Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Too Much Time On My Hands

Besides being a cracking Styx song, the title of this post also refers to many glorious wasted days in years gone by. I'm one of those folks who believes that life is indeed short and it needs to be enjoyed but I also think that that doesn't mean that you need to go a million miles a minute, that one of life's great pleasures is in doing absolutely nothing. That might be an afternoon nap or an evening watching bad TV or wasting a few hours catching a crappy hockey team. Luckily for me I am set with the latter. ;)

Once you have kids there's a certain pleasure that doesn't come into the equation anymore. Back when I was in school and then on weekends once I was actually in the workforce many days were spent sitting on my ass. It might be a day after a night of drinking, lounging about with pals, shooting the breeze, killing time until we started at it again. There were Sundays when I lived in High Park with my best friend, sleeping in after our Saturday night out, waking up and drinking some coffee, watching football until we both dozed off, waking up again, more football, asleep again. There were Saturdays laying about the apartment with a girlfriend or the girlfriend and then wife, reading the paper and then back into bed and then a little lunch and then back to bed, a nap, lazing about and then back to bed.

Nowadays our rare times without kids are out of the house usually, out for dinner, or after they are abed and while we have some fun its not that long stretched out layabout we used to have years ago.

And so while my trip last week had a lot of things to recommend about it including a lovely day in old Dublin town which included pints in three of my favourite pubs and then a wonderful Irish wedding in a tiny village it may have been the Good Friday afternoon that was my favourite part of the whole damn thing. I got up late in the morning and grabbed some lunch and then wandered out to the lounge just outside the pub where one of the groomsmen and another pal of the groom were sitting and shooting the shit. As I said it was Good Friday and on Good Friday you can't buy a pint in Ireland, the only day of the year if you can imagine, but we had an in at our inn, so to speak. The hotel was in a little village (we're talking a blink and you miss it deal) and was built around a pub that had been there forever (current proprietors in charge for fifty years, mention of the pub in a ninety year old newspaper clipping telling more of the tale) so while anyone looking to get in from the street might find a locked door, we on the inside were told early on that the Guinness would be flowing that night because Leinster and Munster had a big rugby match.

So while we waited for them to get the show on the road we sat and we shot the shit. We talked about the night before and about Ireland and Canada and South Africa. We talked about having kids and getting married and travelling and buying houses and work. We talked about drinking and smoking and eating and Dublin's roads and roundabouts and cars and trains in Canada and rugby and surfing and hockey. We talked and talked and we talked some more and people came and went and pulled up chairs and pushed them back and went for walks and ordered food and went to their rooms for quick drinks or outside for a smoke and then they came back and talked some more. For hours we talked and then at five we went into the pub and watched some rugby and drank some pints and talked until eight when we went for dinner and then we ate and drank wine and talked until it was time to get to bed.

A great great time.


This long awful season is almost over and then the braintrust (hahahahahahahahahahaha) will have time to go over what has gone wrong this season, another lost season, the worst one in Oilers' history in what will now match the longest playoff drought in franchise history.

Four years out after coming within a break of winning it all. Four wasted years. A cap team with not a lot of room for next season either, dead last and in a big big way.

Oh God.

The positives are so very very few, oh its so awful, the kids have been chewed up and spit up, left to sink or swim, mostly sinking. The D which looked so quality has been disbanded. The goaltending remains in the hands of a broken down guy with an anchor of a contract. And up front there's not a lot going on, a bunch of bums for the most part.

Is there anything positive to look at? Well both directly (Tambellini insisting that Eberle will stay in Springfield all season) and indirectly (Matheson's column on Sunday basically carving up the Oilers development of youth at the NHL level these past three seasons) it looks like the Oilers will not be bringing in MPS and Lander and Eberle and Petry and Hall/Seguin and Omark and any other player under twenty two with a pulse to start next season and that's a start especially based on the mess made of the team and of individual players these past three years using that tactic.

What was the plan for Andrew Cogliano anyhow? Winger or centre? Soft minutes offensive guy or tough minutes two way player? It changed from week to week and month to month and while its hard to say if Cogliano will amount to much its likely that a year in the A and then a defined role playing with veterans might have better served him than the mess they have made of it.

Anyways this team is dead last and so a lot of guys are getting moved along, as it should be. The Oilers will probably be poor next year, they just have too many holes to fill, but I'd expect some of the young redundant guys will be dumped, hopefully to clubs willing to send a cagey vet the other way. A team willing to take a shot at a guy like Nilsson might be willing to move a vet with one year left on their deal, a guy who can play in the corners and along the boards, maybe move the puck the right way for a change, maybe a little overpaid, a salary dump.

Or maybe not. Still the Oilers need to add a few Malholtras and Betts types, just to help do the heavy lifting and help the youngsters along (and make no mistake there will be youngsters, just not as many as we are used to). They'll still be crappy, the Oilers that is, they just don't have enough good players, its as simple as that, but adding a few vets won't hurt, no matter how they need to do it, just as long as those contracts will be expiring.

So here's hoping that Tambellini and the rest of the geniuses have been talking and talking and talking and that its not just idle talk. That sort of shit is a lot of fun but I hope this summer that for the first time in years we see some semblance of a plan, something more than 'Holy mackeral we have a lot of defencemen' or 'We want you Nikolai, just name your price' or 'Plan A was Heatley, um, there was no plan B' or 'We will shed as many NHL players as we can without replacing them'. Of course the last has been the plan for four summers now so maybe that's the new mission statement or something.


hunter1909 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hunter1909 said...

Oilers future looks brighter than it has in a generation.

Black Dog: Look at my blog, you will see something of interest. :)

Deano said...

I hope we lose the lottery and get Seguin and they suck next season so they get a shot at Adam Larsson.

I'd really like to see evidence of a plan. You need 12 guys on a roster that can carry the mail and 18 or so supporting cast. Go through the current ~50 contracts looking for the 12. The 18 can be had via free agency and the prospects.

If they are going to trade a blue chipper that is the wrong age (Hemmer), send him to the Habs for Price. Something like Hemmer+Dubnyk for Price+A.Kostitsyn.

The least mgmt can do is suck with purpose.

Black Dog said...

Deano - I know this is going to be the debate in the next year or two for sure, to keep or not to keep Hemsky and Penner

If the Oilers move them it has to be for a guy who is proven but younger. Price is kind of the right idea except he's a goaltender and I don't know if I'm sold on him yet. You may disagree.

But that's the idea. If they move either or both it can't be for picks or prospects or bad contracts or might bes.

It has to be for guys who fit the current cluster who are already NHL players, who are trending upwards and who are going to be serious quality.

if you can't do that then you have shit again.

Deano said...

Agree about the risk on Price, but we have a pretty sweet situation for him to slip into to succeed and resurrect his career - to the benefit of both him and the team.

Black Dog said...

Still a gamble though.

I'm tired of taking on guys who need to resurrect their career or who have issues - Pitkanen, O'Sullivan, Souray, Khabibulin - whether its injuries or inconsistency its starting to make me crazy, even the prospects we get, like Nilsson, have warts

I think Price is a good gamble but I don't want a gamble. I want to bet on a proven guy, even if he's a kid. Hemsky is a proven guy. Penner too. If they're going to dump them they had better get a guy who is definitely going to be a player not a maybe.

Brad said...

I manage to take heart in the Phoenix's, Avs and King's of the west this year. Teams playing like TEAMS and getting rewarded with playoff spots.
Maybe, just maybe management can leave the kids alone just enough for them to forge a team bond and surprise the shti out of everyone.
It's either that or I go buy that $8000 flop house in Phoenix and enjoy season tickets until the NHL pulls its head out of its ass and moves the team.

Darren said...

Those who create the mess get to fix it?

Honestly, how is the management team still around?

boopronger said...

Im guessing you loved the scene in Office Space where Peter sleeps in on saturday when he was supposed to be at work. "i did nothing. Absolutely nothing and it was everything i thought it would be."

Baroque said...

If you talked that long and didn't need lozenges I'm impressed. After my weekend a couple weeks ago I went through an entire bag of Halls Fruit Breezers. :)

Maybe if Chicago needs to dump Patrick Sharp? I like him a lot.

uni said...

Problem is everyone likes Patrick Sharp alot. He showed up to camp a few seasons ago and decided he was a hockey player. I don't see him wanting to come to the Oilers over any other team unless the overpay is huge.

I'm with Deano here, just leave DD or JDD in net unless they get a goalie or goalie prospect that's too good to pass up and 'bleed for the Swede', 'arson for Larsson' or whatever you want to call a lottery shot at AL.

If they're going to suck, they damn well better do it right. Already wasted 4 seasons, and I'd like to see something come of it, so just blow away another and get a shot at possibly an elite all-round defenceman.

Verification word: myerave

Black Dog said...

I would love to have Sharp but I think Chicago tries to hold onto him over the other guys they might try and move.

That Campbell contract is a disaster. They need to find someone who will take that.

boopronger - exactly

uni - I think that we're going to see a similar club next season to this, they can't move Souray I think and Khabibulin will be back and will get hurt again.

You need some luck to end up in the lottery but I think they have what it takes ;)

You still need to look at the big picture though. So if you can pick up a nice piece for the future without having to give up a nice piece of the future then you need to do that.

Bar Qu said...

Doing nothing productively defines my image of Ireland. You are a lucky man to have been able to experience that a few times. I am never happier than when I am avoiding doing something 'useful' to sit around and talk with interesting people. Probably why I read and comment on blogs.

Keeping both Penner and Hemsky is a must. A no-brainer in my opinion. Gives the other teams guys to focus on while your youth can play their game. Basically, you need to see if those two will sign extensions for a reasonable wage increase next season and you have some strength going into a (hopefully) good 2011-12 season.

Bruce said...

The optimist in me is moderately happy with the moves the "brain trust" hahahaha has made since the Olympics. I think trade deadline week was a real step in the right direction despite the apparent shamble-izing of Oilers' blueline.

- Whitney is not just a keeper but appears to be a core cluster player on the right side of 30, and at this moment I'd rather have him than any of Vis or Grebs or Steady Steve. No doubt the warts will become more apparent with time, but that was a solid deal in my view.

- Jury's way out on Johnson but he's cheap and his contract is expiring so he's just one option for a depth D. But we got a chance to look at the guy and let him show his stuff, and as he plays for his next contract the first organization he's trying to convince is Edmonton's.

- Jones, who I'm moderately convinced was part of the Grebeshkov trade, is a nice piece, sort of fits your "a guy who can play in the corners and along the boards, maybe move the puck the right way for a change, maybe a little overpaid, a salary dump". Jones is a little young (25) and inexperienced (93 NHL GP) to exactly fit the description, but also not a big salary either (a year left at $975 K).

Collectively those moves shaved some $6 MM off this year's cap and a similar amount next year assuming Grebs and Johnson re-sign for similar money as now, and the team got younger and bigger as well as cheaper. Whether they use the space to sign a solid stay-at-home guy or two remains to be seen of course, but at least there's some flexibility now where there was none before.

Since the deadline it's just been a raft of signings, 7 by my count including key ones like Omark, VandeVelde, and Petry. There's a ways to go yet, Teemu Hartikainen for one needs to be locked up by June 1 and it would be nice to see the Riley Nash situation resolved, but the point is the team wasn't going to be fixed by catching one whale, and recent evidence suggests that Tambellini is learning how to fish.

Black Dog said...

Bar Qu - agreed on both points - that one regarding Penner/Hemsky being extended and on the lucky part for me - I always dreamnt of getting to Ireland once, now I have been there three times and am familiar enough with the place that hanging out there is normal and natural

Bruce - I have to admit that I am onside with you on Tambellini's work so far this calendar year. Whitney has been quite good and certainly he and Gilbert have made a nice pairing. Johnson may be gone come the summer but he has been fine and hopefully when they are thinking of a 6/7 for next year he or a facsimile will be there rather than Strudwick.

And you may be right on Jones in terms of the trade with Nashville. Certainly they need players like him.

Overall I'd probably give him a B I guess. The Staios move was terrific of course.

Interesting to see what this summer brings. We'll see if he can clear out a few more problems without making any bad moves.

Brad said...

I plead ignorance because I'm just not following closely enough, but here's my question anyway: Why spend any of that cap money next year if it's not a must? Cap still might come down again for 2011-12 AND you've got a number of kids who we're going to need to lock in coming up in the next couple years.
I vote for no increase to the payroll unless it's critical (and winning next year is, unfortunately, not critical)

Black Dog said...

Brad - from the numbers I have seen they are already close to the cap even with the moves that were made so I doubt there will be many big moves.

There have been rumours of buyouts of Nilsson and POS, maybe Moreau. Souray may be on the block. The big one is Khabibulin but that's going nowhere.

I could see situations where they move POS or Souray or some of these other guys for equivalent contracts and yes, problems. Of course a change in scenery might help players going out and coming back.

So as an example move Souray for a big winger and a big defenceman who make the equivalent, basically another Moreau and Staios but paid even more to balance it out. Or just stand pat.

cufflinks case said...

I really love the pic! It's one of those rare shots. Sometimes doing nothing helps in recharging one's soul.

Dennis said...

I seriously miss the days from between 18-22 when I was in school and living with a bunch of fellows and you just spent your time watching sports, drinking and attempting to whore and when you weren't doing those things you spent your time Talking about sports, drinking stores and attempts at whoring stories.

Black Dog said...

Dennis - exactly!