All in one year.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
All in one year.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
It would have been about a hundred different types of amusing if he had not been picked up but good luck to you, Captain America.
I would say we barely knew you but the truth is we knew far too much about you, considering.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
After some time in the mines in Elliot Lake Dad got a promotion. This was in the early sixties. $600.00 a month, good money back then, he says when he describes it. Good money but it was underground. As he pondered the offer he got a phone call from a good friend of his, a burly Finn who had left Elliot Lake recently, traveling east on the Trans Canada to Sudbury where they were laying pipe for natural gas. There and all over Northern Ontario. A brand new company and a ton of opportunity. He would start at $400.00 a month and he’d work so much that my mom wouldn’t see him (they were newly married) for a couple of years except when he stumbled in and out of bed, exhausted, to sleep and then off to do it again. He took the job. He knew what he was getting into but it wasn't underground and the possibilities were endless.
Of course it worked out for my old man. He stuck it out and rose through the ranks and had a terrific career there, almost thirty five years in a job he enjoyed. At his retirement party they stood and cheered for him. That's the type of man my father is.
In his first decade with the company he played hockey for the Sudbury team. There were big offices in Thunder Bay and Timmins and North Bay and the Soo and Kingston and they probably had a club from the Muskokas as well. Dad’s team played in a senior league of sorts in Sudbury, the hockey would have been terrific, all of these guys were players back in the day. These guys grew up before the days of TV so Dad and his peers were all the type of guys that today’s young men could only hope to emulate. Dad played hockey and ball and he boxed a little. He played guitar and he could fix a motor and build a camp and do electrical and plumbing and pretty well whatever you wanted to ask him to do. He finished our basement and some years later he put in a sauna. He could fish and he could hunt and he could do pretty much anything.
Anyways these guys could play is the point and while the league was one thing it was the tournaments that the real games began, all of these guys from around Northern and Eastern Ontario who could play and it was for bragging rights and so it was pretty serious stuff. One of my earliest memories is being at a rink watching my Dad play hockey. Its foggy but that's the way it is up north. Hockey hockey hockey permeates everything.
In December I’ll be the same age as Dad was when he hung them up. I hope to emulate his brothers, one who played into his sixties, another into his seventies (my uncle could absolutely play in our league, I swear to God, he is in phenomenal shape and an amazing player, he can skate like few I have every seen.) Anyways I laced them up this afternoon for the first time since the beginning of August. Our summer season was, lets say, a complete disaster. More details another day. Lets just say we went ofer.
So the last time good old Capsule won a game was in March sometime.
Zero and sixteen since then.
So we skate out and we have eight guys and there’s a club we’ve never seen before and like everybody we play they’re big and they’re fast and they’re young, the fuckers. And one of their guys comes over before the game and he says yeah we’re new and we figure we’re a high seed in the division above this one.
Did I mention we have eight guys?
And this is, with one exception, the guys who went oh and sixteen. We’re missing our best two centers, including a guy who averaged a goal a game last year. We’re missing two big guys who swing between forward and D as needed. Both are players. These guys, except one of the centres, don't play in the summer.
First shift they cut through us like nothing, we’re running around and before we know it we’re down one.
And they keep coming. So we hunker down and ride it out and then we begin to push back and we get a chance or two and then we tie it up but its just a flash of hope, it certianly can't last.
They’re big and they come with speed out of their end and we just hang back, we’re already sagging. My fucking legs last two shifts and then its hang back and pick off plays, that’s all I’ve got. But thing is they come hard through the neutral zone but we stack it up and chip it back out and soon their D begin to jump in, they have two guys who can really wheel, pushing to beat our tired legs and put us out of our misery.
One of them whirls out of the zone and chips it past the defenceman and rushes into our end full speed. I’m coming back hard and he has a step on me and I just take him out, I have no choice and so he slides into the boards hard and I’m right behind him, full out. Luckily he breaks my fall.
And that was the last we heard from him for the rest of the game. Not a peep.
Of course I was in the box. I have a new stick and like all of the ones that came before its not so good with the goals but pretty good at laying on the wood and getting me into the box.
The lads picked me up, all four minutes of it, not even a sniff and as the game wore on we held on and held on and I sat beside a terrific new player who joined us this summer, a guy who has never won in Capsule colours. He’s a big forward who is hard on the puck and has good hands and he's a great addition. Just chip it out, chip it out, we’ll try and catch a break, we tell each other.
Next shift he strips a Dman and goes in alone and gets stoned and we sag a little, that may have been it.
Instead we work them over down low next shift and pop it out front and suddenly we’re up.
Next shift the new guy beats a guy into a corner and I beat everyone else to the slot and I get the shot I want but the keeper stretches out that leg and beats me. Some things never change.
And soon after we lose a guy, ejected for his third penalty. Seven guys left, one for each minute left in the game.
And we hang on, they come in waves and they nearly all break at our blueline. The goalie comes out and they throw it all at us and here we are, dead beat, a guy in the box again and yet every battle for the puck is ours. With about twenty seconds left one of our defencemen has two guys in the corner and he's the guy who comes out with the puck.
And we win.
I think its going to be a good year. Unfortunately I don't think I'm going to be able to get out of bed tomorrow.
This is it for camp, this is it for some kids. Some of the guys we know are going to be sent back to Springfield and some guys may be gone for good.
Its been an interesting camp. Brule got the push that was expected and he’s got it made. Jacques was considered a good bet for a job but there is no doubt that he’s exceeded all expectations. He’s starting the year with Horcoff and Hemsky.
I kid you fucking not.
And it seems that Stone has it made as well. Big guy and a good camp.
So its Horcoff, Hemsky, Jacques, Penner, Comrie, O’Sullivan, Cogliano, Gagner, Stortini, Brule, Stone, Moreau
That leaves Pisani, Nilsson, Pouliot, Reddox, Brennan, MacIntyre, Schremp
Am I missing anyone?
I can’t see them sending Pisani out. Remember this club has few vets and a problem on the PK. I think its Fernando’s swan song though.
I’m sentimental. Here’s hoping Fernando has a terrific year and retires an Oiler. The first of any consequence to do so.
Schemp is getting sent out.
MacIntyre is not good enough to play a regular shift.
So its either Brennan or Reddox if Pouliot is out. Brennan was my darkhorse but a guy pushing thirty who has sixty games or so on his resume doesn’t strike me as a reasonable choice, especially with Jacques and Stone out there.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Hit the ice for my sixth season with Capsule tomorrow. Looking forward to it, summer season ended in early August, mercifully I might add, and since then I've been doing little but sitting around, er, getting into 'shape'.
It will likely be the same story this season as the past three. We're a competitive squad who win and lose a lot of 2-1 games. We're the oldest team in the league and we have to get by on smarts and effort. As long as we bust our asses, which is most of the time, we hang in there and win our share. A few times a year we either don't show up or have the hockey gods sneer at us and then we get waxed. Last season was typical. Maybe two or three bad games during the season. Seventh out of eight clubs but just a few points out of the top half of the league. Two game playoff against the defending champs and second seed. Game one we played them perfectly, down 1-0 halfway through the game and coming on and then a mistake and it was down two and then the doors fell off as we tried to get back into it and we got pounded. In the second game, a must win, we threw it all at them and were up one with seven minutes left when an unlucky bounce ended up in our net. The rest of the game we poured into their end in waves but chance after chance went for naught and so we ended the year with a tie and the series lost. They went on to repeat and nobody came as close as we did to getting a piece of them.
This is standard. Two seasons ago we won our first series and then upset a top seed in the opening game of our series. They beat us in game two and then we lost in overtime to go out. The year before out in the first round with the usual valiant effort that fell short.
You get the picture. We're generally unlucky but the truth is that we are just a touch weaker than the other clubs and the end result is talent winning out. It looks like bad luck but its really just justice.
It was the 2005/2006 season that was the pinnacle for our merry band of balding greying shinny artistes. The season started off on an inauspicious note as one of the guys had a heart attack in the dressing room after a game. (He survived, if it had been a month later he likely would have died. Got the balloon, stopped smoking and began to eat better and he was on the ice by the new year). From there though we didn't look back. We had an unbeaten streak that hit double digits. Our strength was a five man defence that was big and tough and could move the puck. One of the guy's attendance was spotty but the other four were golden and so every game we could run two pairs out there who were reliable. Throw in three lines of guys that included a hard checking LW who lived across the street from me and a slick playmaking little guy who could play any position up front. We rolled through the season, a stingy defence allowing us to get by with our usual two or three goals a game.
And then in February one of our D left town, moving down to the States for a new job. He was the least flashy of our five guys, the type of guy who fans would sneer at if we were in the pros, a choppy skater who added nothing on offence, a chip it out, chip it in guy but a guy who came to play every night, who won the battles along the boards and cleared the front of the net.
When he left we suddenly had four D instead of five and when a guy was missing then it meant three D or someone dropping back to make it four. We still ended up second in the league (and winning the Exclaim Cup as well) but it was to spell our doom in the playoffs. We knocked off our arch rival in round one, a nasty brutal series in which yours truly scored the game winner in one game and broke his stick over someone's arm (thankfully unnoticed) in another. We went into the semis and won the first game of our best of three series. And then we fell two straight. Just short in each game. The club that beat us went on to win it all.
That was the high point (well, winning the Exclaim was, sadly for me I wasn't part of that squad) for Capsule. The next season we were down two more defencemen, a loss we've never been able to address. The following season the fourth of those original five left along with the slick playmaker I alluded to. We picked up a burly rugged guy to play on the back end at that time but in men's league you really can't pick and choose to fill your roster. The result is that we have two natural defencemen, a few forwards forced to play out of position (quality players too so our offence has also taken a hit) and so we usually hit the ice already facing an obstacle besides the fact that our opponents are on average more than a decade younger than us.
We've added a terrific player this fall but he's a forward once again.
We're seriously out of whack.
The Oilers are getting closer to season's beginning and while a decent preseason for JF Jacques has raised eyebrows, the fact is that this team is going to go into battle exactly as was expected by many. They're missing pieces. They're too small and they're a little too fancy and they still don't have the guys to win battles along the boards and in the proverbial trenches. Its one of the reasons that Jacques has gotten a big push and Stone too. Its why a guy like Reddox who is gritty and aggressive still has a shot and why another guy, Gilbert Brule, is also getting a long look, because while he may be small, he's not afraid to get his nose dirty, as ineffective as he may sometimes be due to his size.
And while it was only preseason it was a perfect end to the Tampa game when a lost faceoff led to the tying goal with little time left and then another lost faceoff led to the overtime winner for St. Louis.
This club has needed a centre who could win draws for over a year now and they've needed some size and guys who can move the puck in the right direction for longer. Guys like Pisani and Torres and Glencross and Brodziak and Reasoner aren't sexy and one could argue pretty easily why the last four were moved at the time (yes including Glencross whose loss wasn't as loudly lamented at the time as some are saying now) but the issue with Oilers' management remains the same as always. They move these guys out and then they don't replace them and of course there's the rub. Chris Pronger and Jaro Spacek and Mike Peca weren't staying and then Lowe decided against Ryan Smyth and he let Jan Hejda walk inexplicably and again you can argue each and you can't do much about the guys who leave on their own but if you have a defenceman who can play the tough minutes who wants to play in Edmonton and will do so cheaply then you had better replace him with the same. If you don't then you're out to lunch.
Its the same old story. This summer they drop a guy, a fourth liner sure, but a kid who could win draws and score in double digits and two seasons ago he and Glencross and Stortini were money. Now two of them are gone and Glencross is a top nine guy in Calgary and I'd lay pretty good money on Brodziak succeeding too.
And they still haven't replaced the exodus of forwards from last summer. Some were flawed and a couple maybe made too much money but bring in the LW who can stir it up and check consistently for half of what Torres made if you want to drop him. Don't just drop him and Smyth and Dvorak and Peca and Glencross and Brodziak and Reasoner and Thoresen and Stoll and Cole and then wonder why the hell the puck is always in your end no matter who you throw out there.
So we're entering what may very well be the fourth straight year in the wilderness which would tie the disastrous post dynasty clubs for futility. The difference is that these are cap teams, built to succeed and when Pat Laforge shoots off his mouth about the club losing money, a completely ridiculous statement (but I expect nothing less from that jackass) I wonder when someone will stand up and ask why Katz stands for spending all of this money while the club continues to miss the playoffs. Such failure in the real world would result in wholesale changes at the top. If the one way to make money is to make the playoffs then why is the architect of the past failures still in the mix. And he is in the mix, don't believe otherwise.And here is Pat Quinn. Make no bones about it Quinn is an astute politician, he survived all of those years at M-I-C-K-E-Y M-L-S-E after all, and he is laying groundwork already with his comments about the organization being poor in the past and about the team he has been given lacking size and toughness and guys who can play both ways and win draws.
If this club falls short, again, and Katz asks his people for assessments of the situation what do you think Pat Quinn will say? He's already on the record saying that he has been dealt a losing hand in some ways. And if push comes to shove and Katz looks at a once proud franchise equalling its darkest days under his watch, all the while spending millions of his own money, who do you think he will hand the keys of the franchise to? The understudy from Vancouver who has had two seasons out of the playoffs or the experienced veteran hand with a long record of success?
All it is going to take is Khabibulin or Horcoff going down, hell it might not even take that, for this season to go south.
This club missed the playoffs again last year and all Tambellini did was bring in a guy who replicates half the players on the roster in Mike Comrie and a wildly overpaid injury prone goaltender (sorry goaltending was not the issue last year). Plus Cogliano, Gagner and Grebeshkov coming up for contracts on a club against the cap with that cap possibly falling.
What result do you see coming out of it?
Its not men's league. You can actually go out and fill needs if you have them. Everyone else seems to have figured it out.
I hope I'm wrong. Pessimism does not come naturally to me and I certainly don't get any satisfaction from my team being shitty. But forgive me if I'm not holding my breath for a revival here.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Pal commenting over at the Journal on a story there recommended cutting Horcoff, Hemsky, Moreau, Pisani and Penner.
There's a good idea.
Last night has to put a stop to all of those Lowe Lynchers out there - that trade for Curtis Glencross looks awesome everytime he steps onto the ice.
Anyways I'm going to try and liveblog the game tonight. Its on TSN so I'll be watching. A lot of the bubble boys are participating - Schremp, Reddox, Brule, Pouliot, MacIntyre and Nilsson.
Horcoff and Hemsky are not playing. Souray isn't either. The bums.
Actually before I go any further let me just make it clear that other than for those players mentioned above the preseason means absolutely nothing for the vets other than coming out of it healthy, imo. This idea that we should worry about Hemsky or Horcoff because they are not up to snuff now is pretty ridiculous. If you have to buy tickets to these preseason games because you are a season's ticket holder then I feel badly because its positively criminal what they charge. If you buy tickets for the game on your own well caveat emptor. Its exhibition. What do you expect?
If Hemsky is sucking bag in October then we can worry. For now, whatever.
This is going to be exciting though. Because not only am I live blogging the game but I am live blogging my day. Now you get to see how the other half lives.
I've said it before and I will say it again. If this club does not make the playoffs this season Tambellini is a goner and Quinn takes his place. Your man Pat Quinn is a smart guy and he's an astute politician and he has a lot of cachet. He's already saying on the record that this team is lacking. When Katz is pitching a fit at the end of the year and the famous coach says hey I told you so what do you think happens to the newbie GM?
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
If I were trying out for the Oilers I think I would just not answer the phone. I don't have a cell so there's no way they could track me down. Call me in my room, don't answer it, knock on the door, hide in the bathtub, coach wants to see me, sneak out the back door. I'd be like George Costanza, remember he got fired and kept going to work pretending nothing happened. That would be me.
Show up for the first game.
McLean, what are you doing here? We cut you son. Two weeks ago.
No, no, Mr Katz told me to come tonight, he said I made the team.
What! What the fuck!
After Quinn stomps off, I knock one of the little guys in the head (Christ I'd have my pick, its going to be like walking into a kindergarten class in that dressing room) and stuff him under the Zamboni seat. When Quinn returns, purple with rage, I explain to him that Nilsson said he didn't feel well, went home or some damn thing.
Alright take the pregame skate then but you're in the press box tonight.
Make sure to slew foot another guy and rake someone else across the eyes 'accidentally'.
Volia, I'm in the lineup.
A couple of years ago I described the Toronto media as being so obsessed with the Leafs that they would go into the toilet after Paul Maurice left and try and divine the club's workings by sifting through the corn in his shit. We're getting near critical mass right now folks, although its Quinn whose words we're poking at, holding our noses, because it looks like Tambellini and Lowe have dropped another huge turd into their coach's lap.
Rumours are flying like crazy. Fernando may be a goner says Matheson who turns around in the same article and quotes Quinn as saying that Pisani needn't lose any sleep. Quinn says the veterans aren't up to snuff and folks read this as meaning that Moreau and Staios are on their way out.
I think Quinn is telling the vets that playtime is over and that its time to get serious.
I still think, barring a trade or injury, that Horcoff, Hemsky, Penner, Cogliano, O'Sullivan, Comrie, Gagner, Moreau, Pisani and Stortini are in the lineup opening night.
I think that Jacques has made the club. He came in with a lot going for him anyways and he has not disappointed.
I think that it is quite clear that Stone has put himself into position to be the darkhorse and that he is in good shape.
I think Pouliot has shown pretty well and the fact that guys like Gregor, who isn't a fan, have him making the club says a lot.
Quinn said he's not going to keep a guy around just to fight, he has to be able to play. Bye MacIntyre.
Schremp has done nothing and is not in the lineup on Wednesday. Bye bye and lets see if anyone picks him up.
So that leaves Nilsson, Brennan and Brule. Brule has done fuck all but is supposedly the pick of management. Nilsson, rightly or wrongly, is the poster boy for what has ailed this club the last two years (much of that being just too young but also inconsistent of course). Brennan has told Quinn that he won't be the designated goon and Quinn giving him a chance to prove that he can play.
Interesting stuff. I'm going to say Brennan by a nose. Of course last year I said Spurgeon was the darkhorse, so Kip (WTF?) might start checking out condo listings in Springfield Mass.
Just don't pick up that phone, boys. Walk away.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
The boy has eased himself nicely into the new routine, thank you very much. Unlike his sister who proves that she is indeed five going on sixteen by answering inquiries about her day with grunts, sneers, smirks and eyerolls, the boy is quite happy to share the details of his morning with us at great length.
Of course talking to a three year old is an adventure. Lets just say that his grip on reality is tenuous at times. When he had his first soccer game this summer we were standing in a circle with other kids and their parents listening to the coach when all of a sudden he began to make a loud revving noise.
Hey buddy, what are you doing there?
Starting my engine for soccer. I hope I don’t run out of gas!
And there is the attitude, he’s a stubborn mule and he doesn’t like being told what to do. When his little sister is down for a nap and he has to go use the little Canucks' room, he’ll be on his way up the stairs and we’ll usually tell him to keep it down. We did this a few times until he started getting severely pissed off at us.
DON’T TELL ME TO BE QUIET! YOU DON”T HAVE TO TELL ME. YOU ALWAYS TELL ME AND I ALREADY KNOW TO BE QUIET SO LEAVE ME ALONE!
All of this is a whisper full of rage.
Since the baby came along he and his older sister have been sharing a room while the baby has his old digs. He is getting eager to return to his own room now. He and his sister are like an old married couple. They love each other dearly and they make each other mental. With summer over and her now being in a full day of school they don’t spend as much time together as they did before and they are finding it tough at times, missing each other, but they are also a little beat so when they are together there is a lot of fighting going on. They’re a couple of grumps really and will be until they get used to their new schedules.
So we’ve been putting them to bed earlier than usual. In the summer we’d send them upstairs but they’d talk and play for an hour or so, sometimes longer, which was fine, but now its pretty important that they catch up on their sleep. And while his sister’s mantra is “I never sleep” (when I ask her not to get up so early she says that she wants to make her day as long as possible because she has so much fun – how the hell do I argue with that? she’s a mini me right down to the hairy back, poor girl) the boy is pretty aware that sometimes he just needs to sleep. He tackled the baby earlier this week and bloodied her and when he saw what he had done the lip began to quiver and his eyes welled up and he said that he had to get some sleep.
There’s been a few times since school has started that he has asked if he can sleep in our room to start the night off and we have agreed because when one does not have the other then they both tend to crash pretty quickly at which point we come upstairs and move him down the hall.
The other night was one of those nights and so I had him upstairs and was wrestling with the baby and he began to talk about what he wanted to do. When he is asked what he wants to do he invariably says that he wants to be an ice cream man. Well now things have changed. He wants to be an astronaut. But like right now!
He wants me to buy parts so we can build a rocket ship.
Then we’ll get in the rocket. And we’ll put our seatbelts on and then we’ll zoom into space, way way up above the sky and then we’ll take our seatbelts off and that will be ok up there. So we’ll take our seatbelts off and then we’ll float around.
Good plan brother.
Camp has begun and its always interesting to see how different folks react to what’s going on. This isn’t like it was two years ago when there were openings everywhere and Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano and Kyle Brodziak made the roster out of camp and Tom Gilbert passed Grebeshkov and Smid to earn a spot on the roster for opening day.
Of course Gilbert would rise up the depth chart almost immediately due to injury and end up having a nice rookie year, having pretty good success at both ends of the rink while playing pretty tough opposition. Its guys like Gilbert and Horcoff and Pisani (and the list goes on and on) that make me take proclamations about how young players have reached their ceiling at a certain age with a grain of salt. Already folks are saying that guys like Cogliano and O’Sullivan and Smid may never amount to much, based on different factors, mostly their progression, the arguments are legitimate certainly, but I have always had a hard time with this idea that professional players are fully formed after a couple of years in the league, like Athena springing from the head of Zeus.
It doesn’t work that way, regardless of what the numbers say.
And of course it doesn’t work the other way either, where a guy can say, like some commenter at Lowetide’s the other day, that Tom Gilbert is a piece of shit defenceman and a pussy, because that’s what he sees and damn any of the fancy numbers.
You know, like goals and assists and plus minus. Or the icetime your man put in, all the while playing in the NHL with a bad back.
Hockey more than any other sport lends itself to interpretation. Put one hundred folks in a room to watch a game and you will get one hundred different interpretations. For some folks Shawn Horcoff can do no wrong, for others he can do no right and then there’s the majority in the middle. So it goes. Gilbert could win the Norris and score five goals in game seven of the Cup final and you'd have some guy bitching about how he turned away from a forechecker in the first.
I always enjoy training camp. I like it because it means hockey season is about to start. I like it because there are times where there is legitimate drama, like two season ago when Smid and Stortini and Thoresen all got sent out and Pouliot and Jacques and the aforementioned all made it.
Of course it wasn’t long before Smid and Stortini were back to stay. It will be the same this year when guys start getting hurt, those last cuts will filter back up to Alberta, some to stay for good, others to get their Tim Sestito cup of coffee. Not to take away from the achievement of breaking camp with the big club or the disappointment of getting sent down but the reality is it can chnage within days either way.
This year there’s not much drama really. With Brule’s waiver eligibility exhausted its become pretty clear that unless the club moves someone out, which they still may, or someone gets hurt then I think we can agree that the roster is going to look something like this:
Horcoff, Penner, Hemsky, Gagner, O’Sullivan, Nilsson, Cogliano, Comrie, Moreau, Pisani, Stortini, Brule, Jacques, Pouliot
Souray, Visnovsky, Grebeshkov, Gilbert, Smid, Staios, Strudwick
No real surprises here. They are small up front and there are a lot of leadoff hitters, as LT likes to say, but consider that they’re unlikely to give up on a guy like Nilsson unless they think Schremp can step in and do him one better. Considering that guys are going to get hurt, moving Nilsson out doesn’t strike me as a wise move. If he is the odd kid out having him on the fourth line certainly doesn’t hurt unless you can get a big body in return for him.
But I think we’re going to see if Schremp can make it through waivers. I don’t think he will.
Other than that there’s not really anyone else who strikes me as ready to step in. Ryan Stone might, if he can have a terrific camp, but even then, who is he going to knock out of the lineup? Jacques would be the logical candidate but he has had a nice start to camp so far and my guess is that someone would take a flyer on him if they try and waive him.
This camp is all about the veterans staying healthy. Its nice that O’Sullivan scored two the other night I guess, good to get some confidence going early, but playing a bunch of scrubs means not a lot and you can bet the vets know it. I’m not concerned about Ales Hemsky looking disinterested, he’s got bigger things to worry about, like trying not to getting killed by the sheepherder this winter.
The one positive coming out of this little exercise, having said that, is the next wave of kids coming up. I haven’t seen a damn thing out here in Ontario-o-o-o but there have been good reports. Cornet was sent down but he showed well. Motin has looked terrific and Eberle has not looked out of place at all. I’ve heard good things about Kytnar and Dubnyk and Plante as well. Good stuff, especially considering there are still the Europeans and the college kids and Roy, not to mention Peckham.
A solid pipeline of talent and a lot of them look to be steals from the later rounds. It bodes well.
And it also sounds like Pouliot had a solid game last night. Its his last chance really but he could finally be a useful player, a big centre who can win draws and kill penalties. Last chance for him too.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
You get the picture.
Once you have children this feeling of September as the page's turn accelerates when they begin school. So this past week my daughter started Grade 1 and the boy started junior kindergarten.
They stagger the little ones’ entrances into school because it can be a little much. They’re four, those with late birthdays, like my son, are actually three.
There were some tears in the lineups for Grade One. Our oldest was a little nervous but was fine. Full day at school now, she even eats her lunch there. Its really fucking mental when I think about it. It’s a big adjustment, from a half day to a full day, and once evening comes she’s a bit of a mess. Pretty tired out.
But kindergarten? Well, some do ok. Others not so much. Our daughter was a tough sell for a few weeks, crying as we dragged her up the stairs to her class. I don’t blame her. There’s many a morning when I get on the subway in tears.
So Wednesday was the boy’s first day. He’s been excited for this for months. He has the same teacher that his sister did, an absolutely terrific little guy who just extraordinary. He runs a very tight ship, which we like, has high expectations for his pupils and has an unbelievably creative and engaging classroom. Apparently he did just quit smoking on Monday so that might make things interesting in class for a while. (At dinner I asked the boy if he found that his teacher seemed to be tense or on edge – he stared at me like I have two heads).
So at 7am the boy was up and he got himself dressed (have I mentioned before that my children are brilliant). The boy is his own man, always has been, and he, like his namesake, my father, takes his time.
If I had a dime for every time my dad said “Take your time” to me when I was a boy I’d be doing this blogging thing for a living.
Getting dressed, eating, taking a dump.
The boy takes his time.
And on Wednesday he was at the door, backpack on, shoes too, breakfast eaten, teeth brushed, fully dressed, at 7:30. A half hour after he woke up.
Easy there big fella.
An hour later we left, walked to the school, dropped off his big sister and walked over to the kindergarten. He gave me a hug and walked up the steps with his mom. A minute later she came down the stairs.
He’d walked into the cloakroom, hung his bag on a hook and walked right into the classroom without looking back and barely a casual goodbye.
He’s cool, that one.
So here we are, camp about to start and there are some nervous folks out here in the ‘sphere.
We’re worried about the goaltending.
We wonder from amongst the forwards who is going to stop the other team from scoring.
Mike Comrie is the only skater to come in this summer. Its an odd choice. It’s a terrific contract and if his health issues are behind him he will probably completely outperform it and how many Oilers can we say that about? Folks look at his last couple of years and they were pretty poor but he was the focal point of the offence on the Island so my guess is he faced some tough opposition there. If he gets the easy stuff and he is healthy he is a good bet to produce.
Having said that, please please stop justifying his signing by talking about the fact that he scored thirty goals though. Bobby Hull scored fifty, should they sign him too? Its about as relevant as Khabibulin’s Cup ring as far as I’m concerned. When the playoffs roll around next spring it wil be six years since Tampa won the Cup. I wonder what Dave Andreychuk is doing these days.
Fair play to Comrie anyhow. There will be no booing and if he produces then he’ll be the hometown hero again, at least until he leaves town for greener pastures in a year. His career is hanging by a thread, never mind Winter’s claims that there were three other teams after his services. Whatever. He'll be highly motivated and watch the crowd roar the first time he puts one into the net.
Of course the problem with Comrie’s arrival is that his skill set is a redundant one on this roster. Small offensively skilled forwards are abundant on this Oilers’ club. They need … well, we know what they need, we’ve known it for a while now.
LT is the man when it comes to training camp, as if we didn't know. But if you didn't, check it out.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Pronger, Spacek, Smith, Hejda, Tjarnqvist, Bergeron, Tarnstrom, Pitkanen, Greene, Samsonov, Peca, Dvorak, Smyth, Sykora, Winchester, Thoresen, Stoll, Torres, Glencross, Reasoner, Cole, Kotalik, Brodziak.
That is a list of what I would call NHL players that have been moved out since June 19, 2006.
Now in some cases the Oilers did not have a choice and in others they got a nice return and there are others that you can argue whether or not the outgoing players had much value at all.
But here is the problem, its not that they moved guys. Guys get moved all the time. A guy like Marty Reasoner or Kyle Brodziak or Patrick Thoresen can be replaced pretty easily but if you do not do so then what happens? This is the problem. The list of incoming players is a lot shorter than the list of guys heading away.
Two seasons ago the Oilers had a fourth line of Glencross, Brodziak and Stortini. They were terrific. Very effective in the role that they played. Patrick Thoresen and Marty Reasoner were two other fourth liners who are now gone. Brad Winchester too.
So what does the Oilers' fourth line look to be this season? Stortini and then two of Potulny, Jacques, Brule, Pouliot, Reddox, Stone, MacIntyre plus any guy who comes out of nowhere.
What happens if he goes down for thirty games?
Who is going to kill penalties? Who is going to take faceoffs and win them? Nobody could do it last season and there's nobody new in the mix.
Can the kids finally kill the soft parade?
What if it wasn't MacT? What if Nilsson and Penner and Pouliot are just a bunch of dog fuckers?
Can the fourth line do anything worthwhile or will they need to be stapled to the bench? Would you rather a line of Jacques/Brule/Stortini or Glencross (or Moreau)/Brodziak/Stortini? A line that murdered the other team's dregs. A line that got that puck moving the right way.
Who can play the tough minutes? If Penner/Horcoff/Hemsky are one tough minutes line then who centres Pisani and Moreau on the other and what happens if either of those guys or Horcoff goes down?
The coaching move was inspired but far too many things have to go right for the Oilers this year. People speak about how this team was in good shape last season but they also forget that they had pretty nice luck with injuries. A few injuries to the wrong people and this club, too thin up front and in goal, will be in lottery territory. Absolutely healthy they still fall short. Too many holes. They just aren't good enough.
Next we'll enter fantasy land and I'll talk about what I would have done both this summer and since 2006. None of this - oh I traded Pronger for Bouwmeester or I signed Zetterberg to an offer sheet shit. I'll work within reasonable parameters and this club will be more competitive, cheaper and a playoff team. Guaranteed. ;)