Saturday, September 19, 2009


I remember one Christmas Eve, my God it was a long time ago now, probably twenty years or so. Our family tradition (I mean the Sudbury McLeans) is pretty simple.

First of all we're heathens. None of this going to Church once or twice a year for us. We're all out.

So what we used to do and still do when we get up there is have a big plate of shrimp and a simple fondue. The fondue pot is probably as old as I am and I think the oil my folks use is too. My Mom cuts up some steak and we eat shrimp and fondue (fondo?) the meat and have a few drinks and listen to Christmas music. My best friend, who I have known since we were five, would go to Mass with his family and then wander over from their place a couple of streets over and have a couple of beers.

On this one night we were back from school, we may even have graduated by this point, I can't remember and we were out at a buddy's. Can't remember why but Pete wasn't going to Mass that evening. It was a beautiful night. Warmer than normal, mostly because there was a nice heavy snow coming down. Everything white, you know how that looks and feels. Silence. The streetlights muted. No a soul out except for us because it was Christmas Eve. Probably around 8 or 9.

And we're heading back to my folks' place, nice and easy in our old Chevy pickup, what a great truck that was, the only North American vehicle I've ever had a good thing to say about and up ahead the light turned red and I wasn't going too fast at all but when I pressed the brake to slow down we just went for a nice easy gliding spin, round and round in nice easy loops, softly in the silent falling snow, we just looked at each other and waited it out until we came to a stop.

And then we went to my parents' place.

I think too that this was the night that we took a break from the surf and turf and went out back and smoked a joint. I remember giggling in the bathroom like fools and then trudging downstairs and cracking open another beer, glancing over to see my buddy staring at the myriad of flashing lights and Christmas geegaws that overrun my folks' house every December, waiting for him to run screaming out into the snow.

It didn't happen but damn that was some Christmas Eve.


Well it was only a few days ago that I was shooting off my mouth about how very little was happening this year in camp other than vets getting into shape and some prospects getting a chance to strut their stuff. The latter is continuing with Chorney having a nice game last night.

The thing is there may be more going on than I thought. I still think that both the goaltending and blue are set. The one guy who might have pushed for that seventh spot, Peckham, is still recovering from an ankle injury. Probably best for him to play big minutes in the AHL and I'm sure we'll see quite a bit of him this year later on when the injury bug hits.

Up front here were my fourteen a few days ago. The same fourteen as I would have listed a week ago:

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

Now in the last post and in the GDT at LT's there have been a lot of other names thrown about. Fact is there are some guys making an impression. Now its early and I think tonight's game against a Canucks' club with a lot of regulars might start exposing some of the pretenders but the fact is that right now there are some fellows who are turning heads.

So lets look at a few of what I believe LT calls 'tells', things that are going on or that have happened that might reveal to us what's happening.

- Jacques, Stone, Schremp, Eberle and now Brule are guys getting a long look based on the linemates that they are getting, no pluggers for these guys, they are getting time with Horcoff and Hemsky and other top sixers.

- Potulny isn't even getting a look at all, the poor bastard

- McDonald and O'Marra and Paukovich, longshots all, aren't getting much of a sniff either

- Cogliano is getting another shot at centre, if they wanted him on the wing he'd be playing wing.

So of our fourteen originals, barring injury, I think the following are locks unless there's something big in the works: Horcoff, Hemsky, O'Sullivan, Comrie, Penner, Cogliano, Gagner, Pisani, Moreau, Stortini

Now how this is going to end up as a reasonable lineup I have not the foggiest. Deano and I were going back and forth in the previous thread and by my eye the following pairs have shown something: Cogliano and Penner and O' Sullivan and Comrie. Problem is if Comrie and Cogliano are centres then it doesn't work because you still have Gagner and Horcoff. And as I said they haven't played Cogliano on the wing yet.

So likely we're going to see Horcoff and Hemsky and either Comrie or O'Sullivan on the left, likely the latter, at least to start. And then the second of those two will play on Gagner's left. And Penner and Cogliano will be a third pair. Then you have Pisani on one of these lines and I guess Moreau on the other.

I guess. You're short a RW unless Penner or Moreau shift over.

If Nilsson survives then he's the RW, likely on the Gagner line and then Moreau drops to play with Stortini and either Brule or Pouliot.

But here is where it gets interesting.


For - best player of those on the bubble, an obvious whipping boy for MacT you have to figure he could thrive under a new coach, conditioning shows he might finally get it, a world of skill, a natural RW, political fallout if he gets moved after being the centrepiece of the Smyth deal

Against - Cogliano and Gagner have pedigree, O'Sullivan is better player, they didn't bring Comrie in to sit, relatively large salary on a club with cap issues means he might be moved, despite his promise he was scratched a tonne last year

Prognosis - not so good, he's the natural to get moved especially with Eberle and the Euros in the pipeline, the Comrie signing sealed his fate, I think he gets traded if they can find a partner, gets paid a lot to send to the minors but if they need size, grit, PKers (and they do) then he's the odd man out


For - Size, an apparent willingness to do what it takes to stick as a role player and hope to move up the ladder later, too attractive to get through waivers

Against - can't afford to slide in terms of effort, can't PK worth a damn that's for sure

Prognosis - on this club he's set, they are too small and he's huge, he's our eleventh man


For - a big RH centre, just what they need, is versatile enough to slot in a higher spot if needed, looks like he finally realizes this is it and its reflected in his efforts, another guy unlikely to get through waivers

Against - jack of all trades, master of none, not very physical on a team that can use it

Prognosis - he's the wildcard, I like him and I think they need him but he hasn't done a lot to merit high hopes, to me he's a guy who can fill a need, take draws, PK, chip in with some offence, like Nilsson however I think he may be in danger


For - aggressive player, some offensive skill, great pedigree, likely not to get through waivers, management wants him to succeed, especially since they gave up an NHL player to get him and he's done fuck all yet

Against - small, not impressive in any of the areas the club needs other then he is willing to hit, did very little last season

Prognosis - he has a spot unless he's absolutely terrible and even then he might, they're not going to trade Raffi Torres for a guy and then give him what, a dozen games? He has a spot but I don't think much of him. I hope that I am wrong.


For - according to Gregor he is in the mix for the fourth line centre spot, excellent chance at bottom of the roster if not that, tenacious smart player on a team that lacks them, can kill penalties and knows his way around his end of the rink

Against - his size, his pedigree, he's a guy who could probably sneak through waivers

Prognosis - I didn't think he had a shot but he's the ginger who keeps coming back. If he makes it does that mean Pat Quinn is a shitty coach too? I hope he makes it and if they figure they need what he brings then he will


For - size, toughness, some hands (who knew?), has had a nice camp

Against - running out of spots

Prognosis - this is one guy I know nothing about and I'm not the only one, does he have to clear waivers? if he does then it helps his cause, if not I could see him going down and being the first guy coming back when the injuries start


For - those crazy hands, he's actually in shape, if they waive him someone will take a flyer and he will be gone

Against - he has to leapfrog not one but two of Cogliano, Gagner, O'Sullivan, Comrie and Nilsson, not going to happen, limited skill set means its top six or bust

Prognosis - gets snapped up on waivers or maybe they find someone willing to trade a pick for him, a nation weeps, that nation being Belgium, or something like that


For - great story, like Rudy, plus he kills people

Against - can't actually play hockey

Prognosis - can't see them carrying him, a great story from last year, two goals, a big league salary and that Flames' game but its back to the minors with him


For - management went out and got him, he can skate, at least

Against - I don't think he can do much but fight, again, can they afford to carry a guy like this

Prognosis - serious wildcard, I don't see the point but a lot of folks might disagree


For - kid has looked just fine so far and he's a RW, this club needs a RW badly

Against - he's a kid and he'd be far better off going back to junior

Prognosis - unless they get a couple of injuries then he shouldn't even get his nine games in, send him back and give him another year to fill out, he looks good though, might be another great pick

So there you have it, its a goddamned mess and of course this doesn't even take into consideration possible trades or waiver pickups.

I have to admit though, they have my attention now. I even watched a few minutes last night.

Of course I was high as a kite. That's my story anyways.


speeds said...

It'll be interesting to see how things go. In theory Gagner could be sent down without having to clear waivers. And while one wouldn't "hope" for an injury to a forward during pre-season, if someone has to go on the IR before the season starts that would postpone the decision making. I guess I'd have to go back and look, but I'd imagine it wouldn't be overly common to exit training camp with no injuries.

speeds said...

And Stone does have to clear waivers.

Deano said...

Great list Pat. Thanks for putting down the relevant bits.

Thanks for the info on Stone, speeds.

On Eberle, you don't bring this up specifically, but keeping him for the 9-game, big-league audition means having to expose someone else to waivers.

I watched last night and that's 3 hours that I'm not gonna get back.

Reddox was the only one that played like he wanted a job.

Where was hunter's new energy under Quinn last night? I saw the same uninspired crap. (Bruce brought this up @ Copper and Blue, preseason tix should go for half-price or less.)

Looking at tonights lines, I suspect we'll find that Stone is unexceptional on his own - neither good nor bad, and the good light that he was being seen in was coming from his linemates.

Does Zorg get a garbage goal tonight playing with his second-coming-ness?

Word Verification = 'banters'

Black Dog said...

Thanks for the info on Stone, speeds.

An injury or two would 'help' but in the end it just postpones the inevitable; it should be interesting to see which guys who get sent down will get picked up, probably not as many as we think, they're our marginal guys but they're still marginal guys.

Deano - Quinn mentioned Eberle and Pouliot by name as the best players, good point on Eberle btw, of course if he sticks then someone else gets exposed. I think they should keep him for nine only if they get a wave of injuries, he belongs in junior, losing a guy so he can get nine in would be dumb

Reddox remains the darkhorse.

Now the games are getting tougher and we'll see, as you say, whether Stone has it or not. As for the club's demeanour, not too worried, the vets are likely bored stiff.

Bruce said...

Nice summary, BDHS. Would be interested to read more of your take on Potulny. What the fuck is going on there? He did one hell of a lot more in SF than Schremp, Stone or Brule for that matter. And he can't get a game? Either he's hurt or I'm baffled.

Black Dog said...

No idea, Bruce, no idea. I looked at the lineups and he played in G1 so maybe he got hurt there?

Maybe they figure they know what they get with him and want to see the others but of course Quinn doesn't know him.

I guess he must be hurt. The only other possibility is that he was never in the running, same as O'Marra, MacDonald and so on.

Deano said...

Blasphemy, but in his one game O'Marra has looked like a player to me. Much more than MacDonald or Trukhno for example.

Methinks he's put himself in a deep hole and plenty of shoveling in the AHL to do to fill it in.

Not saying he will - just that he possibly can.

(Unfortunately, he also sucked on the dot.)

Bruce said...

BDHS: I missed that he played in Cowtown, I was looking for him under his old #21 but he's wearing 16 now. I now notice he went 7-4 on the dot that game, which stands out against the otherwise shitty results team-wide to date.

I also understand he's been pencilled in as the late addition tonight. I hope he scores a couple, at least forces the brass to look at him.

Gord said...

I do not mind Eberle getting a nine game try out - however, it must not be now.

Send him down & give him tons of ice time. Then when injuries hit (they always do), bring him back - hopefully that will be December or January once he has had the opportunity to improve on what he learned during the exhibition season.

Deano said...


If Eberle goes back to junior can he be recalled to the NHL before the Pats' season is over? I don't think so.

I think his game is as incomplete as Schremp's (he's better @ ES than 88). He won't help us win games this season. He's a good story though.

So should we run the team to develop Eberle or to make the playoffs?

Let's see how he does as the opponents dregs get culled down to the minors.

If each NHL franchise was allowed to send one junior-aged prospect to the AHL, how would the CHL look without 30 top level players?

Black Dog said...

Deano - It would look like shit.

Gord - I think Deano is right, I'm pretty sure that once the season starts he's in junior for the duration unless the big club gets devastated by injuries - then I think they can call a guy up as an emergency callup

Gord said...

Thank you for clarification - but that reinforces my point of "when injuries hit (they always do)", that is when we call him up...

The other option is to give him a 9 game tryout now, then send Eberle down - when injuries hit, we can not recall him.

Or am I missing something?

On a side note, I am nervous about rushing smaller offensively talented kids tons into ice time against the experienced crushers in the league; since the potential for a serious injury derailing the career is much higher.

Add that to moving up the UFA part of the career (poor asset management)...

speeds said...


It could be postponed all season long though, the chances of one of your initial 14 being injured at any one time throughout the season is probably pretty good.

If you can stick one of the 12-14 guys on the IR, there's a pretty good chance that, by the time they are ready to return, someone else gets injured, thus allowing you to keep 15 F's all year long.

Black Dog said...

Speeds - Wow, I didn't realize it was that open ended, I presumed that it had to be a true 'emergency' so to speak, such as the Oilers faced on the back end in spring 07 when they ran out of bodies.

There you go Gord, your option is a possibility. I can't remember too many clubs doing this though, seems its usually first thing to nothing.

Bruce said...

The thing about "when injuries happen" makes me shudder, as obviously that could apply to Eberle himself. I remember Brule breaking his sternum in his second pro game, and I was frankly shocked when Columbus brought him back later that season. I'm not sure the kid has ever been the same.

If the team really wants to look at Eberle, they could keep him around on the roster (if they can make room somehow, through fake injuries or whatever), spot him his 9 or fewer games by early December, then ship him out to the World Jr. camp. After that, back to Regina (or, better, Brandon or at least a contender). Wouldn't burn a year of eligibility, would give him a taste of pro, and he would still get plenty of game action over the course of the year.

uni said...

Bruce: Brule started out pretty well for an 18 year old rookie. Small sample size but that half dozen games he was in he put up some numbers. Ever since that horrific injury though, I'm sure you're right, he's never been the same.

Brule just seemed to be getting knocked over all over the ice. Not nearly big enough to do a single damned thing. Fleury managed to do it at 5'6" 165-175lbs, so there's hope, but from the look of things so far Brule isn't quite wiley enough to overcome his small stature yet.

I'm all for Eberle getting more time in the WHL to develop, or some serious sheltering in the AHL till he's up to speed if that were at all possible.

Black Dog said...

Yeah I've read a few folks saying that Eberle should stick, he's been great in camp, etc etc and he has and that's great but he's just a boy still.

Short sighted to keep him around based on a few games against mostly scrubs in preseason.

But I don't think the Oilers know what they're doing so I can see it happening.

hunter1909 said...

Oilers have exactly 4 good players: Visnovsky, Hemsky, Souray and Khabibulin - the rest are either crap or just wildly inconsistent.

Looks like another very long season(18th or is it 19th in a row).

Bruce said...

Hunter: Horcoff?