Friday, November 27, 2009

The Mustache As Metaphor or Sam Gagner Is Just A Boy




By the time you read this it may have been confirmed that Ales Hemsky is done for the season.

And so the depth on RW - O'Sullivan, Stortini, Nilsson um ... - is now about the same as LW - Penner, Moreau, Jacques, um ...

Of course considering the majority of comments at the Journal that I read this morning this is probably the best thing that could have happened to this club.

Which tells you all you need to know about a good number of fans of the Edmonton Oilers. A guy averaging a point per game, who can play against the other team's better players and is a plus seven on this shitshow goes down and they cheer.

Well they're going to get the team that they deserve. Really they already are.

We're looking at four straight years out of the playoffs if its true. Even with Hemsky it was likely they were going to miss out again.

And that is fully on management's shoulders. Of course they already have their excuses.

You want to know the problem with this club? Its the same as its been for years. Not enough quality NHL players. Watch the game tonight and check out the boys playing the men from the San Jose Sharks. Gagner. O'Sullivan. Brule. Jacques. Potulny. The departed Liam Reddox.

Check out the tiny little hairs sprouting from their upper lips.

There's no shame in it. Its just when you spend a month not shaving if that's the best that you can come up with its probably not the best thing that the hopes of an NHL team ride upon your shoulders.

You need a few men at least.

---------

As you can see the stash is magni-fu-cent. Its cost me what remained of my dignity and my sex life but its been worth it. So far over 600.00 has been donated to this stash to fight prostate cancer. One in six men in Canada will get prostate cancer, so if you want to give a little or a lot to a good cause then please check out http://ca.movember.com/mospace/180793 and chip in please. I'd appreciate it. Its probably too late for me but maybe the next generation won't have to deal with getting an annual finger up the ass.

Unless you dig that sort of thing. Then, well, now this is an awkward moment now, isn't it.

Ah what the hell, whatever turns you on. Hell being an Oilers fan is like getting it up the ass from a bull elephant so what's a little digit here and there. Really.
So only three more days for this baby. Don't be late. Donate!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

This Is Getting Old. So Are We.


This is a picture of the boy just before the Oilers last made the playoffs.
He is in school now.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Midnight Sun Espresso Stout


The year that I turned forty I celebrated by doing three big things. Two were planned. One was not.

Lets go backwards, shall we? Well it was just under two months to my fortieth when I came home from a Capsule victory in which I had played quite well, a two to one victory over our biggest rival, a game in which I had set up both goals with a couple of sweet passes, if I do say so myself. Then a couple of post game pints at the Communist Bar and I arrived home to find the wife into a bottle of wine and so we sat outside on our back deck and had a couple more and smoked a little and the conversation turned to the question that had been before us since the boy's arrival two years previous and that was, do we want a third kid? We had not been sure but slowly and surely, especially as things got easier with our two oldest, my wife began to warm to the idea. I wasn't sold on it but the previous summer had proven to me that we could get our old lives back once the kids got a little older so I too began to get on board. And so this night we decided that we would have a third kid. The plan was to start trying in the spring but in the heat of the moment we rolled the dice. And the rest, as they say, is history.

It was about a month later that I travelled to Edmonton for the first time to catch the Oilers. Andy Grabia, my gracious and generous host that weekend, and I attended a Saturday night game against a rebuilding Hawks' team, a bunch of kids, amongst them rookies Toews and Kane, who did not impress. Horcoff, in the middle of a run that would convince Lowe to sign him to a big extension (Horc would average just about a PPG before he went down for the year), scored the winner in the shootout. It was good fun, an enjoyable trip. Andy squired me about the town, we checked out the Golden Bears on Friday night and went to RATT, went for dinner before the game on Saturday night and then for drinks afterwards. Good times, although not exactly what Andy had planned for me. :)

And to kick off the festivities, months before, I believe it was in late June but the memories are hazy, one of my closest friends (also turning 40) and I headed down the 401 to Montreal for a long weekend.

Sweet sweet Montreal. Now the Island is probably my favourite province, although I think that if I spent any extended time in Newfoundland it might end up a push, but Montreal has to be my favourite city in Canada I think. And that's saying a lot because I've been to a lot of cities between Bonavista and Vancouver Island and I have very little bad to say about any of them.

But Montreal.

Damn.

Some day I will go into detail about that weekend, I am sure. We arrived Friday in the evening and we commenced our wander. Up and down and all around the streets of Montreal, into brewpubs and hole in the wall joints and streetside patios, drinking and smoking in the unusual early summer heat, up St. Denis to visit a friend and beers on his balcony, looking across the street at a party in the building there, a couple having sex just above the festivities, figuring that their antics, slow and easy, were unknown and unseen in the night, back down into the city, talk drifting as talk will, easy and slow between two old friends, one of those weekends that goes real slow and all of the drink that we poured into ourselves just softened the edges around us.

And in the middle of Saturday afternoon we ducked into a fancy looking joint, it was time for a drink, another one of these places all about beer. We turned down the offer of food and looked at the list of beers and both of us were immediately drawn to one in particular.

Midnight Sun Espresso Stout

All the way from the Yukon.

It was a damn big bottle, we each got a pint out of it.

Good thing because it was thirty five bucks.

Ha!

It was a very good beer, not worth thirty five dollars of course, but we wanted to drink it and we were staying in a hostel so it wasn't like we were blowing the kids' education fund. It was just one of those moments. 'We're here to celebrate. Why the fuck not?'

--------------

Here in Ontario you can get some pretty good beers these days at the LCBO. Some quality shit from around the world and a lot of terrific beer from around Canada as well. Every day I go in I seem to find something new and more and more I see a pint bottle or maybe a little bigger than a pint going for five, six, seven dollars.

Now I buy myself a lot of damn good beers there for two and a quarter or three fifty so when I see a bottle of stout, even from a micro brewery that I know, going for six bucks then I get a little leery. There is a Winter Ale that goes for just under seven bucks; its two pints worth and a damn strong beer. It caught my fancy last year, its got a smell and taste you wouldn't believe.(I'm not a beer geek or snob by the way although I guess it sounds like it here. I just like damn good beer. I guess maybe I'm a bit of a snob in that I turn my nose up at Coors Light, say, but if you put one in front of me I'll drink the damn thing and like it so there you go).

Anyhow this Winters' Ale, I think its from Niagara Brewery, is damn good shit. A couple of those, all spices and oranges and shit (I kid you not) and I get a warm glow on. I'd better, for the price. That's just once in a while stuff.

----------------

And now the news that Khabibulin is out with a bad back and anyone who has ever had a bad back knows its bad fucking news. I've been relatively lucky but every once in a while I get a tweak. Last week I did and for about half a day I moved at about a quarter speed. And then just as quickly as it came, it went. No idea what happened. I got out of bed wrong likely. Same as Khabibulin probably.

And anyone who has seen JDD the last two games knows that even if Tambellini is right and all will be right with the world when everyone is back healthy, this club suddenly has a problem in net.

Not that anyone saw this one coming. Jesus.

Anyhow JDD has been pretty well shit and I'm thinking another game like this and Dubnyk will get a start and at least we may get an idea about the big man.

Hopefully he doesn't get beat top shelf over and over again. How the fuck does that happen when you're six foot four. Just fucking stand there, maybe!

Anyways this horse has been beaten over and over again until its just a faint rusty smear on the road but facts are facts and for some reason folks still like to defend this crackerjack management team and their sterling record over the past half dozen seasons (That would be one playoff season in five years, btw, with this year looking iffy.) so what the hell, sure I will pile on, again.

The problem is that Tambellini invested a shitload of money and term in an aging injury prone goalie and on top of that did not bring in a veteran backup to help out when, as was certainly likely, that goalie went down. He made not one but two poor bets. He bet that Khabibulin would be worth the money and that he would stay healthy even though his recent history says otherwise. And he bet that JDD or Dubnyk would be able to step in and do the job. I guess we'll see how that goes.

Lets hope that it goes well because if it does not then even if this team as good as Steve seems to think that it is they are going to get sunk by poor goaltending. I don't put much stock in how the club was outperformed by Chicago. Chicago is way better than the Edmonton Oilers. What worries me is that JDD has looked poor these last two games. I'm thinking that this is going to cost them.

You see Steve, its okay to buy that thirty five dollar bottle of beer when you're out celebrating a milestone, its once in a lifetime, yeah?

But when you're taking care of your goaltending it might make a little more sense to take an alternative route, no? Maybe a couple of those St Peter's Cream Stout will do. Just as good and a fraction of the price. And you have two of them,

Friday, November 20, 2009

I Love Myself Some Colm Meaney




The truth about life is this. Unless you are independently wealthy or a professional athlete or in some other profession that puts you in a position where big things happen to you a lot, life is not full of big moments. Its the small moments that make life what it is.

Sure you have your wedding and the arrival of your children and your travelling to wonderful locales. You have your love affairs and your road trips, your first kiss and your first times, buying your dog and the glory when your favourite team goes on a run or a Canadian wins Olympic gold.

But for every one of those special days there are thousands of small moments that are the story of your life. Building a model helicopter with your son. Taking your daughter out for pancakes at the local joint. Taking your kids and the dog for a walk in the little ravine in your neighbourhood, showing them a tiny snake and the trees laden with snails and the wildflowers at stream's edge. Having a beer in a pub with your dad as a vicious winter storm rages outside. Enjoying a pork roast and a bottle of wine, courtesy of your mom. Your love leaning back as she rises over you, in shadows, the streetlight drifting through the blinds the only illumination, curves and sweet pale skin. The baby throwing the rest of her dinner overboard as the dog rushes into the room. A cool October night in a village in Cork, the smell of peat in the air as you duck into a quiet pub. The light rain falling outside when you awake in the quiet dawn. Another Saturday night on the ice with Capsule. Stumbling out of the Communist Bar after pints with your good friend, lurching down the Danforth as the heavy silent snow falls around you.

So much out there. So much to life.

I love my big moments and I love my small moments and I'll take what I can get. Last week my wife got the horrible news that a girl that she played soccer with this summer had passed away. In her late twenties, diagnosed with cancer in August after going in to see about a sore back. Gone three months later. Awful stuff and a reminder that not everyone can be as lucky as my folks, down for a visit this week, nearing eighty and still full of piss and vinegar. Lucky and they'll be the first to tell you.

Naw life isn't about all of the sound and fury, the white noise, the media telling us for weeks that the end is nigh and then telling us not to panic in the next breath (ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall the msm has cast about for something to keep us on edge, first it was terrorism, now its essentially pandemics and the weather).

Its not about the big roar. Tom Cruise grimacing as he runs from some computer generated threat. Run Tom run. I wonder if that is a Scientologist thing? Isn't Will Smith a Scientologist too? He spends a lot of time in his gigantic movies running. Run run run.

Maybe its in that weirdo Tom Cruise's contract. 'Mr. Cruise must spend ten percent of finished product engaged in running'.

Mr. Cruise leaves me cold. So did Demi Moore when she was big. You know who I like? Colm Meaney. Curly thinning hair, craggy face, heavy set, sneering, smirking Irishman. I could have a beer with Colm Meaney. I'd rather watch Colm Meaney fret and fume about his teenage daughter being pregnant in The Snapper a thousand times before watching Tom Cruise running from another fucking alien spaceship. Just as I'd rather see Julie Delpy, wispy, pale beauty, spend two hours talking to Ethan Hawke, than Demi Moore playing a stripper or a lawyer or an astronaut or whatever the genius producers have figured out for her.

Oh well, to each his own I guess.

---------

Pat Quinn talked on Friday and damn, I love listening to his pressers. He pulls no punches and he doesn't talk in cliches and he's interesting. He gives us information and you know what pisses me off? If you didn't listen to the shit on the interweb you'd never have an idea. The MSM doesn't give us but a fraction of it. Rotten. Anyways his latest is great stuff as always. What interested me and what I want to talk about, is what he says about Liam Reddox and Ryan Potulny. I especially want to talk about Reddox.

You can't keep track of what is going on without a reference when it comes to the guys coming back from injury or going down with injuries on this club but the fact is that unless a couple guys take a step back or someone else goes down, soon a decision has to be made. Even with MacIntyre gone and Pisani on injured reserve again there is about to be too many forwards on the roster.

Penner, Horcoff, Hemsky, Comrie, Gagner, O'Sullivan, Moreau, Pouliot, Stortini, Jacques, Pouliot, Stone, Nilsson, Reddox, Potulny, Brule

That's two too many.

Comrie and Nilsson are still a ways away I think and Jacques, Pouliot and Stone are all still day to day, I believe. Sounds like Jacques may be ready to go. Pouliot and Stone have just started practicing.

So no decisions need to be made yet but when the time comes what do the Oilers do?

I think Quinn's presser gives us some answers or at least some hints as to what the coach wants. He is happy with Potulny who had a poor camp but who has done well in this callup. What makes the coach happy? The PP goals are nice but what Quinn wants to talk about is Potulny's positioning, his checking, his ability to do the little things correctly.

And Reddox? The fans' whipping boy from last season? The guy whose callup was meant with scorn this season? Well, MacT, who was the ONLY reason Reddox even got a look last year apparently, must be wearing a Pat Quinn suit because Quinn talks about how Reddox was the last cut at this year's camp and how he has done everything they need from him since he came back.

Now Reddox is still a kid and at times his numbers are going to reflect this but the reality is this guy offers a lot that this this team needs. He is aggressive and he goes hard all of the time. He hits and he picks up his man and he wins puck battles. He blocks shots and clears the zone and he gets the puck deep.

Is it sexy? Robert Nilsson sexy? No.

Now he may be Patrick Thoreson redux and if he is, well that's still ok. Thoreson's biggest problem was that he wasn't a guy who would score a lot and when Curtis Glencoss arrived and immediately went on a rampage with Brodziak and Stortini, dining on the opposition's scrubs, well that was it for the Norwegian. So Thoresen went away and then so did Glencross and Brodziak so where did that leave us? With not a damn thing.

If Liam Reddox does what he does, what Patrick Thoreson did, and ends up as a fourth liner who can provide some energy and hold his own and chip in a goal here and there then he's valuable. If he can rise above that and become Pisani II well then all the better. Time will tell.

But think of the last game the Oil played. Reddox forechecked hard and that led to O'Sullivan's game winner. In subsequent shifts, by my memory, an Av was rushing hard and gained the line. Reddox got a piece of him and that resulted in change of possession. He provided an outlet for a defenceman by sagging deep into the zone and then cleared the puck. At the end of a shift he got the puck over centre and then got it deep for the change. Later on he cleared the zone again and also blocked a shot.

Sexy? No.

Doing shit that wins you games? Absolutely.

Reddox has a second coach on his side and its becoming clear that he is going to have an NHL career. MacTavish liked him. Quinn likes him. I'm thinking that if he were playing for Hitchcock or Babcock or Woodcock or Mycock he'd be getting his minutes.

Why? Because he helps the damn team win. And that's the name of the game. Rob Schremp hockey may be sexy but its loser hockey. The Oilers need a little less of that and a little more Colm Meaney. Er, Liam Reddox. I'm thinking when the dust clears he will still be standing.

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!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Can You Hear The Drums Fernando?




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

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

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

Reliable.

Underrated.

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

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

What a player.

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Will Bird


When Will Bird was twenty three years old, in 1914, war broke out in Europe. His youngest brother, Stephen, enlisted immediately and shipped off to France. A year later he was dead. Will enlisted and took his brother's place in the front lines in Flanders, serving in one of the most famous Canadian units, the Black Watch.

Will Bird survived the war but most of his comrades did not. When he returned to Nova Scotia after the war young Will Bird became a writer and drew upon his experiences a number of times, his most famous work being “Ghosts Have Warm Hands”.

Bird’s recollections of his time in the trenches should be must reading for all students in this country.

His war was not one of heroism or glory, although there is plenty of the former present in his story. It is one of fear and sorrow and anger; despite the triumphs that Will Bird participates in at Vimy, Passchedaele and in the final hundred days of the war when the Canadian Corps spearheaded the Aliied victory he does not take any satisfaction from these triumphs, other than the fact that he has survived.

Poor Will Bird saw far more sadness than any man should ever see. And his burden would become far greater when his only son, also named Stephen, was killed in the next war, leading a company of North Nova Scotia Highlanders against the sons of the men whom his father had fought twenty five years before.

On Remembrance Day what should we think of Will Bird and what he and his family sacrificed?

We should remember that they did what they thought was right and that they fought and died for the freedom of others.

We should be aware that we are amongst the luckiest people to ever walk the earth, we Canadians. We have great wealth and freedom, unmatched by most people who have ever lived on this planet. We should be grateful for this. Some of this is luck and some of this is hardearned by the people who settled this land and by the people who protected and protect it. It’s a hard cruel world and the idea that we can stand idly by while others do the heavy lifting for democracy and security isn’t right, in my opinion.

We should be aware that we are more fortunate than most people and that does mean that we have responsibilities to make other people’s lives better.

And having read Will Bird, I can tell you that he would say that we must remember to question those in charge, that we must ask why we go to war, that we must always always question, because that is a freedom that we have and a freedom that he fought for and a freedom that his brother and his son died for. He himself used that freedom many times in his writing as he questioned and criticized what happened to he and his comrades in Flanders.

You may support the war or you may oppose it or you, like me, may be somewhere in between, supporting the troops and believing that their work is right, while also realizing that they participate in what is probably an unwinnable conflict, uneasily thinking that if my own boy were asked to go, I would beg of him not to. And if I am not willing to ask my own son to go then how can I ask others to go?

But wherever you sit you must, I think, respect those who are over there, just as we do those who went before. You must remember that our freedoms are many and earned and that they should never be taken for granted.

That is Remembrance Day for me.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Mustache Rides, Again. Also Pat Quinn, Fernando Pisani And Other Anachronisms




I work from home a couple of days a week. When my wife is working I need to ferry the kids about from school and daycare and all of that good stuff. Luckily I have a job where I can work from home and do this.

When my wife's maternity leave ended and school started I began this new routine. I don't mind it. I prefer the office but overall its not bad. The one thing that I can do while working at home is listen to music.

I've talked about music a few times here. With the exception of a few Hip CDs I haven't bought a CD in over fifteen years. I'm hopelessly stuck in the eighties and early nineties. My Youtube account, concerts I (rarely) attend, everything about me musically died when grunge did. Or went into a holding pattern anyways.

So right now I am listening to some Midnight Oil. This is the last of about a hundred CDs I own. I have listened to every single one since Labour Day, one by one, and this is the last of the bunch.

I saw Midnight Oil once. Your man is one big scary bald fucker. Intense.

Pretty good shit.

This morning I listened to some G&R. Metal has been dead for a while now. In Sudbury, like mostly everywhere in Canada, there was a time when it was the music of choice. Hell even the preppy guys in high school listened to Guns and Roses. Terrific stuff, even if Axl was a total douchebag.

This morning I listened to Lies, haven't listened to that in a million years. One of the songs - I Used To Love Her But I Had To Kill Her.

When this came out I remember a mild outcry but nothing compared to what you would get today I suspect. I would guess that sucker might not see the light of day now. I could be wrong, of course. For all I know there's worse stuff out there.

Its funny how social mores change and how your persepctive changes as you get older. I'm sure everyone read these gems, you did if you dropped by Lowetide's yesterday.

A couple of things. As you get older you truly give less and less of a shit what other people think. Take the big fellow as an example. When he was young he'd piss on the floor and get up on the furniture and get into the garbage and hump peoples' legs. Then we cut off his balls and he mellowed out. We had a decade where he was a good dog. No trouble at all. Now, as the end of his days near, its as if someone has turned back the clock. As soon as the front door closes he clambers up on the couch. He'll saunter into the dining room as we eat and sit beside the baby waiting for the inevitable men overboard. If the cupboards are open he'll proceed to the buffet and eat his fill out of the compost.

My wife shouts and swats and stomps and he looks at her like a bored teenager just in from a bender, rolls his eyes and drifts off.

Doesn't give a damn.

And I'm cut from the same cloth. Now I'm not that old, really. Forty one isn't old. But I'm getting there. I've gotten far enough that I don't care about what other people think about my clothes, my haircut or what I say or do. I really was never into that deal, to be honest, but as far as I ever was is now long gone. Don't get me wrong. I'm polite. I'm not a dick. But if I'm at a party and I think of a funny joke that involves assfucking then you had better believe I'm telling the assfucking joke.

Part of it too is that there is already a disconnect between me and what passes as the normal in society these days.

I don't have a cell phone. I refuse. I don't like most of the movies or the music or the television. I think that the salaries that athletes and actors and brokers on Bay Street are ridiculous. My generation, while softer than Joffrey Lupul in high traffic areas, still had to earn our dues. We didn't grow up in a depression or fight the Germans or Japanese. We can't build a house with our bare hands, wire it, plumb it, shoot a gun, dress a deer, rebuild an engine, play guitar, skate like the wind, hit a baseball, throw a fine right jab, drink a case of whiskey at a sitting or any of the other hundred things our fathers could but nobody I knew had their shit handed to them. When we got out of school we struggled like bastards, most of us. Tweren't easy.

Nowadays I look at my kids' generation and I struggle, oh my God. There is a boy in my son's class. The kid is hopped up on sugar and dim from all of the TV he watches, I am sure, although its likely just hereditary because his mother is about as smart as that coffee cup you threw into recycling earlier today. Dense.

So dumb she spells dumb without the b. Dum.

So this kid ran into some problems last year because he used to chase other kids with a stick in the schoolyard. The schoolyard is small and yet his mother was oblivious to it all. Just didn't see it when the other parents told her to get her head out of her ass.

So this year the boy has to deal with him. So far no problems but there was a hint of it the other day. He'd been hassling the boy and so we asked him what he did about it and he said that he had told the teacher. Fine and dandy.

And my wife says 'if he bothers you again, you make sure to tell us'.

And I look at him and I say 'listen, if he gives you a hard time, starts pushing you, I'll tell you what to do'

And my wife gives me the 'you shut up now' look about I keep going.

What I want you to do, see, is tell him to stop. And if he keeps at you then you tell him one last time. And if he keeps at it then ...

OK who wants ice cream?!

As if that's going to stop me.

The problem is that this kid is stupid and he's a bully and his mother lets him do as he pleases. The first time I see one of my kids pick on a smaller kid will be the last time I see it, let me tell you. My folks think we're easy on our kids but we're amongst the strictest parents we know.

And that says a lot about how times have changed.

My best friend in grade school was a big kid but just a real gentle guy, always smiling, not a mean bone in him. And some other kid, one of these big mouthed kids, was at him all of the time, just all of a sudden, picking at him, teasing him, threatening him. And one day this kid says to my buddy that he is going to get it after school. And my buddy says alright.

So its after school and we all march over the the pathway that runs from the school to one of the streets and there's probably about fifty kids and your man who called out my buddy is all talking talking and he has a rep of being a tough kid and then they say lets go (we were eleven at the time) and my buddy grabs him and he punches him once, hard, right in the face, and the kid just collapses onto the ground and there's another three or four shots and that's it. He's up and running for home all blood and snot and tears.

Problem solved.

No guns or knives or lawyers or cops or zero tolerance this or any other shit. The bully met his match and he kept his distance after that and that was that.

That long witless ramble brought to you by Pat Quinn.

-------------------------------

A win, a win, oh finally a win.

I only caught the last half of the victory over the Avs but it was pretty clear to me that the flu bug certainly had an impact over the past few weeks. The club had some jump, finally, and while they did get outshot, again, they took the game by the scruff in the third and took it home pretty nicely. Haven't seen that in a while.

Other than the ridiculous display by the power play another very interesting thing I found about last night was what Pat Quinn said in his post game presser.

Quinn, if anything, has outshone the erudite and hirsute MacT in terms of providing us with entertaining and enlightening commentary on the games.

What he spoke about last night was the type of game that Liam Reddox and Ryan Potulny played and how it helped the Oilers win.

He got open, he won faceoffs, he didn't get into trouble with the puck. Guys like Ryan, guys like Reddox, they're not going to turn it over. They put the pucks by people and they go to work

Now its fashionable to slam Liam Reddox and Fernando Pisani, amongst others, as guys who do nothing. They don't score a lot and they don't hit a lot and in this video game age, well, for many that is all that counts.

These are the fans who called for Rob Schremp to be installed as the first line centre when he was eighteen years old because Schremp, wait for it, scored a lot of points in junior. You know who else scored a ton of points in junior? Here's a few names: Jamie Matthews. Todd Simon. Max Middendorf.

These guys were all stars in junior. Big stars.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

This isn't meant as a shot at Schremp who is healthy scratched for one of the worst teams in the NHL right now. Schremp is Schremp. He had a nice junior career and that is probably what he will be remembered for. He will probably carve out a nice living in Switzerland or something. Good for him. Far better than 99.99 percent of the population.

But trick moves and sick hands don't get you an NHL job. I played hockey with a guy who had a cup of coffee in the AHL. He could hit the crossbar from centre ice nine times out of ten during warmup, no word of a lie and here he was playing in a summer beer league.

I have a buddy who was a scrub for one of the worst OUAA hockey clubs back in our day. This guy is the best player I have ever seen. If he played in my league he'd score five or six goals a game. And he could barely crack a shitty OUAA lineup.

Crazy.

Very few guys can score, I mean really score, at the NHL level. If you cannot then you had better be able to do other things and do them well. Things like killing penalties and checking your man and winning faceoffs and coming out of the corner with the puck. Liam Reddox does these things. Does he do them well enough to have an NHL career? We're not sure yet but if he can then he will stick with this club. It was only one game but he and Pisani flanked Cogliano and were a bright spot on a club which very often sees the ice tilted the wrong way.

And that counts for something. Actually it counts for a lot, especially on this club.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Hey Oldtimer, Shut Up With Your Mustache Stories!




Today's thread at LT's features comments from RiversQ, Vic Ferrari and Andy Grabia. It was like old home week almost. All we needed were appearances from Loxy, Alana, the Prez and the Covered in Oil gang and sacamano and Colby Cosh and ... okay, well maybe it wasn't exactly like old times. Still for a second there it was like when the Oilers were good. Yeah I am that old.

Plus Tyler Dellow is on the lam apparently. The last we heard he had been deported to Croatia but apparently he hijacked a catamaran. Last he was seen he was sailing for the Isle of Lesbos. Because he's a dirty pervert. Not as big a pervert as Mike Winters.

But close.

Speaking of dirty perverts I'm taking the plunge for a second Movember. I've been ill all week so last night I hit the shower pretty scruffy and sour, essentially with five days of flu sweat, bed stink and dried couch jack to scrub off, plus that many days of facial hair to remove.

I grow it thick. When the beard comes in, once it gets past the awful black itchy stage, it comes in full, red and curly, like Kate Winslet's bush, only not as pretty. So I had a starting point already.

I already did regular stash two years back. Its time to crank it up a notch.

So we're going Fu Manchu.

And as you can see it is truly awesome in its awfulness. Absolutely hideous. The wife absolutely hates it. The boy loves it, probably because he thinks his Daddy looks like a cowboy or a relief pitcher or a porn star. Or maybe he thinks its ironic that his old man is totally gay looking.

Because at the end of this, in twenty four days, I am going to look exactly like a very ugly gay man. I'll be able to walk into The Toolbox, whip off my shirt and I will fit right in.

(I have been so I know of what I speak, btw. It was in the name of research, I kid you not. A story for another day.)

Other than Taylor Chorney I see no real challenge from the Oilers who are attempting this little challenge. Chorney looks entirely and totally awesome. The rest of the guys, meh. Maybe O'Sullivan, who looks like a creepy hobo, especially with the missing teeth, might pose a challenge.

And Patrick, what's with the smile? How about scoring once in a while? Then you can smile.

Surprisingly Stortini is not all that impressive. Very strange as when I see him the first thing that pops into my mind is back hair.

In a big way.

Its time for a diversion. It was last night that RiversQ said, quite simply:

This is awful.

And the Oilers have been just that. Now we know they aren't as good as their start but they're not this bad either. Injuries have hurt. Pretty well every guy with any size and sandpaper was out of the lineup last night, exceptions being Stortini and Moreau, who is just a shadow of his former self. Souray. Smid. Stone. Jacques. All out. And of course the only veteran centre on the roster is out as well. And Hemsky is hurt. And the flu has not run its course.

Who knew you might need a guy who could provide two way play, win draws, get the puck moving the right way etc etc.? Even Horcoff struggling is twice the player of nearly every other Oiler forward.

Tsk.

So what do the Oilers have in a week or so once they have everyone back, we hope, except for Souray.

The goaltending has been decent.

The blue is nice and deep. Chorney has shown some good things and Peckham will be fine once he is fully healthy and Smid is getting the Lubo push. So there's actually some depth there and a bit of a nice mix of players.

Up front they have one terrific line and they can cobble together a good fourth line (pick your players) and I think they can find a decent group to take on the softs.

The problem, again, is the lack of NHL players, especially on the left wing and in the middle.

Its especially galling when you look at LW and see the starts that Smyth, Torres and Glencross have had and then look at the Oilers and realize that number two on their depth chart is, um, Comrie? Jacques?

Je Sus.

And once again the complaint is not so much these moves as individual moves, though you can have at it, I certainly have, or in jettisoning Pronger, Spacek, Tarnstrom (twice), Hejda, Sykora, Winchester, Samsonov, Dvorak, Stoll, Reasoner, Peca, Cole, Kotalik, Thoresen and Brodziak.

Some of these guys were leaving regardless. For some the return was very good. And yes, some of these guys were definitely bit players and easily replaced.

Except they were not replaced.

And so the team lacks veterans and has lacked veterans for four seasons now. Pat Quinn remarked the other day on how this club is lacking players who can win puck battles and get the puck moving the right way and play their positions and who have experience and you look at that list and you know what?

A few guys on that list or their equivalents would certainly help.

A guy like Brodziak who scores a little and can PK and win some draws would help now that Horcoff has gone down.

Hell a guy like Patrick Thoresen would help now. The guy could play hockey. He wasn't going to score a lot but he's a lot better player than a few guys on the Oilers' roster right now.

Was a guy like Thoresen replaceable? Sure. But if you don't replace him then where are you?

You are where the Oilers are now. Hoping that Pisani is not done. (Sadly, he may be.) Hoping that Moreau is not done. (He is.) Waiting for Ryan Stone to come back because he is one guy who can be relied upon to get the puck out when it comes up his wing and he gets himself into the passing lanes and he can work the cycle.

Ryan Stone.

Yikes! God help us. This is what Tambellini and Lowe have wrought.

The stupid fuckers.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Ennui and Malaise Are Not Towns In The South of France


November is one of those forgettable months. Along with February I think we could do without it although I hate March most of all because its such a goddamned tease. Then again, at least March has its pleasant moments and warm weather is right around the corner. November is grey and dreary and the excitement for Christmas has not yet ramped up. Cold frozen grass and mud, snowfalls that melt almost immediately, howling winds and people scowling as they rush by bundled up. And its dark by supper time.

Blah.

On top of everything I have the mother of all head colds. We’re talking full up to the top, if I move in the night I start leaking everywhere.

So I’m a little snarly. Maybe I’m overdosing on candy and its throwing my body off (after all it is a finely tuned machine) but I’m not my usual cheery happy go lucky self.

Case in point. We played Saturday night, riding a five game winning streak. Well we came out flat and got outworked and outhustled badly. This was one of those weird games where we seriously outchanced our opponents but they cashed the few chances that they had, all five bell buddy standing alone in front of the net types, and came away with the two points. Fact is though they deserved it, we played like we didn't give a damn. They came at us hard and for some reason that always eludes me, the refs decided to put their whistles away. It’s a non contact league and bodies are flying everywhere and tempers are fraying and the refs are telling us to get up and get back into the play.

So there’s a few minutes left and the puck skips past one of our guys and their winger barrels after it and he’s got ten feet on me but I have the angle and just as he figures he’s going to shoot I lay a crosscheck on him that sends him sprawling. The whistle blows and the crowd gathers and buddy says that I am shit (but I caught him didn’t I?) and that he is going to kill me and I look at him and I smirk and I say:

You’re fat.


He sputters and I repeat myself and then I skate over to the box where the ref explains to me that had I hit his legs he would not have penalized me.

So if I had taken his legs out and sent him headfirst into the boards, all the better?

I just don’t get it.

Anyhows I’m surly. And yes I’m a dirty prick but the fuckers had been getting away with shit all fucking game so fuck them.

And last night I take the big guy out for his bedtime constitutional and the wife works today 7 to 7 so I figure I had better get a headstart on getting the garbage out. We have these new (ish) bins for garbage and recycling, they’re huge, ours is the extralarge, I think, it’s a little smaller than a Chevette. We live twelve steps or so up from the street but at least these things have wheels so its not all that bad. So I grab it from beside the house and I’m wheeling it out and I’m at the top of the stairs almost and suddenly the fucking lid cracks open and there’s a motherfucking raccoon right in front of me, trying to get out. I stagger back clutching my heart, screaming like a little girl, fucker scared the shit out of me, and he nonchalantly slides down to the ground.

Right in front of the big fellow.

Oh sweet revenge.

The first time he really got a hold of a raccoon I was worried but since then he has had multiple encounters, the raccoon winning would be like Andrew Cogliano taking the puck off of Zdeno Chara.

It ain’t fucking happening.

So my knight in shining armour tore a strip off of the fat bastard while I cheered him on adoringly. The neighbours peered disapprovingly from behind their curtains and wondered once again about how the neighbourhood had gone to pot ever since the hillbillies moved in across the street.

----------------------

The above picture is just about two years old. I don’t fuck around when it comes to the facial hair and that was my contribution to Movember, I raised a few hundred bucks with that sucker.

My wife runs half marathons to raise money. I grow facial hair.

Colby Cosh, who took the pic, thought I looked very Rockford Files while Dennis King figured I looked like I had just gotten out of a Newfoundland prison.

I was in Edmonton celebrating my 40th. Horcoff scored in the shootout as the Oilers beat an equally weak Chicago club. Dick Tarnstrom, soon to be traded, got hurt. Pitkanen was awesome. Geoff Sanderson not so much. Did I mention that Chicago wasn't much of a club?

The Oilers, after the collapse of the previous season, were dreadful. Pitkanen and Gilbert were splendid on the backend and whenever Horcoff, Hemsky and Penner took the ice the Hawks were hemmed in their own end. On the other hand the Oiler kids spent most of the time running around their own zone and the rest of the team, led by veterans in Stoll, Torres and Reasoner, were reasonably competent, if nothing too special. At least they could get the puck moving the right way.

I should have kept the fucking mustache, I’d be tripping over it by now.

Hell we all know that the truth about this club is somewhere between the hot start and this stretch, which is rivaling the post Smyth trade disaster in terms of brutal ineffectiveness. In four of the past five games the club has a total of one goal.

That is truly shit.

Having to play Chorney and Strudwick and Peckham has hurt badly and there is no doubt that the flu has absolutely ravaged this club. That said there is a disturbing lack of confidence and enthusiasm in this club right now, especially frustrating after their surge out of the gate.

Is Ryan Stone that important?

One thing about Stone is that he knows how to separate a guy from the puck and how to play his position and how to get the puck to the net and one hopes that once Pisani gets fit and Stone returns and Comrie gets healthy (will he ever? Little dude has only been out, what, three weeks? Does he have the plague?) that things will get better but the problem is the same as its been for years now. Not enough fucking NHL players.

They have one line that can go toe to toe with the Wings or anyone and get that puck the length of the ice and produce offence and after that it’s a gong show. You could take your pick of players and create a perfectly effective fourth line to chip in but after that, at this time, you have a bunch of guys who are too young or too old or too dumb to play good basic fundamental hockey.

After Penner who would you send out on the LW to protect a lead? Or to break a tie? Or to do anything but bang a few bodies?

The kid line, those great hopes of two seasons ago, are bleeding goals against and doing nothing offensively.

O’Sullivan looks lost. There is no more talk of Brule replacing Gagner or Cogliano, not that this would be that difficult at this point.

What the hell is going on?

The work of management over the past four seasons has been beaten to death here and elsewhere. Veterans and quality players who wore Oiler colours are scattered about the league; the biggest issue, as always, remains the fact that few, if any, were replaced by any quality at all.

Remember, another missed playoff season (with a cap team, again) and this club equals the disaster that followed the breakup of the dynasty clubs. Drive for five anyone?

Oh well, the Olympics are coming up, very exciting. There's no way we can lose at hockey, right? Right?!

Here is hoping that Canada wins the gold and that Ryan Smyth is there. That would make me laugh (or cry?) all the harder.

If you get geeked out about the Olympics like I do, check out the link at right, in the bottom section of links. A good friend of mine will be carrying the torch somewhere up along the beautiful Lake Superior. He's been involved in the Olympics (he worked at the Sydney Games) and he is pretty excited about the opportunity. Like all bloggers he is both a pervert and a misanthrope. ;)

He's also a hell of a hockey player. He would have taken that fucker out at the knees and then piled him into the boards for good measure.

Crazy Sudbury folk.