Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rocket Men

The boy has eased himself nicely into the new routine, thank you very much. Unlike his sister who proves that she is indeed five going on sixteen by answering inquiries about her day with grunts, sneers, smirks and eyerolls, the boy is quite happy to share the details of his morning with us at great length.

Of course talking to a three year old is an adventure. Lets just say that his grip on reality is tenuous at times. When he had his first soccer game this summer we were standing in a circle with other kids and their parents listening to the coach when all of a sudden he began to make a loud revving noise.

Hey buddy, what are you doing there?

Starting my engine for soccer. I hope I don’t run out of gas!

And there is the attitude, he’s a stubborn mule and he doesn’t like being told what to do. When his little sister is down for a nap and he has to go use the little Canucks' room, he’ll be on his way up the stairs and we’ll usually tell him to keep it down. We did this a few times until he started getting severely pissed off at us.


All of this is a whisper full of rage.


Since the baby came along he and his older sister have been sharing a room while the baby has his old digs. He is getting eager to return to his own room now. He and his sister are like an old married couple. They love each other dearly and they make each other mental. With summer over and her now being in a full day of school they don’t spend as much time together as they did before and they are finding it tough at times, missing each other, but they are also a little beat so when they are together there is a lot of fighting going on. They’re a couple of grumps really and will be until they get used to their new schedules.

So we’ve been putting them to bed earlier than usual. In the summer we’d send them upstairs but they’d talk and play for an hour or so, sometimes longer, which was fine, but now its pretty important that they catch up on their sleep. And while his sister’s mantra is “I never sleep” (when I ask her not to get up so early she says that she wants to make her day as long as possible because she has so much fun – how the hell do I argue with that? she’s a mini me right down to the hairy back, poor girl) the boy is pretty aware that sometimes he just needs to sleep. He tackled the baby earlier this week and bloodied her and when he saw what he had done the lip began to quiver and his eyes welled up and he said that he had to get some sleep.

There’s been a few times since school has started that he has asked if he can sleep in our room to start the night off and we have agreed because when one does not have the other then they both tend to crash pretty quickly at which point we come upstairs and move him down the hall.

The other night was one of those nights and so I had him upstairs and was wrestling with the baby and he began to talk about what he wanted to do. When he is asked what he wants to do he invariably says that he wants to be an ice cream man. Well now things have changed. He wants to be an astronaut. But like right now!

He wants me to buy parts so we can build a rocket ship.

Then we’ll get in the rocket. And we’ll put our seatbelts on and then we’ll zoom into space, way way up above the sky and then we’ll take our seatbelts off and that will be ok up there. So we’ll take our seatbelts off and then we’ll float around.

Good plan brother.


Camp has begun and its always interesting to see how different folks react to what’s going on. This isn’t like it was two years ago when there were openings everywhere and Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano and Kyle Brodziak made the roster out of camp and Tom Gilbert passed Grebeshkov and Smid to earn a spot on the roster for opening day.

Of course Gilbert would rise up the depth chart almost immediately due to injury and end up having a nice rookie year, having pretty good success at both ends of the rink while playing pretty tough opposition. Its guys like Gilbert and Horcoff and Pisani (and the list goes on and on) that make me take proclamations about how young players have reached their ceiling at a certain age with a grain of salt. Already folks are saying that guys like Cogliano and O’Sullivan and Smid may never amount to much, based on different factors, mostly their progression, the arguments are legitimate certainly, but I have always had a hard time with this idea that professional players are fully formed after a couple of years in the league, like Athena springing from the head of Zeus.

It doesn’t work that way, regardless of what the numbers say.

And of course it doesn’t work the other way either, where a guy can say, like some commenter at Lowetide’s the other day, that Tom Gilbert is a piece of shit defenceman and a pussy, because that’s what he sees and damn any of the fancy numbers.

You know, like goals and assists and plus minus. Or the icetime your man put in, all the while playing in the NHL with a bad back.

Hockey more than any other sport lends itself to interpretation. Put one hundred folks in a room to watch a game and you will get one hundred different interpretations. For some folks Shawn Horcoff can do no wrong, for others he can do no right and then there’s the majority in the middle. So it goes. Gilbert could win the Norris and score five goals in game seven of the Cup final and you'd have some guy bitching about how he turned away from a forechecker in the first.

I always enjoy training camp. I like it because it means hockey season is about to start. I like it because there are times where there is legitimate drama, like two season ago when Smid and Stortini and Thoresen all got sent out and Pouliot and Jacques and the aforementioned all made it.

Of course it wasn’t long before Smid and Stortini were back to stay. It will be the same this year when guys start getting hurt, those last cuts will filter back up to Alberta, some to stay for good, others to get their Tim Sestito cup of coffee. Not to take away from the achievement of breaking camp with the big club or the disappointment of getting sent down but the reality is it can chnage within days either way.

This year there’s not much drama really. With Brule’s waiver eligibility exhausted its become pretty clear that unless the club moves someone out, which they still may, or someone gets hurt then I think we can agree that the roster is going to look something like this:

Horcoff, Penner, Hemsky, Gagner, O’Sullivan, Nilsson, Cogliano, Comrie, Moreau, Pisani, Stortini, Brule, Jacques, Pouliot

Souray, Visnovsky, Grebeshkov, Gilbert, Smid, Staios, Strudwick

Khabibulin, JDD

No real surprises here. They are small up front and there are a lot of leadoff hitters, as LT likes to say, but consider that they’re unlikely to give up on a guy like Nilsson unless they think Schremp can step in and do him one better. Considering that guys are going to get hurt, moving Nilsson out doesn’t strike me as a wise move. If he is the odd kid out having him on the fourth line certainly doesn’t hurt unless you can get a big body in return for him.

But I think we’re going to see if Schremp can make it through waivers. I don’t think he will.

Other than that there’s not really anyone else who strikes me as ready to step in. Ryan Stone might, if he can have a terrific camp, but even then, who is he going to knock out of the lineup? Jacques would be the logical candidate but he has had a nice start to camp so far and my guess is that someone would take a flyer on him if they try and waive him.

This camp is all about the veterans staying healthy. Its nice that O’Sullivan scored two the other night I guess, good to get some confidence going early, but playing a bunch of scrubs means not a lot and you can bet the vets know it. I’m not concerned about Ales Hemsky looking disinterested, he’s got bigger things to worry about, like trying not to getting killed by the sheepherder this winter.

Know what I'm saying?

The one positive coming out of this little exercise, having said that, is the next wave of kids coming up. I haven’t seen a damn thing out here in Ontario-o-o-o but there have been good reports. Cornet was sent down but he showed well. Motin has looked terrific and Eberle has not looked out of place at all. I’ve heard good things about Kytnar and Dubnyk and Plante as well. Good stuff, especially considering there are still the Europeans and the college kids and Roy, not to mention Peckham.

A solid pipeline of talent and a lot of them look to be steals from the later rounds. It bodes well.

And it also sounds like Pouliot had a solid game last night. Its his last chance really but he could finally be a useful player, a big centre who can win draws and kill penalties. Last chance for him too.

I will just be a lot more excited if all of these same arrows are pointing in the right direction in November and February.


hunter1909 said...

I love the way fans assume the team is going to be made up of the same bloody players as MacT would have used, probably playing the same fucked up system(actually trying to but failing dismally, since it wasn't a system at all, just a mirror for MacT's massive personality/ego issues).

Lowetide even does it.

What y'all don't realise, is that Quinn actually knows how to coach an NHL team. I would state unequivocally that MacT didn't have a fucking clue. And as a result of MacT's outstandingly bad coaching, Quinn's inherited a team of confused and miserable players, many of whom don't even know what it's like to play real NHL hockey, only the wack MacT's college basketball version.

You could see it during the powerplay in the Islander game, watching all of the pathetic attempts to get the puck to Souray nearly every fucking time. That's not even hockey, by my reckoning.

MacT was the equivalent of England's football team having Steve McLaren coaching them for 8 seasons. or Graham"turnip" Taylor. It takes time to shed the ridiculous habits instilled by a bad coach. or a bad leader.

Personally I suspect there are members of the Oilers who will break out in a big way for Pat Quinn. Dustin Penner's goal last night looked like Frank Mahovalich, the way he skated in front of the goal and just swindled the goalie.

Yeah, that's it.

Bruce said...

Cornet was sent down but he showed well. Motin has looked terrific and Eberle has not looked out of place at all. I’ve heard good things about Kytnar and Dubnyk and Plante as well.

Agreed on all counts. All but Dubnyk played in Leduc and all made a favourable impression on these tired old eyes. Cornet-Kytnar-Eberle played as a line and showed plenty. Good on Cornet to get a preseason game in, that's a nice milestone for a low-rounder who's still junior-eligible.

Pension Plan Puppets said...

MacT was the equivalent of England's football team having Steve McLaren coaching them for 8 seasons. or Graham"turnip" Taylor. It takes time to shed the ridiculous habits instilled by a bad coach. or a bad leader.

If that's true then things are going to get a lot worse before they get better...

Black Dog said...

Hey Hunter, Comrie is still with the team, hey? ;)

You're right on the whole bad habits thing and all that.

As for the roster I preseume you're talking about Schremp. Hey I hope he wins the Calder but the fact is that he has to pass a couple of guys to get a spot. This team is full of guys who should benefit from Quinn and a more offensive scheme - Gagner, Cogliano, Nilsson, O'Sullivan and now Comrie, not to mention Brule.

Those are the guys he has to beat out because he isn't going to knock off Moreau, Pisani, Stortini, Pouliot or Jacques. You need someone to do some dirty work.

Black Dog said...

Bruce - yes as I said I'm getting it all second hand but reports have been good and they are from folks I trust, that is those who can be objective.

Still a long way to go yet but I certainly trust the Oilers' drafting far more than I once did.

B.C.B. said...

Motin: vroom, vroom,
Renney: Quiet, I am drawing up a play here.
Quinn: What the hell are you doing, kid?
Motin: Starting my engine for hockey.
Renney: What?
Quinn: That a'boy kid, get out there and play.
Staios: I thought it was my turn, Quinn.
Quinn: Quiet down Steve, your out of gas.

I am hoping this is what is going on in the Oilers locker room this TC. Motin, will be the last cut if he keeps playing like he did two nights ago, IMO.

Krazy Rick said...

Hey BD,
Kids are soooo cool when they are just starting school and haven't been jaded yet. My youngest is in grade 12 and doesn't care a "lick"
about going or learning anything. Thinks he knows what he needs to get on in life. Is he in for a real surprise!!! Oh well...give them the tools and hope they listen. The oldest is taking a year off school to persue his music career. If he can't catch on with someone, he's going back to take journalism. What a difference in the two!!
If anyone knows of a band looking for an above average bass player with some real good experience.....
Like you BD, I have a real problem getting info about my Oilers. That's why I come here every day( because I trust you and you amuse me). Keep the updates coming and if you have any sites I can go to, I'd appreciate hearing about them.

mrzael said...

To my eyes Mr. Gilbert Gilbert is nicely on track in his M.O. from the Lidstrom tree and he doesn't need to change course in order to cover his contract. I don't expect him to ever be a banger but last year with his back out of whack he definately shied away from hits. I think that will change this year, it was good to see him in the Calgary game initiate a couple of hits.

Black Dog said...

Thanks KR - check out any of the Oiler links on the right or any of the hockey ones for that matter, some update more than others, lots of good stuff in there

B.C.B. - hearing a lot of great things about the Swede, with some guys like Gilbert and Peckham for example, they just seem to get it - they have a sense for the game and I think Motin sounds like he is the same

Might be a great pick, time will tell certainly.

mrzael - agreed, I think some folks just don't like a guy who doesn't take the body and Gilbert never will be a really physical guy, he's more of a positioning/angles type of defender

he still is young, relatively speaking, two years in the league and he's become quite the player

just hope the back doesn't become a chronic issue

Bruce said...

Player A
Defence, 6'3, 206

Year One: 12 GP, 1-5-6, -1, 0 PiM
Year Two: 82 GP, 13-20-33, -6, 20 PiM
Year Three: 82 GP, 5-40-45, +6, 26 PiM

Totals: 176, 19-65-84, -1, 46 PiM
Per game: .11-.37-.48, -.01, .26 PiM

Year Four: ???

Player B
Defence, 6'3, 210

Year One: 73 GP, 5-16-21, +10, 42 PiM
Year Two: 76 GP, 9-26-35, +8, 65 PiM
Year Three: 81 GP, 12-20-32, -4, 60 PiM

Totals: 230, 26-62-88, +14, 167 PiM
Per-game: .11-.27-.38, +.06, .73 PiM

Year Four: Booed out of town

You'll recognize the recent stats of Tom Gilbert as Player A. Player B is another American college boy named Tom, namely Poti.

Very similar players in certain respects. Both are rangy puck-moving blueliners, Gilbert is a little better playmaker, Poti (!) is the more physical of the two.

Now factor in that Poti played all 285 of his games as an Oiler at a younger age than Gilbert was when he played his first NHL game.

I like Gilbert, I think he's a keeper. I liked Poti too, but by Year Four there was no satisfying a lot of the louder fans in these parts.

Deano said...

To these eyes (watching the grainy internet feeds) Motin is a stud, but his time is next year, after learning to dominate the AHL. (No hurry, he's 19)

Eberle is all shiny, but a distraction provided by management and pimped by their lickspittles in the fishwraps to cover up how little was accomplished since June (April actually). If he makes it, we are in full-on rebuild. Does anyone think that he is a better 18 y.o. than Gagner was? No good gomes for him or the team if he makes it.

Regarding roster selection - I have always used the model that the GM stocks the team and the coach makes it go. Contract status is likely quite a factor when choosing the last cuts.

At his money, Nilsson can clear waivers many times this season. Countering this, the Oilers, under Lowe have always used salary to make depth decisions (Peca in an offensive role - rocket surgeons). Lowe is a plodder in the most dogmatic, conservative way (I mean that in the worst possible sense).

I think there will be very few roster surprises - maybe none, because the contracts deem it so.

Black Dog said...

Deano - first of all I agree with your last point

I also agree on Motin, Eberle, Roy, Cornet, the Swedes, the Finn, heck even Peckham

let them get seasoning in the AHL, in junior, in the Euro leagues, at least for another year in all cases

Peckham is the only guy close to being an NHL player of the bunch and best to play him a ton in Springfield rather than sit in the PB in Edmonton

Bruce - I really hope that that doesn't happen to Gilbert, it would really be a shame, kid is a good player and on a decent contract to boot

rananda said...

The first part of this post is perhaps the best argument against birth control I have read. You wouldn't think the musings of a stranger on a hockey blog would make me consider replacing my girlfriend's demulen with tic-tacs, but here we are.

Darren said...

Wait, Gilbert hasn't won the Norris? I could've sworn... Must have been that dream. People bitch that he is soft and won't hit, I love his positional play and stick-checking. But then this is along the same arguement my brother and I have, 'If you started your own team, who would rather have, the big bad Pronger, or the slick Lidstrom?' I say Lidstrom everyday, and Gilber is a poor mand's Lidstrom in my eyes.
Kids sleeping habits are funny. My son let's us know he is tired but randomly stating "Daddy, I'm not tired!" Thank you son, let's get the pj's on...

Black Dog said...

Darren - agreed, I like Pronger a whole lot but Lidstrom is one of the alltime greats I think

You need your guy or two can punish the opposition too - Jason Smith being an example, Souray another - but disliking a guy who is quite good but brings a different approach to the game, well, you need those guys too.

I hope he has a terrific year.

Rananda - be careful now, I don't want to get sued as the brains behind your little scheme ;)

hunter1909 said...

Pension Plan - Not neccessarily. Ranieri's got the England team playing winning footie ever since he took over. That's what real coaching can achieve.

Quinn can get these MacT whipped dogs into 6th place in the West. Why? Because he's a great coach.

black dog - yeah I'm forced to use all of my doublethink powers on that one :p

Ribs said...

Do you have a Quinn shrine in your closet, hunter? It might be too much.

Nice DanMan bitchslap, BDHS. Poor guy.

Brad said...

sounds like Pouliot had a solid game last night. Its his last chance really but he could finally be a useful player, a big centre who can win draws and kill penalties.
BD - if your 3 year old is anything like my 2 yo, that sentence can be corrected with a really useful engine .

hunter1909 said...


I'd probably write something clever, if my tears weren't getting all over the keyboard, in smarmy reference for your favourite gay shop teacher.

Black Dog said...

Ribs - who's DanMan?

Hunter - it was against scrubs but your man Comrie looked pretty good last night.

What the hell are you going to do? ;)

Darren said...

Hunter... Cappello is the England manager.

Deano said...

I had an additional thought on the Comrie signing. It would be impossible to trade Nilsson for anything with Comrie still unsigned.

For this to work out, Nilsson makes the team to avoid waivers.

This means that the cuts would be Reddox, Potulny, Stone, Minard, Schremp, O'Mara, Trukhno, Paukovich, McDonald, Eberle, Kytnar, Rajala(?), MacIntyre.

Do you guys think Reddox, Schremp, Potulny and Stone would clear waivers?

If they can move Nilsson (for a pick), I really think that the next move could be signing Kip Brennan out of Springfield and calling him up. Nobody would get near him last night and he certainly skates better than Big Mac.

Ribs said...

hunter - I haven't a clue what that means but it sounds funny enough.

BDHS - Wasn't he the guy calling Gilbert a pansy all of the time? Sorry, could be wrong.

Black Dog said...

Ribs - could be? don't know, I saw the comment a couple of weeks ago maybe

Deano - I think Rajala isn't in camp - he would have been but for his knee injury, I think he's going straight to his junior club

Comrie has looked good. He wasn't going anywhere anyways so unless they have a big deal in mind they have to move someone to fit in a goon or surprise player or I think that roster I posted is it.

Nilsson is the odd man out, imo, among the shrimps is they decide to keep a goon or a bigger body like Stone or even O'Marra if they figure he can PK.

Thing is it still is early and while Stone has showed well it will be in the last few games of camp when its true NHL players that he might get exposed.

As for waivers I have no idea. I could see someone like Atlanta or the Isles or even Colorado taking a flyer on Schremp.

Potulny cleared waivers last year, I think he would again. Reddox would too, I think.

Does Stone have to clear them? Not sure about that.

Deano said...

With Nilsson signed for this year and next year @ $2MM - do you even care if you get a pick back? Maybe you waive him as a salary dump. He's not doing his part and lighting up camp with his new physique.

I think the team is ready to give up on the Schremp experiment, but not the Brule one.

Atlanta or Colorado would be better served by taking a flier on Reddox, but one thing about MacT's ways is that nobody looks flashy so its hard to get worked up about the successes. (Toby Peterson was loaned to Dallas's AHL team so that's how they knew about him.)

Black Dog said...

Deano, yeah Nilsson hasn't done much yet. He was the odd man out before and Comrie and POS have both looked terrific so I think his days may be numbered. And it may just be a case of sending him to the minors.

Agreed on Schremp but yeah they'll take a long look at Brule. He doesn't excite me though.

I think Reddox probably sneaks through.

Deano said...

I think too many scouts have seen Brule very, very good for him to make it through waivers. Losing him would mean the Torres trade was for naught and Lowe does not ever make moves that make himself look fallible - skin's too thin. Not sure if he or Tambo would be making the call though.

Jacques gets the Penner role:
Jacques - Horc - Hemmer

They experimented with this last year:
Cogs - Gagner - Penner

Keeping last night's duo together:
O'Sully - Comrie - Pies

Leaving this:
Moreau - Pou - Zorg

Brule, Nilsson

btw, Pies has done nothing in the few games so far to show he has much left.

Black Dog said...

Deano - those are the 14 I see though I'm thinking Brule and JFJ as the spares.

Agreed, Brule doesn't make it through waivers, regardless I think he has it made for the very reason that you alluded to - politics.

Which means Pouliot may be in trouble. And I think Nilsson is too.

Yeah Scott Reynolds said that about Pisani in his first game. Hopefully he's fighting the flu or something, I have a soft spot for Fernando.

Deano said...

Everyone has a soft spot for Pisani, but he may not be the man he was anymore.

Gonna be interesting to see if we really will roll 4 lines in a 1231234 rotation that Quinn supposedly likes.

I don't think Jacques would survive with Horcoff head-to-head against Iginla and Hejduk for very long, but they did use that line last night. Moreau would take too many penalties. Swapping Nilsson into that spot may work better.

Geez - we're small.

Black Dog said...

Yes we are, yes we are.

The one thing working in Nilsson's favour is that he is a RW. That's about it though.

Comrie and POS have a little chemistry going, so do Penner and Cogliano and then of course you have Hemsky and Horcoff.

If those are the basis for three lines then where does Gagner slot in? Can't work that way.

Deano said...

Cogs is a terrible center. Who cares who he has chemistry with?

I would work on Cogs as a poor man's Glenn Anderson.

btw - When I suggested that Kip Brennan may end up on the roster, that is not what I think they should do, but what I think they will do.

Another point, just like MacT did not get Reasoner, I am not sure Quinn gets what he wants.

Black Dog said...

Deano - may be the case with Cogliano but if he and Penner continue to do good work I can't see them breaking them up. I see him on the wing myself but I don't think the org. does, he hasn't played there yet

Brennan is another wildcard but how useful is he?

I think Quinn does get what he wants because he's Pat Quinn. If this team ends up in the toilet fans aren't going to point fingers at him. Its going to be Tambellini and Quinn can play the political game quite well. Who do you think Katz is going to listen to if they fail again? Pat Quinn or Steve Tambellini.

I would bet the former.

Deano said...

Agreed that the org sees Cogs as a center (someone has to play wing - right?).

I am not a fan of a dedicated pugilist, but Brennan is a heavyweight with an intimidating Goldthorpe-esque, off-his-nut streak. How much does Quinn value this? (I am asking) Brennan won't be as useful as Domi was, but Tambo picked up Boulerice off waivers - he seems to like psycho. (That clearly was not a Lowe move.)

If this team ends up in the toilet I'd bet its the players that get it this time. There are plenty of suspects with deficient boxcars from last season. Any duplicate offenders will be thrown overboard.

Black Dog said...

His Leaf clubs played tough and intimidating but they could all play for the most part. Belak caught on near the end but he spent an awful lot of time in the pressbox, iirc.

Problem with the players getting it is there are an awful lot of guys who can't be moved, I don't know, if you have a shit team four years in a row at some point they're going to look at the guy putting the team together, especially considering the money they are spending.

Damn right someone has to play the wing. I thought so anyhow. Maybe I'm wrong.