Thursday, August 20, 2009

An Oh Shit Moment

A few weeks ago, on the eve of our trip up north, I managed to get out for an evening with two old friends. We've known each other for over twenty years now, since early on in our university days. Lots of good times. Lots of beer and cigarettes. Some recreational drug use. Road trips. Chasing women (well two of us anyways). You know, the usual shit that young guys get into.

We all live in the city now. Two of us have kids. We all have pretty good jobs. We've done well. We've been lucky. Two of us play hockey together and so we see each other weekly. The three of us try and get together every few months. Our nights out are always trips out to a pub and over many pints we shoot the shit until we wobble boozily off into the night. Pretty sedate really but always they are fine times, really fine.

So on this evening we met up in the Annex at our buddy's new place. We sat on the porch and had a couple of beers while his kids wandered in and out of the front door. His wife, whom we have also known forever, sat with us. It was good conversation. It always is. We talked about our travels this summer, future plans, the kids, gossip about mutual friends.

And through the conversation a dark thread dodged here and there. My father in law's issues (he's doing very well these days btw), operations and travails of aging for our own parents, a good friend of mine's divorce, friends of another separated, a work colleague battling cancer, an old friend doing the same, the passing of a friend's mother. A lot of bad news in the past year. A lot of tough times. And finally I turned and remarked to Sharon that maybe, just maybe, this was the new normal for us, that at our age this was something we might need to get used to. And we laughed a little at that, fully knowing that maybe there was some truth to what I had said, though we were hoping that it was just a run of bad news.

We wandered down the tree lined streets to Bloor and ducked into the Victory Cafe where we sat at the bar and drank some IPAAAAA and a stout or two. Stories about crazy travels and school days and jerking off and hockey and then we hopped in a cab and headed over to Ossington to check out a new joint that two old friends just recently opened up. We hadn't seen them in years and as we piled out of the taxi into the rain soaked street, warm night, laughing people we immediately saw him outside of his bar, hugs and claps on the back and smiles for long lost friends and then into the dark beauty of the bar, art and music and lovely young women and generous drinks on the house and so pints of Guinness and then outside for cigarettes (reformed smokers all of us but one and he the one, the social smoker, who brought sweet sweet tobacco) and then back in and here she is and now shots of whiskey and more pints and then Irish Car Bombs and outside into the warm damp and back in again and more hugs and the roaring of laughter and then with midnight long past and work staring the two of them in the face and a long drive for me this new day we finally staggered out into the night and went our separate ways. And this wonderful night, glorious, we knew it would be one to remember as we smoked our cigarettes on the sidewalk, warm with the booze and holding onto each other tight, because this is what its all about, with all that we are facing, the tough times here and now and those to come, and who knows when they will come for you, when those cells deep inside of you turn on you or that guy in incoming traffic has had himself a dozen beers already today and so you had better hold on tight and go man go while you can. Yes you had better.


So damn serious, huh? No not really. Its the plain truth of course, you never know when your time is up so you had better make something of your days. Nothing too fancy deep about that. And of course this is a hockey blog after all, in the end and its about a diversion and fun and those damn Oilers.

We've been waiting for four summers now for the shit and while there have been some good days there have been a lot of bad days and most of all there have been days where we've just wondered if anything was ever going to happen to address the holes in the roster. This summer has seen an expensive old goalie come to town and Kotalik and Brodziak leave and other than the pursuit of Heatley pretty well a whole lot of nothing.

With Kotalik and Brodziak leaving the forward corps is smaller and amazingly even less experienced than before. I look at this group and it just doesn't work.


Is that it? I like the back end. I really do. Its not a bad blueline at all. I don't know if we are going to see the good or the bad Khabibulin and even if we see the good one I have no faith in his backup.

But that forward group leaves me cold. Your fourth line, if that's what it is, is a far cry from that group two seasons ago. O'Sullivan has come out and said that he is not interested in playing centre but whether or not it is him or Pouliot or Cogliano centring Moreau and Pisani that is not a line that's going ot be able to handle much in the way of tough opposition, imo. Horcoff, Hemsky and their LW will be just fine but does anyone believe the kids, whatever kids they are, will feast on the soft stuff?


But its becoming pretty clear that our expectations that something is going to happen are not going to be met.

Lowe has painted this club into a nice corner with his past moves as there is very little room to add any salary. Tambellini hasn't helped his own cause by adding O'Sullivan and Khabibulin. I like O'Sullivan but he is redundant on this roster unless they move someone else out. As for Khabibulin, well they could have had someone and a better backup for less, I believe.

Now all is not lost. I think that they have to move one of O'Sullivan or Nilsson. There isn't the room on the roster for both and I am thinking they can dump one of them to a club that is looking for offence.

And then they'll have a little more room to play with and they can bring in a true tough minutes centre and hopefully a winger too. At this point the guys who are left on the market are starting to sign and they're not getting a lot. Read the article on Comrie today and I think a lot of these guys are thinking about Jeff Friesen and Tony Amonte and Anson Carter and a whole lot of guys who have been in the NHL one year and in Germany or retired the next, just quietly fading away. So yeah they can get Dominic Moore or Malholtra or Betts or whomever they would like and once you get rid of the guy that they are replacing then there won't be a huge jump against the cap.

But having said all that while Matheson and Barnes et al say that a defenceman will be moved or help will be on its way when I read quotes from Tambellini and Quinn about staying the course and essentially going with the same roster this season as last all I can think is oh shit here we go again.

Time for a pint and a smoke. Or a dozen of each please.


Anonymous said...

I can't tell if Tambellini is bluffing when he says he likes this team and is going to stand pat(no pun intended), but now with Quinn being trotted out in the press saying he didn't really expect there to be much change anyway, I get a bad feeling this is it.

The thing that bothers me about the stories from the Journal and Sun recently is; why no one is questioning Oilers management as to why they really aren't pursuing any ufa's?

Tambellini's response has been much talked about everywhere and by everyone.

We've got too many contracts, too many forwards, we're too close to the cap.

Ok, fair enough, but what was the plan going to be if Chris Neil had accepted the (boneheaded) offer from the Oilers?

So don't feed me those bs responses Oilers. I wish someone would call them out on it. Damn it's frustrating.

Sorry 'bout the rant.

hunter1909 said...

I'm slowly but surely coming to the conclusion that the Oilers organisation isn't competant to run an ice cream concession in Glasgow, let alone a North American sports franchise.

Downright Fierce said...

"Hey kids! We've got six different kinds of vanilla, two kinds of strawberry, a peanut butter chocolate that everyone hates, and Rocky Road (but we're almost out of that). The cones are the best you'll ever get your mitts around, but the sprinkles are kind of old, a buck extra, and they may or may not improve the taste."

I scream, you scream, we all scream for...

LittleFury said...

I wonder how the wisdom in the first half of this post about enjoying life to the fullest jives with continuing to follow a team that piles misery upon misery on it's faithful fans. This looks like a good year to take some time away from the oil drop. How about them Spurs? I know it's early, but they are looking good (not literally, mind you: those kits are just awful).

Black Dog said...

Go you Spurs! Yes a nice start for once. Good old 'Arry.

Ah LF but there's the rub, I don't really take it all that seriously. Funny thing to say for a guy who writes about them and follows them closely I guess.

Anon - well its all a lot of spin and BS, no?

The way I read it they are about 1 million under the cap now. If they had picked up Heatley and sent Penner, Cogliano and Smid the other way well then they would have been ~ 2 over or so plus they would have had to replace two players, even if they did so with minimum salaried guys then they would be 3 over.

Which means moving a big money item like Souray or two guys like Staios/Nilsson/Moreau and then they have to replace those guys.

Anyways the whole 'we're against the cap so we can't do anything' is obvious bullshit when you take the Heatley deal into consideration. They just keep flundering about. Terrible.

Bruce said...

Anyways the whole 'we're against the cap so we can't do anything' is obvious bullshit when you take the Heatley deal into consideration.

Yeah, I've been trying to reconcile that all summer and the only answer I can come up with is actually a question: WTF?

hunter1909 said...

LOL you would think a team as sucky as the Oilers would at least be 10 to 20 million under the cap.

doritogrande said...

I tried to order a car bomb at my local last year and had the piss taken out of me by the old man behind the bar. Legit frustration on his part. Apparently it's a derogatory term in Ireland or something. He yells to us "It'll be a 'luck of the irish' or nothin at all!"

Any truth to this, o ye of the iron-clad liver?

hunter1909 said...

At least with Quinn we know the players should be allowed to enjoy themselves, I mean MacT turned what's supposed to be a fun game to play into a Stalingrad tank works style experience.

mattwatt said...

Funny how the paths of life we are on Mr. McLean. I have just turned 25, have had the two greatest summers of my life (lots of booze, women, smokes and great times) and look forward to nothing more then visiting with my friends. We are at the stage where life just really starts to take off (for me, working towards my CA designation) and our conversations focus around aspirations, dreams, and just how lucky we are to have each other and lead the lives we do.

Someday I will be where you are at, and when that day comes look back knowing that I have been blessed beyond belief.

As for the OILERS' forwards, my sentiments exactly. Balance is not the word that comes to mind when one sees this forward corp. I cannot understand the purpose of staying the course with what we have. Not saying we need a big signing or anything, but how about hiding a few contracts on the Falcons and picking up a Tanguay and Betts, you know, guys that have a tinge of pedigree on the game.

Then again that would take thinking outside the normal, something sports team really suck at. Has to do with winning the press conference then with actually winning the hockey game.

Black Dog said...

good stuff mattwatt

dg - I'd never even heard of it until that night so can't really say - next time I'm talking to my man in Dublin if I remember I will ask him

That is hilarious btw - it will be 'the luck of the Irish' or nothing at all.