Wednesday, December 02, 2009
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.
Posted by Black Dog at 1:15 PM