Friday, June 05, 2009

I Know Nothing or How I Slept My Way To The Top

After I graduated university I wandered for a while. I'd love to be able to say I wandered the planet in dusty sandals and a cordurouy coat but the wandering was mostly confined to the streets of Toronto. They were good times despite the lack of money. I was a skinny grimy little guy with a big head of hair, little to my name and an overwhelming lack of ambition and direction. In winter I worked and watched movies and went to the rink and in the summer I wandered in the heat and I drank when I could and wrote what I could and managed to find some women here and there as well. It was awfully fine.

I had a decent job the summer that I graduated but it was just for the summer and when it was over I started a five year stint where my bank account never bumped out of the three figure range, except for maybe once or twice. Living paycheque to paycheque but I always made my rent and learned to love toast and pasta. I worked as a driver and in a video store, as a tutor and in a warehouse. I did data entry on a contract and planned a charity event. I worked on films and in construction and was THE WORLD'S WORST SALESMAN. I was a rodeo clown and a soldier of fortune, a pro wrestler and a stunt dick.

OK, I made that last part of.

I was a vagabond and a bum and a derelict and it was fine. Many of my friends were in the same boat, times were tough, and I hadn't a lick of direction so I just floated where the current pushed me. I coached hockey for three of those five winters and each summer my attention was taken. In 92 I went home as my mother battled cancer. In 93 I had a crazy passionate fling with a grad student in Montreal. The year after that I fell in love for the first time, with a girl from Chicago, and passed up an opportunity to move to Vermont to be a kept man. And in 95 and 96 I was with the girl from Rawlins Cross and trying my hand at film.

So it wasn't like I was completely fucking around. ;)

And as 1996 wore on I got a couple more movies under my belt and some of my coworkers, the serious film folks, began to encourage me. There was real money to be made and I was pretty good at what I was doing but in the end the life wasn't for me. When you're on a film your outside life is on hold and months on end in a bubble weren't my style.

And it was just then, the end of that summer, that the uncle of the girl from Rawlins Cross asked me if I wanted to do a little work for him. He was a terrific guy and he owned an optical software company and he saw something in me, I guess, and so I met his sales guy to go on a local install. I got in your man's truck and he handed me a laptop and said 'start that up and I'll teach you a little on the way to Guelph' and I looked at him and smiled and told him I hadn't the foggiest.

I didn't even know how to turn the damn thing on.

Must have done something right because a few months later when her and I parted ways I kept on working for him and still am to this day.

Customers ask me what my background is and its neither optics or computers; I have an English degree. I slept my way to the top.

Or at least my way in the door.


Just getting back to the hiring of Quinn and Renney. Its summer right? We have three months to talk about these things.

A buddy of mine got me the Bob McCown book, the hockey arguments one. I like McCown. He's a contrarian, which makes me a little mental at times, but your man's show is quality.

The book is fair to middling. In the preface he talks about one thing that is true about hockey - you take one hundred people who watch a game and each one of them will have a different opinion, wildly divergent opinions in fact.

Oh really? I never would have guessed.

All you need to do is read any thread over at Lowetide's - Wednesday night was a doozy as the battlelines were drawn and here we go for another summer of name calling and insults.

Only what, three months left to go until camp opens?

I like Tom Gilbert a lot but there are plenty of folks who would ship him out in a heartbeat. You know who they are. Oilers could win a game by five goals and Gilbert could score all five and they run him down at the end of the night for not taking a guy's head off at an opportune time.

Every guy on the team has his fans and his detractors and in the shrinking middle are those who actually attempt in some way to be objective.

If the Oilers had won in 2006, remember they were a break or two away from it, then would Shawn Horcoff be a true number one centre?

Of course some would say if he were a true number one Cam Ward would not have stopped him on the doorstep late in game seven. ;)

And so it goes up the line as well. If that clearing attempt in the first minute gets out or that seeing eye shot doesn't get through or if the clear on the PK bounces out instead of not or Kaberle's shot hits Jussi in the chest or Pisani cashes late in the third or the puck bounces just a little this way or that in game one or game four or game seven then is MacTavish suddenly a great coach? Or even a good one, for those who think he's terrible.

Is Kevin Lowe on MLSE's short list when they go looking for a GM?

Objectivity is a difficult thing to find and I am not immune. When Pat Quinn and Tom Renney were named as possible candidates for the Oilers' job I was not impressed. Something about Renney just doesn't sit with me and no I can't explain it. As for Quinn well as coach of the Leafs he earned nothing but my scorn. Just the way it goes. Can't help myself. It was soon after I moved to Toronto that I was at a party and needled some knucklehead Leaf fan about Clark and how overrated he was to the point where your man wanted to punch me in the mouth. It was beautiful and oh so easy and since then I've just been unable to help myself when it comes to the Leafs. Maybe its Tony from Woodbridge and his incessant talk radio claims that the Leafs will win the Cup and the Leafs should trade the rights to Eric Fichaud for Crosby and Malkin.

So yeah I didn't like Quinn so much although after Salt Lake City I warmed to him a little and after the World Cup it got better still. Torino didn't help our relationship but it improved after he was fired by the Leafs and then improved even more with his recent work with Hockey Canada.

So what can I say? I'm open to the whole idea. I think Tambellini is an oldtime hockey guy which means he is inherently conservative. Combine that with this being his first kick at the can and you knew he was going to go with a safe hire.

But he threw a curve at us, didn't he? Two experienced guys. That's pretty good. I love the idea of Scott Arniel but you know Tambellini wasn't going to let a guy cut his teeth on his watch. Failure might mean the end for him and his first coach.

What I find amusing though is how so many folks came out against the hire because both men were part of an old boys' club, that Tambellini happened to have worked with them prior.

Hockey is a pretty incestuous society. I would guess that the degrees of separation between most involved in the game probably goes no higher then two with few exceptions. In hockey and in "real" business most of the time your foot in the door is the fact that you know somebody except in hockey I think the reality is that everybody knows everybody.

When I reflect on the hires I really have very little problem with them. Quinn has not won a Cup but if the Pens win does Dan Bylsma suddenly rank as a better coach then Quinn or Lindy Ruff or any number of guys who have not won? Is John Tortorella a better coach then Pat Quinn? Would Ray Bourque's career have been unfulfilled without his Cup in Colorado? Is the Cup in Montreal vindication of Denis Savard's greatness as a player?

I like the Oilers' coaching staff. I liked MacTavish but everyone who reads this blog knows what I thought of his work this season. It was time for him to go. The fact that Quinn and Renney have not won a Cup does not bother me. The fact that they have connections with Tambellini even less so.

We all know the guy who got the job because he was the owner's son. We have a customer where two of the owner's kids worked in the business. We replaced their server three times in six months because the boys were surfing porn and gambling sites. When they take over, if it ever gets to that, the business will go under. They might not even make it that far.

That Quinn and Renney knew Tambellini and worked with him previously obviously helped but its not like they don't even know how to turn the damn computer on. And even if they didn't when they first got their foot in the door many years ago, they must have figured something out.

You might sleep your way in the door but to get to the top you have to rely on more then that at some point. That's just the way it is.


PDO said...

Beauty post Pat.

Mind firing me off an e-mail?

hunter1909 said...

"Marry for money, and earn every penny" old yiddish proverb

"Keep your hair and teeth, and you'll always be okay" old Irish saying

What else is there to say? Oilers have been a totally disfunctional franchise ever since the day they traded Messier away for a second rate Bernie Nicholls. It's the one thing Lowetide and I 100% agree on.

But since they fired the Oilers equivalent of the bosses son, I now like Katz, Tambellinni, plus Pat Quinn, and even Tom Renney I like as an assistant coach. Quinn especially.

I can understand how most Oiler fans, who are the NHL equivalent of a pussywhipped boyfriend are still imagining that a clearly first class second rate hockey player like Horcoff will still be leading the team come October. Well, sorry, but there's no way in hell that they're not going to bring in a first rate center next season. I read it might be Sundin, or LaCavalier, and it makes no difference to me. What does matter, is just how much the last regime was responsible for no one wanting to play in Edmonton, a city I spent the formative years of my life living in and nearby to.

Sure the place is an absolute backwater, but who cares, so long as the team is well managed, and coached, and going in the right direction? One thing is patently obvious: It wasn't the city of Edmonton's fault no one wanted to play there. The reality is that last sad sack collection of GM/coach were responsible for driving away many good young players, and generally screwing up every opportunity they had for moving the franchise out of the post-Messier era dark ages.

uni said...

I couldn't have said it better, I have absolutely no problems with Tambo having ties to Quinn and Renney. At the end of the day you usually bring in people you know and can trust.

I was never enamoured of Quinn's coaching of the Leaf's defence, but here's hoping Renney is the cure to that ailment. Besides, I'm half expecting the Oilers to pull a Joseph or a Belfour out of their butts now that Quinn is there.

So you're an implementation specialist? I've worked with a couple of IT guys named Pat and they always seemed a
Don't suppose you'd be willing to divulge the name of your company?

As an aside, as guy who's never had any connections, whenever someone without qualifications gets a foot in the door ahead of me because they knew someone it smarts.

Almost every job or move up I've gotten has come at the cost of reduced pay and longer hours ala
"Well I'd rather have the guy I go to church with as my new dev, but hey since you already work 60 hours a week and you're basically doing dev work above and beyond your actual responsibilities we'll give you the title and work...just not the pay, oh and keep working 60 hours a week and we also hired a student who gets paid more than you cause he's my 2nd cousin's boyfriend."

spOILer said...

Someone has been watching naughty movies. Likely over and over. I myself still have problems not visualizing Maggie bent over James' desk everytime I watch the Dark Knight.

spOILer said...

Now considering your theme of incest, perhaps Chinatown or Cruel Intentions might be more appropriate film choices, but of course, neither play as well into the "Ruff" post below as Maggie delivering the mail on all fours.

Sorry, only two things can distract me from hockey, and one of them is good movies.

Boondock said...

Still room for one more on the staff. This, you might have a problem with.

Black Dog said...

boondock - yeah I sure hope not

spOILer - yeah that's a great great movie, Maggie never looked better, definitely some crazy shit though

Black Dog said...

uni - its software for optical labs, there's only a handful of us

I hear what you're saying; it depends on the company of course. If I hadn't been able to cut it they would have cut me loose. I've done well though. Fast learner. ;)

And we hired someone else last year, same sort of deal and its worked out great as well.

But there are those that
do not - in that case its a waste of time and money of course. Depends on who is hiring, their instincts and all the reasons behind the situation. Easy to make a misstep.