Friday, November 13, 2009

Can You Hear The Drums Fernando?

Some frightening news today. Fernando Pisani has been sent home halfway through the roadtrip as his colitis has flared up again.

Now I'm no doctor, although I play one on TV, but I would presume that if its serious enough to send him home then its pretty serious. And what this means is that the end is probably in sight for Fernando Pisani. Even if its just a minor flareup the red flag has been raised and in a bottom line business its unlikely to me that he will be able to get another contract next season. Its difficult to see any club signing an aging winger with health issues that can knock him out of the lineup at any time.

Fernando seems to have been around forever but as Scott Reynolds has pointed out he actually has not yet qualified for his NHL pension yet, just over thirty games short of the four hundred needed. Its a little sad to see this as until his first major bout with the disease two seasons ago Fernando was the poster boy for reliability. From 2001/02 in the AHL to 2006/07 he played 76 games or more every season, providing around 15 goals a year - 26 in the AHL, 17 in the AHL and 8 in 35 games in Edmonton, then seasons of 16, 18 and 14 with the Oilers. Even in 2008 when he came back from colitis he scored 13 in 56 games and then last season he scored 7 in 38 games, limited by a broken ankle.



It may be early to eulogize his career (I certainly hope so) but Fernando will be remembered for two things, maybe three. The last remains to be seen.
First of all there is the type of player that he was. He was a guy who would chip in those fifteen goals but his role for this franchise was one that they sorely need today. He was a guy who could check and outscore the best players on the other team, a guy who could win puck battles and forecheck very well, a guy who could separate his man from the puck, an outstanding penalty killer and a guy who was extremely low maintenance. He was the ultimate 'bottom six' guy, as conventional wisdom calls the guys who don't score a lot of goals, but on every Oiler team he played on he was a top six guy in terms of helping the club win, which is the point after all.

And of course there was the wonderful run in 2006. The two goals to even up game six against the Wings. The shortie to win game five gainst the Canes. The goal and then the near miss in the third period of game seven. For two months Pisani scored and then he scored again. BIG goals. CLUTCH goals. ;) If he had stuffed that shot past Ward late in game seven and the Oilers had gone on to win he likely would have won the Conn Smythe. There have always been 'regular' guys who have gotten hot for a series or two, guys like John Druce or Chris Kontos, but nobody from this family of players ever went on a run like Fernando Pisani. And all of this while doing the heavy sledding.

What a player.

And if this is it for our man from Edmonton he will be the first player of any note (and Reynolds and I have this argument all of the time but I stand by my case - a guy who has played his entire career with the organization, seven seasons (or parts thereof) with the big club, a playoff hero is a player of note) to have played all of his career with the Oilers. Randy Gregg almost did before he came out of retirement for a short twirl with the Canucks but Fernando would be the first.

An eighth round pick, a local boy, a guy who showed great dedication coming back from his original bout with this awful disease.

Here's hoping that it is just a minor flareup and that he will be back next week. I hate writing about a guy using the past tense.

But if not and this is the beginning of the end then its right to recognize an underrated guy who has never sold the fans or his teammates short in any way. Here's hoping for good health for Fernando Pisani.
To Add - word from the Oilers' site as Steve Tambellini says that it looks like Fernando will be out indefinitely. If its longterm I would guess that he will hang them up sooner rather than later. Once again, best wishes to Fernando for a speedy recovery.


Loxy said...

Great, now i'm all choked up.

hunter1909 said...

He was great in 2006.

Close to Glenn Anderson great, in those two months.

hunter1909 said...

Holy shit I thought this was Lowetide.

Must have been the two day bender I just completed(successfully).

Black Dog said...

Hunter - you thought Lowetide was suffering from colitis? ;)

Some bender.

Loxy - yes its sad, apparently he has been battling it for a while. Souray said he's been just sticking it out.

Swabbubba said...

I hope he gets to his 400, but the way the NHLPA is run the pension fund will be drained to pay all fired Directors. Get well soon.
This team needs to have platoon of doctors to keep them going.

Coach pb9617 said...



Yup, being reliable is underrated.

Doogie2K said...

If I'm the GM, I'd almost be tempted to give him a 1 yr, $1M deal, just to make sure he gets his 400. I think the organization owes him that much.

PDO said...

There was something in the air that night....

Baroque said...

Very very sad news. :(

I hope he recovers soon.

Vic Ferrari said...

Terrific post, Pat.

hunter1909 said...

"If I'm the GM, I'd almost be tempted to give him a 1 yr, $1M deal, just to make sure he gets his 400. I think the organization owes him that much."

Yeah - let's waste another season playing Santa Claus for pampered pro athletes. That way, we can all stop worrying about our own misery, knowing the Pisani's won't have to worry about what to do after their millions and millions of dollars runs out.

Schitzo said...

I don't believe that the 400 games thing actually applies anymore in this CBA. In fact, time spent injured still counts as "games played" for pension purposes under this CBA, so he should be fine no matter what.

Black Dog said...

Thanks Vic.

No kidding, eh Schitzo? Well then he's all set for sure. He doesn't strike me as the type of guy to fritter away his money, even without the pension I'm sure he'd be fine but its nice that he's earned it.

Doogie - I wouldn't put it as succinctly or as bitterly (misery, my God man!) as Hunter and apparently its a moot point anyhow but this club is going to be a mess cap wise next season. I like the sentiment but I don't see them offering him much more than a minimum salary deal if that. He's still a useful player but they can't bank on him being healthy so they probably won't offer him a contract unless he a) only misses a game or two and b) he comes back and tears it up

I doubt either a or b happens and I would bet that he hangs them up at year's end. He has to take care of himself. I can't say playing professional sports helps his condition.

HBomb said...

Damn, if he goes this way, it's going to be sad, but he's got to worry about being a father and husband first. From what I know, he's set for life financially, as he and his dad own a construction business together.

That being said, three things:

1) Somewhere, naked and weeping, lies Andy Grabia, overcome with sadness.

2) The Oilers should re-nominate him for the Masterton trophy and give the clods who vote on that award the opportunity to rectify the injustice of 2008. Jason Fucking Blake? Are you kidding me? I don't care if he had "cancer", he didn't miss any time, and the guy is a complete asshole.

3) Normally I'm opposed to the hiring of ex-players as coaches, but Pisani is/was such a damn smart player, one would think he'd excel in this area. In fact, if I were GM, I'd axe Buchberger and find a spot for Pisani in the organization (then again, if I were GM, the first thing I'd do is axe Bucky, but hey, just sayin'...)

hunter1909 said...

I want Gretzky as GM, Messier as coach, with Anderson Kurri and Coffey as assistants, with Fuhr as goal coach.

Anonymous said...

I looked into the pension the other day because I was curious. In the 93/94 contract playing less than 400 games got you 8,000 CAD/year. Playing the 400 got you 12,000 CAD/year. I'm definititely sure that that difference wouldn't make or break Pies. He is definitely a family and quality guy. I'm sure he didn't squander away his previous years' income.

Black Dog said...

Agreed anon.

Hunter - you're mental