Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Truth Is That We Never Liked Her

When the girl from Rawlins Cross and I broke up for the first time my Dad was not really all that sympathetic. I was too distraught to really wonder why plus I'm pretty thick when it comes to these things. We got back together and then another eight months or so passed and then the whole thing died a quiet, sad and totally necessary death. Very soon after I was on an airplane to the Island, going into willing exile from the city where I had lived on and off for over a decade. I didn't see my folks until nearly a year later when I got home for Christmas. I was about to move south to Florida after an eventful year which left me, in the end, with a wife, one of my best friends and the big fellow. On Christmas Eve I had no idea where the road would lead me and so I talked about the girl I had met to my folks and I wondered where we would end up once I lwft the Island. My Dad said that I would figure it out and in any case they were glad that I had moved on from my last relationship. He said it in such a way that I asked him what he meant and he shrugged and said:
We're just glad it didn't work out - the truth is that we never liked her.

I never knew. My folks just bit their tongues for over two years. If we had gotten married they would have taken it to their graves.

Its an odd spot to be in - you want to be happy for your friend or family member who brings the new person over to meet you. You want to like them. You want to love them. Your pal is happy and you want this to work out, to be able to go out for beers and to hang out with the new couple. For the most part my friends are all with terrific girls or guys - we're all lucky that way.

But of course there have been the cases where when the night is over and they have left we who have remained have looked at each other and wondered what the fuck? She's dull/cold/stupid/annoying/cunty.

This is not going to work out or so we hope. Because if it does then we are going to have to spend a lot of years smiling and lying our asses off.

Usually they don't work out (my folks weren't the only ones who applauded my good sense, although truth be told it was just luck in the end - I would have married her if she had asked, almost right up until I got on that airplane) but sometimes they do.

The key is if they don't work out then you had better hold your tongue until you know that its truly over and done with because if you want to see awkward then tell your pal that its the best thing that he ever did, breaking up with that so and so, only to watch them put it back together shortly afterwards. My wife had a friend who was dumped and came for a shoulder to cry on. She was pretty clear about how she felt about your man (my wife hasn't an issue with beating around the bush and she was never a fan of this fellow). And then soon after they ended up patching the fences.

Try and explain that one next time you're over for dinner.


I think that every week that passes says a lot about what Steve Tambellini thought about Craig MacTavish's work behind the bench last season. He's just too much of a gentleman to say anything.

But his lack of action speak volumes about what he thought about the longterm Oilers' bench boss.

Coming into this offseason I would have thought the Oilers would have had the following plans:

1/ Ensure that there is quality goaltending. With Roloson a UFA and only Deslauriers on board this was an obvious necessity and Tambellini ensured that it was addressed immediately. One would suggest that this was his top priority based on the speed with which it was addressed as well as the obvious overpay to make sure that the Oilers got their man.

2/ A LW to play with Hemsky. The Heatley pursuit shows that the Oilers are serious about trying to upgrade their top line LW but the fact that they did not move to plan B on the FA market or via trade makes me think that they are going with Heatley or with the status quo.

3/ A C to play tough opposition, win faceoffs and kill penalties. There are still available and known qualitities out there (Malholtra, Moore, Betts, to name a few) and one would think that if the Oilers were going to move on any of these guys they would have already. As July moves along their price is likely dropping but at some point if you want a guy you should get him. Tambellini's swift consummation of the Khabibulin situation would make me think that if he really had someone in mind out there they would be signed already.

4/ Size, toughness, grit - whatever you want to call it - personally I think this club needs guys who are just plain hard on the puck for starters. Tambellini referred to this specifically and yet nothing has been done yet. Again there are available options remaining, vets who could slot in on the bottom line, guys who could add to the PK. And yet nothing is doing.

Its one thing to have a hard time picking up a first line LW. Its not like there are a lot out there. Heatley is definitely the best option although I think I would pass, to be honest. Too much risk - I can just see him wilting in Edmonton and asking for a trade a year from now and at that point what type of value would you get for him?

The contract is a bastard too.

YKOil makes probably the most convincing argument against the Heatley pursuit - scathing stuff - you wonder why someone in the mainstream media could not a) write something as critical and b) write something as well.

In any case that's not the point.

The point is that this club was not a playoff club last year and on paper, right now, very little has changed. A healthy Khabibulin who plays like did last season is an upgrade over Roloson, imo, though not a huge one. And Brodziak out and Brule in? A downgrade.

And still not much is happening and I would bet that very little does before September. With every passing day clubs spend their money and get against the cap or their budget and soon enough there will be nothing doing.

I think Steve Tambellini may be willing to go into next season with almost the same club as last season.

I think that says a lot about the confidence he has in Pat Quinn and Tom Renney.

I think that says a lot about what he thinks about Craig MacTavish.

I don't think he looked at Craig MacTavish and thought happy thoughts. At all.


spOILer said...

God, I hope that really is the girl from Rawlins Cross. Evisceration is a word that comes to mind.

I think we're speculating here a little as to the reason why there has been little dealing from the Tambo camp.

In might not be about MacT. It might be about the difficulty making a deal in today's cap world when the prior GM has hamstrung you.

And it might be something else.

Black Dog said...

Naw just a random pic from about the web.

Yeah a little speculation on my part for sure but at this point there have been three changes to the roster. Khabibulin replaces Roloson. Brodziak and Kotalik gone.

Nobody coming in to provide any of the missing ingredients this team is supposed to need. Not a single player.

That means something, imo. I think Tambellini looks at this roster and while he might not like a lot of what he sees I think that he likes it a lot more with Quinn and Renney in charge than with macT in there.

Krazy Rick said...

Hey Dog;
Just got in and read your post for the day. Been to visit the sister-in-law in Georgetown and had to drive that highway (QEW) I hate soooo much! But that's another story for another day!!
Seem's to me a good fit at center would be Moore. Watched him play a lot with the Leafs and I think he'd fit in great with Hemsky. He sees the ice well and skates better than most. Not sure why he hasn't been signed yet.
Also, I think Tambellini has very little to worry about with Quinn and Renney at the helm. Those two will get all they can from every player and those that don't want to work hard, will sit.
By the way, you'll love my wife, she's a Northern Ontario girl!!
Keep up the GOOD WORK!!

Krazy Rick

Fake Craig McTavish said...

Just like last year was Tambellini's year to asses the team, I expect this year is the same process for Quinn/Renney.

Another year in the wilderness.

Yeti said...

Did you say 'cunty'?
Perhaps this fellow would have been the solution for our left wing. At the very least, he'd have sold a lot of shirts if we'd drafted him:

Great blog, as always.

Black Dog said...

K.R. - where in Northern Ontario?

I liked Moore a lot as well. very versatile player, fast, smart, gets the puck moving in the right direction iirc.

The Leafs wanted to keep him but I think his agent overplayed his hand.

He'll find a job but I'm guessing it will be not what he wanted in term or cash. He'd be a good fit for the Oilers though not with Hemsky, I think. More of a third/fouth line guy who can slot in above in a pinch for a game or two. I think they want someone a little bigger/tougher in that role though.

Fake MacT - I am afraid that you may be right. I think Quinn and Renney are an upgrade over the real MacT but they are not miracle workers - this team still has holes and too many bad contracts

Yeti - yeah cunty - says it all

Krazy Rick said...

She's from the big city of Wawa. That's right, the Big Goose town. Comes from hearty stock. Her dad, he's 85, still lives there in the same house.
I come from the first settlers in Niagara Falls...again, hearty stock. Shame about the children isn't it??? No sense of history!!
You are so right about the bad contracts. Still, I think Quinn will get more out of a mediocore group than you might think. He seems to be able to talk to young kids better than most.
PLEASE.. I can't take another year of having nothing to battle Leafs Lunacy!!!!

Black Dog said...

KR - we're probably related - well maybe not

For sure she knows my family though - or so I would think. McLean. My grandparents are buried there - Lester and Muriel - they came to Wawa via Franz and the Soo.

My uncle Don and aunt Myrna lived and died there, both just passed away in the past five years. Myrna was a teacher, Don was the president of the union up there for years. Raised a family of four - Barry is still there but the girls have all moved away.

We also knew Harold Hall - he used to go on the moose hunt with Don and my Dad.

Spent a lot of time in Wawa growing up. Beautiful country.

Small world.

Krazy Rick said...

You know any Drapers????

Anonymous said...

Black Dog...

I don't know why I'm always so interested in reading your stories about your life, since I've never met you. But they draw me in every time.

This is an absolutely phenomenal blog and your writing is terrific.

As for your theory about Tambellini, it makes sense. Although I think maybe the player that will be most affected by the change is Penner, and he was effectively traded anyway.

Ofer said...

that was me posting as anonymous, btw. Never post on these things and had to create an account.

Black Dog said...

Thanks for the kind words Ofer.

You're right about Penner but I think you can look at a number of individuals and see room for improvement / a larger impact. I think you could actually say that about the majority of the roster. I would say the following players have room for improvement - I'm not talking about the usual year to year improvement we expect from young players - I'm talking about guys being put into positions to succeed. Will the new staff be able to do this? Don't know. Anyways here's my list:

Penner, Horcoff, Hemsky, O'Sullivan, Nilsson, Cogliano, Moreau (in terms of staying out f the box if nothing else), Pisani, Pouliot, Jacques, Smid

For some of these guys its a case of confidence, for others its consistency, for still others its a question of being put into a good position to succeed rather than being played out of position, with the wrong linemates and so on.

And this also does not speak about the special teams and this club's infuriating habit of sitting back once they had any sort of lead.

KR - naw I don't know any Drapers, I'm sure my cousins would though, its a small town

Ofer said...

"And this also does not speak about the special teams and this club's infuriating habit of sitting back once they had any sort of lead."

This might be the thing I'm most looking forward to about the new coaching staff.

For as long as I remember, the Oilers have been an incredibly poor team in terms of keeping a lead and retaining certain pace.

They have almost never dictated the pace of the game since the turn of the century.

I'm looking forward to see if the new coaching staff will be able to change that.

Even the '05-06 team, which would be the only on in memory that controlled the play in most of the games, was inept at keeping leads.

Black Dog said...

Ofer - a big issue with the Oilers for many seasons has been their youth - not a lot of calm when the pressure is on.

I felt they did fairly well in 05/06, a lot of this because they really had a veteran bunch. With the exception of G1 of the SCF (which cost them the series alogn with the PP imo) they did a pretty good job of hanging onto those slim one goal margins.

Of course with a lot of kids I think the tendency for the coaches is to try and sit on the lead even more. Last season was just awful though. I remember one game where it was tied and there were @ 30 seconds left and the draw was in the opposing zone and MacT sent out Moreau, Brodziak and Pisani.

And the use of Strudwick in OT.

They often played not too lose imo and I think that hurts a team. If you are going to lose best to be trying to win than trying not to lose, imo. At least you'll get lucky and win a couple. Certainly happened two seasons ago.

Krazy Rick said...

I think you're right about trying not to lose. With all the youth, I think MacT had them fall back instead of go forward.
My opinion is that Kevin Lowe tried to build a team like the "kids" from the early eighties and found he couldn't do it again. Got to give him credit for trying!! Glad he doesn't get to try any more!
On another note...You are right about being a small world. Your trip to PEI put you in close proximity to my sister. She is Economic Development Officer for the city of Summerside. Sooooooooooo... if you ever need to buy or build there???!!!
Off to work for the day. Have a great one.

Baroque said...

Nice story.

I've never been married, but was engaged for a bit to a guy before we broke up (maybe a little more his initiative than mine, but it really was mutual). It was only years later that I found out that my younger brothers and sisters called him "the lamprey" because he was sucking all the energy out of me, but my mom wouldn't let them say anything because she figured if they did, I'd just feel compelled to defend him, and eventually I'd realize that it wasn't working.

I did. :)

(I still shake my head at how stupid a smart woman can be in relationships, though. It took me about two years after the breakup before I stopped fretting about what I had done wrong and accepted that sometimes relationships just don't work out.)

Hopefully the coaching change will have the same effect as the ubiquitous "change of scenery" on the team, but on many players instead of just the one who changes teams. It can't be easy to perform in a stressful environment, and consistent, understandable coaching decisions have got to be a better environment than playing favorites was.

Psyche said...

Terrific article Black Dog!

I would be very happy to see the new coaching staff take a crack at those who spent time in Mac-T's doghouse. Penner, Nilsson and Smid could all get a new chance to earn their contracts. And they make take full advantage of the opportunity.

hunter1909 said...

MacT was a horrible, horrible coach. Playing faves like the cubmaster who's fat son gets to be a senior sixer, all the way to whining like a pissy girl to the press over players who he has no clue how to manage.

MacT-what's happened to that uber coach who it was said would have half the teams in the NHL lining up the second he bacame available? Just how many teams have hired another coach since that twat got the sack? Six? LOL.

If I'm Tambelinni I want new coaches just so I can understand which of the players can actually play hockey. MacT's Oilers didn't even do that. They played a horrible boring system, more like the NJ Devils, but without intelligence. MacT's "coaching" was like throwing a hail mary pass from the 30 yard line every play, with Roloson there to play Grant Fuhr.

Quinn IS a great coach, who does it with his heart on his sleeve. Those disfunctioning kids will lap it up like a thirsty black dog. No one knows which one of them will shock us all the most, it could be Nilsson, even Schremp. Quinn won't play teacher's or gay shopteacher's pet like MacT did with Moreau either.

Black Dog said...

gay shopteacher's pet, hunter? you kill me

I hope that your faith in Quinn is entirely justified

Thanks Psyche - I believe that we will see a few guys turn it around at least

baroque - great tale, as always

mattwatt said...

Well Pat, you did ruin a bit of the romantic picture I had of you when you told me you were not a fan of fashion. As a farm kid from small town Alberta, you think that I would detest anything with a label, but alas I do not. Fashion is one of my many vices, and was hoping that "the blog hero I have never met" would share this. I guess that is the problem with heroes, they let you down one way or another.

My slighted cock-smoking aside, I could not agree more with your sentiment. I liked MacT as a coach, but last year his act had ran thin. I am a big believer that a coach may necessarily not be the biggest factor as to why a team is successful, coaches can become a huge factor for why the lose. MacT, from rumblings I have heard inside the dressing room, was doing all that he could do to keep this team from winning. Maybe his fault, maybe not.

Also, are you up for guest posters on your site. I think I have a decent blog on the Philosopher Kings (one of the lesser bands I listen to) and how they relate to the Oilers.

IceDragoon said...

Good day, Pat.

FYI - MacTavish is still in the loop, albeit in a limited role. His opinion on players, Oilers and others, is highly valued by Tambellini. The new coaches have tapped into MacT's knowledge and experience as well, as Tom Renney states in his July 8th interview on 630ched.


Renney is very smart and he reveals some of his passion at the end of the interview. I think I may like him.


Black Dog said...

mattwatt - I would ban you except you always say nice things about me so I will overlook your gayness ;)

email me your shit to pat_mclean@opticalonline.com and I'll take a look - I'm going away (again) so it would be nice to have something in there to keep folks entertained

Black Dog said...

thanks for that Louise - Renney strikes me as a very smart fellow and Quinn is as well - here's hoping that they can turn this rig around ;)

Anonymous said...

When are you going to tell us what your connection to MacT is ID? I've been waiting for five or six years now...

Black Dog said...

For that matter what is your feeling on the whole coaching move, Louise? I think MacT is a good coach whose time had come to leave. I know you're a fan. Thoughts?

Inquiring minds want to know.


Anonymous said...

You're going to feel like a jerk when she tells us that she's his wife Pat. ;)

spOILer said...

Thx for the link and the update, ID.

Now, I think Craig's wife's name is Debbie... but you never know on the interweb.

Tiger Goldstick's daughter, maybe?

MikeP said...

"For as long as I remember, the Oilers have been an incredibly poor team in terms of keeping a lead and retaining certain pace."

That's because for as long as you remember, 2006 excepted, the Oilers have not been a very good team.

Love the Oilers, but if Quinn and Renney can get much more done with this roster than MacT did, either Gagner and Cogliano had breakout years or they deserve the Jack Adams for the next five years.

IceDragoon said...

Sorry, Tyler. I won't be cooking my golden geese. After they retire maybe I'll enlist Lain to help me write a book. [Tho, he may be somewhat uncomfortable with the naughty bits. Pat, perhaps? ;-)]

I'm kidding, of course. There are no relevant 'naughty bits'... and... I won't be writing a book, because 1: I only get occasional snippets, with most coming in the off season - iow - not enough pertinent information to build a good book around; and 2: I would be betraying trust I've had for longer than the Oilers have existed. You know I'm old, right?

Oh, there are times I'd like to *****-slap the idiots jumping to their myopic conclusions, but I'm careful to only comment on information that's already available. e.g. - I'd like to be able to elaborate on my comments above, but Renney's corroboration is limited, so I'll wait till more comes out or I get a "go ahead".

In case you didn't know... those in high (copper & blue) places DO read these blogs... the good ones, anyway.


On the coaching change, Pat...

Eight years is a long time to struggle coaching a team with gaping holes. Even that beauty team of '05-'06 had goaltending from hell till Roloson came in and found his game.

MacT knew he had to spin straw into gold [build an NHL team out of kids & misfits] this past year. And, with all the bat**** crazy, he still continued teaching to the end. Hemsky whining was a dagger thru his heart.

Quinn and Renney...?
Simply put, Tambellini brought in the big guns. A good first step, imho.

IceDragoon said...

My goodness!

I made myself out to look like some kind of big shot, who only speaks from a position of inside info. Sorry. I'm just a lousy writer... often forgetting important bits.

I am a fan who can speculate with the best of them. And, I happen to have some long-time friends with similar interests, besides hockey, and we enjoy each others' feedback on various topics. For the most part what I learn is pretty mundane.

You guys are much more exciting.


Black Dog said...

Exciting? You think?

Actually I have to say I haven't been disappointed once when I've met our fellow Oiler fans who hang about these parts - a lot of fun and funny folks - and that includes Fenwick!

Thanks for the reply Louise - I actally didn't realize you were 'made' ;) - I must say I always enjoy your perspective and I appreciate your sharing your thoughts.

And Kevin, if you're reading this - tell Steve to pick up a third line centre, would you please?


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