much younger than her age - my mom is the same way, and I'm hoping that bodes well for me.

Old lady one made a patronizing comment about how it was so nice that someone believed in having a nice large family, because you didn't see that often anymore. I was polite, but concentrating on the ice cream. Old lady two mentioned how nice it was that my mother decided to give my father some rest from the children by taking all the kids out for ice cream.

Me: "Oh, that isn't my mom, that's my grandma."

Old lady one: "Really?" (with disapproving look)

Me: "Yes, we're just visiting for a week."

Old lady two: "How old were your parents when they got married?"

Me: "What marriage?" (with an innocent look)

Both old ladies: Choking noises as they may have been having heart attacks because of my smartass answer to a question that was really none of their business.


Grandma thought it was hilarious, as did dad and grandpa - mom thought I was rude, and I said well, it was none of their business and they were being nosy, so they shouldn't have asked in the first place! She had to admit that my logic was impeccable.

MrOiler said...

We all scream for ice cream!

Bruce said...

HBomb: I've been watching young Luca with interest at the Mem Cup and postulating if he survived his first, uh, exposure to junior hockey his pro career should be a breeze. I can only imagine the juvenile quips that must have been aimed his way since the day he came over. Poor bastard.

HBomb said...

Bruce: I think the Oilers need to acquire this Cunti guy, simply from a revenue perspective.

Let's be honest - the jerseys would sell like crack cocaine.

Bruce said...

HBomb: Like "crack"? Ya gotta be punning me.

(Sorry, ladies, couldn't resist)

HBomb said...

Bruce: trust me, the punnery was unintentional, but in hindsight, brilliant.

I think the term in science is "serendipity".

Oh, and for Pat - ice cream parlors are one thing (and there's several within a 3-block radius of my condo), but there are now TWO specialty "cupcake only" bakeries on Whyte Avenue, within a 5 minute stroll from Chez HBomb. As if quick access to about a dozen liquor stores wasn't bad enough....

And yes, I know you are a pie guy, but everyone loves cupcakes.

Black Dog said...

HBomb - nice, yeah its slow but sure here, what we need is a pub, except that would lead to divorce, more restaurants and cafes and such. Build it and the people would come. A decent liquor store would be nice too, nearest one is a fifteen minute walk and its selection is iffy.

Team in our summer league - Bunty, no word of a lie.

Black Dog said...

Thanks for the kind words everyone, appreciate it.

A pick would be just fine for Staios, Robert, I agree. I would bet that both he and Moreau have a lot more value around the league then we think, oddly enough. Every time the Oilers were on HNIC everyone raved about those two, I think that their value amongst old timey type GMs and coaches, of whom there are many, would be quite high and that if the Oilers want to dump them they could do so quite easily.

Great story Baroque.

Fake Craig McTavish said...

Your writing just gets better and better Pat.

Where on earth did you find the pictorial adornment?

Black Dog said...

Thanks Fake McT.

Le Google led me to her.

Peeeete. said...

I really love this blog; I laughed through the whole post, and the comments section is equally amusing.

I seem to live within a few blocks of HBomb, thus must also strongly recommend Coney Island Candy, Buddy Wonton, and the shawarma burrito at that taco place where Hungry Jack's used to be. My neighbourhood is making me fat, although I've so far avoided the warring cupcakeries.

Reading this, it occurs to me that if Tambellini does everything right, the Oilers will probably have to suck for one more season. I'll take it if they can finally break the cycle of mediocrity.

Bruce said...

Bruce: trust me, the punnery was unintentional, but in hindsight, brilliant.
I think the term in science is "serendipity"

HBomb: I guess it was a "found pun", which like a found poem springs into existence in the mind of the beholder. And that one was a beauty. :)

My favourite such item pertaining to hockey was this "found haiku" which emerged, almost syllable-perfect, from the English-challenged Igor Dmitriev, assistant coach of the Soviet Union squad at the 1987 Canada Cup when asked to describe Wayne Gretzky.

he comes from nowhere
he passes to nobody
and a goal is scored

Black Dog said...

Thanks Peeeete and you're likely right about the Oilers.

Bruce, that one is going up top.

Bruce said...

BDHS: Glad you like it, and it's good to see in the banner! (I recommend line breaks to preserve the form.)

I changed the original quote but little (added a second "he" to fit the 5-7-5 format) and called it Haiku to the Great One. Otherwise, the credit belongs to Dmitriev.

Black Dog said...

Bruce - pray tell - how do I do line breaks?


Bruce said...

"Enter" key usually works, but I've never done banners.

Bruce said...

Never mind ... I see you got it.

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