Monday, July 05, 2010


Driving back from Ottawa on Saturday we had the tunes going, the sun was shining, Jenn had her feet up on the dash and except for the fact that we were in in a minivan and three kids were in there with us, we were youngsters again.

Ahh, summer.

I'm a big autumn guy and I enjoy each season in turn, I missed them when we lived in Florida, but when it comes down to it I'm a summer guy first and foremost, even on a day like today when its so hot that the stink is seeping out of the pavement, wafting out of ancient greasy stains.

When I was a kid it meant summers at camp and Dad around all of the time instead of at work and long days with friends and family and running through the woods and swimming and fishing and cool nights, drifting away to the murmur of my parents in the next room, Hank Williams or Patsy Cline singing about heartbreak, waking to a woodpecker or to the wind in the pine and birch.

When I was a young man summer was genius and brilliance and joy. It was drifting from place to place in the evenings and on the weekends. It was the bar and the backyard, the soccer field and the ball diamond, the lake and the pool, crashing on the floor, roadtrips and chasing girls and drinking and playing darts and shuffleboard at the local union hall while throwing back trays of small glasses of Northern draft at less than a buck a glass. It was rattling down a cordoroy road while branches crashed into the car as we searched for a hidden fishing hole. It was driving with the window down listening to the Hip and Springsteen and Don Henley and Jackson Browne and Boston and Van Morrison and anyone else who could carry us away. It was all of us with money in our pockets and not a care in the world and only a couple of things on our mind. I remember getting slowly and carefully drunk one day with a bunch of friends and somehow we ended up playing pool somewhere and a girl we knew, a highstrung type, was going on about all that worried her and a pal and I were mocking her, we had not a care in the world and she asked us how that could be and our response was that all that was on our minds right now was making the next shot and when the waiter was coming by so we could order another cold beer and if one of us might get lucky that night. We were young and strong and full of ourselves and we were flush and we knew that it might not get any better than this.

Other summers followed those glorious days in my hometown, there were days wandering Toronto streets dusty and poor and carefree still the same, looking at the buildings and the people and everything in the heat, the pretty girls everywhere, a couple of summers with the girl from Rawlins Cross, hanging out in a little apartment I sublet, sleeping and not sleeping on a mattress thrown on the floor. There was the summer I spent in Charlottetown, most of it my evenings and weekends on the harbour in a friend's boat, nights at the bars on the waterfront, drinking and smoking and getting to know a new girl with long legs and flashing green eyes who I had just met, waking up with her with the curtains stirred by the breeze, stumbling out for breakfast, coffee and a cigarette, heading to the beach or the boat or a poolhall, drinking draft beer and smoking and getting as close to each other as we possibly could. And then more recent days, back in Toronto, the odd night out on a patio drinking beer, roadtrips with the family, barbeques and pool parties and festivals and letting our kids in on the secrets of this most wonderful of seasons. Weeks at our camp up north and fishing and frogs and campfires and boat rides with Grandpa and trips out east and Island beaches and hidden red dirt roads and strawberry picking and running on sandbars.

Summer. When everything shines and even a storm is a special thing to behold. Glory.


So far Steve Tambellini and the Edmonton Oilers have had a good summer and there is a chance that it could become a very good summer. The team is not going to be a good one next season, I have seen in some threads predictions of eleventh place if the club stays healthy and I'm not sure if I can see that but he still has the Souray card to play and one has to think that Cogliano is going to be moved and there are rumours that he is chasing Rob Niedermeyer which would be a reasonable deal as well so we may see some more useful bodies coming in. Plus the moves to shore up the AHL club, especially adding Giroux, have been nice as well.

The club is thin up front and on the blue and there is going to be a reliance on some kids being able to play and as mentioned the whole staying healthy thing but considering they were at ground zero last season this is no surprise. For a guy who garnered a reputation as a do nothing Tambellini has made sweeping changes to the organization. Every head coach is gone, Prendergast, other members of the organization, all cut loose. He managed to get out from under the last year of Moreau's contract (and wow what an exit interview from old Ethan, my God what a disgrace). He got Vandermeer who will be a useful bottom pairing guy for O'Sullivan who was absolutely horrible last season and is now without a contract. And Nilsson who is an absolute dogfucker is also gone. Guy has all of the talent in the world and not a clue.

The Foster signing is a nice one, even if he can't provide second pair duty its not a huge overpay in either dollars or term. Fraser was signed to a nice two year deal. And Tambellini is dealing with the Souray situation. I would guess he gets moved shortly and we see someone like Zubrus coming back the other way. Or maybe he gets picked up on reentry waivers.

Of course me being a cynic with all things Oiler related I still am not sold on Tambellini, come and talk to me in a couple of years. Considering MacIntyre was signed despite (a) being probably the worst hockey player in the league and (b) his presence the last two seasons not doing much to deter other clubs from running roughshod over the Oilers, colour me unimpressed. And we're still waiting to see what he can get Gagner and Brule signed for not to mention that this team could use a little fleshing out, imo. As Ty said last week, the easy stuff is over with, lets see how he does with the degree of difficulty raised a little.

here's the depth chart as it stands:




I have Omark slotted in before Eberle because he's older and has played against men for a while now but your mileage may vary. As I said I can't see Cogliano being around and fully expect him to be replaced by a veteran who can win draws and PK, both of these areas being a bit of an issue still. Its only been a few years on that though so no rush.

This club is going to allow a lot of goals but they should score a little too. They are bigger and faster and more skilled and they have a little more enthusiasm and grit but damn they are green.

Still, considering the horrid summers this club has had since June 19th 2006 (some of the fallout being dealt with last week) this is a marked improvement and while its not catching a bluegrass matinee at Graffiti's while drinking Guinness and watching the Market go by out the open windows as the heat seeps in its at least having a cold beer on the front step.

And that's not that bad. Could be more like a Flames fan, getting ass fucked in an alley in the middle of a garbage strike in August. Or something like that.


spOILer said...

I'm not sure we're all that much bigger considering that depth chart is sans Moreau and Souray and has JFJ in the PB. And we've replaced POS and Nilsson with Omark and Eberle.

But it appears we're making steps in the right direction.

Gone too are Comrie (for the time being) and Visnovsky, so that's two less smurfs, but I'd like to see another big strong forward added to the mix. And I'm not yet convinced we have a 2RW solution yet -- Brule doesn't seem to have the offense to pull it off, but he will likely be a serviceable stop gap till we figure out who can.

But if one of the new LWs can handle first line time (and you gotta know the coach is gonna try it), then Penner can drop to 2LW, which allows one of the more talented smurfs to play 2RW and I'd be okay with that.


Can we really move forward with 3 out of 4 of these guys still on the roster?

I think at least one of these guys will have to be moved (with Souray) and I'd be happier if we can move two.

Black Dog said...

Oh yeah still a lot of issues with this roster, I think they are going to allow a lot of goals against.

The back end is definitely bigger now though, even with Souray out of there, Foster and Vandemeer are big boys, Strudwick, Smid, Gilbert and Whitney too. So unless Chorney makes the club over Peckham its a bigger and tougher group back there imo although not all that great.

Up front there are definite holes, they could use a centre and winger with size on that third line who can do some dirty work but we'll see how it all susses out. The idea of Brule or Cogs as a centre leaves me a little cold but if Paajarvi or Eberle can work on the second line then that's where they will end up.

spOILer said...


That forward balance seems to rest on whether MPS can play RW with effectiveness.

We've been down that road before with Cole, Pisani, etc. so we know how that can blow up in our faces... but that's not to say it wouldn't work this time. I hate hoping for such changes to work out for the best, though.

The back end is far nicer at this juncture of the off-season that I could possible have hoped. I think they will do better than Dennis seems to think, but not to the level of world-beaters obviously.

Black Dog said...

Yeah its the same as usual, a lot of questions and for this to be a good season the long list of ifs that have to work out is far too big to really expect

- if Khabibulin is healthy and stays healthy
- if Foster and Smid can be a good second pair
- if Gagner and Horcoff can stay healthy and produce
- if MPS and Hall are able to step in and be capable NHLers

and so on and so on

We'll see what we get for Souray, I believe it will be another veteran of some type and then I also think Cogliano or Brule will be sent out so they're not done yet.

Alice said...

Finally saw a BDHS license plate this week,some crappy silver Pontiac Sunfire. But you're out there!

How can anyone come in here this week and not respond to the delirious and captivating top half of your post?? Loved it, am going to enjoy my summer especially hard because of it, and hell somebody should pipe up by now and thank you for it.

Lose the Sunfire though, it's a shitbox!

Black Dog said...

lol Alice, yeah we have friend who own a Sunfire, its a real piece of shit. We buy Japanese all the way.

Thanks for the kind words, its hot as a bastard but who cares. Last night the wife and I went out and found a patio and drank beer and smoked cigarettes and shot the breeze about now and what has passed in the thirteen years we have been together (we met in late June 1997 - !) and then we walked home hand in hand. It was an absolutely glorious night. God I love the summer.

Bruce said...

I'm with Alice. Top half of the post was awesome.

As usual.

I always love how you manage to tie that first part into the Oiler story du jour. Makes reading this blog an adventure, and a joy.