Monday, July 20, 2009

This Thing We Do

Five thousand kilometres, Toronto to the Soo and then the Soo to PEI and then PEI back to Toronto.


We have it down to a science now though. We drive the morning and then stop for lunch/gas/pee breaks for an hour and then drive until we reach our destination. 1700 kilometres in seventeen and a half hours. Yowza.

Big deal, you say? Try it with three kids five and under.

And we’re not done yet, another thousand to get under our belts before the end of the month.

A little worn down though I must say but all smiles these days. Our youngest just turned one and there’s not a much better feeling than knowing that you have made it through that year with your sanity and marriage still intact. It’s a tough one – this one, our third, was probably the easiest really. The first one was an easier baby but the first goround is tough – you’re a little overwhelmed and you’re afraid they’ll break and you have just one to concentrate on. It gets easier the more times you get your wife pregnant.

Trust me on that one – do give it a whirl. You’ll thank me later.


And Tuesday we celebrate eight years of marriage. The babysitter will be at our place at 8. Of course I will already be on the ice by that time, trying to stave off a winless season (oh its shameful, it really is a goddamned disgrace) and my wife will head out to her soccer game. By the time she comes home I will likely be abed.

We’ll celebrate properly on Wednesday with a bottle of wine or two and, if she’s lucky, a little bit of the ee ee ee ee. We’ll try not to break any furniture this time – we’re just a couple of animals really.


A fun year coming up, my wife goes back to work in a few weeks which means another level of stress and me with three kids alone instead of two for a few days or evenings a week. No worries.

And the boy starts school and our oldest is in grade one and we have a couple of weddings already next year, one that will take me back to Dublin for a third time. Sweet fair Dublin town.

We were on the south shore of the Island drinking wine in the gazebo before we went inside and smashed some furniture and we were talking about this upcoming year and the challenges it poses. My wife is a worrier, as I think most women are, and I, like most men, worry most about the next time I can get out of the house for some pints or whether or not the Oilers will pick up that veteran centre to take the load off Horcoff.

Pretty standard stuff. It makes her mental but there’s not much I can do about it. I am like my old man. I can’t worry about what may be because a whole lot of things may be. Have to enjoy it when I can. For all of us we don’t know what tomorrow might bring, a cell somewhere inside us or a loved one gone awry, a synapse misfiring, someone driving too fast or after too many beers, a patch of ice on a highway.

So when I said to her that what we do, this thing we do, we are pretty good at it, I meant it not in a bold or boastful way. We’re lucky as hell and we sure recognize it but at the same time I look at her going back to work and that challenge and I know that we'll rise to it. Piece of cake. This thing, our life, its what we do.


Not much happening in Oiler land these days and I'm ok with that. Looks like the Heatley deal is dead, probably a good thing. They have their goaltender. They have a nice looking new coaching staff. The farm team is being rebuilt with the addition of some quality AHL vets. The draft looks pretty good although of course that won't be known for sure until years pass.

Tambellini has had a solid summer.

With Heatley out of the picture and things beginning to slow down the latest question is whether or not this club looks the same in September as it does now. The departure of Kotalik is one less NHL forward on a roster that has been short of them for a few years now. Brodziak was a fourth liner, sure, but he had some experience and did a few things (PK, faceoffs) that the roster is short on. Plus he could score a little. And the unlamented Liam Reddox was at least a quality AHL guy who could do a little at the NHL level. Those who mocked his departure forget that he and Potulny were by far the best players in Springfield last season. To say that he didn't earn his shot with the big club is overlooking that simple fact.

Having said that the loss of Liam Reddox isn't going to be one the club cannot recover from.

So what's next? Anything? There's just enough forwards for the available spots - Penner, Horcoff, Hemsky, O'Sullivan, Gagner, Nilsson, Cogliano, Moreau, Pisani, Stortini, Pouliot, MacIntyre, Brule, Jacques.

Fourteen. Is that it? The team isn't bigger or tougher and its probably a little weaker up front. Will Quinn and Renney make that big a difference? I think Tambellini figures they are going to have a very big impact.

But he still needs to make at least a move or two doesn't he? Malholtra? Moore? Betts? Halpern? Ponikarovsky?

Darryl Sutter doesn't seem to have any problems finding low cost guys to shore up his roster. Lets hope that Tambellini, who has had a decent summer, imo, can find a player or two or three who can give this team some cheap vets to lean on without giving up any of the prize kids.


40oz said...

"I can’t worry about what may be because a whole lot of things may be" Great line.

Marchant cooking? Where do you find these pictures?

Scott Reynolds said...

I'm surprised to hear you so positive about Tambellini's summer. To my eye, there hasn't been much to cheer about.

You mention a couple of things and a couple of them I agree with. The coaching staff does look good. I'm satisfied that Tambellini hired good and intelligent hockey people that he trusts and you can't ask for more than that. And the draft does look pretty good. In any year it's easy to get up in arms about some of the later picks (Abney!!!) but it's your first two picks that matter most since those are usually the impact guys and the Oilers were touched by fortune this year when Svensson fell as far as he did.

The Khabibulin contract was a mistake in terms of both cash and term. The farm team looks like it may be losing some big contributors (no Reddox or Brule) and they added about the same amount of guys as last off-season (Arsene, Minard, Nickerson = Taylor, Corazzini, Goon). Hopefully the vets they pick up this time perform well, but they still need a few pieces down there if they're expecting to win. The forwards still need help, though I'm really not opposed to waiting until bargain season so long as they actually pick one up before training camp. And then the Brodziak trade was a waste, and then Reddox leaving doesn't help the depth as you've said.

It's been an uneven summer I think, setting aside the Heatley stuff (I liked pursuing him, didn't like seeing the "trade" broken in the media). And of course, there's still time for plenty of tweaking, so maybe it will be good by training camp. We'll see.

Black Dog said...

40oz - thanks. As for the Marchant pic I think that was Thanksgiving though I could be mistaken, it may have been my birthday.

Or I googled it. ;)

Scott - well honestly it depends on the day with me

Khabibulin was an overpay but I'm of the mind that they will be able to dump the contract pretty easily when the time comes. I admire the fact that they wanted the guy and went out and got him. Did they overpay - sure they did.

I did not like the Brodziak trade and I don't like losing Reddox but I think that was more Liam's choice than the organization's. We can say that the Oilers could have sweetened the pot for the kid and yes they have dumped another young useful player (Thoresen, Winchester, Brodziak, Reddox, Glencross, Greene) - that list is getting a little long - but Reddox is probably the weakest of that bunch.

I don't know - its status quo I guess and a lot of the good is accidental (Cogliano and Smid still Oilers) and I would have liked to see some contracts moved but my impression is that most organizations are a little paralyzed by next year's uncertainty. Very few trades this summer.

If by September he has hung onto the kids and added a little veteran depth then I will be satisfied. I think he is really hanging his hat on Quinn and Renney

Scott Reynolds said...

I agree with the sentiments regarding Quinn and Renney given his other moves. Even if Khabbibulin works out, it's not likely that the goaltending will take a step forward in winning games since Roloson played well last year. I'd be shocked if Tambellini doesn't see that which means he's banking on improved coaching and better play from the same players.

I think the story of this summer really hasn't been written yet. There's still work to do at both the AHL and NHL level. If the Oilers add two quality veteran forwards I'll be pleased with this team going into the season, but they do need to actually do it.

I guess it depends what you meant by solid summer. If you meant "successful" I don't think we're there yet, but if you meant "not a failure" then I agree. A lot will depend on what's done between now and October.

Black Dog said...

Scott - you know you're in trouble when if its not a disaster then its a success - yikes!

I agree in that there is still work to be done but I do like what he has added in Springfield, I believe that they will be a better club. Still work to do with the big club for sure.

Tyler said he thinks the goaltending will be weaker because Khabibulin will play less games than Roli did, which is a good point, and Biron (or others) may have been a better bet. I guess I am going against the grain on this one and really hoping we see the Khabibulin from last year but I think the move may pan out.

I may just be whistling in the dark though - if it does not then they are truly fucked.

Krazy Rick said...

Dog and Scott;
It's all a crap-shoot!! You just never know how a player will react to any given situation. Khabibulin may really like his new digs and play his heart out. If that's the case, we got a great deal... if not, we're in for a long season.
Personally, as I said before, I believe Quinn and Renney will squeeze every bit out of all these players and the Oilers will make the second season!!
That being said, it couldn't hurt to make a trade for some help up front. I just don't think Dany Heatley is the answer!!

spOILer said...

Happy Anniversary McLean-types!!

RiversQ said...

I have to say I think the Oilers are nuts if they think coaching is going to make the difference.

I figure it might be good for two to three wins, which would easily be negated if they end up with a PDO number just shy of 100%. That is an interesting thing by the way - the Oilers have been pretty bad the past two years with a >100% number. Just imagine if they hit some hard luck.

Word ID: "ganes"


Black Dog said...

thanks SpOILer

Rivers - I don't gamble even a single bit but I would wager a large sum of money that that is exactly what they are thinking. Unless he's got a couple of big deals up his sleeve any changes to this club are going to be pretty cosmetic.

They're banking on Quinn and Renney making a huge difference.

Bruce said...

I figure it might be good for two to three wins, which would easily be negated if they end up with a PDO number just shy of 100%.

Here's what I expect under Quinn:

Corsi: better
PDO #: worse
Goal differential: ???
Wins: ???

More shots not necessarily equating to more goals. Fewer shots against not necessarily equating to fewer goals against.

That is an interesting thing by the way - the Oilers have been pretty bad the past two years with a >100% number. Just imagine if they hit some hard luck.

1) I would call season-ending injuries to the likes of Souray, Horcoff and Visnovsky "hard luck". The Oilers ended both seasons with major players and a huge percentage of their cap hit in rehab.

2) Do you really think team PDO # is all about luck? Nothing to do with systems / style of play?

Bruce said...

Oh yeah, one other thing which I expect under Quinn: better special teams. That should show up in the wins column.

Black Dog said...

Bruce - I would expect the PP to be much better - those Leaf clubs moved the puck, moved their feet and used a few options.

I hope that Renney can improve the PK. I believe part of last year was systemic but part of it was personnel as well and they have already dropped two guys who PK'd last season

raventalon40 said...

His track record with Khabibulin and guys like Heatley would suggest that we shouldn't expect his vision of the Oilers to come cheap.