Wednesday, December 02, 2009

They Took Him In The Night!

As I get older I become more and more like my old man, which is entirely a good thing. When I was younger I was not a constant man. The madness was always close to the surface and would emerge from the shadows, fueled by alcohol and youthful indifference. Lust ruled. Emotions took reason into the woods and kicked the shit out of it on far too many occasions. I had a temper and I fell in and out of love at a moment's notice.

I wasn't a bad guy really. I was a normal young man I think, wild and immature. I drank and smoked and chased tail and I did so knowing full well that this was the time to do it. I sowed my oats with a vengeance. I figured that I had better because when I grew up I wanted to be a good man.

And so as I got older I began to settle and a calm came. The intemperate moments became few and far between. It wasn't a conscious thing. It just happened.

Now my father is a calm man, the calmest. I know that he too had his moments in his youth although I cannot imagine it. I have never heard him raise his voice. He never raised a hand against us when were kids, just as his own father never raised a hand against his family. My grandfather was a scrapper too, he was never bigger than 130 pounds but he had that famed old man strength that came from a physical life.

When one of my Dad's brothers passed a few years back a bunch of us cousins went to to the Legion in the Soo with Dad, his three other brothers and his sister's husband, my uncle Bill Govett, a retired fighter pilot. We had had our hearts broken the day before and there was nothing to do now but bury my poor uncle in the ground. And so this night we did what he would have wanted us to do. We had some beers and told stories about him and about the family and we laughed and sang his song, for my uncle was, like all of our family, a man who loved a good time. One of the stories my dad told was of a night at the same Legion decades before, his own father sitting at a table with a group of fellows, one man, a big big man, being an ass and my grandfather tiring of it, telling him to be quiet, once, twice, a third time, the big man rising, the little man too, one punch and the big man sagging to the floor out cold, my dad smiling as he told the story, proud of the toughness, the strength, the power that his father had, the sudden violence, not the only time for the softspoken little man by the sounds of it, a violence that never came into his home though.

My father, as all of you who have read about him before know, is a man who loves life and lives it to the fullest and he has passed that on to his son. He is an optimist and he has passed that onto his son as well. He'll look out at a snowstorm and see an opportunity for a good workout on his walk. He'll see a rainy morning and figure that the sun will come out in an hour. He lives by the maxim that you shouldn't say anything about someone unless you have something good to say so its when he's silent that you need to wonder what's going on.

But he rarely is; as he's gotten older he has become the talking man and I still remember him coming down the aisle at my wedding (he and mom were slightly late) looking like a politician on a stage, waving, pointing and smiling, a quip here, a needle there, all the while laughing, having the time of his life, his son marrying a beautiful woman on a beautiful day, his family and friends gathered around him and his.

For all of his optimism though Dad does have scorn for some. Government, big business, big labour, the media, all of them receive a shake of the head and a snort of derision. Dad is nearly eighty and he's seen it all and he has no time for the greedy, the corrupt, the foolish, the ridiculous. He doesn't waste time on them. The odd time he'll shake his head at a politician and remark as to how they're all the same but there is no anger or bitterness. Its the way of the world and as long as he is left alone then he will leave the fools to their games and their greed and their fear mongering.

As for me, well here too I am more and more like my old man. I used to be an excellent one for the emails ripe with anger and resentment. Emails to the mayor, to the premier, to the CUPE local and the giant corporation hoisted on its own greedy petard. Letters to the Prime Minister (Paul Martin, that ass, was a favourite target) and to his ministers and to our own MP, another fool. In the emails I would cajole and mock, stick in the needle and work it around, fully aware that they would end up in the hands of an underling who would hit the delete button almost immediately. Still it felt good to vent my frustrations.

My favourite was an email to another failure, a man by the name of Joe Volpe, a minister under Martin, iirc, one of the scandals involving the usual ridiculous expense padding, in this case hundreds and hundreds of dollars spent at pizza joints or some such thing. At the end of the rant about how happy I was that my tax money was going into his pocket or to pay off some goombahs or whatever he was using it for I told him to have a beer on me his next time out. And then I called him a pig.

My poor wife is convinced that the RCMP has a file on me and that if the government ever declares martial law they will come and take me in the night. (BTW you are my witnesses on this if it does happen ;) ) but the reality is that the rage and indignation disappeared as the kids began to arrive and now I, like my old man, truly don't give much of a shit. I am engaged in my community and I stay on top of what is happening around the world and in this country but the truth is I haven't the energy or inclination to get that worked up anymore. Life is too short and I have bigger fish to fry, namely my wife and my kids.

Not to say that I'm going to actually fry them up. Because that would be both weird and very very wrong.


At the end of the summer a regular commenter here noted that for a guy who always called himself an optimist I certainly wasn't that way when it came to those Oilers. And I admitted that this was true.

Its going to be four years out of the playoffs now and for the first time that I can remember there are rumblings of discontent from the media in Edmonton, rumblings directed not at the players (always option #1) or the coach (door #2) but at the folks running this sorry show.

Dan Barnes and Robert Tychkowski have written critical articles recently and now that the dam has been breached one wonders if Lowe and Tambellini will be washed away.

See, here's the thing. Its now going to be four years out of the playoffs, which matches the worst stretch of futility in franchise history. And here is the difference. That first stretch came right after Sather dismantled the greatest hockey club of all time, winner of five Stanley Cups. The team was putrid but it was a patchwork of has beens and wannabes and it was all about bringing in the next generation, a team that would become the little team that could, a collection of youngsters that would grow together, play a hardnosed, fast skating, pleasing style of hockey, a team that would make the playoffs seven out of nine years, culminating in the nearly won Cup in 2006.

Today we have a club mired in mediocrity for the fourth consecutive season, all of this while spending to the cap mind you. Every summer management sheds guys who can play hockey in this league without replacing them. Each summer the club starts the season with obvious glaring shortcomings. And each season the club fails.

There has been illness and there have been injuries but for Lowe and Co. its a ready set of excuses for another failed season. Don't buy it. The number of fans of this club who choose to ignore that management has failed again boggles my mind. The loss of Ales Hemsky is an awful blow, sure, but on this club its a fatal one because the forward corps is so thin that the 'first line' includes a twenty year old centre and a guy whose career was almost off the rails last season and the 'tough minutes' line features a centre who can barely take draws due to injuries, a kid who has never played tough minutes and another kid who runs around his own end like he's on fire.

Stop, drop and roll.

If the club was fully healthy Quinn could put together a nice first line and a nice fourth line (they have plenty of guys to play those roles) and maybe, just maybe, a decent line to take on soft minutes. So they're still short at least one line, maybe two depending on your confidence in the abilities of the kids. Oh well, they have a good fourth line though, right?

And who could have seen Khabibulin going down with an injury, leaving JDD to carry the mail? As another puck goes top corner on this 6'4'' disaster (note the rare photo at to showing Deslauriers standing upright) we, the fans, are left to watch another season go down the toilet while Tambellini mutters about how its all going to be okay.

The problems that people have been pointing out for months still remain. Goaltending which is in a shambles with an injury prone starter and an unproven backup. And remember Khabibulin is signed for three more seasons. A forward corpse that is too small, too soft, too unproven. When you're pining for the return of Comrie from the iron lung and Ryan Stone from wherever then you know that you have problems.

And the best is yet to come with cap hell awaiting next summer with a slew of kids coming up for raises. So we will likely see some of what little quality there is on this club go out the door as management tries to figure out what to do. Nobody will take Staios or Moreau or O'Sullivan to give the Oilers relief. It will be Grebeshkov or Gilbert or Cogliano who get sent away.

And further to that there won't be any cheap veterans who can help this club coming in. Management is not inclined to find anyone who can, you know, play hockey. They haven't been in four years. And if you were a veteran guy would you want to play for a loser franchise?

No sir, it will be the next wave of kids who get fed into the meat grinder. Cogliano and Nilsson and others will be shown the door and the fans will grumble that Hemsky should go as well while cheering for Eberle and MPS and the next wave. And those kids, sent out to handle minutes that they should not be expected to handle, will struggle until some of them are also flushed after the fans turn on them.

And we fans will sit by and wonder what happened to a once proud franchise. Those of us who can be bothered to work up even the least bit of indignation about it anyways. Those numbers are growing fewer by the day.

And when people stop caring then they stop spending money and time on something.

Maybe that will get Katz's attention. The losing does not seem to be making an impact on him.


spOILer said...

I'm pining for the fjords...

--Dead Parrot

Vic Ferrari said...

Pat said:

A forward corpse that is too small ...

I think that's called a Freudian slip.

Krazy Rick said...

Vic... no slip there!! The team IS a corpse at the moment!!

BD... I feel the pain of no playoffs too! This management team needs a complete overhaul!! IMO, Pat Quinn should be given the reins and the authority to dismantle the team and start over. Lord knows, he can't F--- it up any worse than that BONEHEAD Lowe!!
Also, I have mellowed(mostly) as I get older and have become quite a solid adult. Even my dear wife has commented on this fact recently. She seems almost in awe when I turn away from a confrontation I would have been only too happy to get involved in!!
It feels GOOD to be finally grown up.... doesn't it????


Black Dog said...

Vic - no slip

Jay said...

When you're pining for the return of Comrie from the iron lung and Ryan Stone from wherever then you know that you have problems.

BDHS, If I were to send you my dry cleaning bill, would you actually send me a check? :)

I just spewed coffee all over myself. Seriously, this is one of the best Oilers articles that I've read all season.

Darren said...

And here I always thought players just hating Edmonton... Shocking revelation.

Tambo says JDD and DD are proven keepers, why would you be worried?

It's a strange feeling, I miss hockey these last couple days, but then I also don't because it will just be more losses piled on. Unless Stone comes back to save of course. Or something.

PeaceCountry said...

Great article BD. Your bang on in respect to the mid-90 oilers. We all felt that the oilers would be rebuild with a nice team.

Lowe and co have have stolen that confidence away from Oiler fans. I now feel as though I'm cheering for the Cleveland Browns. My biggest worry is that the Oilers mediocrity will continue on long after management changes have been made

Mr DeBakey said...

Easy Peasey

I remember those heady days,
two sumers ago,
a few moves and the Oilers are right back in the race.

Easy Peasey

I guess we were wrong

As Mrs DeBakey would [and does] say
Hockey Shmockey

hunter1909 said...

I never wondered for a second what happened to the "proud franchise", once Coffey Gretzky then finally Messier left town.

Growing up after that, the 90's teams were just dross. I never thought any of them had any future, ever aside from game 6 in the finals v the KKKanes which I rate as as good a performance I've seen from the Oilers since the 1990 Conferance final deciding game(for those who weren't there for the dynasty, the finals were usually nothing more than a coronation, a formality).

Yeah this is a sorry franchise. Something about few of the veterans of the great teams wanting to have anything to do with the current management tells me a lot more about it's true state, than any of the other theories.

And yeah, this is the Cleveland Browns of hockey.

Fortunately everyone seems to understand that this season we're going to stink the NHL out once and for all, and land that great top 3 pick. I can feel it in my DNA. Otherwise, Oilers might as well apply to join the AHL.

Peeeete. said...

I've aged and mellowed ten years in the last two: I got married, turned 30, ditched my most appalling friends, more or less quit drinking, and now spend my days working like a dog trying to pay off the debts (financial and otherwise) accrued through my 20s.

My teens and twenties were full of liquor, fights, loud music, loose women, rage, chaos, and irresponsibility. All those things have faded, and I don't miss them all that much, if at all. But I'd hoped that my enthusiasm for my hometown hockey team might stay with me for decades.

My fandom's dying fast, though: I can't bring myself to care about this awful, mismanaged, identity-less team. I woke up one day this season, and realized that I was cheering for a logo on an overpriced piece of fabric, and that's it. I dislike this team.

It sucks. Aging and mellowing is one thing, but I'm sorry to lose the passion I once had for the triumphs and tribulations of 'my' hockey club. But honestly: the Oilers are shit.

Black Dog said...

Oilers Schmoilers Mr. D.

hunter - well after those great years yeah anything would seem like a comedown and I know you're a harsh critic of those 90s teams but facts are facts - can't win it all every year. But when you aren't at least play with a little elan, as I like to say, work a bit, hit a bit, make the damn playoffs here and there. Everyone grumps about those 90s clubs but as peacecountry noted, they weren't all that bad. Seven playoffs in nine years, three of those out of the first round, one all the way to the Final.

That's not too shabby. Its no dynasty but that's a whole lot better than this mess now.

Black Dog said...

Thanks Jay.

I'm with Darren right now, not as far gone as Peeeete but I have little interest in this club. I was happy to see McDonald score the other night and I'm happy to see Penner do well and Smid. But the players just seem adrift for the most part.

Peeeete - getting older is an odd thing. I don't miss the craziness of those days but I certainly enjoyed them. I wouldn't change a thing that's for sure.

And I'm still young at heart for the most part. Like Krazy Rick. ;)

I think.

But as you get older and settle down you have less time for, well, hobbies I guess is what I would call it. And if you're not getting a damn thing out of it then its a waste of time. The Oilers ask us to invest our time and money in them. When fans, formerly diehard fans, begin to lose interest then the club should take notice.

Jonathan Willis said...

Nice article, and I couldn't agree more on Volpe (that wasn't the only scandal he was involved in either).

Coach pb9617 said...

Pat - we've got something for you tomorrow that should make you smile.

I can't disagree with anything you've said. We've got Mr. Dithers and the girl that just wants a date to the dance in charge.

The scary part is that the Oilers have become the Redskins and Katz is in year one of his role as Daniel Snyder.

Darren said...

Hey Coach, how does one get an invite to your blog? I used to read it when it was apart of LT's blogroll, and miss the good reads.

shepso said...

as usual, you said the things I wanted to say about this situation but couldn't exactly find the words. Being a writer and scholar, that is both a credit to you and probably a not so good situation for me. Such is life. My writers block, like this protracted slump shall pass.

I have lamented my love for the little team that could. I was a child in the 80s, but a teenager with a season-ticket pack with my dad during the 90s. I had a brief defection to the kings after Messier left but righted my personal ship in 1992 after meeting Bruce McNall and realizing at the time that he was a scumbag, trading in my black 99 jersey (which was traded in originally for my blue and orange 17) back to a blue shirt again. I effectively grew up with the dark years, passionately watching the dreadful teams with my dad. We kept losing but still never once thought about giving up our tickets. It wasn't until 1997-98 that we finally sold them off, as they stopped being affordable. By then, my royal blue was too small, replaced by the new dark blue and copper jersey and my couch became my seats. I never saw a playoff game live between 1996-2006, nor a regular season game between 1998-2004,mostly due to lack of money, but at least the teams in that era had heart, and the ownership and management had the appearance of giving a shit. Those days we could see them trying to do what they could with a limited budget to make the post season. 39 and 94 might go down in history as my favorite Oilers, despite my being so devoted to the great one in the 80s that I switched my allegiances briefly when he left (well, really, after Mess left...), because those 2 players embodied what Oiler hockey represents. We were the underdogs, the small market, the struggling survivors of the canadian economic disaster to maintain the deep traditions of the canadian game. Where did that spirit go?

Derek is right, this is the NHL equivalent of the Redskins, a once proud franchise mired in a quagmire of managerial failures and spending to the cap without thought or care. Where do we go from here?

Coach pb9617 said...


Jonathan hired me away from myself. It was a good move for me. I'm an asshole to work for. Then he got sick and tired of working with me that he quit and went to The Score.

Now I'm running his old site.

The Copper & Blue

Coach pb9617 said...

Pat, you're like the Canadian version of Hunter Thompson, if he were to write about hockey instead of politics drink beer instead of swallow mescaline.

Coach pb9617 said...

(which was traded in originally for my blue and orange 17)


You're dead to me.

Coach pb9617 said...

Derek is right, this is the NHL equivalent of the Redskins, a once proud franchise mired in a quagmire of managerial failures and spending to the cap without thought or care. Where do we go from here?

Well, seems like Snyder is interested in hiring Bill Cowher & Jon Gruden.

Neither will come aboard without control of personnel...

...Quinn takes over personnel?

hunter1909 said...

"Seven playoffs in nine years, three of those out of the first round, one all the way to the Final."

Spoken like an ex-hawks fan.

I don't know about anyone else, but I found it humiliating to see the "big" teams like Detroit, Coloroado, Dallas, Philly, endlessly finishing first, winning the cup, while my team iced the hockey equivalent of offensive tackles everywhere, desperately "trying" and predictably failing.

Then again Black Dog, you weren't around for the glory, so it's all relative.

Krazy Rick said...

Shepso.. I was there during the horrid WHA years! Season tickets were cheap and I love hockey. Imagine Norm Ullman as your best player!! (he was too old and slow and the NHL didn't want him anymore)
Then we got this kid named Messier, a local boy, and things perked up a bit. Nelson Skalbania was going in the toilet, as usual, and we bought a kid named Gretzky. When I first saw him, I thought, WOW... he's really small and doesn't skate very well. Was I ever mistaken!
For the next few years I watched the "kids" grow into a powerhouse, join the NHL,and take out the Montreal Canadians in the first round. I can't tell you what a joy it was to watch those guys play. Every night it was something new! I was there the night Gretz scored his 50th in 39 games and was so proud, a peacock couldn't hold a candle to me!!
My admiration for this team has never wavered, even though I now live in southern Ontario and rarely get to see them. I can only hope that before I completely lose that admiration, this team will get back to those winning ways and once again be a delight to watch!!


Max Powers said...

No doubt. I had bought a mini pack for 1000$ for 3 games in the first half of the season. I had planned on buying myself a nice little Xmas present in the for of a mini pack for the second half of the season as well. No dice. This is another 1000$ Katz won't be getting. Sure the way they played earlier in the year, I would happily dish out 1000$ of hard earned cash to watch a good hard working team play. Last game against Vancouver is a game i didn't even finish watching, and I don't remember EVER turning off an Oilers game. Time to put on a movie after the 1st period.

Point is that I'm trying to do my part to make the franchise suffer in not donating my money to watch a shit team play shit hockey. I've stopped paying for PPV's too.

andy grabia said...

And when people stop caring then they stop spending money and time on something.

Go ahead. Stop consuming and producing right now. Stop. I dare you. Come over to the dark side, with Winters and I. We're really very happy fellows.

spOILer said...

I change the channel during commercials, does that count?

Black Dog said...

coach - what was I looking for especially today? Good stuff as usual and I like the Swedish stuff, nice catch! Is that it?

JW - thanks; I'm an indy when it comes to politics but the federal Libs have always gotten my goat, that whole attitude of entitlement. I became politically aware in the last Trudeau term. What a bunch of scumbags. Coloured my politics for life.

Andy - its coming pal, slowly but surely

spOILer - dead parrot? huh?

Black Dog said...

BTW, thanks Shepso and coach for the compliments.

When fans like Andy and the gang from CinO, guys who once watched every game and wrote passionately about the club, are no longer engaged, when guys like Max P. stop spending their money and tell the club sales guys what's doing, when people stop caring, well then the Oilers should prick up their ears and pay heed.

Truth is if they get hit in the wallet well then we'll see change.

Coach pb9617 said...

Is that it?

Yeah - another one coming today.

Dennis said...

I guess I still care enough to watch enough to log scoring chances but I did that as a test just to see what we could prove and perhaps add to the pile of new stats that have informed us a little more fully over the past few seasons.

Still, there was no Oilers hockey from Sun-Wed night and I dug into a couple of new books and I found I didn't miss it that much at all. And last night the Oilers game wasn't appearing on the channel on CI that it had been designated for and it was 8:35pm and I hadn't even called in to Bell to complain about it; years earlier, there was a home game vs the Canes that Bell didn't show the first period of and I dare say I acted like such an ass that I may have made the lady in question question her line of work.

So, I don't know how I feel about it all. I still care about the team but not as much as I used to. Is it a product of growing up - because I too have curbed the drinking and the revelry - or just the reality that we cheer for such a consistently shitty club?

I imagine you can have both and all at once settle down a little and still throw a few unnecessary curses but I dare say we won't find out until next season.

Black Dog said...

Naw Dennis you can grow up and still care, I'm proof of that and of course there is LT. As we get older your leisure time certainly becomes more precious; I remember in my younger days, I watched hockey, football, baseball and basketball plus more than my fair share of golf and tennis and who knows what else. But it turns out I was more of a fan of Jordan then basketball and I tired of the attitudes of those who followed him pretty quickly. And the lost World Series did me in for baseball, that plus the fact that there was serious competitive imbalance plus it took 3 hours plus to watch a game.

And the NFL games became tiresome as well, there you're talking four hours a game and expansion and parity that created a league of generic faceless clubs.

So its hockey now and the odd soccer game for me and I'll watch playoffs in baseball and the NFL and the Grey Cup if I remember, but that's about it.

I watched a ton of playoff hockey last year - it was a great spring - so I can make the time.

But when your club is poor year after year well then you're bound to lose interest in them at least.

Coach pb9617 said...

But when your club is poor year after year well then you're bound to lose interest in them at least.

Even then you'll root if you think there's a chance.

With Tambellini, there's no chance.