Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Piling On

A couple of great contributions to the Sphere from Tyler Dellow and Andy Grabia. The comments thread on Ty's post is pure gold, actually the one on the Penner post is as well. A lot of the old guard, so to speak, chiming in. Great to see.

The Oilers seem to be emerging from the mess that the flu wrought upon them and while they are far from healthy the returns of Souray and Horcoff as well as the imminent return (maybe?) of Stone, Nilsson and Jacques will help as well. Well maybe not.

Its all about moral victories these days with the Oilers, same as its been since about December of 2006 when Tjarnqvist and Staios went down, revealing that Lowe's plan to go with a top six that included Matt Greene, Ladislav Smid and Marc Andre Bergeron, as well as shedding a whack of veteran forwards that past summer, may not have been all that great of an idea.

Actually with Lowe, and apparently with his successor as well, its not so much the guys that he dumps really. I mean you have guys who you have to move or cannot sign regardless (Pronger, Peca, Spacek, Samsonov) and you have guys who you can always make an argument against keeping, either because of their salaries or their flaws or they are done or what they bring in return or because they are replaceable. Hell put any of the following in any category that you like there: Dvorak, Laraque, Harvey, Tarnstrom (twice), Garon, Smyth, Sykora, Smith, Pitkanen, Cole, Kotalik, Greene, Stoll, Glencross, Reasoner, Throesen, Brodziak, Winchester, Torres.

Have I forgotten anyone? Probably.

In any case that's a lot of guys who had some use sent out the door these past few years and, as I said, you can argue that Glencross was a gamble or that Torres was overpaid or that Harvey was just a plug or that Thoresen is in Europe now anyways so he's no good. And so on.

But see the problem is and always has not been who got sent out but who has come back. And the answer is precious little but more kids to go into the meat grinder of the NHL. More kids who don't know the first thing about playing in the NHL. And still you get the yokels calling for Tambo to trade Hemsky and Horcoff and Gilbert - bring in Eberle, Petry and bring Schremp back while you're at it. Then they'll win it all. Guaranteed.

And with Fernando Pisani probably on his last legs and Ethan Moreau definitely done, the fact remains that this team is woefully short of players who can do those things that help win games. Again.

So when management ignores, again, the holes in the lineup, whilst they chase the latest video game hero (I wonder what Tambo was offering for Jokinen? probably Smid and Cogliano one would think) one wonders what is a fan to do?

Four years out of the playoffs coming, four years. You can talk about flu and injuries but the St. Louis Blues were ravaged by injuries last year and made the playoffs. It happens. But for some reason fans are happy to make excuses for the club.

Being fan is an odd deal. You are asked to cheer for this club, spend your money (there's the rub), trust in your heroes, trust in management.

But when management fails again and again then what do you do? Watch games in the hope of getting one like the Columbus game a few weeks ago? Wade through the dreck in hope of the one gem? The team has been more entertaining under Quinn but they are still losing and really the whole point of the exercise is to win, right?

I opined during camp that Quinn, already muttering about the roster, an astute politician, might angle for the GM's job if this season is a failure. I still believe that this may happen come the spring when Daryl Katz looks at tens more millions spent, another failure and when he asks his famous coach what went wrong and the big Irishman (and he does have huge hands Vic, btw, saw him on the subway once, the old grump) tells him that his roster is a piece of shit and I told you so back in September, then who lives and who dies? The guy with decades of experience and success or the rookie GM who can't even find a goddamned player to win a puck battle.

What do you think?

Hell this club is already the Florida Panthers. May as well have chaos in management like them too.
P.S. And Hejda!


Jonathan Willis said...

I see Quinn in the GM's office as a longshot, but it does make a certain sense. Particularly since he sounded like he was angling for that position in Minnesota, and made no secret that GM'ing is what he had in mind when he was job hunting this summer.

Let's say this happens. Would it be a good thing for the Oilers? I think it would be. Say what you will about the teams Quinn has run but there's a common theme and the theme is that they were always competitive.

Coach pb9617 said...

You forgot Hedja.

David S said...

You know, I'm completely stunned by the complete failure to plug some very obvious holes. Normally, even if the big moves aren't possible a team will at least make a small move to show that they're aware of the situation. Or they'll openly state that fixes are "in the works".

But this team? Nothing. And I'll be damned if I can figure out why.

Black Dog said...

David - the weird thing is that they are spending the money. They're not at the floor, they are at the cap. And still they are shit!

And Lowe and Tambellini played in the NHL - its not like they don't know that you cannot win with three or four or even five good players and a bunch of kids who can do nothing.

I don't get it.

Jonathan - they have always been competitive, yes. He's not perfect but he's always had competitive teams.

I watched him here for years. He can play politics.

And he's not going to spend three years trying to make chicken salad when he he knows he can build a better mousetrap.

How's that for mixed metaphors!

hunter1909 said...

What's scandalous is Tambellini's big tough presser last spring, denouncing the MacT Oilers and then doing nothing much except bringing in that tool Comrie.

Business as usual.

Oh well, at least I've got other things to worry about.

Swabbubba said...

Ok these rants at the quarter pole. As u know to lose huge is the only way to be successful and once you lose huge u need the no brainer drafts. The Oiler fans don't let the team lose huge Rexall would be burned to the ground.
The list of players that have left and actually are successful are pretty slim. but the ones that did leave were mostly marginal players. remember Cleary he would light it up in preseason get his spot then drink and coast the rest of the season. So alot of the players on the list were moved because they did not get it and once they got out of the comfort zone they realized if they don't actually produce the free ride is over.
Others wanted dumb contracts and different clauses. But the new NHL is that u reward the young guys and have to do some really odd projections to see if works.

So the Oilers made some fairly good moves after the lock out. We know that story.

So the Glen X thing is the only person on that list I miss. Here we go the guy seems like a Liam but a little bigger he wanted some good money for 20 games of production. Hey there are lots of players that put it together for a season then they fall off.
The Oilers are snake bit and have zero luck. The players they signed with an upside have stagnated. The free Agents are hard to come. But do you see what a little desperation will do for you ala Penner.

David S said...

Yeah. Good thing because outside that 20 games, Glencross has been pretty much a bust. Right? RIGHT?

Black Dog said...

Yeah swabbubba usually we're on the same page but I can't agree with you on a lot of those guys. A lot of good players and definitely useful on that list.

Having said all of that it always comes back to the fact that the Oilers have not replaced those guys. Thoresen was a fourth liner but he was hard on the puck and defensively responsible and could move things the right way. In 2007 he was a minus 1 on that terrible team.

Guy could play. They lost him and they still haven't replaced him even though he is supposed ot be easy to replace.

Etc etc

mattwatt said...

I would really love Quinn to tell Katz "How can I make chicken salad with nothing but chicken shit."

Mr. McLean is correct, we keep sending talent out, and putting marginal players back in. Yes, a lot of these replacements players are on procurement paths, but so where Thoresen, Hejda, Torres, etc., guys raised in the system to fulfill roles, then sent away for nothing, not even magic beans! At least with the beans Lowe/Tambo could climb up high and look at the fucking mess they have on their hands. Gain some perspective.

Then again, like the beans, we all know that is impossible.

Swabbubba said...

I agree with U I was being overly bitter. I know none of these players are Game changers type ala Messier etc. Well Mullet was but we know that is different story. You know we are missing a good center and winger other than that we are not to bad. The size thing is an issue but if the team cranks up the skating they are pretty hard to stay with. If POS would bury the puck it is different story. I know I am coulda woulda shoulda... What ever happened to Anson Carter? I would like to see the light at the end of the tunnel but I am blinded by optimism.. for another 15 games then it is too late.
I do want a new captain though Capt Glass is killing me. Give it to 44 let the Metis guy run the show...
But U know the list of players would I put any of names on my Oilers Jerseys I own the answer is no. But if 44 gets the C I am down for a new one.

hunter1909 said...

Why not be wacked out by the quarter pole?

Inside the last 20 odd games we've seen the team come out like gangbusters, and now they're as snakebit as possible.

Dustin Penner's incredible emergence notwithstanding, this is just a team of silly little runts who cannot for the life of them do shit inside the slot.

*Phil Esposito fan*

Scott Reynolds said...

The thing of it is - and I think Jonathan was the guy I heard say this first - the Oilers are always betting on the top end of the projection. Every time. And it doesn't work every time. They did it with Penner in the 1LW hole, they did it with Souray in the 1D hole and even in that beauty year of 2006 they did it with Horcoff in the 1C hole. And those are the times it's worked!

Then you have Brule as 3C this year, Smid as a top four guy in 2006-07, "the vaunt" in 2006-07 that was supposed to score all those goals, Gagner at 2C in 2008-09, Sturdwick playing a career high GP on D in what will likely be two straight years. These kinds of bets don't always work and they need to start betting somewhere closer to the middle of the range of expectations with the personnel choices or the holes will never all be filled.

Black Dog said...

Oh Scott, really with that sort of attitude its no wonder that you don't have six Stanley Cup rings to your name. Maybe if you had dared to dream as a boy .... oh never mind.

Of course you are right although I have never looked at it from that angle. My take is that they always make the risky bets - big money for Khabi and Souray being two examples - and not enough of the one year contracts to Sykora, Tjarnqvist and Comrie, which amy not work out but if they don't you're not getting killed by the contract years down the road.

The irony in their actions is just too much. Glencross was a gamble based on his history and that is the story they stick too yet they weren't afraid to throw the money at Nilsson, as another example.

They're fucking killing me

Bruce said...

Fine post, BDHS. I share your frustration.

And still you get the yokels calling for Tambo to trade Hemsky and Horcoff and Gilbert - bring in Eberle, Petry and bring Schremp back while you're at it. Then they'll win it all. Guaranteed.

Well I don't think anybody with an IQ over 80 has said all of those things, but there are always going to be people who think going whole hog with youth is the way to go. You and I may think differently, but we don't actually know differently. There are many ways to build a team; every mould is made to be broken. The Detroit model is very different from the Pittsburgh model.

As for the Edmonton model, I've been around the whole time and the only model that worked was a team full of kids with vets in secondary and support roles. I watched in disbelief in 1981 when a team whose 7 key players were age 21 and under, skate out under the 22! Stanley Cup banners in the Montreal Forum and proceed to blow their hosts right out of the building. They scored 15 goals in 3 games against a veteran squad that had won the Vezina Trophy (what would now be the Jennings) by a cozy 17 GA better than the next team. It was my lasting pleasure to have attended the third and final game of that series, a 6-2 blowout, and I can assure you it was no fluke. The hockey world, meanwhile, was turned on its head. Happens occasionally.

One in a million? Sure. But drafting Lidstrom, Datsyuk and Zetterberg way down the charts had to beat some odds too. The Penguins beat 30-1 odds when they won the Sidney Lottery after the lockout season, just at a time they had acquired other top picks through more, uh, traditional methods.

Seems to me management is a lot like a hockey game. Execution of a game plan, mistakes, and luck are all a big part of it. A good (management) team will maximize the first, minimize the second, while trying to be alert to lucky breaks and take advantage of them. But like bounces, a lot of that is totally beyond anybody's control. Guys get hurt, guys get hot, guys appear out of nowhere. If Ken Holland knew on draft day what he knows today, he would have taken Lidstrom, Zetterberg and Datsyuk in the first, first, and first rounds respectively. He got lucky. Did lots of other stuff right, but he got lucky.

Perhaps there is no more damning statement for Oilers' management than this: the best "luck" we have experienced lately involved the three big transactions that -- despite management's blessing -- did NOT happen. (Vanek, Nylander, Heatley, and I won't even include Hossa) I shudder to think ...

Black Dog said...

Nice synopsis Bruce, you are right of course, the Holland example is a good one, of course you do have to be good to be lucky and the Wings have been luckier than most.

The Oilers have often not appeared to have a game plan, have constantly made mistakes and when they have gotten lucky - Hejda and Glencross being two examples- they have screwed up.

spOILer said...

Dear PatQ,

Going into last night's game we were one point back of last year's pace.

Is that a disappointment--considering new coaching staff, changes to the roster, and the furthered development of the kidlets?

Is that to be expected--considering the more things change(the more they...), and little time to master a new system on the ice?

Or is that a success--considering the injury/illness strife this season thus far?

I know BruceQ and I think DerekQ and I think even MC79Q would prefer a new LW so we can roll the scoring better, but really when I look at GF/GA, it always seems to be the GA# that is out of whack.

We're bleeding in the FO circle even worse than last year.

And we know the PK is as bad or worse than last year, but there is some learning by Penner and Cogs happening there, basically because we don't have the right horses to pull that particular wagon.

I disagree somewhat that Moreau has dropped off a cliff. By my eye he has (not winning as many races to the puck as he used to), but he's also been dragging around poorer linemates this year than he has in the past. Quinn continues to use him in important situations though, so I doubt his play has been as bad as Al GoreQ says it is.

The loss of Pisani (again) is another pony missing from the PK wagon. LTQ called for Pisani insurance in the summer. It's there somewhat in Stone and Brule, but they're certainly not at that level yet and we're back to stage one of the Pony Express, how do you drive this damn wagon when the horses aren't experienced enough to pull together yet?

Sure Sharp would be great as he can outscore and help the PK, but Chi-town knows the contract they need to dump is Campbell's and I have to think they'd buy that one out before they'd trade a Sharp. Nor do they need another defenseman till Campbell is gone.

My wish list would include a defensive Dman who's bigger than Staios and better skating than Strudwick. And any forward with decent size who can PK, play a good two way game, and preferably win FOs.

But there's no trading in the new NHL, it seems, so really all we can pray for is that VicQ's Whore visits the Oilers most game night's and we luck our way into the second season.

spOILer said...

I shouldn't say I know BruceQ above, only think so there too. Sorry my mind ran away and married a word.

spOILer said...

Very nice post, btw, BruceQ. Sums up my thoughts too.

Black Dog said...

spOILer - jesus

well I would say that the point total would be better if the team had not gone through the flu but it is what it is

the point total would be better if we had a little of what LT and everyone else has been calling for, namely vets or at least some kids who know what to do without the puck

Reddox and Stone are a start, maybe

Thing with Moreau is he is pretty well fourth line material now and he's still getting eaten alive. Last year he was playing tough competition, getting eaten alive a little, but a little lucky. Weaker linemates or not I think he's pretty well lost the step he used to have. The fact that Quinn has played everyone ahead of him on LW makes me think that he beleives it too.

Sharp is a pipedream. Campbell is the guy to go and then they'll slash somewhere else if they can. And the Oilers can't afford Sharp themselves unless they do some slashing themselves.

You can never have enough D, huh? I think Staios has looked better but he still makes too much money - having said that if they move him they need to replace him with an equivalent who makes far less.

And they need to replace Strudwick too. Buddy is poor.

Bruce said...

And they need to replace Strudwick too. Buddy is poor.

I think he'd be better if they ever got the chance to use him the way they intended, i.e. about half the time. He plays better when he comes out of the PB than when he plays game after game, or so it seems to me. I'd be tempted to let him and Arsene switch off in the 6 and 7 roles for a while, give Strudwick a rest. Otherwise he's headed for career highs in both GP and TOI/G. And the cracks are already showing.

Black Dog said...

Agreed Bruce. As a swingman who fills in here and there he is ok.

As a guy who is given major minutes, he struggles.

David S said...

Jeez Bruce. Nice comment up there. Really nice.