Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Geddy Up Stevo!

The first golden days for me that I remember were around the ages of ten to twelve. There were six of us who hung out and out of this half dozen there were four of us who were really close. Hung out at school, at recess, after school, whenever we could. We were kids – most of our time was spent playing hockey in some form or another – and conversation generally revolved around the rink, the Habs and cartoons. We were all the oldest in our families with two exceptions. One guy had a brother just a couple of years older then us as well as two older sisters but it was Doug Catton whose family brought new realities to us. He had a younger brother and an older sister but most exotic of all was a brother who was five or six years older then us. He worked at the A&P. He had a car. He smoked. We’d wander fearfully into their basement where he hung out, dark and stale and hung with 70s posters and black velvet and he introduced us to Kiss and Zeppelin and Sabbath. Having grown up in a house where Hank Williams and John Cash vied with Englebert Humperdinck and Tom Jones for supremacy you might as well have been playing Mongolian folk music for me, it was that new to me. Actually the Mongolian shit would have been more familiar likely.

That was the beginning of the end of innocence that comes to everyone. Now for years afterwards the shit just bubbled slightly under, manifesting itself in theft of friends’ fathers’ porn and incresing surliness but by the time junior high rolled around we were at the mall on Friday nights walking back and forth back and forth looking for girls. The late seventies were before the beef hormone injected aided puberties of today, most of the girls we knew at twelve were as flat chested and scrawny as we were. But for the few early bloomers, well they were blessed or cursed, depending on their point of view, with the ravenous attention of all of their male schoolmates.

For the most part their response was to wear the tightest possible jeans possible (Hooray for 1979 fashion), so tight that, well, long before I heard the term, I knew what cameltoe was and actually thought that this was a standard look.

Sudbury girls in 1979 were classy!

Of course with the exception of those few tight jeaned, heavily made up, feathered haired girls with boobs who we longed to play grab ass with (actually one of my fondest memories and the first time I touched a girl was behind the shopping mall one Sunday afternoon – I know this because it was deserted completely, closed I mean – she was twice my height but of course even then I was amazingly wiry) most of the girls we knew were either totally runty or completely awkward and goofy. I remember years later being at some sort of beerfest by the lake and bumping into my female doppleganger from Grade Six. She had been a little curly haired goody two shoes just like me, well moreso really, and here she was, blue bikini, brown skin, beautiful eyes, drinking cold beer in the summer sun. We shot the shit for a while and if I’d had the guts I would have asked her out but part of me thought it would be like dating my twin. Weird. Too close I guess. Man oh man.

There was another girl in grade school. She was gawky and goofy and brash and man, she never did shut up. She drove all of the guys crazy but because she was a talker, not because Beduoins suddenly appeared, lonely and confused, when she strutted by Le Chateau.

I saw her now and then over our years in high school and then strangely enough I began to see her more frequently after we went away in university. She was a semi regular at our summer haunts and she went to the same school as my best friend (one of the guys from back in the day, we remain best friends to this day, all the way since Grade One) so I'd see her when I wander up the 401 to party.

A terrific girl, she had a wicked cutting sense of humour and would call bullshit in a second. All intelligence and personality and she could drink with the best of them and she looked just like Geddy Lee, poor girl. That was her nickname.


Watching the playoffs and I was reminded of Geddy Lee and his band, what a great band they are. Back in the day Canadian music was pretty iffy for the most part. There was some decent shit in the seventies but the early eighties was a bit of a wasteland and Rush was one of the few bands that stood above it all before things really began to take off (imo anyways) with the emergence of the Hip, Blue Rodeo and the terrific and varied scene that followed.

Rush may not be your cup of tea but they’re quality whether you dig them or not. Sort of like a lot of the clubs still standing. Watched the Chicago Vancouver game last night and it came to me very very quickly that the Oilers have a long long road to hoe before they get to where they need to be. Chicago, like the Oilers 2006 club, actually moreso, is loaded with value contracts. From the kid snipers Kane and Toews to the shutdown pair on the backend, Keith and Seabrook, up and down the lineup they are running with cheap young talent. Its not going to last forever of course, they have a ton of guys who are going to be getting paid soon but these guys are going to have earned it. Barker and Walker and the Finn and Ladd and Bolland out here protecting the lead at the end of the game, the kid Versteeg, the giant Bummuffin, Ben Eager and Patrick Sharp, one of the first to get paid.

Four big contracts – the two goalies, Havlat and Campbell and the only one they may regret down the road is the Campbell deal. Guy is a good player but likely their fourth best defenceman right now, by my eye. As for the others Havlat and Khabibulin were injured and indifferent respectively for most of their contracts but they’re paying off in spades now.


A lesson for Tambellini as he tries to fix the goddamn mess his predecessor left him. Lowe should have known better then any with that 2006 club, loaded with quality cheap homegrown talent, guys that could play the toughs, but somewhere he lost his way. Even the guys who he picked up on the cheap, Glencross and Hejda, the guys who were unwanted, the guys who would blossom, the guys you need to build a team around, these hidden gems, he managed to let them walk.

Combine that with a farm club which is a laughing stock and you have a club that’s taken steps back again.

Don’t get me wrong. Kane and Toews were elite prospects and top picks and it takes luck to hit a home run like that when you pick fifteenth every year. But you don't help yourself when you leave prospects to wither on the vine.

But I look at the Hawks and the Wings and I suspect if you were to comb through the rosters of the remaining clubs out there and you’re going to see a lot of smart bets I suspect in terms of draft picks, trades and free agent signings. Oiler fans want Tambellini to steal guys like Steckel and Dubinsky and the reality is unless Doug MacLean gets a job soon teams aren't likely going to give up good cheap talent unless you're sending terrific value back. Robert Nilsson isn't going to get it done. Naw he's going to have to beat the bushes and figure out who had off years and who'll bounce back and go from there.
If you’re an NHL general manager these days you better be able to look past the girl in the food court with the boobs and the form fitting Jordache jeans. She’s going to be pregnant before she gets out of high school and then where the hell will you be?

Better to figure out the ones who are going to pay off in the long run, even if they do look like Geddy Lee.


Scott said...

Good post Black Dog. Enjoyable writing as always. And we have had some great hockey this round haven't we. The games last night were just wonderful. Watching the Hawks come back in the third twice against Luongo. Just amazing. Tomorrow night is really going to be something special in Washington I think. This has been the most I've ever enjoyed an Oiler-less playoffs and we're still only about halfway through.

Black Dog said...

Thanks Scott.

Yeah I'd have to agree, hard to beat three Game 7s in the second round. The first round was a little pedestrian, I thought, with quite a few blowouts in terms of series length, but of course the Ducks beating the Sharks, the Devils' collapse, the rise of the Hawks, Varlomov - all good stuff.

I'm hoping for Bruins and Wings to win, having three original six clubs plus the Pens or Caps will be a stellar final four.

Bruce said...

A lesson for Tambellini as he tries to fix the goddamn mess his predecessor left him.

No, his mind is not for rent
To any God or government.
Always hopeful, yet discontent,
He knows changes aren't permanent,
But change is.

spOILer said...

Nice post BD.

Agreed with all on the playoffs, there has been some great hockey thus far.

As far as value contracts and dancing with the girl with the nice personality goes...

I have a feeling there's going to be far more moves this off-season than the past two, league-wide.

There's all those UFAs coming off the likes of VAN and MTL and PIT. Teams like PHI, SJS, BOS are going to have to deal with their contract/cap situations... And then there's the teams trying to stop the pocketbook from bleeding -- TBL, PHO, ATL.

There should be some quality deals out there.

spOILer said...

Add DALLAS to the list of the financially bubble troubled.

Black Dog said...

spOiler - lets hope so, the problem as I see it is twofold

1/ The Oilers are close to the cap already and have holes already, such as they need a starting goaltender. They have to move salary and most of the salary they want to move is probably not all that palatable to other clubs - Penner for example - so its not like they can get out there and pick up an impact guy

2/ These teams looking to dump salary for whatever reason are going to be holding onto those cheap assets, the ones the Oilers absolutely need

If the Oilers were in the position of Vancouver, say, then they could pluck a nice kid or two from Phoenix and take some dead salary as well to make it worth Phoenix' while but they haven't the room to manouvre.

I have serious worries about where they're heading

Vic Ferrari said...

I'm of the same opinion Pat, of both your post and your last comment. Let's hope we're both wrong.

I just don't think that there is an easy way out of this, he'll just have to make a series of good bets.

On the other hand, I don't think that this team is in that bad a shape. A lot of guys will get better yet, and this is a cap team. There aren't as many of those around any more and it's a huge advantage.

The other (admittedly unlikely) scenario is that the Oilers could do as you suggest VAN does, get a good player on a good contract by being willing to take on a terrible contract at the same time, then bury that player in the minors.

Again, very unlikely, but there are a lot of terrible contracts out there. How much extra would the Caps give to rid themselves of Nylander's contract?

spOILer said...

You guys are right in that there is a series of slight overpays, making it more difficult to re-arrange the salary structure.

Some of it is going to depend on what they spend on goaltending over the next 2 years.

If Niedermayer retires, would they do something like trade Souray for Giguere?

I have a tough time paying any keeper that kind of money. They can ease a lot of problems going the cheap route of LaBarbra + JDD.

Black Dog said...

If they are willing to bury salary in the minors that would solve a lot of issues but I can't see it.

For all the doom and gloom its not a complete disaster. They have an owner who will spend to the cap and they have a decent team. I know there is some disagreement as to this past season (I thought they should have made the playoffs, others feel they ended about right) the fact is they have a solid if not spectacular team with some nice kids.

But they have to clear some salary going forward. Moreau, Staios, Nilsson, probably another big contract, just to get into a reasonable situation.

And they have to make a series of smart bets. The coach. The goaltending. Which kids/players to move, which to keep.

Which ones they bring in.

Its doable but its not going to be easy. They need to bring in those outperformers though, moves like Sutter made in bringing in Glencross and Bourque, for example.

And sPoiler I think they have no choice but to go on the cheap in net. Fine as long as they get the right guy of course.

Deano said...

For all of the hand-wringing about the team's finish this year, its obvious to me that they quit on the coach and each other. Quite dysfunctional. The argument has been put forward that coaches do not make a large amount of difference in the team's performance. Unless the coach fails. Real life is not graded on the curve - its pass/fail. MacT clearly gets a failing grade from me for this season year.

With a new bench boss, we will see what these fellows will do for each other.

I have fully bought in to coach-pb's argument that Penner is the missing man that makes Hemmer a 100-point player. MacT just would not go with it. The first line is OK. Gagner, POS and Cogs are a serviceable second line. Jacques (finally?), Brodz and Storts should be fine for the fourth line.

The third line is the problem. Pisani looks like he's past his best-before date, MAP may be the 3C we need, but he could probably use a fresh start somewhere else and thecaptainethanmoreau needs to get fitted for his goat horns and head out of town.

If Mrs. Bouwmeester miraculously does want to have her babies near the 2 grandma's (what goes around...) what would the Panthers give us for Lubo? Weiss + Eminger? I know everyone prefers to move Souray, but to me Lubo is a more desirable chip for the other side.

We need a goalie and couple of 3rd line wingers and are holding Rowbert, MAP, Pies, Moreau, Reddox and Staois to use to get them.

Black Dog said...

Deano - well if Bouwmeester wants to play in Edmonton then he'll sign in Edmonton. If the Oilers want first crack then its a conditional pick; based on past situations anyway.

If they signed Bouwmeester then one of the big D is in play as well as those you mention but really none of those guys is going to bring you much, imo.

I think Pisani stays - one year left on his contract and he's a valuable piece still, I think. Tough two years with illness, injury and the whole experiment at centre but I bet he bounces back.

Will be an interesting summer again.