Sunday, August 01, 2010

Deja Vu All Over Again


A week ago I got back from BC and my cousin's wedding and I'm still drying out damnit. Amongst the highlights - the wedding itself which was in the middle of a beautiful setting, three consecutive days and nights of drinking, which included AFTERNOON OUTSIDE DRINKING, which as any drinker knows, is the greatest drinking one can do, three days and nights spent with aunts and uncles and cousins who are the greatest family any man could have and three dollar pints at the reception.

Three dollar pints.

As you could imagine things went off the rails pretty quickly.

At my own wedding nine years ago, my father, the eldest of six and a guy who, this past weekend, admitted to stealing a sword from a restaurant fifty years ago or so, a sword that has been hanging in our basement for as long as I can remember, strolled up to the podium and began his sixty second speech with the following:

"We McLeans are a quiet peaceful bunch"

which immediately caused an uproar of snickering, roaring, farting and glass clinking from one side of the room and a whole lot of nervous glances from the other side. And so last weekend at one point in the middle of three hours of careening about the dance floor with my cousins and their kids, the next generation, drunkenly slam dancing to Home For A Rest, I looked out at the recepion hall and saw the bride's family, mostly small town Alberta farmers of German descent, and noted in their stone faced disapproval and certain fretting over what their dear Kim had done in marrying into this family of slobbering shouting hillbillies something which I had seen before a number of times. And as I staggered to the bar and ordered a round of whiskies for my cousin's sons it dawned upon me. I had seen the same look on the faces of every family that had joined with ours at every family wedding I had ever been to. Including my own.

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Training camp is a ways away and the number of free agents is slowly dwindling away. It seems that Steve Yzerman is making good bet after good bet, even the gambles are low cost ones. And while the Oilers have been chipping away at their to-do list - signing Brule (very good), fleshing out their coaching staff, signing Deslauriers (meh), filling out their minor league roster (looks good?) - they still have a few more things to get done. Sam Gagner needs signing. Sheldon Souray needs moving. Khabibulin needs, well, he needs to go on trial and find out what happens with him.

I can get on board with the general consensus that Tambellini has had a decent summer. He has cleared out guys who were no longer in the plans and actually obtained a useful depth guy in Vandermeer for O'Sullivan and was able to actually not have to pay Ethan Moreau a cent to go away. The contracts signed so far have been reasonable. I think Deslauriers is a terrible goalie myself but its not like they signed him longterm and they have cap space so I'm not too concerned about it. The farm system looks to have been upgraded and I like most of the organizational moves so far. The draft looks to be a decent one although of course time will tell.

So over all not a bad summer. Really my biggest complaint is the pointless signing of MacIntyre so that's not so bad.

Of course the team is going to suck ass. Again. It looks like the club has a whole lot of nice looking prospects now and so of course we are being sold hope. While I would like to have the club I cheer for make the playoffs (I repeat that my son was a babe in arms in 2006, he is now entering senior kindergarten in a month, no playoffs in four seasons, I mean what the fuck!?) at the every least we haven't had to suffer the spectacle of a management team spending enormous amounts of money with the obvious belief that they are playoff contenders all the while ignoring the holes, well, everywhere.

The holes remain, well, everywhere, except for in young talent. Hall, Paajarvi, Gagner, Eberle, Cogliano, Smid, Brule, Pitlick, Omark, Lander, Hartkainen, Petry ... the list is a decent one. Some of these guys will bust, hell some of them may no longer be Oilers come Halloween, but at least the Oilers didn't go out and blow a wad on another Souray or Khabibulin.

Small victories, right?

But make no mistake, this team is going to be the suck again. Its not a video game folks and while they have a lot of young flash and dash they still have about three guys up front who can play the toughs and one guy who can win a draw and pretty well nobody who can PK and a lot of guys who are clueless in their own zone.

Which is being patrolled by two pretty decent NHL defencemen, a kid who has to prove he can do it without Lubo, three vets who are at best bottom pair options (or have been so far in their careers) and a kid in Peckham who we love for his style. But he's green, oh so green.

And in net behind this dog's breakfast of a blueline we have a veteran with back problems who may not even start the season and two guys who may not even be decent backups.

So if Khabibulin is in an Arizona cell we're really only a couple of injuries - say Hemsky and Gilbert - away from the lottery again. The difference this season from the last four is that the future looks a little brighter and management seems to realize that the team is shit. Which at least shows some concept of reality.

But we're looking at five years out of the playoffs gang.

So while I'm looking forward to the kids and I'm glad that Tambo may have found a clue I'm still the guy sitting there at the table with the sour look on his gob and unlike my family jumping around like hopped up four year olds to Sweet Caroline (Buh buh buh buh!) all of this losing isn't all that entertaining. Can't undo the past four summers but wow its tough to take.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic writing once again Pat, but I hate to be the guy who says it's only three "buh, buh, buhs."

macaotim said...

Great post...I just finished summer wedding 3 of 4 this last weekend. Apparently, at the reception conveniently held at the Water Valley Saloon, I dropped numerous f-bombs and alienated my self from both sides of the family...nice work. Detox in 2-weeks time after a trip to Winnipeg to see a sloth marry a cousin-in-law.

Anyway, I hold more hope for the season. I think speed and youth will be fun to watch and could be effective enough to make a run at 8th. However, that prediction totally hinges on a) how well the team gels with all the new faces and b) how well they can follow directions and play responsibly. The talent and speed should be there. If the details are attended to, reasonable results should follow.

Oh wait...disregard my previous prediction, I forgot about goal-tending.

Black Dog said...

anon - thanks

btw I'm pretty sure its four buhs, at least in my head it is

'Sweet Caroline, buh buh buh buh, etc etc'

Tim - nicely done

Oh yeah this team is going nowhere and for all of the talk of them being fun to watch etc etc its probably going to be another long year.

David S said...

I'd be OK with sucking this season if we at least tried to put on a show. You know, make it look like we give a crap if we lose or not. For me that means getting an actual NHL backup, ditching JDD and running DD to Oklahoma. I don't care that they're "young goalies". We've seen enough to know they're nowhere near NHL caliber. I'm tired of waiting for the inevitable momentum-killing soft goal every damn game.

Please. Let these guys learn the job in the development leagues, not the best one in the world.

macaotim said...

Easy Does It Dog,

There is a difference between watching crap and watching losses. A good loss will never be better than a bad win, but watching real talent (Hall, MPS and I hope Eberle) can be fun. I also think that a good system and solid buy-in can win many-a-game in this watered down NHL of ours.

Don't be such a grump. You seem to have the post-hangover blues! I am in the midst of mid-buzz bliss.

Interesting sidebar: my word verification is nomasi...presumable the way you feel right now about watching Oilers Hockey!

Black Dog said...

David S. - yeah the goaltending is a mess and unless either of these guys becomes legit I think we're a lottery club again

Tim - lol, well I am looking forward to seeing the kids but I think they are going to get filled plenty of nights, I guess its a means to an end, lets hope the end is a great one

David S said...

BD - I think we've seen enough to know that neither JDD nor DD is "legit". Let them blow the doors off in the AHL and earn the right to don an NHL uniform. The fact that there's actual NHL goalies for the taking right now kills me.

If we go down swinging this year, well I'm fine with that. If we ice either of JDD or DD we're caking the season. I think that does a disservice to both the young players we want to instill a winning attitude in and the paying fans.

Bottom line - you play the game to win.